Friday, 18 December 2009

US bids to break Copenhagen deadlock with support for $100bn climate fund

Hillary Clinton pledges US support for a $100bn fund to help poor countries adapt to climate change providing their leaders sign up to a deal
Suzanne Goldenberg in Copenhagen, Thursday 17 December 2009 12.08 GMT

The US moved to assert its leadership and save the UN climate talks in Copenhagen from collapse today, saying it was ready to support a $100bn (£62bn) fund to shield poor countries from the ravages of climate change.
But speaking at the conference, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, warned developing countries that the finances would only flow if their leaders signed up to a strong global warming deal at the summit.
"The US is prepared to work with other countries to jointly mobilise $100bn a year by 2020," Clinton told a press conference on a day that began with reports that the summit's Danish hosts had given up hope of reaching a deal.
However, she warned: "In the absence of an operational agreement that meets the requirement that I outlined there will not be the final commitment that I outlined - at least from the United States."
The $100bn figure was formally put on the table at the conference last night by the Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi, who is head of the African group of nations. It is much lower than many developing nations say is necessary to help them adapt to climate change and develop green technologies.
Zenawi acknowledged that his proposal would disappoint some in Africa. But he said: "My proposal dramatically scales back our expectation of the level of funding in return for more reliable funding and a seat at the table in the management of such fund."
Standing with reporters when the news broke, the UK prime minister's official spokesman was surprised by the timing of Clinton's announcement, despite the fact that one of Gordon Brown's chief negotiators, Jon Cunliffe, had been on the phone with his American counterpart overnight.
"Obama said he wanted to be as helpful as he could but was concerned about public opinion at home," said one official. Another added: "This is a very serious move by the Americans. We were waiting for it".
Clinton also made it clear that America would not budge on its demand for greater accountability from rapidly emerging economies like China and Brazil that they are living up to whatever pledges they make to cut emissions.
Without such transparency, she said, there would be no deal. And without a deal, there would be no money for African and low-lying countries that have the most to lose from rising sea-levels brought by climate change.
Even as 115 world leaders began arriving to put their personal imprint on a deal, the summit hosts were admitting they had failed to broker an agreement. Informal talks on finance and the overall format of the deal were continuing yesterday, but the spokesman for the bloc of African countries warned about the perils of pushing poor countries to a cosmetic deal at any cost.
"Any bad solution for the developing countries is worse than no deal at all in particular for Africa and for the developing countries," said Kamel Djemouai, spokesman for the African group. "Those who are forcing the process who are trying to jeopardise what we are doing I am not sure humanity will forgive them at least for the next 50 years."
The chaotic end game to the negotiations could mean that world leaders only have time to hastily paper over a face-saving agreement.
In a story headlined Denmark gives up, the influential Berlingske newspaper quoted a senior source in the host delegation, saying the failure was a monumental disappointment to the Danes.
"During the whole process, the problem is that this is a huge puzzle where all the pieces had to fall in place at the same time. But to do that, the countries had to make a serious effort and they have been unwilling to do so," the source was quoted as saying.
However, Denmark could try to revive the process by formally introducing a version of a negotiating draft from last week and imposing it on the summit. However, the draft – the Danish text leaked to the Guardian last week – has infuriated developing countries, and its re-entry could trigger chaos.
• Additional reporting by Allegra Stratton

Copenhagen climate summit: Gordon Brown urges leaders to show statesmanship

Gordon Brown will urge fellow world leaders to ''make the desirable possible'' by showing the statesmanship needed to secure a global climate change deal.

Published: 8:30AM GMT 17 Dec 2009
The Prime Minister is among leaders making short addresses to the UN conference in Copenhagen on Thursday on the eve of the deadline for reaching a worldwide agreement.
Mr Brown has been engaged in a series of meetings with leaders in a bid to secure agreement to proposals he hopes will break the impasse and prevent the summit ending in deadlock.

His contribution from the platform is due to come shortly after one of the most significant of the bi-laterals, with Chinese premier Wen Jiabao.
In what aides said would be a ''passionate'' appeal for a ''final push'', Mr Brown will say: ''The task of politics is to overcome obstacles even when people say they cannot be surmounted.
The task of statesmanship is to make the desirable possible, and make ideals real even when critics tell you they are unachievable dreams.''
And in a swipe at climate change deniers, he will tell delegates: ''Hurricanes, floods, typhoons and droughts we have from time immemorial thought of as invisible acts of God we can see clearly now as the visible acts of man.
''Informed by science, moved by conscience, inspired by common purpose we, the leaders of this world, must say: we will not condemn millions to injustice without remedy, to sorrow without hope, to despair without end.''

Showdown at Climate Talks

Obama Jets to Denmark, U.S. Backs $100 Billion Annual Aid to Clinch Carbon Deal
COPENHAGEN -- The Obama administration launched an eleventh-hour attempt to pull off a deal from the stalled United Nations climate talks here, offering to get behind efforts to raise $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poor nations as President Barack Obama headed for the Danish capital.
Secretary of State Clinton tries to break the impasse at the Copenhagen climate summit by offering $100 billion a year for a decade to developing nations. Jeffrey Ball reports on how the offer was received in Copenhagen.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and leaders of major players at the summit -- from Europe to Asia to Africa to Latin America to the Maldives -- emerged from a meeting at about 3 a.m. local time Friday, saying they would discuss a new draft agreement later in the morning, on the two-week conference's final day. "We're not there yet," said Denmark's prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen. He said the late-night discussion had been "very fruitful."
But Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh described the meeting differently, saying it had been "stage-managed" by European officials "to show they consulted everybody."
The White House tried to lower expectations Thursday. White House officials said they don't anticipate any new offers by the president, since the targets and financing figure have already been announced. But depending on the status of negotiations Friday, that could change. On Friday afternoon Mr. Obama has one-on-one meetings with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
The White House left open the possibility Mr. Obama would choose to come back to Washington with no deal.
"Coming back with an empty agreement would be far worse than coming back empty-handed," said Robert Gibbs, Mr. Obama's press secretary.

