Thursday, 10 December 2009

Four carbon-capture power plants to be built

By Fiona Harvey in Copenhagen and Ed Crooks in London
Published: December 9 2009 17:39

Four power plants equipped with facilities to capture and store carbon will be built in the UK under government plans unveiled on Tuesday as part of the pre-Budget report.
One of the plants would be funded through a long-running competition for public funding, the winner of which is expected to be announced early next year.
The others would be funded by a levy on electricity bills, the exact nature of which has yet to be decided.
Building the four plants would probably cost up to £10bn, according to industry forecasts.
The projects could generate 30,000 jobs, the government estimated. A Downing Street official forecast that the UK could become the world leader in the fledgling technology as a result. If successful, the development would also allow the UK to carry on using coal as a cheap fuel for electricity generation, while meeting targets to cut carbon dioxide emissions drastically.
A push to make public-sector buildings more efficient would yield reductions of about 10 per cent on electricity bills for government offices, hospitals and schools, the government promised. This would save about £300m a year, officials estimated.
The chancellor also announced an extra £100m in support for low-carbon technologies, of which £50m would go to offshore wind. The UK would also pay £90m into a fund from the European Investment Bank to provide capital for energy infrastructure.
The “warm front” scheme, which gives grants to people on low incomes for improvements to insulation and heating, would also be expanded with an extra £130m in funding, and the chancellor announced a “boiler scrappage” scheme under which households could have ageing and inefficient boilers replaced with newer energy-saving models. About 125,000 people are expected to benefit.
Households with renewable energy generation equipment, such as solar panels or mini wind turbines, will no longer have to pay income tax on the money they make from selling electricity back to the grid. This will save homeowners with solar panels about £180 per year, an official estimated, on top of the money received from the new feed-in tariffs, which will guarantee people an elevated price for any electricity they sell to the grid.
But hidden in the detail of the PBR was a change to “climate change agreements”, a system used by many industries to gain taxation benefits from agreeing to reduce their emissions.
The rebate incentive in the agreements is to be cut from 80 per cent to 65 per cent. Although the government said this was to comply with a European Union directive on energy taxation, EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said it was not necessary and would increase costs to businesses.
Gareth Stace, head of climate and environment policy at EEF, estimated that the change would cost the steel sector alone £5.4m, with further costs for the almost 50 other sectors also covered by the agreements.

Sarah Palin decries 'hoax' of climate change data

Tim Reid in Washington

Sarah Palin all but declared global warming a hoax yesterday when she urged President Obama to boycott the Copenhagen climate change conference and to stand up to the “radical environment movement”.
The former Alaska Governor and possible 2012 presidential contender seized upon leaked e-mails from climate change scientists at the University of East Anglia. The scientists have been accused by global warming sceptics of falsifying data to make the case that the phenomenon is real and man-made, something they deny.
The scandal has become a cause célèbre among climate change deniers and sceptics in the US. A group of Republican politicians has vowed to fly to Copenhagen next week to argue that the threat from global warming is overblown and too costly to act on.
Writing on the editorial page of The Washington Post — which was criticised from the Left for allowing her to argue her case — Mrs Palin said: “The revelation of appalling actions by so-called climate change experts allows the American public to finally understand the concerns so many of us have articulated on this issue. She added: “‘Climategate’, as the e-mails have become known, exposes a highly politicised scientific circle — the same circle whose work underlies efforts at the Copenhagen climate change conference. The agenda-driven policies been pushed in Copenhagen won’t change the weather but they would change our economy for the worse.”

Mrs Palin’s article appears at a time when the scandal over the leaked e-mails is gaining increasing exposure in the US. A poll released on Monday also revealed that only 45 per cent of Americans believe that global warming is caused by human activity, down from 56 per cent two years ago.
Mrs Palin, last year’s Republican vice-presidential nominee, has become a leading voice for her party’s conservative grassroots supporters. Recent polls suggest that she would make a competitive candidate if she chose to make a bid to become the Republican presidential nominee in 2012.
Her argument that the case for climate change is far from proved is shared by a significant number in Congress. A cap-and-trade climate Bill that Mr Obama wants passed is bogged down in the US Senate, mainly over concerns that it will be too costly, and Democrats are several votes short of seeing it prevail.
Mrs Palin does not deny “the reality of some changes in climate — far from it”, and adds that “I saw the impact of changing weather patterns first hand while serving as governor of our only Arctic state”. She asserts, however, that such weather changes are “natural, cyclical environmental trends,” and that “we can’t say with assurance that man’s activities cause weather changes”.

