Friday, 20 November 2009

£22bn emergency fund aims to cut rate of deforestation

Ben Webster
Britain is to contribute hundreds of millions of pounds to an emergency rainforest protection fund.
The aim of the fund, which is backed by 35 countries, is to begin cutting the rate of deforestation immediately, without waiting for the United Nations to complete negotiations on its own scheme for saving rainforests. Payments will be made to rainforest countries in return for agreements to reduce the rate at which they chop down their trees.
Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said yesterday that Britain would confirm the size of its contribution before the end of next month’s climate change summit in Copenhagen.
Last month a working group appointed by the 35 countries published a plan for a fund of €15 billion to €25 billion (£13.4 billion to £22.4 billion) to cover 2010-15. The group said this would reduce deforestation by 25 per cent.
The UN’s forest protection scheme is due to be approved in Copenhagen but may not take effect for several years.
The US yesterday became the first nation to specify its initial support for the emergency fund, pledging $275 million (£165 million) for 2010. Greenpeace calculated that, based on per capita global greenhouse gas emissions, Britain should contribute £700 million over five years.
John Sauven, Greenpeace’s director, said that Britain risked losing its international reputation for environmental leadership by delaying announcing its contribution to the fund. “We all rely on the world’s tropical rainforests for food and rainfall, and to store vast amounts of our carbon emissions. Paying a relatively small amount to protect them is an absolute bargain. Without them our economy could collapse and the climate would become increasingly hostile,” he said.
The Times has learnt that Mr Miliband had been due to announce Britain’s contribution yesterday. However, the announcement was delayed to allow “further analysis of the numbers”. Environmental groups are concerned that the Government is trying to reallocate money earmarked for overseas aid.

New Zealand's 'Kyoto forests' sow the seeds for a massive emissions surge

When New Zealand's sink forests are harvested in the 2020s, as is likely, all that carbon will return to the atmosphere

Fred Pearce, Thursday 19 November 2009 08.05 GMT
The government of New Zealand responded with some irritation to my column last week, which castigated a national strategy for meeting its Kyoto climate targets by allowing greenhouse gas emissions to rise by 22% from 1990 to 2007.
All was well, it said. The 600,000 hectares of forests that were planted in the 1990s would soak up all the excess CO2 – around 90m tonnes of it between 2008 and 2012. In fact, the country was likely to be ahead of its Kyoto target of stabilising emissions at 1990 levels.
But back home this policy is controversial, to say the least, with many experts accusing the government of a sleight of hand. They include the independent but prestigious Sustainability Council of New Zealand.
The central problem seems to be that when it comes to carbon, Middle Earth is a scientific minefield. And the Kyoto rules give the government considerable potential to pick and choose which carbon emissions and which carbon sinks from forests it declares for the purposes of meeting its targets.
There are, it turns out, two sets of carbon accounts.
The full statistics delivered to the UN Climate Change Convention show that the New Zealand landscape is, as the government says, absorbing more carbon today than it did in 1990. But only a bit more. Enough to cut its emissions growth from 22% to 185. That is nowhere near enough to bring New Zealand into Kyoto compliance.
But, as the spokesman for the climate change minister, Nick Smith, pointed out to me this week, those are not the only numbers. "The convention inventory includes a wider set of activities than under the Kyoto protocol." In a nutshell, the Kyoto protocol allows New Zealand to ignore what is happening across the wider landscape and simply report the growth of its 600,000 hectares of new forests, planted mostly during the 1990s.
That sounds dodgy, though within the Kyoto rules. Even so, if these "Kyoto forests" had been specifically planted as part of a genuine policy to cut the country's long-term contribution to global warming – we might still applaud.
Unfortunately it is not quite like that. Those forests are not long-term sinks; they are commercial plantations. As Smith's spokesman told me, they "are likely to be harvested in the 2020s". And, he added: "The government has no intention to ban the harvest." When they are harvested their carbon will return to the atmosphere.
The Sustainability Council of New Zealand attacked the government on this very point in a report on the country's climate policies published last week. It said: "The official Kyoto accounts ... have given a misleading impression of New Zealand's emissions position ... treating carbon absorption by forests as income rather than credit." Claiming the forests as a carbon sink today is cynically offloading the problem to the next generation, it said.
Sometime in the 2020s, New Zealand will become responsible for a massive surge in emissions from its forests – just at the time when global demands for ever-deeper cuts in emissions are likely to be going into overdrive.
The government's own civil servants seem to agree. The New Zealand Treasury recently called the carbon accumulating in the Kyoto forests a "contingent liability". It warned that negotiators should take this into account when agreeing future emissions targets – such as a Copenhagen deal on 2020 emissions.
There is a final problem for New Zealand's carbon credentials. The government's scientists have, in the past couple of years, been reassessing all their figures in a way remarkably beneficial to the government. Last April, they reported to ministers of the incoming government that emissions from deforestation were almost 10m tonnes a year less than previously supposed "due to new data showing smaller trees being felled". Meanwhile, they said, the Kyoto forests were absorbing a quarter more carbon than previously supposed "due to the trees not being thinned and being planted on better soils".
Very handy. But even Smith was moved to note the "volatility" of the numbers.
A number of scientists have been pointing out for some years that the Kyoto rules on forests were an Achilles heel in the protocol. "If [countries] plant sink forests and make inflated claims for them, they know it will be impossible to either prove or disprove those claims. It really is a cheat's charter," warned Michael Obersteiner of the forestry division of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), a thinktank based in Laxenburg, Austria, back in 2000.
It may not be cheating, but New Zealand seems determined to prove him right.

