Thursday, 17 December 2009

Markit & C-Questor Launch Carbco Platinum Standard

Copenhagen, London and New York, NY – Markit, a leading, global financial information services company, and C-Questor Limited, a UK-based international organization dedicated to helping solve the problems of global warming and climate change through the application of cutting-edge technologies, today announced the launch of the Carbco Platinum Carbon Standard. Carbco offers a range of services relating to the Carbon markets, including both voluntary and mandatory carbon credits. The two companies also announced an agreement to list the Platinum Carbon Standard verified credits exclusively on Markit’s Environmental Registry, a leading environmental registry which lists the majority of the world's credits based on voluntary carbon and ecosystem standards.

The Platinum Carbon Standard supports current international, scientifically sound standards (such as the Voluntary Carbon Standard), adding additional certification and validity. Whilst earlier projects have focused on deforestation credits, the Platinum Carbon Standard is designed to encompass emerging technologies in the climate change sector. It will focus initially on the forestry sector, integrating carbon, biodiversity and other environmental services into a single certificate thereby representing the highest possible ethical standards.

There are currently several Platinum Carbon Standard projects underway in Africa, Brazil and South-East Asia. The first certificates to be listed based on the standard related to a 168,000 hectare forestry project based in Papua, Indonesia.

Platinum Carbon Standard projects are required to meet a range of obligatory standards ranging from sustainability, biodiversity and transparent accounting to the setting aside of carbon as an insurance against accidents and the need for proof that a project produces genuine carbon reductions that would not have occurred during normal business practice.

Dr. Hans Christian Soerensen, a Director of C-Questor Limited, said: “The Carbco Platinum Carbon Standard’s focus is on protecting the broadest range of species and ecosystems. Qualifying projects must ensure that project benefits can be verified and observed, both by official verifying bodies and by the provision of regularly updated satellite data and real time video feeds to permit monitoring by the global community.”

Transparency and integrity for the new standard are of paramount importance. In line with this requirement, Markit’s Environmental Registry has been selected as the sole global carbon registry for credits verified with the Carbco Platinum Carbon Standard.

Helen Robinson, Managing Director of Markit’s Environmental Registry, said: “Markit is pleased to provide a secure platform for the listing and tracking of the Carbco Platinum Carbon Standard.”

Dr. Soerensen added: “It is essential for buyers and sellers of carbon credits to be confident in the provenance and singularity of the credits. Markit’s Environmental Registry provides this security and greatly increases the visibility of the Carbco Platinum Carbon Standard within the global marketplace.”

There are 10 million Pending Issuance Units, validated to the Carbco Platinum Carbon Standard, currently listed on Markit’s Environmental Registry. These can be viewed on

A copy of the press release can be downloaded from the C-Questor website by clicking here.

Talks in Deadlock Ahead of Leaders' Arrival

President Obama Makes Phone Calls to Lobby Other Countries as Pressure Rises to Reach a Face-Saving Agreement

Associated Press
U.N. climate chief Yvo De Boer speaks with protesters staging a sit-in at the Copenhagen Climate Summit on Wednesday.
COPENHAGEN -- Negotiators at the United Nations climate summit scrambled Wednesday to bridge multibillion-dollar disagreements as President Barack Obama and other world leaders prepared to descend on the Danish capital Friday.
As night fell in Copenhagen Wednesday, it appeared that the leaders could arrive for the summit's final sessions with significant work to do to achieve Mr. Obama's goal of a "meaningful" climate agreement.

Protesters and Danish police clashed at the gate of the U.N. Climate conference in Copenhagen, as heads of states are arriving to break the deadlock of COP15 negotiations, Roman Kessler reports.
Mr. Obama has gotten personally involved in a last-ditch lobbying effort, calling large and small nations seen as pivotal to breaking an impasse. Failure to ink even a nonbinding political deal in Copenhagen would be an embarrassment to Mr. Obama, who has made attacking climate change a centerpiece of his agenda.

Mr. Obama has telephoned leaders in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Brazil, Grenada, France, Germany and the U.K. as U.S., European Union and Australian negotiators lobby others in the so-called G-77 group of poorer nations "who know it's in their strategic interest...not to go along with the others," said one official involved in the talks. In some cases, negotiators for G-77 nations approached their bigger Western interlocutors, offering input as they tried to hash out a deal.
The White House said Wednesday that the talks were deadlocked.
Danish negotiators talked Wednesday with officials from a number of delegations to try to hash out elements of a potential agreement. Ideas under discussion include calling on nations to make emission cuts by 2020 that they have already promised, outline cumulative emission limits the developed world should meet by 2030, and include a target for a cumulative emission limit by 2050 for the entire world. None of these would be binding.
Also under discussion is the creation of a fund of about $30 billion that developed countries would offer to pay for emission-reduction efforts in developing countries through 2012.
One element of a potential Copenhagen result emerged Wednesday as the U.S., Britain, France, Australia, Japan and Norway pledged $3.5 billion Wednesday toward slowing the cutting of forests in developing countries. But that offer depends on a broader agreement.
In addition, negotiators are looking at a way to resolve a dispute over how nations would verify that other countries are making promised emission cuts. Under discussion is a proposal that would set minimum standards of information sharing.
Sen. John Kerry said in Copenhagen Wednesday that he told top negotiators from China and India in meetings that it would be "exceedingly difficult" for the U.S. Senate to approve legislation curbing emissions unless the countries agree to some form of international review of their actions to control emissions.
Chinese officials have stuck to their position that they don't intend to agree to let other countries monitor their progress in meeting their voluntary environmental pledges. Su Wei, the deputy head of the Chinese delegation in Copenhagen, said Wednesday that U.S. concerns on the issue weren't necessary. "China is very sincere in its energy-conservation and environment-protection drive," he said.
President Obama's press secretary, Robert Gibbs, on Wednesday said, "If you set a goal but you can't look transparently into figuring out whether somebody is meeting that goal, then you have an unenforceable, nonverifiable agreement."
U.S. negotiators and their EU and Australian counterparts have struggled in Copenhagen as China has organized a bloc of nations including Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Bolivia, and Venezuela against U.S. proposals, officials involved in the talks say.
Negotiators for the G-77 have expressed frustration throughout the summit with what they view as stingy offers of aid from richer countries. At one point members of the group briefly walked out of bargaining sessions. China has aligned itself with the G-77 on many key points, even as U.S. negotiators have argued that China can't be considered a poor country.
The stalemate prompted gloom Wednesday at the sprawling conference center where delegates from more than 190 nations huddled between meetings. Outside the hall, Danish police used pepper spray and batons to subdue protesters, many of whom expressed anger at the slow pace of progress inside.
"I still believe it's possible to reach real success, but I must say that in that context the next 24 hours are absolutely crucial," the top U.N. climate negotiator, Yvo de Boer, said late Wednesday.
Connie Hedegaard, president of the conference, resigned Wednesday to hand the job to Denmark's Prime Minister Lars L[oslash]kke Rasmussen, as more than 100 other world leaders head to Copenhagen for the final stretch of the talks. Mr. de Boer said that Mr. Rasmussen was holding consultations with regional representatives to see how best to move forward in the talks.