Copenhagen summit: US 'will not subsidise China on climate change'

Philippe Naughton in Copenhagen

The United States is willing to pay its fair share towards a multibillion-dollar climate change accord, but would not accept American taxes ending up in China as a result, its chief climate negotiator said today.
Todd Stern, the State Department's climate envoy, briefed reporters after flying in to the Copenhagen climate summit where more than 100 world leaders, including President Obama, are due next week to sign an agreement to cap greenhouse gas emissions and limit the effects of global warming.
The conference has been two years in the making but after three days of talking negotiating positions appear to be hardening. Developing nations are eager to get their share of the bounty are rejecting Western demands that they too should set long-term limits to their carbon dioxide emissions.
Officially, the list of developing nations includes China, which overtook the US as the world's biggest polluter two years ago and now has the world's third largest economy. Brazil is also in the developing countries group known as the G77 – which actually has 135 members – even though it will soon leapfrog Britain in the global economic rankings.

The European Union has called for industrialised nations to cut their carbon emissions by 30 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020. But America is promising the equivalent of a 3 per cent cut. China has offered to reduce its carbon intensity – a measure of its industrial efficiency – by up to 45 per cent by the same date, but its total emissions could still soar.
Beijing's chief negotiator, Xie Zienhua, said today that China was willing to play a constructive role at the talks, but wanted the Americans to do more for an agreement. Between them the two countries account for 40 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
"I do hope that President Obama can bring a concrete contribution to Copenhagen," Mr Xie said,
He said that China could accept a target to halve global emissions by 2050 if developed nations stepped up their mid-term targets and agreed to provide financial help to the developing world to fight climate change.
The last point could prove to be a hurdle in Copenhagen given estimates that America is already in hock to China to the tune of about $1 trillion after running huge trade deficits for years.
Mr Stern gave his support to a "quick start" financing scheme backed by Commonwealth leaders last week that would start with annual funding of $10 billion a year to pay for climate change mitigation schemes in the Third World.
But he did not expect China to be a beneficiary. "China has a dynamic economy which has led to it sitting on $2 trillion of reserves," he said. "I don't envision public funds, certainly from the United States, going to China."
The American negotiator accepted that American emissions had risen significantly since 1990 and said he was conscious that the US had been historically the biggest carbon emitter, but said that Mr Obama's recent proposals would lead to a significant cut in emissions in the longer term.
But he pointed to predictions that 97 per cent of the future rise in emissions would come from developing nations, 50 per cent of it from China, which would soon be emitting far more than the United States.
"The country whose emissions are going up dramatically – really dramatically – is China," he said. "You can't even think about solving this problem without having action from China. Our emissions are pretty much flattening out right now and then they're going down ... It's not a question of morality, just math."
Mr Stern suggested that the financial side of the deal would become clearer on December 18 – echoing a suggestion from the European Commission's top climate negotiator, Artur Runge-Metzger, that the endgame would be all about money.
Asked earlier how much he expected the deal would cost, Mr Runge-Metzger said: "We are simple officials here. Our ministers are coming at the weekend, followed by their heads of state. Do you think they're going to allow us to announce the figures?"

Copenhagen Summit: wealthy nations accused of 'carbon colonialism'

Philippe Naughton in Copenhagen
Britain and its partners at the Copenhagen climate summit were accused of 21st century "carbon colonialism" today over a draft agreement that developing nations say would discriminate against them.
The so-called "Danish text" was leaked yesterday and prompted an angry reaction from the G77 bloc of developing nations, which warned that its members would not sign an "inequitable" deal when the conference ends with a summit of world leaders next Friday.
The G77's chair, Lumumba Stanislaus Di Aping of Sudan, went on the attack again today, telling journalists that the Danish text "seemed to secure 60 per cent of the global atmospheric space for 20 per cent of the world's wealthiest nations".
Mr Di Aping was especially critical of the Danish Prime Minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, whom he accused of being desperate to achieve a deal at any price.