President Obama played a big card Thursday, authorizing Mrs. Clinton to tentatively endorse European proposals that rich nations come up with $100 billion a year over the next decade to help poor nations fight climate change. The decision -- which surprised European officials who said they hadn't been flagged -- was made after the conference hit an impasse Wednesday.
All day Wednesday, U.S., European Union and Australian negotiators talked with representatives from the Group of 77 developing nations, floating aid figures that might satisfy those countries' demand for greater, longer-term financing for efforts to curb or cope with climate change.
Previously, the U.S. had stuck to a $10 billion annual figure by 2012, and declined to specify what it thought would be a longer-term financial target. The U.K. had long advocated for $100 billion by 2020, while other European nations wanted more.
Mrs. Clinton said in her speech Thursday that the money would be aimed at the "poorest and most vulnerable among us" -- a phrase that excludes fast-rising China, which many in the West think shouldn't receive aid. She said the money would come from "a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance."
"The private sector is going to be the engine that drives all of this," an administration official said. "A lot of this is not aid in the traditional sense of aid."
CO2 by Country
Any source of U.S. public funding remains in the hands of Congress, where lawmakers have stalled action on a climate bill and are focused on cutting the swelling budget deficit and funding jobs in the U.S.
House Democrats, some of whom traveled to Copenhagen Thursday, hailed the administration's announcement.
"The United States must take responsibility for our historical emissions, while also seizing the opportunity that will come with re-engaging with the developing world on emissions-cutting clean-energy technologies and other programs," said Rep. Edward J. Markey (D., Mass.).
In a sign of the difficulties the administration may face, however, congressional Republican leaders Thursday said they would introduce a "disapproval resolution" blocking efforts to fund the U.S. financing offer, and scuttling the administration's efforts to regulate greenhouse gases as pollutants.

"The administration wants to give billions in U.S. taxpayer dollars we don't have to other countries," said House Republican leader John Boehner. "This does nothing to get the American people back to work, nothing to get our fiscal house back in order, and nothing but add to our debt."
Ed Miliband, the British climate minister, cautioned that reaching a substantive deal was still a "race against the clock." Mr. Obama and others were expected to face contentious issues Friday -- such as how aggressively their nations will cut greenhouse-gas emissions -- while negotiators continue to finesse the text, he said.
Mrs. Clinton's announcement is the latest move by U.S. officials to counter accusations from developing nations that the U.S. hasn't done enough to break the climate-talk deadlock. President Obama was scheduled to arrive in Copenhagen Friday morning to meet with other world leaders and join a climate agreement -- if there is one.
Mrs. Clinton said the U.S. wouldn't commit to the plan if all major economies don't commit to key provisions, including carbon-emission controls that are transparent.

"If there isn't a commitment for transparency of some sort, that would be a deal breaker," she said.
He Yafei, China's vice minister of foreign affairs, said Thursday that China is ready for international cooperation that is "not intrusive, that does not infringe on China's sovereignty."
He also said China's target for reducing the amount of carbon it emits per unit of economic output shouldn't be subject to international monitoring.
There were some signs of movement on the issue of how rich countries can check the compliance of nations such as China. "We have 75% agreement on the verification issue," India's Environment Minister Mr. Ramesh told reporters. He said India had come up with a four-point formula on the issue.

Secretary of State Clinton tries to break the impasse at the Copenhagen climate summit by offering $100 billion a year for a decade to developing nations. Jeffrey Ball reports on how the offer was received in Copenhagen.
Tension between the U.S. and China has dominated the Copenhagen summit, as the two largest greenhouse-gas emitters jockeyed to win support from developing nations.
The U.S. anticipated the Chinese could organize allies and countries economically dependent on China into a bloc to resist U.S. efforts to leverage a deal, particularly on monitoring promises to cut emissions.
Mrs. Clinton's statement Thursday appeared to sway some African delegates. But other G77 delegates gave it a cool reception.
Lumumba di-Aping, a Sudanese diplomat who is the group's chief negotiator, said the offer would need to be studied. "This is a good signal, but it's still insufficient," he said. "We need more money."—Selina Williams and Jing Yang contributed to this article.
Write to Stephen Power at, Guy Chazan at, Elizabeth Williamson at and Jeffrey Ball at

