The thousands of delegates preparing to descend on Durban for COP17 should read Robert F. Kennedy’s famous “Day of Affirmation” speech en route. They will discover a call to action as powerful today as it was almost half a century ago. They will also find sensible guidance on how to overcome the sense of drift that has gripped the climate negotiations for much of this past year. If they heed his call they may discover that African soils are not for burying the climate regime as some pessimists suggest, but rather for growing the seeds of its future success.
international climate policy
Part 2: Challenges
This piece was written in collaboration with Cui Xueqin, Fu Sha, and Zou Ji.
In 2009, China’s Twelfth Five-Year Plan set a goal to cut the country’s carbon intensity by 17 percent by 2015. Responsibility for achieving portions of this target has been allocated to provinces and cities. This three-part series explores the vital role of China’s municipalities in reaching the national carbon intensity goal. Part 1 presented low-carbon city targets and plans developed to date. Part 2 explores some challenges related to designing city-level low-carbon plans and mechanisms to track progress towards them. Part 3 will present some possible solutions to these challenges.
Despite the work by major Chinese cities to move city planning onto a low-carbon trajectory, several challenges remain. Notable among these are the unclear relationship between low-carbon city planning and other planning processes, a lack of methods to account for city-level greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and a lack of approaches to address GHG emissions from electricity transmission.
Denmark’s new coalition government, elected last month, has adopted a new, more ambitious climate policy committing the country to reduce its GHG emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2020 through domestic action. This target brings Denmark into line with the level of reduction proposed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as well as with the targets of several other Nordic and Northern European countries.
This post is based on the foreword to World Resources: Decision Making in a Changing Climate, co-signed by Helen Clark (UNDP), Achim Steiner (UNEP), Robert B. Zoellick (World Bank Group), and Jonathan Lash (WRI).
Conditions are changing in our world. Some are feeling the impact now, from the heat wave and wildfires in Russia of the last two years, the devastating floods in Pakistan and Australia, tornadoes in the United States, mudslides in Brazil, drought in China. Others are worrying about the impacts to come: the tea growers in Kenya’s highlands who are seeing cases of malaria they didn’t see only five years ago; the cocoa farmers in Ghana who think about how changes in rainfall will affect their sensitive crops; the rice farmers in Vietnam who are increasingly concerned about rising water levels.
Update, 10/21/11: Talks to design the Green Climate Fund (GCF) ended in tense negotiations at Cape Town, South Africa earlier this week. The completion of the GCF design is an integral part of the larger package of issues to be resolved in Durban, and so country negotiators were highly motivated to make progress.
Part 1: Barriers to Renewable Energy in South Africa
This is the first post in a two part series on renewable energy policy developments in South Africa.
Through the Open Climate Network, Idasa and partner organizations are examining the legal and institutional framework for key policies that will influence South Africa’s progress towards meeting its global climate change commitments. One such policy is the Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff (REFIT), drafted in 2009 to help South Africa increase the amount of electricity generated by renewable sources to 10,000 GWh by 2013.
The Open Climate Network recently concluded a three-day workshop in which participants from 18 organizations in 13 countries gathered to refine methodologies for the network’s first national assessment report, expected next year. The report will analyze country progress on climate change commitments, with a view towards “ground-truthing” countries’ performance on implementing effective policies that contribute to the low-carbon transition.
If one thinks of the ongoing climate negotiations as a paint-by-numbers picture, the Cancun Agreements outlined what to paint and the basic colors to use. In last week’s Panama talks, Parties continued painting with various hues that, once complete, will hopefully create a detailed and beautiful picture. The painting does not yet have a frame, however, as the Parties still have to decide on what kind of “agreed outcome” the negotiations are leading to – i.e., a legally binding agreement or a non-binding one. At the same time the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period ends in 2012, which adds complexity but also opportunity to the picture.
The American author Tom Peters once wrote “if a window of opportunity appears, don’t pull down the shade”. Next week’s UNFCCC session in Panama is the penultimate stop in what has been a long and at times difficult year in the climate negotiations. The road to COP 17 in Durban has featured contentious agenda items, complex issue areas, and moments to test the resolve of the most patient negotiator. Yet despite these trying times glimmers of progress are evident, and as the year draws to a close we are beginning to see outlines of a deal that is both ambitious and imaginable.
This piece originally appeared on the National Journal Energy and Environment Experts Blog.
The case of the solar company Solyndra has been getting widespread attention, but much of the current discussion misses the point. While some would like to portray the collapse of this company as the downfall of the U.S. solar industry, the larger picture tells a very different story.
Solar power is rapidly expanding around the world, driven by opportunities for innovation and investment in low-carbon energy. According to the International Energy Agency, solar power is on a path to provide 20-25 percent of the world’s electric power by 2050. This is a huge market opportunity. And, a recent report by Ernst & Young confirms that the solar energy market has grown from less than $1 billion in 2000 to $79 billion in 2010.