He issued an appeal to Barack Obama, who is scheduled to arrive in Copenhagen next Friday, not to join in any attempt to strong-arm developing nations into signing a deal that would leave their countries exposed to the ravages of global warming.
"We humbly ask of President Obama that the new dawn of multilaterialism that he promised should not be simply business as usual – the West prevailing at the expense of the rest of the developing countries," Mr Di Aping added.
European delegates pointed out that the text in question was dated November 27 and had never been formally tabled. "It's a storm in a teacup," one said.
Others said that the G77 was simply trying to head off any deal that would oblige developing nations to commit to carbon emission limits. Under the Kyoto Protocol, they are exempt from any such obligations.
The text also came in for criticism on the floor of the conference, where a Singaporean activist, Amira Karim, won loud applause after attacking it for overturning and subverting normal UN principles. "This imposition without discussion is tantamount to carbon colonialism," she declared.
But even within the G77 the divisions were clear.
The Pacific island of Tuvalu, one of the most vulnerable to possible rising sea levels, fought unsuccessfully to have its own draft text, submitted in June, formally adopted on to the agenda. The resolution would entail massive aid to help vulnerable nations.
The proposal was backed by a string of island nations and by delegations from sub-Saharan Africa but rejected by China and India, the most poweful member of the G77, which blocked a proposal to set up a formal working group.
The key battles being fought out in the negotiations include a decision on whether the Kyoto Protocol should be allowed to lapse when the current obligations it imposes expire in 2012. Developing nations want to stick with it while Western nations including the United States – the world's biggest emitter per capita of greenhouse gases, but which never ratified the Kyoto agreement – want an entirely new agreeement.
The UN's chief climate diplomat, Yvo De Boer, said that he expected "two tracks" to emerge from the Copenhagen meeting: a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol and a new agreement bringing in the United States and setting emission limits on developing nations.
Another sticking point is who would hold the purse strings if, as expected, industrialised nations agree to pour tens of billions into "quick-start financing" to help mitigate the effects of climate change.
The United Nations estimates that the fight against climate change may cost about $300 billion (£184 billion) a year in the long term, and the Danish text appeared to hand over responsibility to the World Bank. Developing nations have called for a global climate fund.
A possible compromise could emerge later today when four nations – Britain, Australia, Mexico and Norway – propose a new green fund that would handle the finances in any accord.
A British official said a document to be published later would look at ideas for the fund, which would help developing nations to adapt to climate changes.

Ban Ki-moon reasserts leadership in Copenhagen climate talks

Danish text raised 'trust issues' between rich and poor countries but won't derail deal, says UN secretary-general

Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent, New York, Wednesday 9 December 2009 16.57 GMT
The United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, has re-asserted ownership over the Copenhagen climate change meeting after the "trust issues" between rich and poor nations were exposed by a leaked draft agreement. He said he was confident of getting a deal for immediate action on global warming.
In an interview with the Guardian, Ban said he believed the negotiations remained on course for a strong deal, sweetened with the early release of
$10bn in aid to poor countries and set down in international law within six months.
He was also adamant that deal would hinge on the core elements of the Kyoto protocol, which developing countries feared was being sabotaged in the so-called Danish text leaked to the Guardian yesterday. The text, prepared in secret by the Danish hosts, was interpreted by developing nations as favouring the rich nations they hold responsible for global warming.
The UN chief sees a climate change deal as his legacy, and has insisted on drawing world leaders into the negotiations, betting they have the authority to make the hard choices on the environmental future for their countries. But some have criticised negotiations that are going on outside the official UN forum.
Ban was determined to set a firm six-month deadline for any political deal agreed in Copenhagen to be given the full force of international law. The timing mirrors an appeal by the UK prime minister, Gordon Brown, in the Guardian this week. The push for a six-month deadline indicates growing unease about allowing the climate change negotiations to drift, once the summit is over.
The crucial element of reaching an agreement was $10bn in short-term aid for the countries that would suffer the worst consequences of climate change. "We have been talking a lot most recently with developing countries and small island developing states. They are the most concerned countries and they seem to agree to this idea of $10bn," he said.
Ban admitted that the uproar over the leaked Danish text had exposed the distrust between the industrialised and developing countries. But he downplayed its repercussions, noting he had been in constant contact with the Danish prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, and that he had been easing matters over with developing countries. "I have been very consciously engaging with developing countries," he said. "Even if there have been some trust issues, we have been bridging this gap as much as we can. This is what I am going to continue to do."
He was also adamant that the essence of the Kyoto agreement — that industrialised countries take responsibility for global warming — would survive. "What is know as common but differentiated responsibility principle will be maintained in Copenhagen," Ban said.
Next week brings the climate change negotiations to their moment of truth, with the arrival of more than 100 world leaders in Copenhagen. Ban said he was waiting for the rich industrialised countries to promise steeper emissions cuts. But he specifically ruled out further action from America because of Barack Obama's difficulties with Congress. "Now we are approaching this end-game and I am sure people will come out with more serious targets," he said. "Not all developed countries have come out with ambitious targets."
But in an important shift, Ban acknowledged that rapidly emerging economies like China, India, Brazil and Indonesia, which will be the major sources of future emissions, no longer slot neatly into the Kyoto view of the world. Kyoto divided the world into the industrialised countries, which were responsible for global warming, and the developing countries, which would suffer its worst effects.
"China, India and South Korea have made it quite clear that they will have domestic regulations," he said. "This is quite important even if they will not be internationally bound I am sure they will be domestically bound."

Copenhagen is a world and a decade away from Kyoto

Kyoto's ineffectiveness was due to lack of scientific clarity and lack of public understanding: none of these excuses now apply

Tim Flannery and Erik Rasmussen, Wednesday 9 December 2009 12.44 GMT
Few people outside Japan would have heard of Kyoto prior 1997, its Katsura palace or famous spring blossom. Mention the city now and it is immediately associated with the closest thing we have to an adequate global response to the global climate problem.
As delegates meeting in Copenhagen this month well know, the Kyoto protocol set legally binding requirements for developed economies to achieve emissions reductions by 2012.
But the deficiencies of the protocol are also well known. To name only three: the reductions required are small when compared to what climate science is now telling us; the most rapidly developing economies are not required to achieve any measurable emissions reductions, and it provides no real guidance to business needing to plan for the long term.
It isn't as if the world has been blind to these deficiencies. Since the United Nations climate conference in Bali in 2007, over the past two years climate negotiators from more than 190 countries have been meeting to overcome these constraints and establish a more effective global climate treaty. And this task is meant to conclude in less than 10 days at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen.
Already the Scandinavian city made famous by Hans Christian Andersen is becoming shorthand for the success or failure of our collective efforts to combat climate change. If Copenhagen ends in "success" then we will have succeeded in avoiding the danger of global warming and climate destabilisation; if it is a "failure" then we too will have failed to address this most wicked of problems.
If only it were so simple. If only tools such as text and agreement actually achieved the measureable, reportable and verifiable emissions reductions that all economies must achieve over the coming years. For Copenhagen can only be a beginning: the start to investment in modern low emissions technology and infrastructure and the imposition of costs on the old, polluting industries of the past.
The stakes at Copenhagen are high. The peer reviewed science has only firmed since Kyoto. There is now a consensus that the level of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that the atmosphere can bear before warming triggers unpredictable and potentially catastrophic changes to the global climate system is considerably lower. Climate scientists who only a decade ago would have argued that the amount of greenhouse gas should be 550 parts per million, now argue that even 450pmm may be too much.
Our understanding of the climate problem and our experience of developing effective climate policy have progressed enormously over the past twelve years. The world is now a lot clearer about the policies and incentives that can reduce emissions, maintain economic growth and get our carbon cycle into greater balance. Prior to 1997 no one could refer to the learning from an emissions trading system in Europe, or the rapid move to renewable energy in Germany.
And perhaps more important than all of this is how public sentiment, and with it our politics, has shifted. Kyoto was before An Inconvenient Truth , the Stern review, hurricane Katrina, the 2003 European heatwave and Australia's worst drought on record. In many countries climate change is now an issue which bridges the standard political divide. Some of the most progressive leaders on the issue come from the right of politics: Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy and even an actor turned politician not known for his warm hearted roles: Arnold Schwarzenegger. Climate change is now a fixed agenda item for any meeting between heads of state: how to maintain economic growth, energy security and reduce emissions. And no longer is the President of the United States sceptical of the problem: in Barack Obama the White House is occupied by a man who has made tackling climate change a core part of his political narrative.
In accounting for Kyoto's ineffectiveness, in 1997 one could easily cite the lack of public understanding; a lack of clarity in the science; a lack of effective politics or an immaturity in our experience of effective climate policy. None of these excuses now apply.
Whether the final chapter in a story that started in Bali two years ago is one of resolution and joy, or confusion and despair, remains unknown. An unambiguous political agreement establishing how the new binding international rules can be agreed may still mean that Copenhagen becomes shorthand for describing when a new and powerful approach to tackling this most wicked of global problems was begun. That would be cause for celebration by this and all future generations.
• Erik Rasmussen is the founder of the Copenhagen Climate Council.
Professor Tim Flannery is chairman of the Copenhagen Climate Council and author of The Weather Makers

