Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Climate Summit Concludes Where It Began

UNITED NATIONS -- The world's two largest greenhouse-gas emitters called for new action to curb emissions linked to climate change, but they didn't make any concrete new commitments themselves.

President Barack Obama said the U.S. is "determined to act" to combat climate change, and Chinese President Hu Jintao said his country would cut carbon emissions per unit of economic output by "a notable margin" over the next 11 years. But neither leader specified how his country would actually cut emissions.
That reticence reflects the political realities both men confront at home: domestic industrial bases that, particularly amid a recession, don't want to sacrifice their global economic competitiveness in the name of the environment. And the impasse underscores how difficult it will be for diplomats to reach any significant global agreement to curb greenhouse-gas emissions when they meet in December at a big U.N. climate-change conference in Copenhagen.
Messrs. Obama and Hu called climate change a serious issue and said they needed to work harder together to combat it.
China and the U.S. together account for 40% of greenhouse-gas emissions, meaning the world won't significantly curb the heat-trapping pollutants without their participation. The two countries have been at odds for years over what steps each should have to take to limit emissions.
Mr. Hu told world leaders that China will combat climate change in the next decade by meaningfully cutting carbon emitted per unit of gross domestic product by 2020. Mr. Hu said China would expand its forest coverage -- trees absorb carbon dioxide -- reduce coal consumption and by 2020 increase to 15% the share of energy it derives from renewable sources.
But Mr. Hu didn't commit to a hard cap on emissions. Even if China emits less carbon per dollar of economic product, its overall emissions could grow.
Mr. Obama said, as he has before, that the U.S. will act to combat climate change, and warned of "irreversible catastrophe" for future generations if the world doesn't limit greenhouse-gas emissions. But Mr. Obama's message was overshadowed by signs that Congress may delay action on a proposal to curb U.S. emissions, and by a skirmish in the Senate over proposals to scale back the Obama administration's authority to regulate emissions from various industries.
Can the nations of the world address the threat of global climate change without inflicting unjustifiable damage to their economies? The Journal's Beckey Bright hears both sides of the argument from Robert Stavins, Professor of Environmental Economics at Harvard University and Steven Hayward, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
Mr. Obama acknowledged the "doubts and difficulties" clouding climate legislation in Congress, but said the U.S. is determined to push for a treaty at a December summit in Copenhagen to limit countries' greenhouse-gas emissions.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called the climate summit amid concerns that international talks on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions are stalling. On Tuesday, he said talks ahead of the summit were moving slowly.
"Failure to reach broad agreement in Copenhagen would be morally inexcusable, economically short-sighted and politically unwise," Mr. Ban said.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said at the U.N. that with 87 days left until the Dec. 12 summit, "the time has passed for diplomatic bargaining." But agreements on key issues, such as how much rich nations are willing to pay poor nations to cut their emissions remain elusive.
The African Union, for instance, is considering walking out of the Copenhagen meeting if rich nations don't pay its members $67 billion a year to develop non-carbon energy sources.
President Barack Obama and China's President Hu Jintao came together at the U.N. to talk climate change. But as the WSJ's Steve Power reports, the meetings were noticeable as much for what wasn't said as what was.
In his speech, Mr. Obama focused on steps his administration has already taken to fight climate change, such as proposing rules to limit automobile emissions. In a further step Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized new rules that will require refineries, cement kilns, glass manufacturers and other large facilities to monitor and report their emissions to the government.
Mr. Obama said he would use a meeting of Group of 20 nations in Pittsburgh this week to push countries to phase out subsidies for fossil fuels. The U.S. offers certain tax breaks to oil companies, some of which the Obama administration has proposed to eliminate.
Oil producers have said that raising taxes on them will discourage domestic energy production and frustrate the administration's stated goal of curbing U.S. reliance on foreign oil. Mr. Obama has resisted proposals to raise fuel taxes that consumers pay directly, such as federal gasoline taxes.—Stephen Power in Washington contributed to this article.
Write to Jonathan Weisman at and Joe Lauria at

Barack Obama's UN climate change speech

The full text of the US president's address to world leaders in New York today on the issue of global warming
"That so many of us are here today is a recognition that the threat from climate change is serious, it is urgent, and it is growing. Our generation’s response to this challenge will be judged by history, for if we fail to meet it - boldly, swiftly, and together - we risk consigning future generations to an irreversible catastrophe.
"No nation, however large or small, wealthy or poor, can escape the impact of climate change. Rising sea levels threaten every coastline. More powerful storms and floods threaten every continent. More frequent drought and crop failures breed hunger and conflict in places where hunger and conflict already thrive. On shrinking islands, families are already being forced to flee their homes as climate refugees.
"The security and stability of each nation and all peoples -- our prosperity, our health, our safety -- are in jeopardy.
"And the time we have to reverse this tide is running out.

"And yet, we can reverse it. John F Kennedy once observed that 'our problems are man-made, therefore they may be solved by man.' It is true that for too many years, mankind has been slow to respond to or even recognize the magnitude of the climate threat. It is true of my own country as well. We recognise that. But this is a new day. It is a new era. And I am proud to say that the United States has done more to promote clean energy and reduce carbon pollution in the last eight months than at any other time in our history.
"We’re making our government’s largest ever investment in renewable energy - an investment aimed at doubling the generating capacity from wind and other renewable resources in three years. Across America, entrepreneurs are constructing wind turbines and solar panels and batteries for hybrid cars with the help of loan guarantees and tax credits - projects that are creating new jobs and new industries.
"We’re investing billions to cut energy waste in our homes, buildings, and appliances - helping American families save money on energy bills in the process. We’ve proposed the very first national policy aimed at both increasing fuel economy and reducing greenhouse gas pollution for all new cars and trucks - a standard that will also save consumers money and our nation oil.
"We’re moving forward with our nation’s first offshore wind energy projects. We’re investing billions to capture carbon pollution so that we can clean up our coal plants. Just this week, we announced that for the first time ever, we’ll begin tracking how much greenhouse gas pollution is being emitted throughout the country. Later this week, I will work with my colleagues at the G20 to phase out fossil fuel subsidies so that we can better address our climate challenge.
"And already, we know that the recent drop in overall US emissions is due in part to steps that promote greater efficiency and greater use of renewable energy.
"Most importantly, the House of Representatives passed an energy and climate bill in June that would finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy for American businesses and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One committee has already acted on this bill in the Senate and I look forward to engaging with others as we move forward."