Ghost Trees bring deforestation to central London

An installation featuring giant tropical tree stumps in Trafalgar square is designed to symbolise threatened rainforest trees throughout the world. From the Ecologist, part of the Guardian Environment Network, Thursday 19 November 2009 12.26 GMT
Whether you perceive them as beautiful sculptural objects or a scene of devastation, giant tree stumps from an African rainforest are the last thing you expect to see in London's tourist (and traffic) trap, Trafalgar Square.
Unveiled this week on a rainy Monday morning, the tree stumps, many complete with their buttress roots, have been transported from a regulated, commercially logged tropical primary forest in Ghana.
It's a surreal sight - the stumps lie on their sides on plinths placed around Nelson's Column which towers above them at a height of 50 metres. Had the trees been left in the forest, these stumps that once had trunks would have stood at around the same height.
Entitled 'Ghost Forest', the installation is the vision of British artist Angela Palmer, and its intention is to inspire and provoke debate about the future of the world's rainforests.
Missing: trunks
'The concept is to present the series of rainforest tree stumps as a 'ghost forest' - using the negative space created by the missing trunks as a metaphor for climate change,' says Palmer, 'the absence representing the removal of the world's 'lungs' through continual deforestation.'
The artist originally planned to exhibit the tree stumps upright, but on seeing the roots exposed and cleaned of soil decided 'it was like seeing the nerve endings of the planet'.
Palmer chose to source the tree stumps from Ghana, which over the last 50 years has lost 90 per cent of its primary rainforest.
But instead of being 'yet another message about climate change doom and gloom,' says the artist, Ghost Forest 'carries a message of hope and optimism for the future.'
She maintains that Ghana is now at the vanguard of responsible and sustainable forestry.
Last year it became the first country in Africa to enter the VPA (Voluntary Partnership Agreement) with the European Union in an effort to outlaw illegal logging.
Its remaining concessions are all selectively logged, which means the retention, crucially, of the forest canopy; the natural regeneration of the forest; and a viable and sustainable timber industry for the local workforce.
Carbon conscious
Palmer carefully considered the carbon cost of the project but felt that its potential message to millions of people on the impacts of deforestation would outweigh the carbon 'spend'.
There are also plans to offset the carbon footprint through a ClimateCare project which has introduced more energy efficient cooking stoves to Ghana, meaning fewer trees are needed to provide cooking.
The installation, whose main sponsor is Deutsche Bank, will stand in Trafalgar Square for one week, between 16-22 November, before moving to Thorvaldsens Plads - a city centre square in Copenhagen - to coincide with the UN Climate Change Conference from December 7-18.
In Copenhagen, Ghost Forest will stand as a symbol of threatened rainforest trees throughout the world.
Follow the progress of the project at
Laura Sevier is the Ecologist's Green Living Editor