Copenhagen climate summit: Cracks appear in consensus of developing nation bloc

The tiny nation of Tuvalu has driven a wedge in the bloc of developing nations at UN climate talks by calling on China, India and other emerging giants to take on legally-binding commitments to slash CO2 pollution.

Published: 7:52PM GMT 09 Dec 2009
Through an arcane diplomatic manoeuvre, the Pacific archipelago cracked a diplomatic axiom that has prevailed since the UN climate convention came into being in 1992: rich countries caused global warming, and it was their responsibility to fix it.
On the third day of the December 7-18 negotiations, Tuvalu proposed opening discussions on a "legally binding amendment" to the Kyoto Protocol that would set targets for the reductions of greenhouse-gas emissions for major emerging economies starting in 2013.

But the move -- which was backed by dozens of the poorest countries most vulnerable to climate change impacts -- was blocked by China, India, Saudi Arabia and other large developing countries.
"The constraints would mostly remain on developed countries but also, partly, on big developing economies as well," Taukiei Kitara, head of Tuvalu's delegation, said.
Mr Kitara acknowledged that the proposal constituted the first serious breach in the up-to-now united front of the "G-77 plus China," a bloc of 130 developing nations.
"We know the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol is not complete and we want to create an impulse for a stronger commitment," Mr Kitara said, referring to the landmark treaty that imposes emissions cuts on rich nations up to 2012.
Tuvalu demanded - and got - a suspension of negotiations until the issue could be resolved.
The split within the developing country bloc is highly unusual, as it tends to speak with a united voice.
Today more than half of global carbon pollution comes from developing countries, led by emerging giants China, India and Brazil, and the proportion is set to rise as their high-population economies grow.
Tuvalu's motion to create a so-called "contact group" was shot down by these countries "because we asked for transparent, equitable talks, and maybe they want to talk behind closed doors, so they can dictate and manipulate," Mr Kitara said.
China minimised the differences between developed nations in explaining why it rejected the proposal.
"China has consistently and firmly supported the concerns of vulnerable countries and least developed countries in tackling climate change," said China's climate ambassador Yu Qingtai, when asked about the incident.
"We are all developing countries, we are all victims of the global warming caused by developed countries."
But he acknowledged that positions were not always aligned. "In our specific understanding of how to achieve such change, we might have some differences," he said.
Brazil spelled out the split more explicitly. "Tuvalu has a very legitimate preoccupation for a most ambitious possible agreement," Brazil's climate ambassador, Sergio Serra, said. "But we would not agree on a mandatory reduction target. This is not something Brazil is ready to discuss."