Beijing steals the show, but gives Obama an opportunity to act

Bronwen Maddox, Chief Foreign Commentator
The united front that China and India claim to present on climate change puts the United States in a tough position — but could give President Obama the leverage that he needs to persuade Americans to save energy.
In a calculated move, China, which has just overtaken the US as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, stole the show at yesterday’s special United Nations summit on climate change with plans to pour billions of dollars into energy-saving technology and nuclear power.
China, which like the US produces about a fifth of global warming gases, made a strong bid to grab the moral high ground and the claim to world leadership — as well as much of the lucrative new market in green technology.
Indian ministers had already jumped the gun with talk of new curbs, although the gesture may be worth more in politics than in science, as analysts are sceptical of their commitment to force through mandatory efficiency standards on vehicles and buildings, renewable energy and stopping deforestation.
The pincer movement by the twin giants of the developing world puts pressure on the US to reverse years of political resistance and set targets for cutting its own emissions. The move by China and India “has a huge political benefit for Obama”, said Paul Bledsoe, of the National Commission on Energy Policy in Washington. “Domestically, one of the biggest obstacles to the President is that large developing countries would not commit” to targets for cutting emissions.
The 1997 Byrd-Hagel resolution (passed by 95-0 in the Senate) said that the US would not accept binding targets on emissions unless developing countries did so too,
and would not in any case if the curbs seriously damaged the economy. “That sentiment still exists in Congress, among Democrats and Republicans,” said Mr Bledsoe, although there have been signs of a shift in the past four years.
In blunt criticism of his predecessor George W. Bush, Mr Obama said: “It is true that mankind has been slow to recognise the threat. It is true of my own country as well. But this is a new era.”
The move by China and India could breathe more life into the struggling Copenhagen summit on climate change in December.
Speaking immediately after Mr Obama yesterday, President Nasheed of the Maldives gave a passionate, desperate speech, saying that if Copenhagen failed, the tiny islands “would no longer exist”.
China, India and other developing countries may account for two thirds of emissions of greenhouse gases within a decade. But they have resisted targets that could impede growth and poverty reduction, saying that the developed world should sort out the problem that it caused. Global recession has helped this year’s grandstanding, of course. US emissions are expected to fall by 6 per cent this year, after a 3.8 per cent fall in 2008, the US Department of Energy has reported.
Global carbon emissions are expected to fall by 2.6 per cent, the biggest drop for 40 years, said the International Energy Agency. The recession has made targets easier to reach and may give the Copenhagen meeting its best chance of recovery.
China — which has already committed a quarter of its $450 billion stimulus package to clean energy — has its eye on the vast emerging market for green technology and nuclear power. Mr Obama is warning Congress that the US will miss out if it holds back.
China’s command of the spotlight yesterday may give him the challenge that he has been seeking.

Small change from Obama

President Obama's best efforts before the UN special session on climate change couldn't disguise the lack of US commitment
Kate Sheppard, Tuesday 22 September 2009 18.20 BST

Barack Obama made a hard sell to the United Nations in New York today, seeking to assure other world leaders that the US is committed to action on climate – even as hopes of Congress passing new environmental laws this year grow increasingly dim. But Obama's message, despite taking a tough tack on rapidly developing nations like China and India, did little to put pressure on the US Congress to act.
"We understand the gravity of the climate threat. We are determined to act, and we will meet our responsibility to future generations," Obama told the gathered leaders, adding that he is "proud" of what the US has done so far this year.
"The United States has done more to promote clean energy and reduce carbon pollution in the last eight months than at any other time in our history," he said, noting the House of Representatives' passage of a climate bill, the investments in renewable energy and efficiency through the stimulus, the extension of tax credits for renewable energy, and the recent announcement of new emissions standards for cars sold in the US. He cited the recent drop in overall US emissions, which he said is "due in part" to what his administration has accomplished – although he didn't add that it's in large part due to the dismal economy.
The president acknowledged that leaders "did not come here today to celebrate progress," but rather, "came because there is so much more work to be done." But for all the qualification he offered for what the US has done so far, Obama did little to put pressure on the US Senate to deliver him new legislation to let him take a binding commitment on US greenhouse gas reductions with him to the Copenhagen summit in December. He praised the work of the Senate energy and natural resources committee on an energy bill, and said he will "look forward" to working with others in the Senate on legislation. But there were no landmarks in terms of what he needs to see in a bill, and no pressure to get him that legislation this fall.
Obama made only passing reference to what the US might be willing to commit to. He acknowledged the responsibility to provide financial and technical assistance to developing nations for clean energy technology and adaptation, but gave no specifics. He talked about the scientific imperatives to act, but offered no confirmation that the US would commit itself to using science-based emissions targets that reflect the scale of that challenge. The best he could offer: that nations should agree on "slashing our emissions to reach the targets we set for 2020 and our long-term goal for 2050."
While the administration's efforts on clean energy and efficiency thus far are notable, world leaders gathered at the summit know that there's no dice without a binding commitment from Congress. And with no binding US commitment, there's no binding global deal. Obama's best efforts could not disguise this reality. Many other leaders of developed nations were able to bring commitments: the European Union has committed to cuts of 20% below 1990 levels by 2020, and 30% if other developed nations follow suit. And Japan's new prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, came to today's summit touting his promise to cut Japan's emissions to 25% below 1990 levels by 2020, so long as others consent.
But Obama had much tougher words for rapidly-growing developing nations like China and India, calling on them to do their part as well". "They will need to commit to strong measures at home and agree to stand behind those commitments just as the developed nations must stand behind their own," Obama said. "We cannot meet this challenge unless all the largest emitters of greenhouse gas pollution act together."
He also cautioned against over-optimism, noting that leaders need to be "flexible and pragmatic" and should not let "the perfect to become the enemy of progress" on a new climate treaty. But with less than three months to go before the Copenhagen summit – "only 87 days left to succeed or to fail," as French president, Nicholas Sarkozy, put it – no one at the UN summit is overly optimistic. Obama's speech did little to boost anyone's hopes: "The journey is long. The journey is hard, and we don't have much time left to make that journey."

China's climate pledge is more terminology than substance

China has set its first ever carbon emission targets, but is still not ready to reveal how far - if at all - it is willing to move off its highly polluting path of growth