Prince Charles announces funding scheme to protect rainforests

Karen McVeigh, Thursday 19 November 2009 20.17 GMT
A global emergency funding scheme to drastically reduce the destruction of tropical rainforests over the next five years was announced by the Prince of Wales today, with the US pledging $275m (£165m) towards rainforest protection.
The plan relies on developed countries paying rainforest nations such as Brazil and Indonesia to reduce rates of deforestation and thereby cut carbon emissions.
Currently, the lucrative trade in logging, cattle grazing and palm oil, means tropical forests are worth substantially more dead than alive to developing countries. The plan, agreed by 35 governments of the Informal Working Group (IWG) and published at a meeting at St James's Palace, aims to make trees worth more alive. The group hopes to achieve a 25% reduction in annual deforestation rates by 2015. The felling of forests causes almost a fifth of global carbon emissions.
However, environment groups last night said the "devil was in the detail" and expressed concern over whether the scheme could achieve its aims. There were calls for the UK government to pledge money to the scheme.Tony Juniper, special adviser to the Prince's Rainforests Project (PRP) and former director of Friends of the Earth, described the agreement as a breakthrough and said: "This is the first time there has been a consensus among governments on a mechanism to deal with the underlying causes of deforestation, which are mainly economic."
Funding for the plan, which was set up by world leaders after a meeting convened by Prince Charles in London in April, would cost between £13.5bn and £22bn over the next five years. The money will initially be sought from governments.
Addressing delegates, including Ed Miliband, the energy and climate change secretary, and Guyana's president, Bharrat Jagdeo, Prince Charles said: "I have been enormously encouraged to hear the findings from the IWG report. It does seem that we have arrived at a consensus on how emergency funding might be deployed in the near future."
Miliband said a deal at next month's crunch UN climate talks in Copenhagen on funding for reducing deforestation – a key theme – was "now closer than it's ever been".
Issues of land rights, indigenous people, risk of corruption and verification have dogged the deforestation talks.
An example of how the scheme could work was given as the historic agreement between Norway and Guyana last week, in which Oslo pledged $250m to the forest nation by 2015 to continue to prevent deforestation.
Simon Counsell, executive director of the Rainforest Foundation, said: "We have to be very careful that any emergency funding will result in a real reduction in deforestation or forest damage."