U.S. Proposal Gets Cautious Welcome

COPENHAGEN -- World leaders gave a cautious welcome to the U.S.'s new proposal to rescue flagging climate-change talks, but warned that many details of the plan must still come into focus -- including how much the U.S. would contribute.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday proposed that major economies including the U.S. come up with $100 billion a year over the next decade for developing nations to fight climate change.
"It's an important development and very welcome to have the United States on the same page as the U.K. and the EU in terms of long-term climate finance," a U.K. government spokesman said.
A much more cautious note was sounded by one of the most crucial players in Copenhagen: China. "We hold a conservative view on Clinton's climate fund proposal due to lack of clarity on many issues," said a spokesman for the Chinese delegation.
Mrs. Clinton didn't say for example how much of public funds will account for the annual $100 billion and how much of it will come from the U.S, the official said. "At first glance, we don't see the U.S has made much progress in its commitments," he said.
Echoing China, Jairam Ramesh, India's environment minister, said $100 billion a year would "never be enough, but was a start" for further discussion. "One good thing has happened today: the negotiations on the two tracks have resumed," he told journalists, adding that India put a high value on preserving the Kyoto Protocol rather than shifting to a new international accord.
The U.S. plan received a more positive initial reaction from some parts of the world that would benefit from the additional funding. "It's more of the financial commitment we have been looking for, but we'll need to see the mechanism for how this will work," said Mamadou Honadia, a delegate from the small West African state of Burkina Faso.
Enock Teye Mensah, a Ghanian native and a delegate of the pan-African parliament, said he believed the U.S. proposal "removed about 90% of the obstacle to a deal."
The UN's top climate-change diplomat Yvo de Boer said the fact that long-term finance was now on the agenda was a strong signal, but said it remained to be seen if $100 billion a year over ten years would be adequate. "The discussion will have to take place with other parties on whether that money is adequate," he said.
Besides the money issue, the Kyoto Protocol also remains an obstacle. Developing nations still want a U.S. commitment to making the protocol a foundation to any new agreement in Copenhagen. Mrs. Clinton didn't address the issue with journalists. The existing Kyoto Protocol imposes obligations to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions only on rich countries. The U.S. isn't legally obligated to implement the Kyoto accord because the U.S. Senate didn't ratify it.
Mrs. Clinton's announcement also drew criticism from the senior Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Joe Barton of Texas. In a written statement, Mr. Barton, an opponent of emissions caps who has questioned whether human activity is the main cause of climate change, described the U.S. offer as a "Christmas present" that would come at some expense to U.S. taxpayers.
"I guess when you're this close to the North Pole this time of year, the spirit of giving takes over," Mr. Barton said. "But nobody back home -- the ones who pay our bills -- has told me that they've asked Santa for lower living standards this Christmas so Third World diplomats could be happy in Copenhagen."—Selina Williams contributed to this article.

Obama's arrival expected to inject fresh momentum into Copenhagen talks

US president said to be preparing 'knock out punch' after Hillary Clinton's gamechanging promise to back $100bn climate aid

Suzanne Goldenberg in Copenhagen, Thursday 17 December 2009 19.38 GMT
Barack Obama is poised to arrive in Copenhagen tomorrow with additional pledges of cash for poor countries which will suffer the most from global warming, a day after America's promise to support a $100bn a year climate fund.
Obama's arrival has been the most anticipated event of the 10-day summit, which has lurched between optimism and rank despair. He will seek to make a decisive impact, building on the announcement today by Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, who said for the first time that America would support a $100bn global climate change fund from 2020. But she will be a tough act to follow, as the statement was seen by delegates as a gamechanger.
Obama is expected to add an extra boost of momentum by beefing up America's share in a $10bn a year fast-track aid package. That aims to cushion poor countries from the impact of climate change and promote rainforest preservation starting next year. He is also expected to outline little-known provisions in the climate bill passed by the House of Representatives that would direct some $4bn a year from the auction of emission allowances to a fund to help developing countries adapt to climate change and deploy clean technology.
He is also expected to call more forcefully on the Senate to pass climate change law, critical to the eventual success of Copenhagen. "I've got a sense that she set the table, and he is going to deliver the knock-out punch," said Earl Blumenauer, part of the delegation of Democratic congressmen to the talks.
Clinton gave no specifics on how America would raise its share of the $100bn fund, and she made her offer contingent on overcoming an atmosphere of mistrust to reach a deal at Copenhagen. "It is no secret that we have lost precious time in these past days," she said. "In the time we have left here, it can no longer be about us versus them — this group of nations pitted against that group. We all face the same challenge together."
She also said the deal must include an international regime to monitor and verify pledges by developing countries to curb their emissions. Clinton said there could be no deal without such checks in place. "If there is not even a commitment to pursue transparency, that's kind of a dealbreaker for us," she said.
Clinton's appearance here — only hours after the summit's Danish hosts had given up hopes of reaching a deal — was widely credited with pulling the negotiations back from the brink.
Environmental organisations said America still needed to provide details about the sources of funding, and how it would be distributed. Clinton would only say there would be public and private investment, and that America was exploring several different potential soures of funding.
But British officials said last night that the US move puts the onus on the European Union to decide whether to make good on its promise to raise its emissions reductions target to 30% in the event of strong action at the summit. EU officials were meeting to discuss the next move tonight . .
Alden Meyer, director of strategy for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said America's support for the $100bn climate fund gave China the cover it needed to back down gracefully from the showdown over accountability. "Now China can be magnanimous and say it is acting in solidarity with its brothers and sisters in Africa [who will benefit from the money], and that it is not going to stand in the way of a deal," he said.
Although industrialised countries had cobbled together a package of short-term aid for African countries and low-lying islands that will suffer the worst ravages of global warming, there had been little movement on mobilising the billions that will be required over the long haul.
Clinton's intervention helps supply that crucial missing link. The $100bn figure was formally put on the table at the conference by the Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi, who is head of the African group of nations. It is much lower than many developing nations say is necessary to help them adapt to climate change and develop green technologies, with esitmates ranging up to $600bn a year.
The American offer to puts its share into the $100bn climate fund is unlikely to win over all objections to the deal from African countries and small island states. "If nobody is going to be alive to get a dime of it, how far does this take us?" asked Hama Arba Diallo, a member of parliament from Burkina Faso.
Amisa Elamia, the prime minister of the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, said he would be unable to sign on to an agreement unless it sought more stringent emissions cuts that would limit global warming to 1.5C. Negotiators are currently discussing limiting warming to 2C.
"Over the last few days we have faced considerable pressure to accept a deal based around 2C. We have not yielded to this pressure because our future is not negotiatiable," he said. "I will not sign anything that is not 1.5C."