Negotiators at big international summits usually have agreements wrapped and ready to go so that when senior political leaders arrive all they need to do is sign off, and pose for photographs. Officials in Copenhagen fretted that time is short for an orderly ending of this summit.
"We have no more time to lose," said European Commission President Jos[eacute] Manuel Barroso.
An all-night negotiating session that went on until about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday failed to produce agreement between developed and developing countries on how to divide up responsibility for slashing emissions over the next several decades.
When it was over, much of the document was in brackets, which in U.N. procedure means it is the subject of dispute.
Developing countries want industrialized ones to make deeper cuts and to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in environmental aid. Industrialized countries want the right to monitor developing countries to ensure that a range of environmental actions they have promised actually materialize.

Instead of making progress on these issues, negotiators have spent more than a week in the chilly Danish capital bogged down in disagreements about bureaucratic structure. Chief among them is whether an existing climate-change treaty, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, should be extended, or whether it should replaced by a new agreement. That seemingly arcane issue comes down to questions of money, power and trust.
Developing countries don't want to give up the Kyoto treaty, which puts more of the burden for emission cuts on developed countries and prods them to help bankroll clean-energy efforts in the developing world.
In the treaty, industrialized nations that ratified it promised to cut their collective greenhouse-gas emissions 5% below 1990 levels by 2012. The U.S. never ratified the treaty, and China, as a developing country, isn't obligated to produce any emission cuts.—Elizabeth Williamson and Jing Yang contributed to this article.
Write to Jeffrey Ball at, Stephen Power at and Guy Chazan at

48 hours to go and no progress at Copenhagen summit

Ben Webster, Environment Editor in Copenhagen

With a little over 48-hours left of the two-week Copenhagen climate change conference, there has been no significant progress on any of the major issues.
There are no numbers from individual countries on how much each would be willing to contribute to a global climate protection fund. Nor has any country improved on its opening offer for cutting emissions.
Most developing countries, led by China, are still refusing to commit to legally binding actions to reduce the rate of growth of their emissions. They are clinging to the ten-year-old Kyoto Protocol, which allows them to carry on increasing their emissions indefinitely.
There is no certainty that any of the pledges made to date will be fulfilled because the 193 countries cannot agree on a consistent, independent monitoring system.

Even assuming all the commitments to emissions reductions were implemented, global emissions of CO2 equivalent would still be five billion tonnes, or 11 per cent, higher than they need to be in 2020 to have a 50/50 chance of the average temperature increase remaining below 2C.
It is still possible that the arrival of 115 heads of state today and tomorrow will force a breakthrough. Many, like Gordon Brown, are counting on returning to their countries on Friday night or Saturday morning with a piece of paper to wave at voters to convince them they have secured a planet-saving deal.
Everyone is waiting to see if President Obama will improve the offer from the US when he joins the conference on Friday. There is a widespread reluctance among other countries to make significant concessions until the country which has caused most of the problem takes more of its fair share of the burden of solving it.
Yet the British Government is publicly defending Mr Obama’s weak offer because it has decided it is the best the world is likely to get, given the degree of opposition in the US Congress to making any sacrifices or spending any significant sums to tackle emissions.
The only concrete agreement to emerge on Friday may be a deal on halting the destruction of the world’s rainforests by 2030. Everyone here seems to agree that the rainforests are worth saving and that people in rich countries must pay to protect them by making the trees more valuable alive than dead for their owners. The negotiators seem to find it easier agreeing on something tangible like trees rather than something invisible like CO2.
The communiqué signed by the leaders on Friday will confirm the intention of capping the temperature increase at 2C but the details of how to achieve that will be left to future negotiations.
Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Secretary, says he wants the intentions expressed on Friday to be turned into a legally binding treaty within six months.
That timescale is likely to prove wildly optimistic.