New California Rules to Make TVs Greener

Getty Images
A Costco customer looks at a display of LCD HDTV televisions in San Francisco on Wednesday.
California created the nation's first energy-efficiency standard for television sets, arguing that it needed to act because federal energy officials have been slow to confront the issue.
Under the standard adopted Wednesday by the California Energy Commission, no TV with a screen size less than 58 inches may be sold in the state after 2011 unless it meets limits on energy consumption. The standard tightens further in 2013. (Larger screens were left for future examination.)
Sets sold in California under the standard would consume 33% less electricity in 2011 and 49% less in 2013 than the average set sold today, according to the commission. The standard replaces a rule that only considered energy use when sets were in standby mode.
The move is the latest example of California's campaign to reduce energy waste and cut emissions from power plants. Once it takes effect, the rule is expected to save California consumers $1 billion a year in electricity costs and cut energy use by an amount equivalent to the output of one large power plant, according the commission.
It also could prompt Federal Trade Commission officials to consider similar national rules. In the past, standards set in California on issues from automobile exhaust to appliance efficiency have influenced products sold in other states, because it is easier for manufacturers to make everything to a common set of standards.
The California standard, which takes aim at energy-hogging liquid-crystal-display and plasma sets, was motivated by a finding that TVs now account for as much as 10% of home electricity use -- equivalent to the electricity used by refrigerators.
Before the commission's unanimous vote, member Art Rosenfeld, who has advocated for efficiency standards for three decades, said "it looks like a very good deal for society." He added that the agency wanted to counteract a trend of unrestrained growth in energy demand as TV sets gradually have morphed into home-entertainment centers.
The Consumer Electronics Association, a trade group, opposed the standard, saying that the FTC already is poised to act in the next couple of years and that manufacturers are working to make sets more energy efficient anyway.
"It's unnecessary," said Doug Johnson, a government-policy specialist for the CEA. He added that "a mandatory limit would stifle competition and harm consumers."
Vizio Inc., based in Irvine, Calif., was the only television maker to publicly endorse the rule.
About 30 million TV sets are sold each year nationally; between four million and five million are sold in California. Old-fashioned sets with cathode-ray tubes use about 100 watts of power when turned on. Newer -- and typically bigger -- plasma sets often use four times as much electricity, the commission found. Many continue to consume energy even when they are off.
Commission staff said there will be no added cost to consumers because more than 1,000 products manufactured by dozens of makers already meet the 2011 standard.
Write to Rebecca Smith at

Google spywear will help vigilantes save rainforests

Ben Webster, Environment Editor

Environmentalists across the world are to be enlisted as armchair detectives to monitor satellite images of rainforests and report any illegal logging.
The images will be frequently updated and anyone with internet access will be able to make instant comparisons with historical images and spot destruction of rainforest almost as soon as it happens.
Every four seconds an area of rainforest the size of a football pitch is cut or burnt down for timber and paper or to clear land for cattle and plantations.
Rainforest destruction accounts for 17 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than is produced by all the world’s cars, ships and aircraft. Tropical forests cover 15 per cent of the world’s land surface and have a double cooling effect, soaking up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and maintaining high levels of evaporation from the canopy.

The armchair detectives will be able to report their findings to an international agency being created to monitor whether countries are meeting their commitments to reduce deforestation. Any state found to have broken its pledge will lose its share of a new global fund established by rich countries to pay nations for leaving their trees standing.
The fund, called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (Redd) and worth up to $30 billion (£18 billion) a year, is due to be approved at the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen next month.
Google is helping to create the new online detective tool, which is likely to be launched next year. Philipp Schindler, from Google UK, said: “Our engineers are exploring how we might contribute to this effort by developing a global forest platform that would enable anyone in the world, including tropical nations, to monitor deforestation and draw attention to it.”
Mr Schindler was speaking yesterday at a seminar on deforestation hosted at St James’s Palace by Prince Charles and attended by leaders and ministers from several of the largest rainforest countries.
President Jagdeo of Guyana told the seminar that the cheapest way for industrialised countries to reduce carbon emissions was to pay poor countries, such as Guyana, not to fell their trees.
Contributors to the Redd fund will pay about £4 for each tonne of CO2 saved by reducing the rate of deforestation. Fitting carbon capture and storage systems to coal-fired power stations costs more than £50 for each tonne saved.
Norway announced last week that it would demonstrate how Redd could work by paying Guyana up to £150 million over five years to preserve its trees.
Guyana’s forests have been far less logged than in many tropical nations, and under the terms of the new deal with Norway, Guyana could actually be paid for increasing deforestation. The memorandum states that Norway will compensate Guyana if it does not cut down more than 0.45 per cent of its forests per year, but Guyana is currently felling trees at a far slower rate. The countries contributing to Redd are concerned that their money could disappear into the pockets of corrupt officials in poorly governed countries. There are also fears that payments will result in logging companies switching to unprotected areas, resulting in no net reduction in deforestation.
Per Frederik Pharo, of the Norwegian Government’s forest protection fund, said payments would only be made when countries could prove that they had reduced their annual rate of deforestation by an agreed amount. He said the targets would be raised every five years.
Brazil has halved its rate of deforestation in the past year but Tasso Azevedo, of Brazil’s Forest Service, warned that it could increase again unless the country received substantial sums of Redd “People have to have some income and we need a lot of cash for the community to maintain the forest,”he said.