It is not China’s style to let the green inspectors rummage around

Leo Lewis

For nations of a nervous disposition, there is an ocean of difference between “transparency” and “scrutiny”: a commitment to the first is a sop, a commitment to the second is a surrender.
The climate change debate has blazingly illuminated China’s stance on the issue.
There are many reasons why emotions in Beijing run high over allowing outsiders to verify China’s adherence to its emissions promises.
The first is universal — no nation is fundamentally happy about the idea of having its domestic activities judged by interlopers. In China the unease is especially acute.

The country is run on the principle that the Communist Party is almighty: the minutest detail of Chinese policy-making has this as its starting point.
The severe external shock created by the financial crisis has dramatically increased Beijing’s domestic need to appear in control, so this was never a moment where any smidgin of jurisdiction was likely to be ceded.
Included in that logic may well be concerns over domestic anger on environmental issues.
The Government already faces a persistent barrage of protest over a grim variety of air, soil and water pollution. It does not want the reports of foreign inspectors adding fuel to those fires.
The second reason — about which China is open — is the related matter of priorities.
China, for all its astronomical growth and increasing diplomatic heft, is a developing country and is hell-bent on completing that process.
The masterplan involves lifting tens of millions of people from poverty, and increasing the living standards of more than a billion.
That ambition will consistently trump all others (including climate change reduction) however genuinely China believes them to be valid.
The third factor may be Beijing’s private calculations over the prospects of a “green economy”.
Numerous governments have talked about the jobs, skills and profits that will be created through fighting climate change with technology.
China has pushed ahead impressively with hydroelectric, wind- and solar-energy projects, but a harsh truth may now be dawning: none of these is going to create anything like the jobs that dirty energy and dirty industry do.
More than 70 per cent of China’s power is still produced from burning coal, and new plants are still being constructed. Heavy industry accounted for 71 per cent of industrial output in 2008.
But beneath it all, a more basic issue may be at stake. By shunning scrutiny and claiming transparency, Beijing will in effect shove climate change numbers into the giant black box that is official Chinese statistics.
These figures — everything from GDP growth to fertility rates — are the “transparency” by which China is understood both domestically and by the outside world.
If China ever allowed scrutiny of how well it had adhered to its carbon emission promises, it would be opening the door to something far more subversive: the idea that the “official” numbers are anything but cast-iron fact.

How to Manufacture a Climate Consensus

The East Anglia emails are just the tip of the iceberg. I should know.
Few people understand the real significance of Climategate, the now-famous hacking of emails from the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (CRU). Most see the contents as demonstrating some arbitrary manipulating of various climate data sources in order to fit preconceived hypotheses (true), or as stonewalling and requesting colleagues to destroy emails to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in the face of potential or actual Freedom of Information requests (also true).
But there's something much, much worse going on—a silencing of climate scientists, akin to filtering what goes in the bible, that will have consequences for public policy, including the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) recent categorization of carbon dioxide as a "pollutant."
The bible I'm referring to, of course, is the refereed scientific literature. It's our canon, and it's all we have really had to go on in climate science (until the Internet has so rudely interrupted). When scientists make putative compendia of that literature, such as is done by the U.N. climate change panel every six years, the writers assume that the peer-reviewed literature is a true and unbiased sample of the state of climate science.