Nations Pledge Money for Forests

COPENHAGEN -- The U.S., Britain, France, Australia, Japan and Norway pledged $3.5 billion Wednesday toward slowing, halting and reversing deforestation in developing countries if there's a broader agreement at the United Nations climate talks here.
"As part of an ambitious and comprehensive deal, we recognize the significant role of international public finance in supporting developing countries' efforts to slow, halt and eventually reverse deforestation," a joint statement said.
Talks toward a broad climate agreement remained bogged down Wednesday amid disagreements over long-term subsidies for poor nations, the methods by which promises to cut greenhouse gas emissions would be monitored, and the extent to which rich and poor nations should cut their emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases linked to climate change.
The proposed money to subsidize preservation of forests is part of a package of financing proposed for the period 2010 to 2012. The six countries said in the statement they were committed to scaling up the finance later.
The funding would go toward rewarding countries that protect their forests or plant trees.
Deforestation accounts for approximately 17% of global warming emissions, based on some estimates.
Write to Selina Williams at

Final reckoning: What the leaders must do to thrash out a deal in Copenhagen

After eight long days at the Copenhagen summit, the talking is nearly over

Suzanne Goldenberg in Copenhagen, Wednesday 16 December 2009 22.47 GMT
It's up to the bosses now. Years of international gatherings – from Bali to Bangkok to Bonn. Nine raucous, angry and confusing days cooped up in the windowless halls of Copenhagen's biggest conference site. The protesters in polar bear suits. The countless appeals for action – and the forecasts of the life-altering consequences of global warming if world leaders fail to come to a firm deal. It all comes down to the next 36 hours.
As more than 115 world leaders descend on Copenhagen to make the crucial decisions, what can we expect? Nobody really knows.
By 6pm last night, negotiators had produced a text so dense and unwieldy that the Danish prime minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, called in negotiators from the larger countries to help knock it into "laymen's terms for politicians". If they succeed, the main issues looming for leaders on Friday will be as follows.
Kyoto Protocol: Should it stay or go?
At the heart of the Kyoto protocol is the simple principle that the industrialised world bears the legal responsibility for global warming and that poor countries will suffer most of its consequences. But this vision has translated into a bitter divide between rich and poor countries. The industrialised world – led by Japan and the EU – wants to ditch Kyoto, arguing that the 1997 protocol does not reflect current realities because it ignores the now huge emissions from emerging economies such as China, India, Indonesia and Brazil. Also, the US never even signed Kyoto. But many African countries and other poorer countries are fighting hard to retain Kyoto, accusing the industrialised world of trying to escape their responsibilities.
Emissions cuts: How do they stack up?
Much of the work in getting commitments to cuts in greenhouse gas emissions was done before Copenhagen. Some have been impressive. Japan pledged a 25% cut in emissions. Brazil committed itself to a drastic reduction in deforestation. Other pledges, though significant gestures, did not go as far. China and India both signed up to a less polluting course of growth, but balked at putting a ceiling on emissions within the next few years. America satisfied a minimum requirement of coming to Copenhagen with a defined pledge to cut emissions, but it was a lowball offer. It was also conditional on getting climate change law through the Senate, which could be a struggle. There is expectation that the European Union could deepen its reductions to 30%, which would set off a chain reaction of increased offers. But while analysts say that the emissions cuts are more than they expected, they are still not enough to guarantee keep warming under the danger level of 2C.
Deadline for a treaty
The Copenhagen summit was originally supposed to be the deal to end all deals on global warming. But negotiators conceded this year that there was no chance of a legally binding deal. Instead, they wanted to use Copenhagen as a forum where world leaders could thrash out a "politically binding" agreement, leaving the details for lawyers to iron out later. But that two-step approach presents a new problem: if there is no treaty now, then when? The UN, Britain and others are pushing hard to set a six-month deadline, so as not to lose momentum. But the spectre of the moribund Doha round of trade talks haunts the minds of some.
America has been pushing hard to establish an inspection regime to make sure developing countries deliver on their promises to reduce emissions and prevent deforestation. The issue is key because rapidly emerging countries such as China and Brazil are not required to cut emissions under the Kyoto agreement, but have agreed to do so anyway. The US pressure rose yesterday when John Kerry offered a stark choice: agree an inspection regime or risk the prospects of getting a crucial climate change law through the Senate.
Climate finance
Expect a last-minute flurry of cash. Developing countries – which did not cause global warming in the first place – have no incentive to sign a deal unless it helps them deal with its consequences. Barack Obama, Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy and other leaders have been personally engaged in efforts to try to put together a financial package for African countries. But compared with the billions of pounds that will be needed to help developing countries move to clean energy technology and shield them from the worst ravages of climate change, so far there is only small change on offer. The industrialised countries are on track to give an immediate injection of cash – $10bn (£6.1bn) a year over three years from 2010. But coming up with a plan for more has so far drawn a blank. One plan from the Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi, sets out how developed countries could scale up their funding to $50bn by 2015 and $100bn by 2020. But other African countries have accused the Ethiopian leader of a sellout.
Between 15% and 20% of global warming pollution is caused by the razing of forests. The solution is to makes trees worth more alive than dead. That effort got a boost yesterday when Australia, France, Japan, Norway, Britain and America agreed to provide $3.5bn in immediate cash for forest preservation, with the promise of more later. It's the one bright spot.

Evo Morales stuns Copenhagen with demand to limit temperature rise to 1C

Bolivian president warns of climate 'holocaust' in Africa as Hugo Chávez blames capitalism for climate change
John Vidal in Copenhagen, Wednesday 16 December 2009 15.38 GMT
Two of the world's two most radical presidents today shook up the Copenhagen climate change summit by blaming climate change squarely on capitalism and demanding billions of dollars in "reparations" from rich countries.
Bolivian President Evo Morales called on the world leaders to raise their ambitions radically and hold temperature increases over the next century to just 1C. In the most ambitious statement yet made at the climate summit, Morales demanded rich countries pay climate change reparations and proposed an international climate court of justice to prosecute countries for climate "crimes".
"Our objective is to save humanity and not just half of humanity. We are here to save mother earth. Our objective is to reduce climate change to [under] 1C. [above this] many islands will disappear and Africa will suffer a holocaust," he said. Limiting warming to 1C would need an end to all emissions and billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide to be sucked from the air and stored.
Echoing Cuban president Fidel Castro 18 years ago at the earth summit in Rio de , Morales blamed capitalism squarely for climate change: "The real cause of climate change is the capitalist system. If we want to save the earth then we must end that economic model. Capitalism wants to address climate change with carbon markets. We denounce those markets and the countries which [promote them]. It's time to stop making money from the disgrace that they have perpetrated."
Morales was followed by fellow radical President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela who said socialism was the only way to save the planet and reduce climate change.
"The total income of the 500 richest people in the world is greater than the 450m poorest living on $2 a day. We have to change direction. How long are we going to tolerate the current international economic order, and allow the hungry not to have food?
"Let's eradicate poverty and bring in climate justice. If capitalism resists we have to do battle with it. If we do not, then mankind, the greatest creation in the universe, will disappear," he said

