Archive | December 8th, 2009

African Delegates Divided Over Clean Development Funding

Posted on 08 December 2009 by editor

The inclusion of carbon capture and storage in CDM is dividing African negotiators.

The inclusion of carbon capture and storage in CDM is dividing African negotiators.

By Joshua Kyalimpa

COPENHAGEN

(IPS/TerraViva) African delegates at the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change summit in Copenhagen appear to be divided on what type of projects should be considered for funding under the Clean Development Mechanism in a future deal.

The CDM is an arrangement under the Kyoto Protocol allowing industrialised countries to meet their commitments to limit  greenhouse gas emissions to do this in part by investing in projects that reduce emissions in developing countries; the idea is that this allows polluting industries more time to adopt new practices or technology while achieving overall targets on emissions.

According to sources taking part in an African working group, disagreements have arisen over whether the CDM should be extended to include carbon capture schemes. Carbon capture schemes – largely unproven at this point – aim to trap carbon emissions and store them deep underground to prevent them contributing to the greenhouse effect.

African delegates from oil-producing countries want carbon capture to be considered for funding. But delegates from the continent’s least developed countries fear that if accessing project funds is opened up to include these schemes, they will be competing with richer oil producing countries for funding.

The source within the meeting told IPS that two committees were set up to study issues overnight, and report to the African group at a meeting early on Wednesday.

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Leaked Draft Proposal Ruffles Feathers

Posted on 08 December 2009 by editor

Yvo de Boer. Credit: Servaas van den Bosch

Yvo de Boer. Credit: Servaas van den Bosch

By Terna Gyuse

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) A negotiating text produced by the Danish government, leaked by the UK newspaper the Guardian, received plenty of attention at the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen today.

Discussion of the text has been floating around for several days, with murmured disapproval over the idea that what it outlined might be imposed on the meeting after having been agreed by a few powerful countries without consulting more widely. Continue Reading

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Waste Pickers Demand Recognition for Doing the Dirty Work

Posted on 08 December 2009 by editor

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Leila Iskandar: Credit: Mantoe Phakathi/IPS

Leila Iskandar: Credit: Mantoe Phakathi/IPS

Mantoe Phakathi

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) Members of the Global Network of Waste Pickers say recognising the work they do recycling rubbish can make a valuable contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Governments would rather contract big companies to either incinerate or bury the waste,” said Leila Iskandar from the African Waste Pickers Network. “Incinerating or burying waste results in global warming which has caused climate change.”

Waste pickers have travelled from all over the world to Copenhagen to demand that the recycling of waste material be given greater prominence in the negotiations over climate change.

“When producing new material, a lot of energy is required to drive whatever machinery is used. This results in a lot of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Iskandar.

She added that the depletion of natural resources such as tin and aluminum is also reduced through recycling, because there would be less demand for raw material.

Jaiprakash Choudhary from Delhi in India says he was out of a job after the municipal government contracted a company to burn household waste.

“I never used to make much to take care of my family from this business, but I was happy that I was taking care of the environment,” said the father of two who earned between 90 and 120 dollars a month from this trade.

Choudhary is critical of programmes like the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) programme for refusing to fund recycling by waste pickers, while supporting projects that generate electricity from rubbish. He suggests smaller scale operations like his own should also be supported.

“A person like me needs money to buy simple machinery (called granulators) for converting plastic into flakes before selling them. This machinery uses less energy and could help give waste pickers reasonable income,” said Choudhary.

“We hope that after this meeting, governments will recognise the value of waste pickers and allow them to participate in municipal management,” said Iskandar.

For now, she said, many governments – especially in Africa – fail to see the value in the recycling of waste materials which include paper, plastic, tin, aluminum and wood, preferring instead to destroy it.

According to Iskandar, bringing in multinational companies with incinerators to get rid of the waste not only depletes the environment, “it also takes away a source of livelihood for these poor people.”

Iskandar said governments refuse to support waste pickers, or simply recognise their work formally, so that they can become part of municipal waste collection, paid to collect and sort refuse from householders and businesspeople. As it stands, waste pickers feel they are providing a service, but householders and businesspeople feel they are doing these waste collectors a favour by allowing them to cart away their rubbish.

“(Waste pickers) only make money by selling to those traders who sell to the factories that recycle these materials,” said Iskandar. “This is hardly enough to sustain them.”