Jonathan Watts, Asia environment correspondent, Tuesday 22 September 2009 17.43 BST
The "c word" entered the vocabulary of a Chinese president for the first time today, as Hu Jintao promised his country would set its first carbon target for 2020. Overall greenhouse gas emissions will not fall, but the fossil fuels burned in powering each surge of the economy will decline - a cut in so-called carbon intensity.
For the moment, it is a breakthrough of terminology more than substance. But in promising such a goal, Hu has effectively declared that China - the world's biggest polluter - has an important card to play in negotiations towards a global climate change treaty in Copenhagen.
Until now, China has not included carbon emissions in its economic planning, though government officials have been working on a new methodology, based primarily on existing targets for energy efficiency.
How significant this new target proves to be will depend on the amount. During his speech to the United Nations, Hu coyly kept that figure close to his chest, saying only that China would reduce the quantity of its carbon emissions relative to GDP by a "notable margin".
This was the highlight of what was otherwise a summary of measures that Beijing has already announced to address climate change, including tree-planting campaigns, a commitment to supporting the developing world, and efforts to raise the amount of renewables in the energy mix to 15% by 2020.
The Chinese media had been primed to expect a decisive move away from business as usual. This did not come, but the presentation and language were noteworthy.
Environmental groups said the adoption of a carbon-intensity target would help encourage domestic industries to reduce their use of coal, which currently accounts for 70% of the China's energy.
"People in China will finally start saying 'what is a carbon economy?'," said Yang Fuqiang, director of global climate solutions at the WWF Beijing office. He predicted the move would bolster plans for carbon trading and moves to introduce a carbon tax.
The key, however, will be how far China moves away from its current energy-intensive model of growth.
If the state continues its current five-year pledge to reduce carbon intensity by 20%, it is estimated that China could save 4.5 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide between 2005 and 2020 - a cut from business-as-usual of more than 50% - and a globally significant amount of carbon.
A 2020 energy intensity target could also pave the way for the government to set a goal for China's overall emissions to peak, a key milestone. A recent study by the country's top energy thinktank estimated this could come between 2030 and 2035 in a best-case scenario.
But at a state level, this has not been made public. It is likely to be used as a bargaining chip. China is pressing Europe and the United States to set bolder targets for reducing their emissions and providing money and technology to the developing world.
China has taken significant steps in the past five years to become more carbon efficient, but its economy is growing so fast these gains have been swamped.
There remains much talk of the need to move to a low-carbon economy, but as yet few specifics. In the delicate choreography of the negotiations, the world's biggest emitter of carbon is not yet ready to reveal how far, if at all, it is willing to move off its current - highly polluting - path of growth.

Genuine hope on climate change

The UN summit speeches by presidents Obama and Hu show how much progress has been made this year on climate change

Joseph Romm, Tuesday 22 September 2009 21.30 BST
President Obama's historic address to the UN climate summit makes clear he will bring all of his political and rhetorical skills to achieving a strong domestic climate bill – and an international deal – in the coming months. President Hu Jintao's speech makes clear that China is also prepared to take strong action at home to enable an international deal.
President Obama asserted that failure to act "boldly, swiftly, and together" risks "consigning future generations to an irreversible catastrophe":
No nation, however large or small, wealthy or poor, can escape the impact of climate change.... The security and stability of each nation and all peoples – our prosperity, our health, our safety – are in jeopardy. And the time we have to reverse this tide is running out.
Obama became the first president to ever acknowledge that the US has failed to live up to its responsibility to act:
It is true that for too many years, mankind has been slow to respond to or even recognize the magnitude of the climate threat. It is true of my own country as well. We recognise that.... Yes, the developed nations that caused much of the damage to our climate over the last century still have a responsibility to lead.
President Obama pointed out that his administration has made remarkable strides in accelerating clean energy deployment and reversing emissions trends: "I am proud to say that the United States has done more to promote clean energy and reduce carbon pollution in the last eight months than at any other time in our history.... And already, we know that the recent drop in overall U.S. emissions is due in part to steps that promote greater efficiency and greater use of renewable energy."
In fact, Obama's announcement last week of national standards for new vehicle fuel economy and exhaust pipe greenhouse gas emission is "the single biggest step the American government has ever taken to cut greenhouse-gas emissions," as one US analyst put it.
But Obama also acknowledged that much, much more needs to be done. At a national level, he pledged US action on "slashing our emissions to reach the targets we set for 2020 and our long-term goal for 2050." For those who don't follow US climate politics closely, this means he is committed to passage through the Senate of a climate and clean energy bill with targets for 2020 and 2050 similar to those found in the recently-passed House of Representatives bill – which are also similar to what he campaigned on.
The 2050 target is a more than 80% reduction from 2005 levels. The 2020 target remains a subject of some debate. The House bill require a 17% cut – while creating a large pool of money to invest in strategies for reducing deforestation that would achieve the equivalent of a further 10% reduction. This is not adequate from a scientific perspective, but it is an inevitable political result after a decade of delay and obstruction from Obama's predecessor, George Bush. America will be starting its emissions reductions efforts a decade later then the other developed countries, and so politically our near-term target is weaker than it needs to be be.
Obama also made news by announcing: "Later this week, I will work with my colleagues at the G20 to phase out fossil fuel subsidies so that we can better address our climate challenge." Certainly, these subsidies are a major impediment to an accelerated transition to clean energy.
Finally, President Hu Jintao continued China's remarkable series of pledges this year to sharply change the recent, unsustainable greenhouse gas emission trends of the world's biggest emitter. In particular, Hu introduced a new goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP from 2005 levels by 2020 by a "notable margin." I think China needs to cut them by more than half over that 15 year period.
Julian Wong, a senior policy analyst for the Centre for American Progress, said: "Taken together, President Hu's latest message underscores China's seriousness in tackling climate change, and narrows the gap between the asks and wants among the major developed and developing nations in the international negotiations. This should serve as an indication to the developed countries of China's good faith on climate action, and as a catalyst to other developing countries to formulate their own robust low-carbon strategies."
The world's two biggest carbon polluters, the US and China, have come a long way over the last year. And this should give the world genuine hope that serious progress can be made on the gravest threat humanity faces.

UN climate summit: Leaders take small steps towards action on climate change

Outpouring of new pledges of action was precisely what UN chief Ban Ki-Moon intended when he called the summit

Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent, Wednesday 23 September 2009 01.50 BST
For a man known for his diplomatic reserve, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, was unusually upfront about his frustration with the pace of talks for a treaty to stop global warming yesterday. "The world's glaciers are now melting faster than human progress to protect them – or us," he said at the opening session of his climate change summit.
Yesterday, though, the world leaders did begin to move, not as quickly as the UN chief would have liked, not entirely in the same direction or towards a clearly defined goal. But it was movement.
China said it would curb pollution by 2020 – but it did not say by how much. Japan reaffirmed an ambitious new target for cutting emissions and offered cash to developing nations to adopt new green technology and for small-island and low-lying states, to escape the worst ravages of climate change. It did not say how much.
America committed itself to finding a solution – and for the first time accepted its share of the blame for climate change. France threw out an idea for an entirely new leaders' summit in November.
Even the Maldives, which is generally included at such gatherings as a prime casualty of climate change, offered to do its share. It would be carbon neutral by 2020, its president, Mohamed Nasheed, said.
An outpouring of pledges of action from the world leaders was precisely what Ban intended when he said the summit was the first time such a sizeable group of world leaders had gathered to devote a full day to global warming.
Last night he said the gathering had saved the Copenhagen negotiations from outright collapse. "I am convinced that something missing from the last few months has returned," he said. "This ­summit has put wind in our sails."
The Danish prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who will be the official host of the Copenhagen meeting, said the deadlock had been broken. In a ­further sign of confidence, he said he was now inclined to invite heads of state and ­government to the talks, picking up the challenge by Gordon Brown last week.
UN officials said in advance they hoped new commitments from the big industrialised states, such as Japan and China, would prod other countries into action so that they not be seen as the spoilers of a potential deal at Copenhagen.
Last night, they said that the offers from China and Japan, and recent shifts in position, had changed the dynamics of the negotiations. The industrialised and developing world now appeared to share a sense of common cause on climate change – rather than recrimination about who was to blame, they said.
They also agreed it was crucial to keep heads of state and government involved because of the complexity of negotiations. The negotiation documents have on their own become a source of conflict, at 200 pages with hundreds of footnotes.
In his most direct foray into the debate, China's president, Hu Jintao, said climate change would be an essential factor in its economic planning. "We should make our endeavour on climate change a win-win for both developed and developing ­countries," he said, adding that China would cut carbon emissions by a "notable margin", which he did not specify.
Hu also said China would step up use of renewable energy to 15% by 2020, and increase its forests.
Environmentalists saw the pledge – though lacking in specifics – as an important move. "These announcements should sweep away the canard that China is not willing to reduce emissions," said Dan Dudek, the director of the China programme for the Environment Defence Fund. "Is it enough to make Copenhagen a success? That will depend upon whether Hu's new climate initiatives propel Obama and the Senate into action on controlling greenhouse gases." Obama offered no promises on pushing through legislation before Copenhagen. The Senate has been preoccupied with healthcare reform, though Democratic leaders said this week they hope to get to energy in early October. Instead, Obama made an overture to the developing countries, acknowledging the US and other industrialised states had failed for too long to acknowledge their responsibility. "It is true that for too many years, ­mankind has been slow to respond to or even recognise the magnitude of the climate threat. It is true of my own country as well. We recognise that," he said. "But this is a new day."
Though it was largely overlooked, he also showed he was committed to trying to green the US economy, announcing a project to track greenhouse gas emissions. The president promised further small-bore action at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh where he said America will propose phasing out subsidies for fossil fuel.
Environmentalists almost uniformly agreed that the US president had missed an opportunity to commit to working with the Senate on ways to get a bill that caps America's greenhouse gas emissions.
Even so, the emerging focus on climate finance, with the US and Japan yesterday ready to commit funds, could help ease a contentious issue: how to help the developing world prepare for climate change.
There are still details to be ironed out. China is pushing for the developed world to spend 1% of GDP. The state department climate change envoy, Todd Stern, called that sum "untethered to reality". But at least, said UN officials and environmentalists, it looks as if there is a renewed willingness to engage.

The fiercest battles for a climate deal are fought online

Using Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, campaigners are using the web to harness people power on a big scale
From campaigners TckTckTck and Avaaz to the UK climate secretary's office and the UN, organisations are using the web to harness people power on a scale not seen since Obama's famous digital election strategy. It's not hard to see why.
Campaigners and governments need a popular mandate from voters to justify a tough deal on emissions reduction at the Copenhagen talks this December. The internet is also a way of going direct to citizens and bypassing mainstream media, which often sees the subject of climate negotiations as dull, worthy and wonky unless there's a "clash".
These digital campaigners can already claim some success. When Gordon Brown announced on Sunday that he'd be attending Copenhagen – which is a meeting of environment ministers, not world leaders – more than a little credit belonged to Greenpeace and BeThatChange, which organised a "Twitterstorm" in an effort to get the tag "#pm2un" on to Twitter's trending topics. Kieran Battles, BeThatChange's director, said: "We're pleased that we played our part in getting the prime minister to attend but ultimately this is a success for the climate change movement."
Social media is the main weapon in campaigners' arsenals. Twitter, Facebook fan pages and groups, YouTube videos and photo collaboration projects – see Seal the Deal's photo wall, Christian Aid's Mass Visual Trespass or our very own Message to Copenhagen – have been the most popular tools.
Unsurprisingly, the NGOs have produced some of the most web-savvy campaigns, from Avaaz's "Wake-up Call" to world leaders yesterday, to TckTckTck's thousands of Facebook fans. What is unusual is the way usually monolithic organisations, such as the UN and the UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change, have opened themselves up with decent YouTube videos (see above) and dedicated sites (see Act on Copenhagen, and Ed's Pledge).
The way in which all these campaigns operate is different to conventional top-down offline campaigns too, says Andrew Male, communications director for TckTckTck, the umbrella climate campaign representing Oxfam, Greenpeace, WWF and other NGOs. "What is so exciting about this kind of online campaigning is that it's about giving people a set of tools and letting them do whatever they want with them. It's not about controlling people and telling them what to do, it's about creating a space and frame and having individuals, groups and communities let their imagination and passion take them somewhere," says Male.
And with 75 days until the summit proper, we've only seen the beginning of this digital drum-banging. Expect the noise to get a lot louder on 15 October if a poll by Blog Action Day elects "climate" as this year's subject – a move that would see thousands of bloggers, many usually uninterested in the environment, writing on climate change for a day.
Finally, it's worth noting that I've only touched here on a fraction of the innovative and eye-catching web campaigns on Copenhagen. Let me know in the comments which ones I've missed, and which ones you rate.

China may be dirty but it's cleaning up its act

Jane Macartney in Beijing
Here’s a dirty little secret: China is the most polluted country on Earth, but it is also doing much more than most to save the environment.
The air in Linfen is thick enough to choke. The sky is obscured, black with grime and smog. This is among the most polluted cities in China, and hence in the world. But this is China past.
China future may not be far away. No farther, perhaps, than the neighbouring ancient walled town of Pingyao, also in the coal-producing heartland of Shanxi province. Look down from the centuries old city walls and you will see grey-tiled roofs scattered with shining panels soaking up solar power to heat the water for Pingyao’s residents.
China is still far from being a model on how to deal with climate change. After all, the filthy city of Linfen is at the heart of a coal industry that provides 80 per cent of China’s energy needs. This is a major reason why the world’s most populous county recently overtook the United States to become the world’s top producer of greenhouse gases.
After all, China needs energy to power the industrial juggernaut that provides employment, not to mention hot water and heating, for its 1.3 billion people.
What is less well known is that China is at the forefront of adopting technologies to reduce its reliance on the carbons that have made the country such a giant source of the world’s emissions.
That is where the solar panels in Pingyao become important.
China is also the world’s largest manufacturer — and consumer — of solar water heating panels.
It may not be much, but it is a start.
That China adds one new coal-powered power plant every week is something of a myth. But there is no doubt that its reliance on coal for energy outranks the rest of the world.
China may argue in public that it bears far less responsibility than the developed world for carbon emissions. But while stressing that it will rely on coal for its energy for many more decades — coal-fired energy is likely to account for at least 70 per cent of China’s needs for many years — the leadership long ago began investigating, and investing in, alternative energies.
Beijing has already implemented measures to get rid of small, inefficient and dirty power plants.
Rarely now does China build a plant of less than 300 megawatts, and more commonly it is investing in 600-megawatt installations. By 2006, nearly half of the country’s power generators were 600 megawatts or larger — and only 14 per cent were under 300 megawatts.
Furthermore, China is already building the most modern coal-fired power plants — the only country other than Germany and Japan to do so.
Investment is pouring into wind power. China plans to build seven large wind-power bases over the next decade, and already ranks fourth in the world in terms of installed capacity, at 12.2 gigawatts — about equal to the energy produced by two dozen average-sized coal-fired plants. There is still a long way to go. That is still a tiny proportion of total capacity of 800 gigawatts — most of it coal-fired. But it is a start, and is certain to rise.
No Communist Party official can hope to win promotion unless he can show his contribution to tackling climate change.