Draft Copenhagen agreements still feature large gaps

Two official draft texts display ongoing uncertainty over targets and funding commitments.

From James Murray for BusinessGreen, part of the Guardian Environment Network, Wednesday 16 December 2009 12.40 GMT

The faltering progress at the Copenhagen climate summit was underlined yesterday when the UN released two official draft agreements featuring large gaps that are yet to be filled.
The seven-page text from the Long Term Cooperative Action (pdf) (LCA) working group and the 27-page document from the Kyoto Protocol working group (pdf) reveal the outline of the draft agreements that will be presented to world leaders at the end of the week.
But both texts remain littered with square brackets that contain a range of different options for negotiators, and also feature large sections with no information beyond a note that the topic is "to be elaborated" in the final document.
As expected, the issues of emission targets and funding commitments will be left to world leaders, who will begin arriving tonight and will dominate the final two days of the summit. But the drafts also reveal that a large number of technical issues remain unresolved.
For example, a section in the LCA document on the financial mechanisms that will help to fund climate mitigation and adaptation projects in the developing world contains the sentence: "To [establish] [define] an [X] body, which shall [work under the [guidance [and authority] of and] be accountable to the Conference of the Parties, [to implement the policies, programme priorities and eligibility criteria of the financial mechanism], pursuant to decision --/CP.15 (Finance)".
Yvo de Boer, the UN's top climate change official, warned that there was still an "enormous amount of work" to be done before a deal could be finalised.
Speaking to reporters, he said that diplomats needed to increase the pace of negotiations. "We have – over the past week or so – seen progress in a number of areas, but we haven't seen enough of it," he said. "There is still an enormous amount of work and ground to be covered if this conference is to deliver what people expect it to deliver."
Meanwhile, chief US negotiator Todd Stern continued to resist calls from developing nations to increase the US commitment to cut emissions by 17 per cent on 2005 levels by 2020, stating that he was "not anticipating any change in the mitigation commitment".
The release of the draft texts comes as the EU environment commissioner backed concerns raised yesterday by green groups that loopholes within the draft agreement could negate the carbon savings promised in any deal.
Concerns centre on the large number of carbon rights issued under the Kyoto Protocol and held by former Soviet Bloc countries which have been left with millions of so-called Assigned Amount Units (AAU) that were never used because of the collapse of their heavy industrial base in the 1990s.
Fears are mounting that Russia, Ukraine and other Eastern European countries will secure the right to hold on to these credits, which are known colloquially as "hot air". Green groups argue that the retention of these AAUs would undermine the credibility of any Copenhagen deal by allowing the former Soviet Bloc countries to sell them to those nations that fail to meet post-2012 emission targets agreed as part of any deal.
EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas told reporters earlier today that he was concerned at the failure to close the apparent loophole. "If we have this amount of AAUs (post-2012), no matter how ambitious we are in Copenhagen, it will be not be enough because of this hot air," he warned.
However, a group of seven Eastern European countries is fighting for the AAUs it holds to be retained, releasing a statement earlier today arguing that any deal "should keep the door open for allowing the full transfer of the surplus represented by the AAUs to the post-2012 framework".
Greenpeace warned that the surplus AAUs amount to about a third of all the emission reduction commitments currently on the table from developed nations, suggesting that the integrity of any deal could be fatally undermined by the failure to retire the excess hot air credits.
• This article was shared by our content partner BusinessGreen, part of the Guardian Environment Network

Climate-change summit: A positive vision from the chaos of Copenhagen

Telegraph View: The world should be investing far more heavily in green technology: just $10 billion a year is spent on it globally, a pathetically small amount.

Telegraph View Published: 7:53PM GMT 16 Dec 2009
Copenhagen has not been so wonderful after all. In fact, it has been shambolic. The demonstrations and organisational chaos have been matched by such sloppy chairmanship from the Danes that delegation walkouts have been an almost daily event. With world leaders arriving in force today and tomorrow for the closing stages, the climate change conference is perilously poised.
The original, over-ambitious hopes for a legally binding treaty have long since been abandoned and the summiteers are now looking to secure a "political agreement" that can be fleshed out in the months ahead. Some sort of text will be agreed – there can be no doubt about that. President Obama, Wen Jiabao and the rest of the global establishment are not going to overnight in Denmark for a non-event. But assessing what form that agreement might take is proving immensely difficult, both because of the complexity of the issues being negotiated and the fact that the heavy lifting is taking place behind closed doors.
What can be said without contradiction, however, is that two distinctive visions have emerged in Copenhagen – one rather bleak, the other less so. The first is personified by Al Gore, the Jeremiah of man-made climate change. Never one to undercook his message, he warned the summit that "the future of human civilisation is now threatened". Mr Gore sees deep cuts in carbon emissions, almost regardless of their economic impact, as vital, on the grounds that without them, mankind is doomed. Gordon Brown is in this camp and has, with France's Nicolas Sarkozy, proposed a tax on all financial transactions to raise money to compensate developing countries for the slower growth that is the downside of hitting emissions targets. The dismal record of aid payments to Third World countries suggests that only the manufacturers of Mercedes Benz cars will see much to cheer in this.
The alternate vision has been best articulated by, of all people, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The governor of California is a green evangelist, but a positive one. While he also sees emissions targets as essential, he also believes they must drive the new technology that will make the burning of fossil fuels unnecessary. He is right. The world should be investing far more heavily in green technology: just $10 billion a year is spent on it globally, a pathetically small amount. At the same time, there should be major investment in adaptation measures, to prepare countries most at risk from the impact of climate change. Such a strategy may ultimately prove far more effective than just the imposition of hard-to-verify emissions targets.