China's CIC to invest in 2 clean-energy firms

HONG KONG—Sovereign-wealth fund China Investment Corp. aims to tap rising demand for clean energy in the country by investing as much as $1.21 billion in two companies in the renewable-energy sector, people familiar with the matter say.
The transactions are among the US$300 billion sovereign-wealth fund's first equity investments in a domestic power producer and underscore China's support for renewable energy.
Hong Kong-listed GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Ltd. said CIC would buy a 20% stake in the co-generation power-plant operator in a deal valued at 5.56 billion Hong Kong dollars (US$717 million).
The company also said it agreed to set up a joint venture company with CIC to develop solar-energy projects.
Additionally, CIC agreed to buy US$300 million to US$500 million of shares in China Longyuan Power Group Corp.'s initial public offering, two people familiar with the situation told Dow Jones Newswires on Thursday.
CIC said it declined to comment on market speculation.
China Longyuan Power, a wind energy company, is seeking to raise US$1.3 billion in an IPO ahead of a Hong Kong listing Dec. 10, the people said. Premarketing of the deal began Monday, they added.
Longyuan is China's largest producer of electricity generated by wind power and is the renewable-energy arm of China Guodian Corp., one of the five biggest state-owned power generators in China in terms of capacity.
China is a major center for renewable-energy development, as the government seeks to diversify its fuel mix with investments in renewables infrastructure as part of its four trillion yuan (US$586 billion) economic-stimulus plan.
CIC's plans to invest in GCL-Poly Energy and Longyuan are seen as efforts by the Chinese government to support the development of the domestic clean-energy sector, analysts said.
"As the government is focused on supporting renewable energy, it is no surprise that CIC will announce more investments in this sector in the near term," said Lee Yuk Kei, an analyst at Core-Pacific Yamaichi International Ltd.
At the same time, CIC is rapidly deploying capital to take advantage of the global economic recovery by buying into natural resources and property assets.
CIC Chairman Lou Jiwei said in October that the sovereign-wealth fund had allocated US$110 billion for overseas investments and had deployed around half that sum. Commodities have been a focus of the fund's investing strategy and asset allocation, he said.

Government gears up £30m to promote charging points

Carl Mortished, World Business Editor
Electric cars and unreliable wind power could bring down Britain’s electricity network, National Grid said as the Government launched a £30 million grant scheme to promote the installation of charging points for plug-in cars.
Steve Holliday, National Grid chief executive, said that without smart meters in homes and an intelligent system to balance supply and demand, the network would be unable to cope.
“To make this possible, we need a smart grid,” he said. “You can’t have lots of renewable energy [and] lots of electric vehicles — you can’t have all that without smart grids.”
At peak demand periods in the early evening when commuters return home, the recharging of batteries on a fleet of more than a million electric cars would pile pressure on the system and raise electricity costs, says National Grid, the owner of Britain’s electricity network. “Power stations which service peak demand will tend to be more expensive, less efficient and more polluting,” it said.