Now China lays down challenge to Obama on climate

UN hopeful that Beijing initiative will kick-start talks on deal to curb emissions
By David Usborne, US Editor, in New York
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
Beijing will raise the stakes in the race to agree a global climate change treaty by using a summit of world leaders in New York today to announce that China, the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, is ready to take new measures to cut pollution.
Although more than 100 leaders will attend today's conference, the focus will be on China's premier, Hu Jintao, and US President Barack Obama, who together may hold the fate of the treaty in their hands.
Officials in Beijing indicated last night that Mr Hu would arrive in Manhattan this morning ready to unveil "important" plans for reducing China's carbon dioxide emissions, which could break the deadlock in negotiations. While he is not expected to commit China to emissions reduction targets, an acceptance of intensity targets, which aim to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of industrial production, would be a big step forward.
The UN has called the summit to try to build momentum towards achieving a new deal on cutting emissions at talks in Copenhagen in December. Scientists are calling for an ambitious target for reducing the greenhouse gases which cause climate change, as a successor to the Kyoto protocol.
But with time running out before the talks in Denmark, there are fears that not enough progress is being made to reach a new deal. China's move could kick-start talks, but may also leave Mr Obama having to shoulder the blame if the Copenhagen conference ends in failure. A Bill, backed by Mr Obama and proposing a "cap-and-trade" system to cut CO2 output in the US, has been passed by the House of Representatives but is stuck in the Senate.
America is the world's second-biggest polluter after China.
Yvo de Boer, the UN's leading climate official, confirmed that China was poised to offer a potential breakthrough and said he expected Beijing to become the "world leader" in tackling climate change. He said the package of measures expected from President Hu would take Chinese emissions "very significantly away from where they would have been and are".
About 70 per cent of China's energy is produced from coal. With her industrial capacity and urbanisation still growing, the country's energy needs are being met by the opening of a new coal-fired power station every week. China's CO2 emissions from fossil fuels soared by 129 per cent between 1990 and 2005.
Exactly how big an impact today's announcement by China will have on the talks depends on what detail Mr Hu offers. According to reports from Beijing, he intends to be fairly specific, offering for the first time some numeric framework for what China intends to do. China is traditionally wary of signing up to multilateral, binding treaties, but Mr Hu could deliver a strong political message of his willingness to tackle the problem of global warming.
"We want to give the world a strong, clear signal, especially ahead of the Copenhagen summit, that we are sincere and committed," said Zhang Haibin, a professor of environmental politics at Beijing University and an adviser to the government.
Today's gathering, hosted by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, will feature a parade of heads of government, Mr Obama included, calling for progress before the Copenhagen talks. Yet the impasse in Washington will be on everyone's mind.
It is hard to imagine Mr Obama travelling to Denmark and signing a comprehensive pact without action having first been taken in the Senate. Yet for the moment, all the Senate's political energies are focused on the President's controversial healthcare proposals.
It is the scant progress being made in America that may have prompted Gordon Brown to make an impassioned plea for progress in an article published yesterday by the US magazine Newsweek. World leaders must go to Copenhagen to avert the "grave danger" of the treaty negotiations falling apart, he argued.
"Securing an agreement in Copenhagen will require world leaders to bridge our remaining differences and seize these opportunities," the Prime Minister added. "If we miss this opportunity, there will be no second chance sometime in the future, no later way to undo the catastrophic damage to the environment we will cause."
The message was echoed in New York yesterday by the Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband, who warned that the world was facing a "make or break" opportunity. Many countries, including China, were "working hard to defy the odds" to agree a treaty, he said, expressing hope that the US political hold-up could be overcome. Although he said the "constellation of the stars" made reaching a pact difficult, he added: "I actually think this will be the best chance for some years to come."
That the negotiations may boil down largely to what China and the US can deliver was acknowledged last week by Mr Ban. China is by far the biggest of the emerging industrial nations, with India next. China and America are responsible for 40 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.
"China and the US will be the two key countries which can make a great impact to this negotiation," Mr Ban said, adding that presidents Obama and Hu and other leaders should "publicly commit to sealing a deal in Copenhagen".
Any significant step forward by China will rob the US Senate of one of its principal arguments for dragging its feet. Conservative politicians on Capitol Hill have repeatedly asserted that it would be unfair for America to take the leap into a system that might impede her economic growth if developing countries such as China were allowed to get away with doing virtually nothing.
Mr Hu is expected precisely to counter that charge.