Copenhagen climate conference: ministers plan new summit

World leaders could put off major decisions on global warming for another six months time amid a warning from Gordon Brown that at the Copenhagen climate conference is threatened wirth “deadlock”.

By James Kirkup, and Louise Gray in CopenhagenPublished: 5:44PM GMT 16 Dec 2009
The Prime Minister spoke as Governments meeting in Denmark failed to resolve their disputes over how much to cut their emissions, how to prove that those cuts are actually made, and who should pay for the move to a low-carbon economy.
As British officials admitted that the talks remain “ very difficult”, Ed Miliband, the climate change secretary, signalled Britain is prepared to back a move to hold another international climate summit in Mexico City next summer, several months ahead of schedule.

The prospect of bringing forward the Mexico meeting was first made by Al Gore, the former US vice president and environmentalist.
Mr Miliband said bureaucratic wrangling was threatening to exhaust the time available to secure a deal at the Danish meeting.
"We have to find ways of unblocking this procedural wrangling because if we exhaust ourselves and run the clock down we will not get an agreement," he said, adding that he was frustrated at "talking about talks rather than talking."
Achim Steiner, the head of the UN Environment Programme, said that without a real deal, it could be better to defer big decisions until the next summit.
Mr Steiner said: “A meaningless deal in Copenhagen cannot be in anyone’s interests because it locks us into another decade of
inadequate action and co-operation so if time runs out there is always the option of stopping the clock and reconvening to get it right. “But the risk is that that the momentum that is so characteristic of these 10 days in Copenhagen might be lost and then the world will struggle to take this further in the next six to 12 months.”
Mr Brown insisted that he could “see a way through” the disputes, but accepted the possibility of failure.
He said: “I don’t agree with the proposition that people have given up on this meeting at all. Of course, there is a possibility of a deadlock, of course there is a possibility that people will find it difficult to come to an agreement.”
Among the major issues still undecided is how much the US will reduce its carbon emissions.
At the moment the US has pledged to cut emissions by 17 per cent on 2005 levels. This equates to around 4 per cent on 1990 levels and there is increasing pressure at the Copenhagen climate summit for the US to raise its target.
Mr Brown said he wanted the US to offer bigger cuts. “The American offer is a very significant reduction in a very short period of time, but everyone is being asked to set a higher level of ambition”, he said.
However, US officials in Copenhagen have ruled out any increase, British officials privately accepted that any increase in the American offer is very unlikely.
The Copenhagen talks are also supposed to agree to a dollars 100 billion fund to finance carbon-reducing technologies in developing countries.
Yet here again, officials said an agreement on contributions remains elusive. One senior British source said that any text agreed on Friday might only set approximate ranges for rich countries’ contributions to the fund and not give precise numbers.
There is also a continued stand-off between China and the US, the world’s two biggest carbon emitters.
Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, singled out the two for blame over the deadlock in negotiations.
All countries “need our American partners and Chinese partners to move more" if the deal is to be successful, he said at a press conference.
China has pledged to cut emissions by 40 per cent on “business as usual” – although this actually allows for an increase due to the rate of the superpower’s growth.
Significantly, Beijing has also opposed independent international verification and reporting on its carbon emissions cuts.
At the summit, US Senator John Kerry insisted America will not cut greenhouse gas emissions until emerging countries like China also agree to monitoring.
Mr Kerry, who has been behind efforts to pass climate legislation in the Senate, said any new climate deal will only pass through the US Senate if American workers know there are similar limits on industry in the East.
He said: "To pass a bill, we must be able to assure a senator from Ohio that steel workers in his state won't lose their jobs to India and China because those countries are not participating in a way that is measurable, reportable and verifiable," he said.
"Every American - indeed, I think all citizens - need to know that no country will claim an unfair advantage."

