Cancun

Tue, 2010-12-07 12:18Brendan DeMelle
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Dirty Energy Is Playing Full Contact So Is Cleantech Ready To Do The Same?

This is a guest post by Mike Casey, president of TigerComm, cross-posted from ScalingGreen.com.

Cancun - When I started working on solar energy issues several years ago, I heard it repeatedly: “Everyone loves solar.” Back then, many people in solar and other cleantech sectors saw long-term meritocracy in the energy business. Public demand, technological advances and aninevitable price on carbon were going to drive cleantech to dominance over time. “Renewable energy,” it was often said, “will soon become just plain ‘energy’.”

From the gridlocked global warming treaty negotiations here in Cancun, however, the picture seems starkly different. The Congressional climate bill fight ended in disaster, the recession tightened credit markets, and the coal and oil industries bought themselves a new Congress last month. And that global carbon market many were counting on? The most optimistic note Thursday night from a top U.S. treaty negotiator, Jonathan Pershing, was “maybe next year.”

Wed, 2010-12-01 09:47Richard Littlemore
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COP16: Canada's blackened reputation

A member of the Lesotho delegation at the climate talks in Cancun sports an anti-Canadian shirt (yes, the photo is in color; and yes the little Canadian flags are all black). It’s another illustration that Canada will ultimately pay a price for the irresponsible position that it continues to promote on climate change: do only what has already been done in the United States (nothing, really), but try to do it more slowly.

(Thanks to Eloise Savoie from the Climate Action Network [CAN] for the photo.)

And if you doubt whether Canada deserves this reputation, read on to see an early draft of a CAN fact sheet on Canadian climate performance and policy:

Tue, 2010-11-30 14:40Emma Pullman
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Cancun Showdown: Results at the UN Climate Talks More Important Than Ever

The United Nations Climate Change talks kicked off yesterday in Cancun.  For many, the mood began much more sombrely than last year.  Copenhagen attracted celebrity clout, world leader buzz, and a sense of optimism for a binding agreement.  For all Copenhagen promised, however, those who hoped for a fair and binding global deal left empty handed.  

Along with analysts, pundits and the blogosphere, the U.S., UK and EU are already downplaying the chances of a deal being reached in the next fortnight.  And as Desmogblog reported today, those fears may not be in vain with threats that the U.S. may pull out of the talks early

The talks during the next two weeks are going to focus largely on forests and finance, but also on questions about the legal status of a future agreement and emissions targets, which are expected to be tackled beginning next week when ministers arrive.

The sense of general pessimism around the talks has led some to question the viability of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to deliver, and has led others to manufacture doubt over the scientific basis for action.  A new report released by Oxfam argues that despite the disconsolate atmosphere, a year of extreme weather conditions demonstrate more than ever that a binding climate agreement under the UN auspices is imperative.  The report, More than ever: climate talks that work for those that need them most, presents the weather events that have devastated much of the planet in the last year, and the even more harrowing costs of climate inaction.  

According to the report, at least 21,000 people died due to weather-related disasters in the first nine months of this year – more than twice the number for the whole of 2009.  “This year is on course to experience more extreme-weather events than the 10-year average of 770. It is one of the hottest years ever recorded,” wrote Tim Gore, Oxfam’s EU climate change policy adviser and report’s author.

Tue, 2010-11-30 13:15Nathanael Baker
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COP16 Climate Talks: U.S. Position May See it Leave Cancun Early

It has not taken long for the United States’ diplomatic team to establish the country’s hard-nosed negotiating position at the United Nations climate conference in Cancun, Mexico (COP16).  The nation’s stance is so firm, it might lead the delegation to abandon the proceedings early.

In the first day of the negotiations, the United States made it clear that it would only sign on to a “balanced package” that requires certain criteria being satisfied. 

According the UK’s The Guardian newspaper this criteria includes: developing nations committing to emissions cuts and the establishment of a verifiable system of accounting for these cuts.  If these features were included in a treaty, the United States would agree to the provisions that are important to emerging economies such as climate finance, technology sharing, and deforestation.

In a briefing with journalists, Todd Stern, the U.S.’s chief climate envoy, said, “We’re either going to see progress across the range of issues or we’re not going to see much progress.  We’re not going to race forward on three issues and a take a first step on other important ones.  We’re going to have to get them all moving at a similar pace.”

Wed, 2010-11-10 15:22Emma Pullman
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Policy Experts Propose Expansion to Montreal Protocol to Fight Global Warming

The widespread use of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) throughout a fifty-year stretch in the middle of the 20th century was one of the biggest environmental mistakes ever. As we came to learn the hard way, CFCs wreak environmental havoc by weakening the ozone layer, and some can persist in the atmosphere for over a century, making their legacy a long-lived mistake too. 

The Montreal Protocol of 1987 was instrumental in phasing out CFC use, and is considered one of the most successful multilateral environmental agreements ever.  The Protocol has phased out nearly 97% of 100 ozone-depleting chemicals, many of which contribute to global warming. The Protocol also prevented over 200 billion metric tonnes of global warming gases from entering the atmosphere – an astonishing five years’ worth of total global emissions. Nothing to sneeze at. The Montreal Protocol’s pollution reduction targets are mandatory, universally accepted and readily measurable.

World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) scientists recently confirmed that the Montreal Protocol was a highly-successful solution - the ozone layer has recovered from CFC-induced damage, and the Protocol “provided substantial co-benefits by reducing climate change.”

With energy legislation shelved in the U.S. and little hope for a global climate change agreement this year, some policy experts are arguing that, rather than reinventing the wheel, perhaps a solution is right in front of us. 

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