That can no longer be the case. The alliance of scientists at East Anglia, Penn State and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (in Boulder, Colo.) has done its best to bias it.
A refereed journal, Climate Research, published two particular papers that offended Michael Mann of Penn State and Tom Wigley of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. One of the papers, published in 2003 by Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas (of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), was a meta-analysis of dozens of "paleoclimate" studies that extended back 1,000 years. They concluded that 20th-century temperatures could not confidently be considered to be warmer than those indicated at the beginning of the last millennium.
In fact, that period, known as the "Medieval Warm Period" (MWP), was generally considered warmer than the 20th century in climate textbooks and climate compendia, including those in the 1990s from the IPCC.
Then, in 1999, Mr. Mann published his famous "hockey stick" article in Geophysical Research Letters (GRL), which, through the magic of multivariate statistics and questionable data weighting, wiped out both the Medieval Warm Period and the subsequent "Little Ice Age" (a cold period from the late 16th century to the mid-19th century), leaving only the 20th-century warming as an anomaly of note.
Messrs. Mann and Wigley also didn't like a paper I published in Climate Research in 2002. It said human activity was warming surface temperatures, and that this was consistent with the mathematical form (but not the size) of projections from computer models. Why? The magnitude of the warming in CRU's own data was not as great as in the models, so therefore the models merely were a bit enthusiastic about the effects of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Mr. Mann called upon his colleagues to try and put Climate Research out of business. "Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal," he wrote in one of the emails. "We would also need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit on the editorial board."
After Messrs. Jones and Mann threatened a boycott of publications and reviews, half the editorial board of Climate Research resigned. People who didn't toe Messrs. Wigley, Mann and Jones's line began to experience increasing difficulty in publishing their results.
This happened to me and to the University of Alabama's Roy Spencer, who also hypothesized that global warming is likely to be modest. Others surely stopped trying, tiring of summary rejections of good work by editors scared of the mob. Sallie Baliunas, for example, has disappeared from the scientific scene.
GRL is a very popular refereed journal. Mr. Wigley was concerned that one of the editors was "in the skeptics camp." He emailed Michael Mann to say that "if we can find documentary evidence of this, we could go through official . . . channels to get him ousted."
Mr. Mann wrote to Mr. Wigley on Nov. 20, 2005 that "It's one thing to lose 'Climate Research.' We can't afford to lose GRL." In this context, "losing" obviously means the publication of anything that they did not approve of on global warming.
Soon the suspect editor, Yale's James Saiers, was gone. Mr. Mann wrote to the CRU's Phil Jones that "the GRL leak may have been plugged up now w/ new editorial leadership there."
It didn't stop there. Ben Santer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory complained that the Royal Meteorological Society (RMS) was now requiring authors to provide actual copies of the actual data that was used in published papers. He wrote to Phil Jones on March 19, 2009, that "If the RMS is going to require authors to make ALL data available—raw data PLUS results from all intermediate calculations—I will not submit any further papers to RMS journals."
Messrs. Jones and Santer were Ph.D. students of Mr. Wigley. Mr. Santer is the same fellow who, in an email to Phil Jones on Oct. 9, 2009, wrote that he was "very tempted" to "beat the crap" out of me at a scientific meeting. He was angry that I published "The Dog Ate Global Warming" in National Review, about CRU's claim that it had lost primary warming data.
The result of all this is that our refereed literature has been inestimably damaged, and reputations have been trashed. Mr. Wigley repeatedly tells news reporters not to listen to "skeptics" (or even nonskeptics like me), because they didn't publish enough in the peer-reviewed literature—even as he and his friends sought to make it difficult or impossible to do so.
Ironically, with the release of the Climategate emails, the Climatic Research Unit, Michael Mann, Phil Jones and Tom Wigley have dramatically weakened the case for emissions reductions. The EPA claimed to rely solely upon compendia of the refereed literature such as the IPCC reports, in order to make its finding of endangerment from carbon dioxide. Now that we know that literature was biased by the heavy-handed tactics of the East Anglia mob, the EPA has lost the basis for its finding.
Mr. Michaels, formerly professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia (1980-2007), is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.

Chances of a meaningful Copenhagen deal fading, negotiators say

Mood at Copenhagen talks darkens with news that China is setting its sights on a purely political – not legal – climate agreement

Allegra Stratton in Copenhagen and agencies, Thursday 17 December 2009 10.34 GMT
The chances of a meaningful deal emerging from the Copenhagen climate negotiations receded overnight as reports emerged that the Chinese were now setting their sights on a purely political agreement rather than a detailed text.
British officials acknowledged the mood continued to darken with one saying "the process is not in great shape" and expectations of a draft text being produced this morning failed to materialise, something Danish sources blamed on the Chinese position.
Gordon Brown also appeared to downgrade even his aspirations for a follow-up conference, which many had been focusing on for months as it became apparent as early as October that Copenhagen was only going to produce a political document rather than legal document.
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, also struck a downbeat note in a speech she made to parliament before travelling to Copenhagen. According to Reuters, she said that news of the negotiations had not been good and she warned a failure to reach an agreement would be damaging. "The news that we've been receiving is not good," she said. "I must say very honestly, that the United States offer to cut [CO2 emissions] by 4% compared to 1990 levels is not ambitious."
In his speech at Copenhagen, Brown said nations should attempt to drive through legislation in six months to one year, a slight delay on his previous ambition of six months. He urged countries to: "Commit to turn this agreement into a legally binding instrument within six months to a year as we build on the Kyoto protocol."
Aides said Brown's three-minute speech to the conference floor was going to be important in focusing minds with a section calling on countries such as the US to move to "the highest possible level of ambition for 2020" and also assuring developing countries that long funds provided by developed countries to smooth transition to a low carbon future would not necessarily come from existing aid budgets, as is the case in the short term. In his speech, he said: "We must commit to additionality in our support so that we do not force a choice between meeting the needs of the planet and meeting the millennium development goals."
With its mention of "additionality", the speech appears to be the first declaration of more public funds being directed towards climate change, but an aide was unable to answer how Brown would financially meet the pledge while government is cutting spending to reduce the budget deficit.
His speech also contained words of assurance for the Chinese delegation concerned that any promise they make to curb carbon emissions will require intrusive monitoring by other countries around the world. He called for "transparency in accounting for both developed and developing countries, including international discussion and without diminishing national sovereignty".
Brown said that the international negotiations should achieve:
• A long-term goal of a global temperature increase by 2050 of "no more than 2C".
• All developed countries moving to their "highest possible level of [emission cut] ambition for 2020".
• Developing countries committing to "nationally appropriate mitigation actions at their highest level of ambition" achieving a significant reduction from "business as usual".
• Developed countries committing to immediate finance for developing countries starting from Jan 2010, rising to $10bn (£6.2bn) annually by 2010.
• Long-term finance by 2020 the goal of $100bn a year "to come from private and public sources".
• Committing additional funds after 2012 to ensure funds to developing countries do not simply come from redirected aid budgets.
• Transparency between countries "without diminishing national sovereignty".
• A commitment to turn this agreement into a legally binding instrument within six months to a year, as "we build on the Kyoto protocol".