EU Emission Target Sparks Controversy

BRUSSELS -- The European Union, which has led the charge among rich countries to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, frequently casts its goal of a 20% cut by 2020 as a guiding light for the rest of the developed world. If others go far enough, the bloc says, it will even stretch to 30%.
But some argue the EU's pledges are far less ambitious than they seem, and that has become a source of friction at the Copenhagen climate summit. On Tuesday, the top U.S. climate envoy pointed out that the EU counts its 20% cut from 1990, when its emissions were higher than they are today. The U.S. pledge, figured from 2005, is actually steeper going forward, he said.
To get to the 20% cut, the EU takes out its wallet and buys credits on a global carbon market. That means it doesn't have to cut emissions as sharply within the EU. By some reckonings, half of the EU's future cuts could come from credits bought from outside the EU.
On top of that, slower economic growth will make the target easier to reach. Recession means less industrial output and fewer emissions.
European leaders retort that the bloc has put in substantial effort in past years to reduce emissions -- including establishing the world's leading cap-and-trade regime -- while the U.S. has sat back and let its emissions rise. Barbara Helfferich, the environment spokeswoman for the EU's executive arm, says the U.S.'s pledge to cut emissions 17% from 2005 amounts to just a 4% reduction since 1990. "Compare that to our 20%," she says.
The soft spots in the EU's pledge have drawn criticism from environmentalists. Getting to 20% by 2020 requires "minimal effort," says Jason Anderson of the World Wildlife Fund. He says the EU should push as far as 40%.
"Clearly, the EU needs to improve its pledge," says Rebecca Harms, a German member of the European Parliament who is president of its Green Party.
In 1990, the 27 countries that now make up the EU emitted greenhouse gases equivalent to 5.56 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. By 2007, that number had fallen 9.3%, or 519 million tons, to 5.05 billion tons. (All the figures exclude emissions from deforestation or changing use of land.) Provisional estimates for 2008 are for an additional 1.5% drop, largely stemming from the recession. In other words, the EU is already more than halfway to its 2020 target.
EU leaders credit environmental initiatives and the cap-and-trade system for curbing big polluters. But another factor is at work: In 2004 and 2007, the EU admitted a total of 12 new countries, 10 of them ex-communist states. By counting emissions from 1990 -- generally before communism's collapse ravaged industrial output -- all but one of those countries (tiny Slovenia) register substantial declines that the EU counts toward the 2020 pledge. The 10 East bloc countries account for two-thirds of the decline in the EU since 1990. Among the 15 Western EU countries, emissions have fallen just 4.3% since 1990.
However, some argue that, conversely, a 2005 baseline favors the Obama administration in international talks, partly because it leaves out the entire first term of George W. Bush. Mr. Bush, as president, resisted imposing economywide emissions caps on the grounds that it would damage the U.S. economy.
The EU gets a fillip from counting "offset" credits toward the pledge. They come largely from a United Nations program called the Clean Development Mechanism. Poor countries don't have to reduce their emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. But if individual businesses in those countries do anyway, they can get one CDM credit for each ton of carbon dioxide avoided.

EU companies are the major buyer of these credits, which can be used ton-for-ton in the European cap-and-trade scheme in place of actual cuts. Last year, EU companies bought CDM credits for about 82 million tons, according to EU statistics. That is more than has been cut from smokestacks in a typical year. From 2006 to 2007, the most recent years for which final data are available, the actual cuts in the EU amounted to 59 million tons.
In addition to European companies, EU governments -- like those in other rich nations -- can buy CDM credits to meet national Kyoto targets.
All told, estimates Claude Turmes, a Green Party European Parliament member from Luxembourg active in climate issues, as much as 12 percentage points of the EU's 20% cut could be satisfied by various purchased credits.
Ms. Helfferich, the EU environment spokesman, says credits play an important role. "Climate change is global," she says. "It does not really matter where you emit and for that matter where you make the reductions."
Mr. Anderson of the WWF says the offset cuts skirt the real problem: In the end, "countries need to decarbonize," he says. "Anything you do overseas reduces the changes you do to your domestic industry."
Write to Charles Forelle at

Cap and Trade in Practice

How to get paid for laying off workers.
The world's carboncrats are beavering away this week on a vast new global cap-and-trade scheme that President Obama wants the U.S. to join. But before we do, maybe Americans should understand how this already works in practice. Union workers, take note.
The Kyoto Protocol of 1997 required signatories to reduce their carbon emissions, and the European Union in 2005 launched its own cap-and-trade system. The program sets a limit on carbon emissions, and companies are issued free carbon allowances that they can buy or sell based on their emissions needs.
Fast forward to this month's news that Corus, Europe's second-largest steel producer, is shuttering a giant U.K. steelmaking plant at Redcar, cutting 1,700 jobs. Corus blames the recession that has cut steel demand and says the British government hasn't done enough to help it.
Whatever the truth of that, there's little doubt that cap and trade made the closure much easier. The decline in steel production means European steelmakers have surplus carbon allowances. According to Carbon Market Data, a European research firm, in 2008 Corus had the second largest surplus of EU carbon allowances—7.5 million.
The EU is looking for ways to drive today's depressed allowance price of about $21 apiece back up to former highs of about $50, so Corus has the potential for a $375 million windfall. By closing Redcar's annual capacity of three million tons of steel, Corus will produce six million fewer tons of CO2. That means more carbon allowances, which could translate into about $300 million a year if credits hit $50. Corus is essentially being paid to lay off British workers.
Corus will also profit if it moves the production to India. As part of Kyoto, the United Nations created the Clean Development Mechanism to encourage Western companies to invest in developing-world factories. Participants are financially rewarded based on the amount of carbon they "save" with more efficient plants.
Corus was bought in 2007 by Tata, India's largest steel company. The Indian steel industry is set to more than double production to some 124 million tons a year by 2011-2012. Were Corus to move production to a "clean" Indian factory, it could receive hundreds of millions of dollars annually from the Clean Development Fund. The kicker is that none of this results in fewer carbon emissions. A Corus plant in India might be more efficient by Indian standards, but it will be no more efficient than Redcar.
We should add that all of this is precisely what Kyoto envisioned. The idea is to tax Western industry and then send the proceeds to developing countries as an incentive to join the anticarbon crusade. But unless governments close their borders to foreign investment, business will flow to where the carbon tariff is least punishing. China and India understand this, which is why they won't agree at Copenhagen to anything that reduces this advantage.
The Corus story also shows that cap and trade isn't really a free market. Markets develop to efficiently allocate resources and capital. Carbon cap and trade is a government-rigged market, in which carbon allowances are dispensed based on political influence. Such a system is ripe for manipulation, and Corus is merely the latest example.
To summarize: Cap and trade is a scheme that would impose heavy carbon taxes and allowances on U.S. industries, which would then have an incentive to move overseas themselves, or to sell those allowances to overseas companies that could use them to become more competitive against U.S. companies. Like the 1,700 Brits at Redcar, American workers would be the big losers.