We will back a global deal to cut emissions, says Obama

President signals intention to abandon intransigence of his predecessor – but admits it will be tough to get treaty through the Senate
By David Usborne and Andrew Grice in New York
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
Barack Obama insisted at a climate change summit yesterday that the US was committed to a new global treaty on greenhouse gases – explicitly distancing himself from George Bush – even while acknowledging that he faced an uphill task getting the necessary legislation passed in Washington. Listing actions taken in the US to curb carbon output since he took office, the President called his pledge "an historic recognition on behalf of the American people and their government. We understand the gravity of the climate threat. We are determined to act. And we will meet our responsibility to future generations".
Even with bursts of encouraging rhetoric from leaders at the UN gathering in New York and some new commitments to act, notably from China, the mood among delegations was sombre. There was no hiding the acute awareness that talks towards sealing a new global pact on cutting emissions at another summit in Copenhagen this December are in deep trouble.
The Chinese President, Hu Jintao, addressed criticism, partly from the US, that the largest developing countries were not doing enough to contribute to the pact. For the first time, he pledged "mandatory national targets for reducing energy intensity and the discharge of major pollutants". He was referring to new targets that will reduce carbon output per unit of production in China.
While Mr Hu offered fewer numerical specifics than some would have liked, his promise to "integrate actions on climate change in its economic and social development plan" is a major shift by the Chinese leadership. The speech was meant partly to serve notice at home that combating climate change will now be one of China's priorities along with economic growth.
The Chinese offer goes to the heart of the struggle that is playing out between developed and developing nations. The latter argue they are being asked to sacrifice their ambitions for economic stability. In the US, conservatives argue they will not commit to emissions cuts unless developing countries such as China and India shoulder their part of the bargain.
A rift has opened among developed nations, with the EU increasingly frustrated that the US, so preoccupied by healthcare reform, has yet to adopt legislation enshrining the emission cuts it will need to have in place to make a new treaty work.
Mr Obama did not attempt to hide the difficulties ahead of Copenhagen. His proposals for a cap-and-trade system to effect cuts in the US have been adopted by the House of Representatives but face long delays in the Senate, possibly even until after the mid-term elections in November next year.
Without Senate action, it will be hard for Mr Obama to sign any treaty in December. "It is work that will not be easy. As we head towards Copenhagen, there should be no illusions that the hardest part of our journey is in front of us," Mr Obama said. "All of us will face doubts and difficulties in our own capitals as we try to reach a lasting solution to the climate challenge."
Mr Obama called on developing nations to accept sacrifice. "Rapidly growing developing nations that will produce nearly all the growth in global carbon emissions in the decades ahead must do their part... they need to commit to strong measures at home and agree to stand behind those commitments just as the developed nations must stand behind their own."
Arriving in New York yesterday, Gordon Brown chaired a meeting on the issue of how much industrialised nations should pay developing countries to combat climate change. He has already proposed a $100bn-a-year (£61bn) payment by 2020.
Mr Brown urged fellow world leaders to attend the talks in Copenhagen in December on a new global deal. He fears that the issue is so complicated that the traditional negotiating tactic, of nations not declaring their hand until they get to Denmark, would end in failure.
British officials travelling with the Prime Minister do not believe there will be a formal agreement on climate change at this week's UN and G20 meetings, but hope they will provide momentum towards one. One said: "This is not the point at which a deal is done, but the point at which leaders look each other in the eye and say we must do a deal in Copenhagen."
British Government sources said the issue was "too important to be left to officials" and that leaders should start negotiations now to avoid running out of time in Copenhagen. "It's too complex to leave to a couple of days in Copenhagen. We have to see countries converging before then," one said.

Flights of fancy over airline emissions

The Guardian, Wednesday 23 September 2009
I am really glad that Willie Walsh, British Airways' chief executive, has promised to deliver a 50% reduction in global aviation CO2 emissions over the next 41 years (Airlines vow to halve emissions by 2050, 22 September), as this means I can consider immediate retirement. Sadly, neither event is likely to happen. Forecasts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other reliable sources suggest that global aviation industry emissions will rise to 2.4bn tonnes in 2050 from 610m in 2005. While aircraft and operational efficiency could improve by an average of 1.5% a year to 2020, it is likely to slow to around 1% as technology matures. There are simply no blended-wing hydrogen-fuelled aircraft ready to fly to the airlines' rescue, let alone one recent utterly bonkers suggestion of nuclear-powered planes.
The key word from Mr Walsh that exposes his claims is "net". Carbon offsets are a significant part of the aviation industry's menu, but are no substitute for real cuts in emissions. The use of biofuels in aircraft is, despite a masterly PR campaign featuring Boeing and Branson, the Batman and Robin of aviation's greenwash hype, unlikely to deliver the promised "10% by 2017" contribution. There are no sustainable biomass feedstocks or production facilities that could produce a safe kerosene alternative with a zero carbon footprint or less by then.
We know the aviation industry dislikes fuel taxes and campaigns vociferously against the proxy carbon tax regime that inclusion in the European emission trading scheme represents, despite pretending not to. Only the extremely credulous will believe that airlines willingly want to raise ticket prices to reflect even today's low market price of €14 per tonne of CO2, sending themselves an invoice for more than €8.5bn in the process. But it needs to, as a minimum, and right now if we are ever to get aviation's runaway emissions under control.
Jeffrey Gazzard
Board member, Aviation Environment Federation

Lib Dems demand 'savage cuts' to UK emissions as they back 10:10 campaign

Party backs amendment promising Lib Dem councils will commit themselves to reduce carbon emissions by 10% by next year
Hélène Mulholland, Tuesday 22 September 2009 17.44 BST
The Liberal Democrats threw their weight behind the 10:10 climate change campaign today as they demanded "savage cuts" in Britain's carbon emissions.
Opening a debate at the party's Bournemouth conference, the Lib Dem energy and climate change spokesman, Simon Hughes, told his party that "we cannot start too soon" in reducing emissions. The Guardian is backing the 10:10 campaign to reduce UK carbon emissions by 10% by next year.
The party backed an amendment promising that any council run or influenced by the Lib Dems would commit itself to the campaign's objectives, and party members would make "similar personal commitments".
Hughes told delegates: "The 10:10 campaign is about action now, not in 10 or 40 years' time. You, me, us, councils, government. I call on Liberal Democrats to support this campaign now and praise all those who have already signed up. We cannot start too soon."
The Lib Dems run 64 councils.
Pointedly adapting Nick Clegg's threat of "savage cuts" to public spending, Hughes, a critic of the leader, told delegates: "Conference, we must not axe our social fabric. But I'll own up. I too am in favour of controversial and, yes, savage cuts. Of emissions. By 10% in 2010."
Clegg, the party leader, personally signed up to the campaign earlier this month. Gordon Brown's cabinet and the entire Conservative frontbench have also added their support.
Backing the amendment, Chris Nicholson, a delegate from Streatham, said many councils had already signed up to the 10:10 campaign, and said it felt a lot more tangible than some of the "remote" targets for 2020, 2030 and beyond. "It is very immediate, it is a challenge to us all, it is very concrete and we can measure what is being achieved," he said.
Sian Reid, a Cambridge city councillor, said her local authority had already signed up, as had her local MP, David Howarth.
The council had put climate change at the "heart" of all its policies, including putting pressure on large planning applications to meet some of their energy requirements through renewable energy target.
Reid said it was important to "lead by example". "For three years now, we have embedded the carbon agenda in our process," she added.