TSMC Buys Solar-Cell Stake

TAIPEI—Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world's largest contract chip producer by revenue, said Wednesday it has agreed to pay US$193 million for a 20% stake in solar-cell maker Motech Industries Inc.
The deal will make TSMC the largest shareholder in Motech and comes as Taiwanese electronics makers expand into the renewable energy industry.
Hsinchu-based TSMC said in a statement it signed an agreement to buy 75.32 million new shares to be issued by Motech through a private placement.
"With the investment, TSMC intends to leverage Motech's established platform to accelerate our time to market, better evaluate opportunities along the solar value chain, and further formulate our overall solar strategy," Rick Tsai, president of TSMC's new businesses, said in the statement.
TSMC will pay 82.70 New Taiwan dollar for each Motech share. Motech ended up 5.4% at NT$145.5 Wednesday. It has surged 88% so far this year. TSMC shares ended unchanged at NT$62.4.
Kenneth Lee, vice president at Fubon Securities Investment Services Co.'s research department, said it is a good deal for cash-rich TSMC.
"First of all, there is almost no barrier to entry for TSMC to enter the solar-cell industry as a chip foundry is much more sophisticated in terms of production technologies. Secondly, while initially the returns will be small, solar cells will be used in every aspects of our lives in the next five to 10 years, so why not?" Mr. Lee said.
Fubon Securities Investment rates TSMC at "Add," with a target price of NT$71.
Simon Tsuo, Motech's chairman and chief executive, said the tie-up with TSMC with help the company better integrate its supply chain and make its operations more efficient.
"We plan to work closely with TSMC to address new business opportunities. We believe this partnership will further enhance Motech's leadership position in the solar industry," Mr. Tsuo said.
The deal is subject to approval by Motech's shareholders and the island's regulators, TSMC said.
Write to Perris Lee Choon Siong at

Electric cars to be spared company-car tax for five years

Philip Pank, Transport Correspondent

Electric cars will be exempt from company car tax for five years from April and electric vans will be spared capital tax payments.
More money will also be made available for the road testing of electric cars. The Government hopes that the scheme will help to overcome a shortage of electric car charging points.
Because of the small numbers of electric vehicles on the road, experts believe that the measures anounnced yesterday will have a limited immediate impact. They see them as incentives designed to encourage greater green motoring in the years ahead.
Before electric cars can make a real impact on travel in Britain, a proper charging grid or battery-lease network will have to be put in place. Existing electric cars do not offer a realistic alternative for long- distance or family travel.

From April all electric vans will be spared a flat-rate £3,000 tax. However, the Department for Transport notes that there is no mass-market electric van available.
There are a mere 50 electric company cars on the British road network. At present, they pay 9 per cent of standard company car tax. The average company car tax is £350 so the total cost to the Exchequer of implementing this measure will be £1,575. But Treasury officials hope that the announcement will act as an incentive to increase the number of electric cars.
There are one million company cars on the road. Electric cars account for just 0.1 per cent of the 26 million cars in Britain.
“Obviously in the short term there will be very few takers for this,” said Edmund King, the president of the AA. “However, you need incentives and at least this has a decent time scale on it.”
The Pre-Budget Report pledged £30 million for green transport projects, including an extension of a programme that allows members of the public to test electric cars for an extended period. Feedback from drivers will be used to overcome the shortcomings of the vehicles.
Motoring organisations were relieved that the Chancellor refrained from bringing forward the 1p fuel duty increase that is due in April. However, they noted that the return to 17.5 per cent VAT in January would add 2.36p to a litre of unleaded petrol and 2.4p to a litre of diesel.