Blow for clean coal as UN shuts it out of emissions trading

The clean-coal industry has been shut out of the global emissions trading scheme at the Copenhagen climate change talks, dealing a blow to the UK, US and Australia.

By Rowena Mason in Copenhagen Published: 6:07PM GMT 16 Dec 2009

The three Western countries and Saudi Arabia had strongly argued that advanced new clean-coal plants, which trap emissions underground, ought to earn credits for being a low-carbon source of energy.
But a United Nations committee decided not to include the industry in its Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which rewards companies that invest in green energy.

Ed Miliband, Energy and Climate Change Secretary, is a strong supporter of the fledgling technology, which attempts to siphon off carbon dioxide when coal is burnt and pump it into geological formations such as disused gas fields.
The UK Government has committed to funding four £1bn trial carbon-capture and storage plants, with the first due to be completed either by Scottish Power in 2014 or by E.ON in 2016.
It is understood that Brazil was largely responsible for blocking the inclusion of carbon capture and storage on the list of approved clean energy over concerns about “the long-term liability for the storage site, including liability for any seepage”.
More work will be done on the proposal before the next summit to be held in Mexico next year and South Africa in 2011.
The Clean Development Mechanism – where polluting companies can buy carbon allowances from approved renewable energy projects in the developing world – has come under heavy criticism at the summit.
A new report by Point Carbon showed this week that inadequate project preparation means almost one third of all the projects under the United Nations’ carbon-trading system fail to deliver any benefits.
The UN last week banned several Chinese wind farms from participating in the scheme, having temporarily suspended the whole country, over fears they had been playing the system.

UK must invest in green technologies or lose out to other countries, MPs warn

Britain's transformation to a low-carbon society could be delayed by a lack of people trained in the right skills, says report

Alok Jha, green technology correspondent, Wednesday 16 December 2009 11.55 GMT
Britain's transformation to a low-carbon society will be delayed by a lack of people trained in the right skills unless the government significantly increases its investment in the sector, a group of MPs have warned. They said that hundreds of thousands of jobs could be created if the government doubled its funding of green technologies, making the UK a world leader in a market worth £3tr worldwide.
"The government has missed a big opportunity to kick-start a green industrial revolution with its £3bn fiscal stimulus. Germany, the US, Japan and China have invested billions in their low-carbon industries," said Tim Yeo MP, chair of the House of Commons environmental audit committee (EAC).
In the US, the government has spent about £50bn to create half a million new green jobs, while Germany, Japan and Korea have also announced major plans to grow their domestic environmental sectors. China's economic stimulus plan includes £142bn for environmental measures.
"Only one sixth of the UK's government's fiscal stimulus package was devoted to green industry," said Yeo. "At the same time as cutting carbon emissions we could be boosting employment and putting UK firms at the forefront of the huge global market for green technologies."
The EAC's report on green jobs and skills, published today, identified about £405m for low-carbon industries and advanced green manufacturing in the 2009 budget. But members of the committee said the size of funding was nowhere near enough to allow the UK to compete internationally in this sector. "It could have been double that if you have regard to what's happening in other countries," said Yeo. "£1bn wouldn't have been too much – it would have been justified and quite effective as well."
The report identified a shortage of skilled people available for environmental firms, which could prevent the government from delivering the promises in its low-carbon transition plan, published earlier this year.
Yeo said there were three areas where the government should encourage green industries and create more jobs. As well as focusing more of the economic stimulus on the green sector, the MPs suggested launching a street-by-street programme of energy-saving measures for households.
"Most of the work is labour-intensive and involves pretty rapid paybacks – improving the insulation in older buildings often produces a payback much quicker than five years," said the report. David Cameron has said a Conservative government would make councils go "house-to-house, street-to-street" to identify areas most in need of energy-efficiency improvements.
The committee said that increasing the speed and scale of the programme to insulate UK homes could kick-start a market worth up to £6.5bn a year.
Ministers must also give industry long-term stability through government policy, in order to encourage companies to invest in training and skills for new green jobs. "The potential for Britain to display its skills [in low-carbon industries] is considerable but it doesn't look as though the government is leading in that direction," said Yeo.
He added that moving quickly would put the UK at the forefront of the world's green economy: "The global need is very urgent indeed, so those countries which do invest now will have significant first mover advantage - in five years' time, the opportunity will have gone. London has 87% of the international emissions trading taking place at the moment. That's a huge first-mover advantage and reflects our strength in financial services historically. The danger is we're going to cede a similar advantage to other countries in some of the other technologies."
Friends of the Earth's senior economics campaigner, Ed Matthew, said the government had to urgently steer the country to a low-carbon economy. "Developing Britain's huge renewable energy potential and cutting energy waste could make this country a world leader in creating a safe and prosperous future. The [EAC] rightly highlights the importance of a 'street-by-street' energy saving programme – this has massive potential to create new jobs, cut fuel bills, tackle fuel poverty and slash emissions."
He added: "But far bolder action is needed to raise finance to make the low-carbon transition. Ministers must set up a green investment bank to give the UK's low carbon sector the turbo boost it so desperately needs."