Climate Week kicks off with warning from hoax New York Post

Politicians, activists, academics and celebrities descend on New York to build momentum for Copenhagen negotiations
Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent, Tuesday 22 September 2009 11.02 BST
If today's UN conclave on climate change does not push world leaders to act, maybe the banner headline "we're screwed" on fake copies of a New York tabloid will.
A group of pranksters called the Yes Men, who first struck a few years ago with bogus copies of the New York Times proclaiming an end to the Iraq war, yesterday distributed phoney copies of the New York Post, with headlines warning: "Global warming kills" and "World leaders slip on UN summit slope".
The action – part of New York's Climate Week – saw hundreds of volunteers handing out copies near UN headquarters and the main train stations. It was among dozens of events this week meant to keep world leaders focused on reaching an agreement to stop global warming.
On Thursday, even the Empire State building is going to go green – although the special illuminations are actually for the 70th anniversary, or Emerald Gala, of the Wizard of Oz movie.
The official start to Climate Week got under way around midday yesterday, with the UN chief, Yvo de Boer, Tony Blair, and other dignitaries issuing a call for action. "Remember, we cannot press the undo button if the climate gets out of hand," Connie Hedegaard, Denmark's minister for climate and energy, said.
A few hours later, leaders from small island states came together to demand the developed world step up at Copenhagen with a far more ambitious deal than has been on the table: 45% emissions cut by 2020.
"Climate change is already delivering damage not of our making," the Maldives president, Mohamed Nasheed, told leaders. "Should we, leaders of the most vulnerable and exposed countries, be asking our people to sign on to significantly greater degrees of misery and livelihood insecurity, essentially becoming climate change guinea pigs?"
Blair said climate change was the most difficult negotiations he had ever encountered.
Gisele Bundchen, the Brazilian supermodel who has just been named goodwill ambassador for the UN environmental programme, was also in town. She immediately called her home country to account, telling reporters that Brazil needed to do more to preserve its rainforests.
Monday night also saw the world premiere of the Age of Stupid, which was held in a blue-lit tent near the site of the former World Trade Centre. The film was simultaneously broadcast to more than 700 cinemas and private screenings around the world.
Today's UN summit and a two-day meeting of the G20 in Pittsburgh on Thursday and Friday make this week one of the most heavily concentrated on climate change before the Copenhagen negotiations in December. Politicial leaders, environmental activists, academics, and celebrities have descended on New York to try to build momentum for the Copenhagen negotiations.
If not, the fake New York Post warned, the world faces "Flopenhagen".

Wave electricity generator capsizes in sea

By Ella Pickover, Press Association
Tuesday, 22 September 2009

A power company's plans to create energy by harnessing power from sea waves suffered a setback after an 80-tonne generator capsized off the coast.
A spokeswoman for Trident Energy, who developed the pioneering technology, said the experimental wave generator was being towed out to sea to begin a year-long offshore trial when the accident happened yesterday near Southwold, Suffolk.
The technology, which was featured in Leonardo Di Caprio's eco-documentary, The 11th Hour, was being tested in the sea to gather detailed information on how the machine performed.
A Coast Guard spokeswoman added the floating generator was being towed to its new location five miles off Southwold when it capsized at 12.35pm yesterday.
Yarmouth Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre watch manager Mario Siano said: "The floating generator was later connected to a tug and grounded three miles south-east of Southwold harbour entrance.
"All appropriate authorities have been informed and the MCA counter pollution officer is aware and is monitoring the situation."
A spokeswoman for Trident Energy said: "The 80 tonne platform has been grounded three miles east of Southwold harbour and made secure. The company is in the process of making arrangements to move the platform to a suitable location where any damage can be fully assessed before determining next steps.
"Trident Energy can confirm that the incident was in no way related to its patented technology to convert sea wave energy into electricity."
The machine was made to stand on a giant pair of legs, supported by submerged pontoons anchored to the sea bed, to hold it above the waves. Special floats move up and down with the waves to drive generators, which convert the motion into electricity.

Green power line to Los Angeles hits roadblock

Reuters, Wednesday September 23 2009
* Los Angeles may alter plan for green transmission line
* Environmentalists oppose proposed route
* Project shows issues in routing green energy to cities
By Laura Isensee
LOS ANGELES, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa wants to make Los Angeles the "cleanest, greenest big city" in the United States, but a key project to bring renewable energy across the desert to the city could change under pressure from environmental groups.
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the largest U.S. municipal utility with 4 million customers, wants to build an 85-mile (136 km) transmission line for clean energy, called the Green Path North transmission line.
Activists have decried a proposed path that would cut through the Yucca Valley, two wildlife preserves and the San Bernardino National Forest.
Building transmission lines to bring in power from solar and wind farms has raised environmental and permitting issues across the nation.
"We are taking a fresh look at the whole ball game, including the Green Path North transmission line," said Deputy Mayor David Freeman, who is in charge of the mayor's environmental agenda and former head of the city's utility.
This year Villaraigosa pledged to cut the city's dependence on coal-fired power plants and to get 40 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2020. That goal is even more ambitious than California's goal to get a third of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
Freeman said the city is intensely reevaluating the proposed transmission line and its overall program to find the most effective and cost-efficient way of reaching its goal. The Green Path project is estimated to cost more than $500 million.
The city could turn to its existing transmission lines, such as opening up Owens Valley for solar power projects or lines that go into Utah for geothermal power projects.
Environmental groups are concerned that the Green Path Project would harm desert wilderness.
"This is not environmental groups being opposed to renewable energy. This is a project that is being proposed that is not green," said April Sall, conservation director with the Wildlands Conservancy.
Sall said that as alternatives the city should look to already designated power corridors -- such as Edison International unit Southern California Edison's transmission corridor along Interstate 10 -- and consider more local generation, like solar systems on rooftops.
"Destroying pristine lands is not necessary nor appropriate to reach these goals," Sall added. (Reporting by Laura Isensee, editing by Mary Milliken)

British Airways, Shell, EDF among companies to call for action on climate

Leading global companies sign communique warning that failure to secure deal in Copenhagen will worsen world economy
Press Association, Tuesday 22 September 2009 11.01 BST
More than 500 leading global companies have signed up to a call for action on climate change ahead of crunch talks on tackling the problem in Copenhagen in December.
The move by some of the world's leading brands comes after prime minister Gordon Brown pledged to attend December's UN climate conference to ensure a deal aimed at avoiding dangerous temperature rises is reached.
The Copenhagen Communique, to be unveiled at the UN's climate summit in New York today, is the latest in a series of events this week aimed at increasing the pressure on world leaders to secure agreement on cutting the greenhouse emissions which cause climate change.
The communique, whose signatories include British Airways, Virgin, BP, Shell and energy suppliers EDF and E.ON, warns that a failure to secure a deal in Copenhagen will worsen the current economic climate.
But a science-based agreement with commitments for deep and immediate cuts from industrialised countries will "deliver the economic signals that companies need if they are to invest billions of dollars in low carbon products, services, technologies and infrastructure", it said.
The communique, organised by the Prince of Wales's corporate leaders group on climate change based at the University of Cambridge, said: "Economic development will not be sustained in the longer term unless the climate is stabilised.
"It is critical that we exit this recession in a way that lays the foundation for low-carbon growth and avoids locking us into a high-carbon future."
The statement, signed by companies from more than 50 countries including the UK and Europe, the US, Russia and China, backed efforts to limit temperature rises to 2C, which will require global emissions to peak within the next decade and fall by between 50% and 85% by mid century.
It calls for funding to prevent deforestation - which accounts for almost a fifth of global emissions - as well as efforts by both developed and developing countries and a robust global emissions trading market.
The communique will be presented to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and more than 100 world leaders who are attending today's summit aimed at boosting momentum towards a deal.