Plan Counts on Private Funding to Curb CO2

COPENHAGEN -- Much of the money to fund a $100-billion-a-year effort to help poor nations deal with climate change tentatively endorsed Thursday by the U.S. would be put up by private companies and investors, not taxpayers, according to a senior Obama administration official familiar with the proposals.
Secretary of State Clinton tries to break the impasse at the Copenhagen climate summit by offering $100 billion a year for a decade to developing nations. Jeffrey Ball reports on how the offer was received in Copenhagen.
But whether the private investments materialize will depend on decisions both at the United Nations climate summit and well beyond it.
A bevy of businesspeople are attending the Copenhagen talks, looking for changes in climate policy that they believe will open avenues for private capital to profit from bankrolling carbon-reducing projects in the developing world.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday spoke of the U.S. and other countries "mobilizing" $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poor nations deal with climate change. A large chunk of this money would likely come from companies in the developed world buying "carbon credits" to offset greenhouse-gas emissions from their own factories, said the administration official.
The purchase of the credits would fund activities that avoid carbon emissions in the developing world: preserving forest land in Brazil, say, or installing solar panels in villages in Africa.
There would be some government money, which would go largely to projects unlikely to attract private capital. Among them, the administration official said: building dikes or storm-warning systems in low-lying, poor countries particularly threatened by a potential rise in sea levels triggered by climate change.
The prospect of buying and selling many billions of dollars in carbon credits is why hordes of bankers and investors are braving crowds and sometimes-violent protests to stay on top of the Copenhagen process.
"That's the only reason I'm still sitting here in the Bella Center," said Abyd Karmali, global head of carbon markets for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, referring to the conference center where the summit is being held. "The key for us is, in the actual text, is there anything that's actually creating the flow of private capital, and is there anything blocking private capital?"
Mr. Karmali is based in London, which has emerged as a center of the European carbon market that has operated since 2005.
One hopeful sign in Copenhagen for people in the carbon-trading business is a potential agreement to allow the sale of carbon credits produced by saving forests.
Trees consume carbon dioxide as they grow, and thus offset some of the world's greenhouse-gas emissions. But the degree to which any agreement in Copenhagen spurs the sale of tree-based carbon credits depends on a raft of arcane details. Among them: whether developing countries have to implement tree-saving policies on the national level, or just in parts of their countries, to allow the forestry projects within their borders to spawn carbon credits.
U.S. companies that emit large amounts of greenhouse gases -- particularly electricity producers -- have been pushing hard for rules that permit the purchase of carbon credits from trees, since those credits would dramatically reduce their cost of complying with any U.S. emission constraint.
Mr. Karmali estimates the sale of carbon credits from preserving trees could generate about $5 billion by 2015, most of it from U.S. firms. Curbing deforestation, in turn, could generate another roughly $20 billion in annual investments in developing countries, for instance, in technologies to monitor tree growth and materials necessary to make the projects work.
Poorer developing countries, however, have seen little money from the carbon market, and distrust of promised aid is high. "We don't want conditions" on how money from donors is spent, said Henri Djombo, minister in charge of the forest economy and environment in the Republic of the Congo. Too often, he said, donors say, "We will give you the money, but you do this."
The Obama administration official said it is fitting to have rules ensuring money is spent wisely, adding: "We have to also ultimately be accountable to our taxpayers."
Write to Jeffrey Ball at

China moves to meet US demand for transparency on carbon emissions

Jonathan Watts in Copenhagen, Thursday 17 December 2009 20.33 GMT
China rebuffed efforts to prod it towards major climate concessions today, but nudged closer to meeting US demands that it open its carbon accounts to the world.
As talks moved into the final day, China pledged more flexibility on the vexed issue of how its pledges to curb pollution will be internationally verified. The world's biggest carbon emitter also confirmed it wants to set a 2C rise as the maximum temperature target.
But it accused developed nations of failing to set sufficiently ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gases. A UN document leaked to the Guardian showed existing pledges would lead to a catastrophic 3C rise. "What they have committed has not met the expectations of the international community, but they say developing countries have not done enough. They are linking the two. This is not the way to go forward," said He Yafei, the Chinese vice-foreign minister. He was speaking on behalf of premier Wen Jiabao, who met leaders from developing nations during the day.
Hope for progress had risen earlier when Hillary Clinton announced the US would sign up to a $100bn-a-year international climate fund, and the Indonesian president, Susilo Yudhoyono, said his country was willing to accept monitoring of its emissions.
China indicated it would be more responsive in providing information upon request.
"Prime minister Wen Jiabao said we are willing to enhance and improve national communication. The purpose is to improve transparency. We are also willing in voluntary fashion to explain and clarify, if need be. We can also consider international exchange, dialogue and co-operation that is not intrusive, that does not infringe upon China's sovereignty," said He. Earlier, Senator John Kerry accused China of being the main source of inertia in Copenhagen. "The announcement [by Clinton] isolates China rather than the Chinese blurring lines to isolate us. China needs to rejoin the effort and start playing a constructive role," he said.
In Copenhagen, China has been viewed as intransigent by developed nations. But developing countries see China as having expertly safeguarded their interests, in particular in seeing off attempts to kill the Kyoto protocol.
Environmental groups said they expected more in the final hours. "I am still hopeful that we'll see more flexibility from China," said Yang Ailun, of Greenpeace. Others said the ball was now in China's court. "Secretary Clinton's financing announcement was a game changer. We think China will view it as a constructive step forward in helping developing nations of the world, and respond with important proposals of its own," said Alex Wang, of the Natural Resources Defence Council.
Analysts said the two biggest emitters appeared to be drawing closer on the subject of transparency, which is a primary concern of the US.
"I think there is some movement there. I'm much more confident now than before," said Mark Kenber, policy director of the Climate Group.
China has built a strong alliance with three other major emerging economies, Brazil, South Africa and India. This group (known by the acronym BASIC) has put out joint statements of opposition to claims by richer nations.