Food waste: Food for thought

The Guardian, Thursday 17 December 2009
When the headlines are dominated by the big politics struggle in Copenhagen there is something reassuring about being shown a relatively minor change in the way we live that could make a significant contribution to lowering greenhouse gas emissions. In Trafalgar Square yesterday, as the temperature dropped and the snow flurried to the ground, 5,000 meals were prepared from food that would otherwise have been wasted because it was approaching its use-by date, or which had been rejected on aesthetic grounds by supermarkets at the farm gate. It was a smart stunt that underlined again the absurdities of both our food system and our domestic habits, guaranteed to set up a twinge of unease in the conscience of even the most sanctimonious composter and recycler.
Not wasting food will not save the planet. But it could make a real contribution. Wrap, the anti-waste organisation, has just updated the startling evidence it uncovered two years ago that showed how every household wasted on average £420-worth of perfectly good food a year (and more if there were children at home). Wrap's new figures show that even after the media attention its report provoked, we are wasting more than ever before – £480 a year per family or, nationwide, 8.3m tonnes. Part of the explanation for the increase is that these figures now include an allowance for food waste that is composted, or liquids that are poured away. But still our biggest sin is buying too much, followed by cooking too much as well. And then we compound the problem by failing to keep tabs on food in the fridge and simply letting it rot. This is partly about how we value food: it might be mere fuel for teenagers but for many adults, for at least some of the time, buying and preparing food is an act of love. It is about giving, about generosity of spirit in the intimacy of home and family. Changing our ways is only partly about being more efficient (making lists, menu planning, using leftovers). It is also about revaluing the world.
The waste starts at the beginning of the supply chain – the energy inputs used in producing the food and getting it into the shops. Last week, the government's Sustainable Food Commission produced a controversial programme for a more earth-friendly diet that included suggesting we all eat less red meat and fewer dairy products because of the high cost of cattle and sheep in greenhouse gas emissions. But before all the rest of Britain's small farmers are squeezed off the land, it might make sense to stop producing food that is not sold, and committing waste to landfill where it produces methane. Halving the amount we bin could have the same effect as taking one in four cars off the road. Parsimony is the new giving.

Help harness the sun’s power to provide a brighter future for Africa’s children

Rosemary Bennett
Nyangwayo Primary School is short of many things. There is no running water, books are thin on the ground and the meagre collection of pencils has to be carefully rationed.
But there is no shortage of ambition. The head teacher, Joseph Komunga, is determined that his 750 pupils will not follow their parents into a life of subsistence farming, or scrape a living catching tilapia, the local fish, each night in Lake Victoria.
Gazing across the great lake where the school nestles on the shore, he vows that these children will instead become professionals — teachers, community health workers, nurses — or run their own little business in one of the bigger towns near by.
But to do that, and to push the children to their full potential, he needs light. The children arrive at school at 6.30 in the morning to begin their lessons, but the sun is so low in the sky that they have to sit outside for the first hour, limiting what they can do.

The unbearable heat means that everyone takes a nap at midday. Then the light fades quickly and by 4pm the children are straining to see their books. Studies continue with the use of kerosene lamps, which the teachers hate because they hurt the children’s eyes; they know the lamps are also highly toxic, spewing fumes into the poorly ventilated little classrooms. Respiratory disease caused by the lamps has become the biggest killer on the continent, with 1.5 million women and children dying every year.
But this is about to change. SolarAid, one of The Times Christmas charities, has chosen Nyangwayo to be the first solar school in Kenya.
From dawn, technicians have been at the school attaching four 120-watt solar panels to the classroom roofs. They will power 24 bulbs all day and four security lamps overnight.
Joseph Komunga has other plans for his electricity. He does not see why Kenyan children should have to make do with books and the occasional radio broadcast for their education. “They need visual aids. I want them to be able to see videos and computers. I want them to be able to listen to tapes and CDs,” he said.
He even has plans for a school barber shop. “We take hygiene very seriously. We want the children to have very short hair to prevent lice. We have an electrical point for a razor,” he says, pointing to the socket on the wall of the dilapidated stone classroom.
But lighting the dormitories must wait. The school also accommodates a dozen or so children overnight, mainly those who live far away or who are becoming sucked into doing too many chores at home.
“If I see a pupil struggling to get to school on time I will ask if they are doing work around the home. Then I will suggest that they stay here, especially if it is close to their examinations,” Mr Komunga said. But the lack of lighting brings safety fears. The children often use candles to find their way around and fires in dorms like this are common in Africa.
Today it is Saturday but the children have all come to school anyway, despite the long walk — five miles for many of them. Many of their parents have come too, along with the half dozen or so local chiefs. They cram into the only shady corner of the playground to watch the last solar panel being lifted into place. Mr Komunga is a remarkable head and a gifted leader. The children hang on his every word as he leads the rhythmic, ceremonial clapping as each chief is introduced. Every time the children fail to stop clapping at the right moment, and everyone collapses into laughter.
“Today we have been given this gift of light. We are blessed,” Mr Komunga booms out. The master switch is flicked, the bulbs all light up, and amid loud cheers the classrooms are transformed.
Now that power has arrived the teachers want school to start even earlier — 5am if possible. It will be an even more punishing regime for these six to 13-year-olds, but education is a serious business in rural Kenya.
“Just seeing this technology is very good for their education. The children see ... how things work and the possibilities technology can bring them,” Mr Komunga says.
Solar light at Nyangwayo is a community effort. Women from nearby villages are in charge of cleaning the box housing the batteries and the invertor, and get on the roof to clean the solar panels of dust and leaves.
The community has also helped to raise the money for the panels. Although 90 per cent of the cost is met by SolarAid, the charity believes that it is crucial for its long-term success that the equipment is not just given away.
These four panels have cost the school 67,000 shillings (£500). Mr Komunga’s own fundraising includes getting contributions from the local authority, the education department in Nairobi and, crucially, from parents, many of whom have paid 100 shillings towards the lights.
Solar power will help to generate income, too. The panels can charge 25 mobile phones a day, for which the school receives 20 shillings each. That, and the saving on kerosene, means that they will soon pay for themselves.
As the SolarAid technicians pack up their gear and plan the next school instalment — another three before the end of the year — Mr Komunga is visibly moved. “I want things to change,” he says. “I want all the boys and girls to go to secondary school when they leave. Most of the boys from round here become fishermen. I want to give them other skills so they have a choice, even go to university.
“SolarAid has opened the door to that future. I just feel sorry other schools are still in the dark.”