A big part of the solution to the potential peak demand overload, said Mr Holliday, would lie in the car’s battery, which would act as a power source for the grid, in peak periods.
A smart meter would enable a household to supply power to the grid from a car battery between 5pm and 7pm, when lighting, heating and domestic appliance use creates peak demand. The power flow would then reverse during the night when the battery would be charged up cheaply at low electricity tariffs.
The cost of installing smart meters could be as high as £500 per household, according to estimates from Ernst & Young, the accounting firm. It believes that it would cost 50 per cent more than Government estimates of a £9 billion bill for hooking up every home in the UK to a smart grid.
Government plans for Pluggedin-Places — up to six cities or regions with charging points for electric cars — were outlined yesterday by Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary. He called for a series of civic and private sector partnerships to compete for £30 million in government grants. Groups of investors will be asked to match the government funds.
“Our aim is for electric and lowcarbon cars to be an everyday feature of life on UK’s roads in less than five years,” Lord Adonis said.
Charging points have so far proved expensive to install. A public/private project to build 73 charging points cost the Government £500,000.
A fleet of 1.5 million electric cars on the roads in 2020 would create annual demand of 6 terrawatt hours, equivalent to the output of a large power station running 24 hours a day or 2 per cent of current electricity demand.
National Grid reckons that it would take seven hours to charge a typical 22 kwh battery from a household 13 amp socket. However, if a typical commuter drove for only half of the potential 60-mile range, the battery would be half full before charging in the evening, a store of electricity that could be available to the grid.
“The key thing is to have the incentive so that when the tariffs get cheaper, you charge your car,” said a National Grid spokesman.
According to Eurelectric, the EU’s electricity association, the transfer of all private cars to electric power would increase demand by only 10 per cent to 15 per cent. Peter Birkner, chairman of Eurelectric’s networks committee, said: “It’s more an issue for the distribution grid than for generating capacity. We need new business models, smart grids, smart meters and smart regulation.”
A smart grid would need to be developed in Europe to take maximum advantage of differences in peak electricity demand in each country and the availability of wind power in different locations.

Is Decc's collaborative manifesto for Copenhagen web democracy in action?

Act on Copenhagen is a web tool aimed at allowing students to add to a manifesto that will be handed to Ed Miliband next month

The UN climate talks in Copenhagen have certainly caught the public imagination. On the environment desk here at the Guardian it has been a struggle to keep up with the different demands, manifestos, pamphlets and protests from charities, businesses, environmentalists and other civil society groups.
But what if there was a way of somehow bringing those disparate voices together into a people's manifesto: a document that incorporates the important demands from folk who care about the outcome of this summit but one that filters out the peripheral noise? The UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) reckons they might have a way of doing that.
Along with the National Union of Students, Decc has set up a living document using an online web-tool called mixedink. The tool is aimed at students to allow them to contribute to a collaborative manifesto that will be handed to Ed Miliband, the climate change minister, on 5 December in London – the day of the Wave protest which bills itself as the UK's biggest climate change march.
Contributors will be able to add to the document's "general vision" plus sub-sections about adaptation, finance, forestry, governance, mitigation and technology. The tool allows you to mix and match bits of other submissions and combine them in new ways with your own text. Alternatively, you can scrap what is there already and write your own. You can also rate other peoples efforts by voting for what you like. There is a handy video on the site that explains how it all works.
Here's the current working text for the finance section as an example:
One of the highest priorities at Copenhagen is to find ways to pay for action to both reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we produce and to adapt to climate change. In the long-term most of the cash is likely to come from the private sector, and a deal must find ways to encourage this. However, public funding will also be needed to make sure the world acts fast enough. The UK wants to see extra money made available to tackle climate change, with measures in place to make sure it is spent effectively.The UK will be working with our international partners to develop our proposals in more detail and prepare for Copenhagen. But international agreements between governments are only part of the effort we need to be successful in tackling climate change. Action at all levels: international, national, in business, in local communities and in our homes, can make a difference.
Ed Miliband said: "Young people and the generations that follow will be most affected if we don't avert the most dangerous impacts of climate change, and they will be instrumental in re-shaping the way we all live in the future.
"There are only two and a half weeks to go before I join my counterparts from around the world in Copenhagen. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for students to contribute their shared vision for their shared future."
Web democracy in action? The proof will be in what comes out of the exercise. There's a danger that it might be hijacked of course, and by its nature it will skim over the rich diversity of opinions on how to tackle climate change. At best it will produce a powerful consensus statement with contributions from hundreds or even thousands of people. At worse it will be a bland, uncontroversial treatise of familiar ideas that leaves out the difficult solutions. Perhaps getting involved is the only way to stop that happening.