India Announces Incentives for Wind Power Generation

NEW DELHI -- India's ministry of new and renewable energy Thursday announced the implementation of incentives for grid-connected wind power projects providing cleaner power.
Wind electricity producers will now receive a generation-based incentive of 0.50 rupees ($0.01) per unit of electricity fed into the grid. The government will spend about 3.8 billion rupees on subsidies as of the new scheme.
"Providing 0.50 rupees per unit is huge if you compare it with existing wind power generation costs," Debashish Majumdar, chairman and managing director, Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency, told reporters on the sidelines of an industry event. "The average price of wind power in India is currently about 3 rupees per unit."
Installed wind power in India stands at 10,500 megawatts, of the country's total of 15.59 gigawatts.
India's federal government is promoting the renewable sector through a mix of fiscal and financial incentives as it aims to exploit its renewable energy potential by attracting investments in the sector and reduce carbon emissions.
The latest tariff incentive comes three months after the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission, which regulates power tariffs in the country, announced tariff norms for companies investing in renewable energy projects, stating they will get a 19% pretax return on investments for the first 10 years of generation and 23% thereafter.
The tariff on power produced by wind energy will vary between 3.76 rupees and 5.64 rupees per kilowatt hour, depending on the wind velocity at the site, CERC had said.
India's new scheme would be implemented parallel to other existing incentive scheme for wind power in the country that allow producers to seek accelerated depreciation on their investments.
"The new scheme cuts down the uncertainty as it is linked directly to generation. The more you generate the more you get," Mr. Majumdar said.
Write to Sunil Raghu at

China, U.S. Firms Enter Car-Battery Deal

BEIJING—Two leading Chinese car makers have enlisted U.S. automotive-battery suppliers to help develop clean-energy vehicles as competition to bring an affordable electric car to the world's largest auto market heats up.
A123 Systems Inc., of Waterrown, Mass., on Thursday said it is setting up a joint venture with SAIC Motor Corp. to develop battery systems for hybrid-electric and pure-electric passenger and commercial vehicles. SAIC, China's largest auto maker by sales volume, will hold 51% of the venture, A123 said in a statement.
Shanghai Advanced Traction Battery Systems Co., as the joint venture is called, will be the preferential supplier of battery systems for hybrid-electric and electric vehicles made by SAIC, A123 said. SAIC is planning to develop a hybrid Roewe 750 sedan and a plug-in hybrid version of the Roewe 550. It also plans to launch electric vehicles in 2012.
Also Thursday, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. said it signed a wide-ranging global cooperation agreement with Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls Inc., an indication the Chinese auto maker is getting more serious about developing its own clean-energy vehicles.
The partnership will cover auto parts, including vehicle seats, and new energy, Geely said. It didn't give financial details of the deal. A person familiar with the matter said the cooperation will definitely involve batteries but details are still being discussed. JCI has a partnership with France's Saft Groupe SA to make lithium-ion batteries for hybrid, plug-in and electric vehicles.
Last month, Zhejiang Geely's listed unit, Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd., signed a deal to buy electric vehicles from Taiwan's Yulon Motor Co. The electric cars will be based on Geely's small Panda gasoline-powered car. Yulon Motor will be responsible for research and development and converting the Panda into an electric car powered by lithium-ion batteries. The car will be sold in both Taiwan and China, with shipments to China starting in 2011.
In addition to the deal with Yulon, Zhejiang Geely will continue to develop its own electric cars, the company has said. Geely, the preferred bidder for Ford Motor Co.'s Volvo unit, and SAIC join global car makers in ratcheting up their electric-car efforts.
Nissan Motor Co. plans to test-market its Leaf electric vehicle in China in 2011 by making it available to government agencies and other fleet customers in the city of Wuhan. General Motors Co. intends to mass-market the plug-in hybrid-electric Chevrolet Volt in China starting in 2011. The Volt is powered by lithium-ion batteries and is supplemented by a gasoline engine.
Toyota Motor Corp. has also said it will likely test-market a plug-in hybrid in China, and Daimler AG will introduce its electric Smart minicar in selected Chinese cities next year.
Chinese auto manufacturers such as BYD Co., which is partly owned by Warren Buffett's MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., have also developed their own battery technology. —Norihiko Shirouzu contributed to this article.