How can illegal oil palm be weeded out of the supply chain?

Reuters, Wednesday September 23 2009
Sept 23 (Reuters) -- About five percent, or two million tonnes of the expected crop of 40 million tonnes of Crude Palm Oil produced in 2009 is expected to be certified as sustainable this year, environmental standards watchdog, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) estimates.
However, only a small percentage of this 'green palm oil' has actually found buyers, mainly due to the premium attached; making it harder to keep illegally-grown palm oil out of biscuits, chocolate bars, soaps and thousands of other products, Jutta Poetz, Biodiversity Coordinator at the RSPO Secretariat in Kuala Lumpur, told Reuters in this interview.
Its combined assets of being a cash crop with high yield, high marketability, versatility and promising future, invites desperate moves in order to share the spoils.
At the level of the individual farmer. Legal and illegal fruit bunches are mixed, as illegal and legal plantings are often contiguous, or at least close to each other. The problem is exacerbated in areas where there are no proper boundary surveys.
Mills require multiple permits to operate -- almost all are owned by law-abiding companies. However, to be economically viable many of them process the fruits of other growers and farmers as well as their own.
They have neither the capacity nor the legal mandate to trace the origin of all the fruit that reaches their mills.
There are still many uncertified mills. These mills accept both legal and illegal crop.
Commercial supply operations do not traditionally bother about the origins of the oil. All sources are pooled and processed by refineries and then shipped and distributed.
Segregation means additional work, containers, etc all adding to the processing costs at each step in the chain.
With the market's current, discouraging, unwillingness to buy certified oil, due to the premium attached, a further price increase due to segregation is out of consideration.
Palm oil is a commodity that pervades most spheres of the everyday life of everyday people around the entire globe.
The failure to address illegal activities is not based on apathy or fear, but simply the realisation that it also needs commitment by governments, to address prevailing social inequalities, corruption, and outdated legislation.
Also, until consumers (together with the supply chain and producers) consciously prefer not to benefit from products that are cheap, and disregard their origins and production methods, the problem will not go away.
Support for certified palm oil is the most potent driver that can stop, or at least minimise illegal activity. Once the majority of mills are certified, and do not accept illegal crop, its entry into the supply chain would stop. As the volume of certified oil increases the cost of segregation becomes cheaper.
Illegal growers would then either need to go illegal all the way, increasing their own risk factor, convert their activities to legal (which is unlikely), or cease operation, which opens the cultivated land for potential rehabilitation.
We expect certification volume to bite in from the second year ... If the markets can weigh-in by providing a clear incentive for RSPO certification there will be very different palm oil industry within 20 years.
Source: Reuters
(Reporting by Gillian Murdoch; Editing by Megan Goldin)

We are sinking, say Maldive islanders, but there is still time to save the world

James Bone in New York and Robin Pagnamenta
The President of the Maldives, the Indian Ocean islands threatened with extinction by rising sea levels, told the United Nations climate-change summit yesterday that the country’s appeals for help had fallen on deaf ears for 20 years.
“Once or twice a year we are invited to attend an important climate change event such as this one — often as a keynote speaker,” Mohammed Nasheed told world leaders at the UN headquarters in New York.
“On cue, we stand here and tell you just how bad things are. We warn you that unless you act quickly and decisively, our homeland and others like it will disappear before the rising sea, before the end of this century.
“We in the Maldives desperately want to believe that one day our words will have an effect, and so we continue to shout them even though, deep down, we know that you are not really listening,” he said.

Mr Nasheed had again been invited to address a UN climate summit, in the approach to the Copenhagen conference this December at which world leaders hope to “seal the deal” on reducing gas emissions. His speech was sandwiched between those by the two leaders best equipped to save his island nation: President Hu of China and President Obama of the US, representing world’s No 1 and No 2 greenhouse gas emitters respectively.
But Mr Nasheed argued that developing nations must be ready to accept binding targets even if rich countries do not act. “We ask world leaders to discard those habits that have led to 20 years of complacency and broken promises on climate change, and instead seize the historic opportunity that sits at the end of the road to Copenhagen,” he said.
Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary-General, said: “Success in Copenhagen will have positive ripple effects for global co-operation on trade, energy, security and health. Failure to reach broad agreement would be morally inexcusable, economically shortsighted and politically unwise.”
Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said that without counter-measures global temperatures would rise by up to 6.4C by 2100. The dangers include the disappearance of sea ice and more frequent cyclones, heat waves and heavy rains. Water would become scarce in semi-arid areas such as the western US, the Mediterranean Basin, Southern Africa and northeastern Brazil. The Greenland ice sheet might also disappear, leading to a seven metre (23ft) rise in sea level.
“The impacts would be disproportionately severe on some of the poorest communities of the world,” Mr Pachauri said. “At least 12 countries are likely to tend towards becoming failed states and communities in other states would show potential for serious conflict due to scarcity of food, water, stress and soil degradation.”
Mr Pachauri called for steps to ensure that global emissions peaked no later than 2015.
Among the most far-reaching pledges from developed nations, Japan’s new Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, to reduce the emissions to a level 25 per cent below the 1990 level by 2020; the previous Japanese Government’s target was 8 per cent. That move, combined with the Chinese offer to slow its emissions, and a recent offer by India to set numerical targets for cutting its greenhouse gas emissions, added to pressure on President Obama to act. too.
Al Gore, the former Vice-President, said that he hoped that the US Senate would pass climate change legislation by December, as the House of Representatives had done, so that Mr Obama would be able to make a firm offer.
However, activists criticised Mr Obama’s speech, in which he offered little except a recognition that the US had a duty to play a leading role.
Asad Rehman, of Friends of the Earth, said: “Barack Obama’s speech was deeply disappointing — it was a huge missed opportunity which does nothing to break the logjam in international climate negotiations.”
James Cameron, of Climate Change Capital, said of the Chinese initiative: “The Chinese move will help create the world’s largest market for the technology and the knowhow needed to combat climate change, which represents great business opportunities that have a public good at their core. China is moving rapidly to create the incentives for low-carbon investments.”
Gordon Brown arrived in New York last night and was seeking support from advanced nations to back a $100 billion fund to support developing nations as they switch to green technologies. Britain is committed to a European Union target to reduce its carbon emissions by 20 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020.
A British official described the proposal by President Hu of China as “definitely encouraging”.
“We obviously need to see numbers from China but we need to see numbers from everybody before December,” the official said.