Q&A: Copenhagen climate change conference 2009

The world is on the brink of an environmental calamity of Biblical proportions, scientists believe. So what can 11 days in Copenhagen do about it?

By By Julian KossoffPublished: 4:42PM GMT 19 Nov 2009

Hu Jintao and Barack Obama must attend the Copenhagen summit it is to be successful
What is the Copenhagen climate change summit?
From 7 December 2009, the leaders of the world's 180 countries -backed by a 20,000-strong army of officials, advisors, experts and journalists - will attend a United Nations meeting in Copenhagen to thrash out a new international deal to tackle climate change.

Whatever is agreed at Copenhagen will come into force on 1st January 2013, and supersede the last attempt to save the environment, the Kyoto protocol.
Who are the key players?
US President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao of China must attend if there the chance of something significant being agreed.
Other important figures will be the representatives from the developing economies of India and China. It is feared that the newly industrialised nations are on course to repeat the mistake of over-reliance on fossil-fuel energy begun in Europe, North America and the former Soviet Union.
Gordon Brown was the first world leader to announce in September that he was ready to go to Copenhagen to help secure a deal.
Do summits work?
Kyoto in 1997 was considered a qualified success.
The Treaty signed there bound by law the world's 37 richest countries to cut their emissions by 5.2 per cent from 1990 levels by 2012.
America bailed out of the negotiations (and subsequently went on increasing emissions by 20 per cent) but as a group the target should be achieved, helped by the one-off bonus of the collpase of heavy industrial output in the former Soviet Union.
What are the main aims of the summit?
In the long term, wealthy countries are under pressure to agree to emission cuts of greenhouse gases of up to 80 per cent by 2050 (Britain has already signed up to this) and limit global climate change to 2C.
Copenhagen must bring the USA on board. Its 250-million strong population (less than 5 per cent of the world total) gorges itself on energy producing up to 30 per cent of all emissions.
Convincing developing nations they must not follow the West's profitable mistakes, which means billions of dollars and a fair share of the latest green technology.
Is doing nothing an option?
If we do nothing, scientists predict climate change will rise by 6C by the end of the century triggering a catastrophe including: extreme weather, sea level rise, water shortages, food shortages and the extinction of up to a third of known plant and animal species.
However, climate change sceptics dismiss the arguments of human interviention in climate change and argue that natural phenomenon, for example volcanoes erupting , are to blame for the increase in carbon dioxide since the industrial revolution.