Technology transfer to developing countries is an impossible dream

Collaboration between private investors and public sector is the only way to introduce low-carbon technology to poor countries
Cath Bremner, Wednesday 9 December 2009 07.00 GMT
One of the most contentious topics for discussion at the Copenhagen climate talks will be "technology transfer", the proposition that climate technologies should be handed from rich nations to poor.
It's a fine idea in theory. It happened in pharmaceuticals with the licensing of HIV/Aids medications to the developing world. But climate change is a different ball game, where technology transfer is a complex challenge. For a start, governments don't own intellectual property, companies do. Getting companies to surrender it is no easy task.
A hybrid car has more than 350 individual patents. How do you manage the licensing of each of these? If you jump that hurdle, you still need to build, market and install the technology in a new market that lacks much of the skills, capital and infrastructure the developed world takes for granted.
The second fatal flaw in this concept of "technology transfer" is the assumption the technology is there and ready to be transferred. It isn't. Developed nations are still inventing and trialling much of it. Take biofuels: we know algae could be part of the answer to an alternative to oil. But it is at least 15 or 20 years away from large-scale reality. If we haven't got it now, we can't transfer it.
The focus needs to shift from technology transfer to technology collaboration. While the public sector can stimulate demand and create markets for low-carbon technologies, the large-scale investment required to deploy these climate friendly technologies will come from the private sector. Partnership between the two is a critical success factor.
Our answer at the Carbon Trust, developed with the Indian Institute of Technology and Climate Strategies, is to establish a global network of Climate Innovation Centres in developing countries, funded by the international community, national governments, local and global businesses. These centres would build local capacity, encourage enterprise and provide finance to roll out the technologies we have today and develop the ones we'll use tomorrow. We estimate that an initial investment of £2bn in 20 centres would leverage up to £20bn in private money and they could be up and running within two years.
They will enable the right solutions to be developed in the right places. There is no silver bullet: every region faces its own climate and energy challenges.
In the developed world, most clean energy technology is developed for use with existing electricity grids. Yet there is no grid in much of the developing world. In Africa, how do you replace millions of diesel generators with solar photovoltaics? In India, how can you drive mass household uptake of solar thermal and cooling for cleaner water and refrigeration?
These problems are best solved by the academic and business brains of the nations and regions they affect, with the backing of international finance. Creating local economic opportunity will encourage the private sector to engage and drive change.
The next decade is crucial in reducing global carbon emissions. If we continue to pursue the impossible dream of technology transfer instead of collaboration, we will let time slip through our fingers and progress will be slow and haphazard. Some of the biggest challenges the world faces simply won't be addressed. We cannot afford to let that happen.
• Cath Bremner is head of international development at the Carbon Trust

Brazil defends biofuels at Copenhagen summit

As the world's largest producer and exporter of ethanol, it's no surprise the Brazilian government advocates biofuels as the only real alternative to fossil fuels.
From Claudia Ciobanu for IPS, part of the Guardian Environment Network, Wednesday 9 December 2009 10.07 GMT
Being the world's largest producer and exporter of ethanol it is natural for the Brazilian government and its partners to push biofuels as the only real alternative for a world trying wean itself away from fossil fuels that contribute to global warming.
Brazilian authorities were ready with their arguments at the United Nations climate change summit underway here. Over the past 30 years, since the country embarked on its ethanol programme, an estimated 800 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions have been avoided.
Brazilian delegates were at pains to show that not only is biofuel production the best way to reduce greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions but can also combat poverty as exemplified by the country's scheme to promote micro-distilleries to provide additional income for rural families.
Biofuels have, however, come under serious attack in recent years for eating into farmlands meant for food production. As a result, the European Union backed out, last year, from a commitment to introduce a 10 percent mandatory quota of biofuels in all transportation by 2020.
In Brazil itself environmentalists have pointed to biofuel production as one of the key reasons for the steady deforestation of the Amazon basin.
Countering such criticism Jose Migues from the Brazilian ministry of science and technology said: "We were told that biofuels lead to deforestation in the Amazon, but the ethanol production areas are 3,000 km away from the Amazon.''
Migues referred to Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC), a phrase describing the effects of biofuel production, which pushes human activities towards the Amazonian forests. In the Sao Paulo area, where most ethanol production is concentrated, there has been a significant decrease in cattle raising and agricultural production.
"But is it fair to say that all of these activities are now moving to the Amazon?" asked Thelma Krug, another representative of the ministry. "There is much room for making agriculture and cattle raising more efficient in Brazil."
While the question of where Sao Paulo's farmers moved remained unanswered in Copenhagen, the planned expansion of the ethanol industry threatens further displacement. Over six million hectares are under sugar cane in Brazil but Krug said there were plans to make ''64 million ha available for expanding sugar cane production."
Krug said the government is working on using satellite imagery to monitor the loss of forest cover and keep deforestation under check. A representative of Nature Conservancy a Brazilian non-governmental organisation (NGO) spoke of the thoroughness of forest protection laws.
As for food security issues linked to biofuel production, Andre Correa do Lago, director general of the energy department in the ministry of foreign affairs, stopped short of an outright denial that biofuels were to blame for the 2008 rise in food prices.
"Food security is one of the main concerns of our government," he said. "Biofuels, like any other human endeavour, can be done in a better way. So we should not use the worst case as a general reference point."
Legislation is under consideration to prevent biomass burning, which is responsible for large amounts of GhG emissions.
Much of the waste, especially bagasse, is replacing polluting nitrogenous fertilisers and the production process streamlined with nine units of energy being produced from bagasse against every unit from fossil energy.
While admitting that "biofuels are no silver bullet," Brazilian authorities insist that biofuels are the best way forward for developing countries.
• This article was shared by our content partner IPS, part of the Guardian Environment Network