China Mulls European Solar Projects

Dow Jones Newswires
COPENHAGEN -- State-owned China Energy Conservation Investment Corp., the nation's flagship developer of clean and renewable energy, is in talks to invest and operate solar utility projects in Spain, Italy and Germany, a company executive said Wednesday.
The company late last month obtained a credit line of 20 billion yuan ($2.93 billion) for a period of two years from the state-run Export-Import Bank of China to support its overseas expansion, said Zhang Jun, vice director of the business cooperation department of CECIC.
"The global financial crisis has left some solar projects in those European nations suspended but solar tariffs offered there are still quite attractive, so we are interested in taking over," Mr. Zhang said on the sidelines of the Copenhagen climate summit.
The move comes as China, along with other developing nations, are demanding that rich countries provide tens of billions of dollar worth of funding annually as part of agreements being negotiated at the United Nations-sponsored climate change conference.
China wants rich nations to provide 0.5%-1% of their annual gross domestic product as funding to help developing nations combat climate change for the period to 2020 and beyond, said Zhu Guangyao, China's assistant minister of Finance in Copenhagen.
CECIC is a specialized government agency investing in energy conservation and environment protection projects, whose activities until now have been largely focused in the domestic Chinese market.
It aims to have installed solar power generating capacity of at least 1,400 megawatts connected to the grid by 2012 in China, sharply up from the current 20 megawatts.
CECIC is involved in various clean and renewable energy projects China, including in the wind and biomass-based power sectors, and will also trial an investment model in overseas markets, Mr. Zhang said.
"If the model proves to be successful, then it would be followed by a flurry of investment from other Chinese companies," he said.
CECIC intends to form a consortium with other Chinese companies, including solar module manufacturers, to make the foray overseas, but it will hold the majority stake, he added.
In July, China-based Suntech Power Holdings Co., the world's second largest supplier of solar modules, said it had entered into a strategic agreement with CECIC to develop solar projects over the next five years.
CECIC, which brought online the nation's first 10-megawatt solar utility plant in September, has also submitted two solar projects to the nation's top economic planner - the National Development and Reform Commission - for approval to seek extra funding under the United Nations' Clean Development Mechanism, or CDM.
CECIC plans to list its wind power unit on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange within six months, and this will be followed by a listing on the mainland stock market, Mr. Zhang said.
This follows an initial public offering on the Hong Stock Exchange earlier this month by wind-energy company China Longyuan Power Group Corp, a unit under state-owned power generator China Guodian Group. —-Jing Yang
Copyright 2009 Dow Jones Newswires

Shell's promise of a bright future turns out to be yet another false dawn

Oil company has been splashing out on ads about its shallow commitment to low-carbon technologies during Copenhagen

Fred Pearce, Thursday 17 December 2009 07.00 GMT
Editors must love Shell. Almost whatever I have read about climate change and the UN talks in Copenhagen in recent weeks, it has been flanked by the familiar Shell logo somewhere in the background.
From geeky titles like New Scientist to politico mags such as Prospect and New Statesman; and newspapers like the Guardian, the world's second largest corporation has been splashing out – filling screens and newsprint with adverts and underwriting special supplements. Shell also sponsored a major research project by the Economist Intelligence Unit, called Countdown to Copenhagen, launched early this year at a Shell-sponsored "sustainability summit".
Nobody is suggesting that Shell is writing the copy. And surely only the most craven editor would leave out criticism of oil companies like Shell. But the unmistakeable message is that Shell is going green.
It's not just a subliminal message, either. The ads are all about Shell developing new low-carbon technologies, like carbon-capture, biofuels and "helping our customers use energy more efficiently". They have pretty images, like a butterfly net catching CO2, and a pocket calculator with a button marked "less CO2".
It won't be easy, says the message: "We'll need to think the impossible is possible." Trouble is, in reality, Shell wants to think the possible is impossible. As its recently retired chief executive, Jeroen van der Veer, said earlier this year of wind, solar and hydrogen power: "I don't expect them to grow much at Shell from here."
Back then I wrote that "Shell is the new Exxon". But the latest evidence suggests it is worse than that. A new study of the environmental performance of the world's top 10 oil and gas companies by the Madrid-based environmental auditing company Management & Excellence puts Shell last of all the western majors. That's behind BP, Total, Chevron and even ExxonMobil.
Shell has fallen from fourth place to seventh in the past year, and is now propping up the bottom of the table with two Chinese oil giants, Sinopec and Petrochina, and the Russian monolith Gazprom. None are known for their environmental credentials.
The audit analyses the 10 companies according to 198 different criteria. Shell gets a rating of 51%, compared with top-ranking BP's 77% and Exxon's 62%.
Shell's new chief executive Peter Voser last week made one statistical claim for his company's progress to date. Its chemical plants were, he said, 8% more energy efficient that in 2001.
Good for them. But most other companies are doing better. The M&E study found Shell next to bottom on energy savings.
Shell failed to make the grade in other areas, too. It may spend millions promoting its expertise in alternative energy technologies, but Shell came in the bottom half here, too, with only half the scores of BP, Chevron and the Brazilian oil giant, Petrobras. Once, BP and Shell were bracketed together as companies taking the lead in expanding into renewables. But the report says that among the top 10 today "only BP seems to have a real business in alternative energies".
Shell spokesman Shaun Wiggins said: "While Shell is aware of Management & Excellence, we have made a conscious choice to not participate in its rankings survey process." The company says it prefers other environmental audits.
The findings will come as no surprise to those who read Friends of the Earth's June report on Shell's Big Dirty Secret, which charged the it with being "the world's most carbon intensive oil company".
Shell claims on its websites: "We were one of the first energy companies to acknowledge the threat of climate change." The tragedy is that this is true, but that so little has come of it.
I have lost count of the number of false dawns at Shell. At the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, I reported Shell scientists promising that the company was going to plant tree across the tropics to soak up carbon dioxide. Whatever happened to that idea? Just before the Kyoto climate conference in 1997, Shell announced it was making a $500m investment in solar power. By the World Summit in Johannesburg in 2002 it claimed to be installing solar panels across the developing world. Today it is absent from that business too.
Wiggins said Shell has spent $1.7bn on renewable in the past five years, but now concentrates on biofuels because they are "closest to our core business". But he agreed that oil and gas still make up 95% of its business, and the truth is that the company has flattered to deceive for almost two decades now.
Readers of its current adverts are directed towards a zappy and visionary website devoted entirely to what might happen in the future. But the future has been a long time coming for Shell. And it seems ever further away.