Solar panel makers seek local ties

SunPower and Suntech build out dealer networks in the U.S. to establish brands; building loyal customer base
Solar panel makers, taking cues from industrial products like Trane air-conditioners and Andersen windows, are racing to roll-out networks of installers across the U.S. and internationally as they try to establish their brands in the residential market.
SunPower Corp., Suntech Power Holdings Co. and others are enlisting hundreds of locally-owned installers with partnerships that offer training, sales support and help with marketing and advertising.
With the dealer networks, the manufacturers hope to build brand awareness in what many see as a commodity product. But the moves come as solar-panel manufacturers battle weak demand due to the recession and an oversupply of panels.
Companies such as First Solar Inc. and SunPower have recently lowered their forecasts for the year, hurt by excess inventory and price competition.
Most panel makers sell directly into the utility market and use distributors to reach consumers. Now some are betting that by cutting out distributors and working directly with small local installers, they can increase the loyalty of installers to one brand while raising profits.
"It's going to be a significant part of the business," said Mark McKahan-Jones, head of Suntech's dealer sales division. The company, which is based in China and said Monday it plans to open a U.S. facility near Phoenix, has enrolled 200 U.S. installers so far.
Smaller rival SunPower, which is based in San Jose, Calif., has about 900 installers, including 200 in the U.S. In addition to sales and distribution support, SunPower offers its installers access to training programs and co-marketing funds.
By agreeing to work directly with a panel manufacturer, small installers say they pay less for panels than from larger distributors. They also have credit agreements, can get help arranging loans for customers and are offered technical support.
James Albert, founder of ISI Solar, a New City, N.Y., which installs panels from various makers, said brand recognition comes into play in about half of his jobs. "There is no question that branding and associating yourself with much larger entities is important," he said.
In California, by far the largest solar market in the U.S., SunPower had nearly 30% of the market in the third quarter under the state's subsidy program, according to FBR Capital Markets using data compiled from the program. In the program, which does not include utility installations, Evergreen Solar Inc., Kyocera Corp., SunTech and Sharp Corp. rounded out the top five.
Sharp's solar division also has a dealer partner program, but Ron Kenedi, head of the Americas for Sharp solar, said the company is focused on only the top installers with long track records in the industry. "We don't try to get as many dealers as possible," Mr. Kenedi said.The solar industry is still split on whether the brand of a manufacturer or a local installer should take precedence. "I don't want to usurp their effort with my brand," Suntech's Mr. McCahan-Jones said of local partners.
SunPower Chief Executive Tom Werner said regional advertising and marketing has allowed the company's high-efficiency, sleek panels to fetch premium prices.
Mr. Werner said his strategy in some ways mirrors that of Apple Inc., which has a loyal customer base willing to pay more for its well-designed products.
Although the market is nascent, some customers do ask for SunPower panels by name, said Jonathan Gonzalez, head of customer service and marketing for Poco Solar Energy Inc., an installer in Santa Clara, Calif. that is in SunPower's dealer network.
"If they don't know about solar at all, that is one of the brand names that will pop out," he said. Poco, which has about 30 employees, is considering adding a SunPower logo to its employees' shirts, he said.

Boris Johnson: electric car reverse

Autocar's Hilton Holloway:
The news that BMW has won the bid to become to official vehicle supplier to the 2012 London Olympics is a serious disappointment. Not because there's likely to be much wrong with the next-generation 1-series and 3-series, but because the Blue Propeller has succeeded in crowding out a much more innovative rival.
Nissan was one of the 2012 bidders, promising to supply a fleet of 4000 vehicles, at least 2000 of which would have been the Nissan LEAF electric hatch. Had Nissan won, French electricity supplier EDF would have helped install charging points through the capital. The upshot would have been a huge boost for electric car infrastructure in the capital – a city with some of the worst diesel-fired pollution in Europe.
A disappointment but not a Locog U-turn, according to another Autocar piece:
London's 2012 Olympic organising team have claimed it was never their intention for electric cars to appear at the games on a large scale. London 2012 had widely been expected to be a launch pad for the capital to create an electric infrastructure and a lasting legacy for electric cars, encouraging their uptake and getting them on the road in large volumes.
But Paul Deighton, chief executive of London's organising committee, said time was against the capital if it wanted to create an electric network in time for the games. "We didn't want a big fleet of electric vehicles," Deighton told Autocar. "We're only just over two years or so away from the games and time is running out to create a viable network."
If I were Mayor Johnson I'd be concerned to read that Locog has never intended the Olympic fleet to contain lots of electric vehicles. As recently as May Boris was hoping it would add high profile momentum to his Electric Vehicles Delivery Plan:
The eyes of the world will be on London during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (Locog) is responsible for procuring the fleet of several thousand vehicles. One of the key ways to demonstrate our commitment to the "greenest games ever" is for a substantial proportion of the Olympic fleet to be comprised of EVs. We will work with and support the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games Olympics (LOCOG) to include EVs as part of Olympic fleet.
It now appears that Locog and the Mayor have been travelling in different directions. City Hall has provided me with a statement in response to the BMW news. A spokesperson said:
We hope that BMW, through this sponsorship agreement, will take the opportunity to demonstrate their long term commitment to electric vehicles and showcase their new MegaCity car at the 2012 Games.
We will continue to work with all car manufacturers to deliver the Mayor's plan for 1000 vehicles in the GLA fleet as soon as possible and 25,000 charging points in the capital by 2015.
Do I detect a note of, well, disappointment?