Chancellor announces boiler scrappage scheme in pre-budget report

Some 125,000 new boilers and doubling of commitment to carbon capture and storage included in Alistair Darling's speech

Alok Jha, green technology correspondent, Wednesday 9 December 2009 15.58 GMT

Householders will be able to trade in their old boilers for newer, more efficient models under plans announced today by the chancellor, Alistair Darling.
The cash is part of a package of environmentally friendly measures (pdf) unveiled in the government's pre-budget report.
Announcing funding for carbon capture projects and tax breaks for those generating their own electricity, the chancellor said that Britain had to conserve more energy to cut carbon emissions.
An extra £200m will go into helping people make their homes more energy-efficient through measures such as insulation, supporting around 75,000 households. "This will go alongside further requirements from the energy companies, up to £300m overall, to provide discounts on energy bills to another 1m low-income households," Darling said.
Paul King, the chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, welcomed the energy-efficiency moves. "They help raise the profile of home energy efficiency and provide some support to the emerging low carbon refurbishment industry. However, we're still just tinkering around the edges of what is possible. Householders need help refurbishing their whole home, not just their boiler."
There are around 4m G-rated gas boilers in the UK, according to Philip Sellwood, the chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust. "If these were all replaced with A-rated boilers it would save almost 4.5m tonnes of CO2 per year, the equivalent of 830,000 household's emissions, so the scheme announced today has real promise," he said. Upgrading to an A-rated condensing boiler could save a household £310 a year in bills.
Homeowners with wind turbines or solar panels will also benefit from feed-in tariffs starting next April, which will guarantee a price for any electricity fed into the national grid. The government said it could provide an average of £900 - tax free - per year, for a household generating green power.
Darling said the government will also invest in low-carbon sectors such as wind power and increase its commitment to carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. The CCS money will fund four demonstration projects in the UK.
Darling said the environmental sector was an opportunity to produce create new high-skilled, highly paid jobs for the UK. "Today I can redirect existing funding, and invest in wind power, renewable energy and other green industries," he said.
"Through the Innovation Investment Fund and the Carbon Trust's venture capital scheme, we will support at least £160m of public and private investment in low-carbon projects. We will also invest £90m in the European Investment Bank's new 2020 fund, which will enable €6.5bn of finance for green infrastructure projects."
Greenpeace's executive director, John Sauven, said a bold move would have been to scrap the UK's Trident nuclear weapon system, which could have saved £100bn, and use the money to create a green investment bank. "This would help British companies invest in clean technology, and bring thousands of new jobs and much needed energy security to the UK. Instead we've got a few tax breaks and lots of rhetoric, but words alone won't build a low-carbon economy."