It looks like the waste pickers have more convincing to do so that people realise that there is more to this rubbish than what meets the eye.
(END/2009)

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No Closed Doors at Parallel Climate Summit

Posted on 08 December 2009 by editor

 

Indigenous leader Angélica Sarzuri from the Bolivian highlands speaks at Climate Bottom. Credit: Matthew McDermott

Indigenous leader Angélica Sarzuri from the Bolivian highlands speaks at Climate Bottom. Credit: Matthew McDermott

By Enrique Gili

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) Two blocks from the Metro station on the busy M-1 Line, the first indication that pedestrians are slipping into the space-time continuum known as the “Free City” is the ubiquitous graffiti and occasional “boom!” of small explosive devices like M-80s echoing through the cobbled streets.

Hippies, bikers and freethinkers rule here, in the largest autonomous – and what many would argue unruliest – neighbourhood in all of Scandinavia.

Located on 85 acres on the grounds of a decommissioned military base is the alternative community of Christiania, where the sentiments of the 1960s still prevail, and the police tread lightly for fear of setting off the street battles that periodically rock the area.

For the next two weeks at least, Christiania has become the gravitational centre for radicals and environmental activists who have descended on Copenhagen to make their presence felt at the Dec. 7-18 U.N. Conference on Climate Change.

They are focused on a broad spectrum of social issues, ranging from indigenous rights to illegal mining.

In another part of the city, official delegates are negotiating future caps on carbon emissions behind the fenced perimetre of the Bella Centre, guarded by a cadre of polite but firm Danish police officers.

So, many of these activists will instead gather at the parallel Climate Bottom meeting in an improvised space consisting of a large circus tent located on the grounds of an eco-village.

The event was organised by Christiania community members eager to capitalise on the confluence of policymakers and stakeholders present for the COP 15 here.

Residents of Christiania note that it is not just Native people facing the prospect of being uprooted, sharing the common bond of having to adapt and change to new realities. Whether it’s a local municipality acquiescing to real estate developers, or the ever-present danger of losing one’s home to drought and wildfire, climbing temperatures linked to global warming are starting to affect nearly everyone on the planet.

“Christiania is being threatened by the local government because of our land,” said Doris Kruckenberg, a coordinator for the day’s discussion on North-South development issues.

Change was in the air as the sweet smell of marijuana wafted through the tent. Dreadlocked 20-somethings and bored-acting high school students gathered to listen to the presentations of activists about the plight of developing countries faced with the prospect of climate change.

Roberto Perez, a biologist and agronomist for the Cuba-based advocacy group Conservation for Nature, observed that tropical storms are raging through the Caribbean at unprecedented levels of intensity, compounding the misery of already poor island nations caught in the path of seasonal hurricanes.

“Climate change is a fact. We are already suffering,” he said.

It was a sentiment shared by many of the speakers attending the conference on a chilly and wet afternoon. Parts of the planet are getter hotter and wetter, while others are experiencing unprecedented drought. Glaciers are melting in the Andean range, and in Bangladesh, floods are sweeping valuable cropland into the sea.

According to the International Organisation for Migration, there will be 200 million displaced people roaming the planet by 2050 as a consequence of climate change.

Although no climate model is 100-percent uncertain, evidence of disruption can be found in Micronesia and Asia as peasant farmers and fishing communities find themselves forced to abandon their villages.

“It’s important that the people being devastated by climate change get to this event,” said Christian Fris Bach, a coordinator of food relief efforts and international director for DanChurch Aid.

Not all voices speak in unison as to what needs to be done or how to proceed. Tove Pederson, a spokesperson for Greenland’s climate delegation, contends that global warming presents a challenge and an opportunity to a nation covered in glaciers.

Retreating ice could expose vast deposits of previously inaccessible oil and mineral resources, potentially presenting a financial windfall for Greenland’s tiny native population, which depends on subsistence hunting and the odd tourist for their incomes.

“We have to live in this world. We can’t just sit down and cry and be paralysed by the fact the climate is changing. We have to face the challenges and take advantage of the new opportunities that arise,” said Pederson.

Attendees called for pushing past the boundaries that limit the parameters of the COP 15 to matters far more spiritual in nature.

Closing sessions featured calls to prayer and songs to the land, sea, and air, all common deities among traditional cultures around the world.

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CLIMATE CHANGE: World Bank Praises Carbon Market

Posted on 08 December 2009 by editor

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World Bank panel. Credit: Raúl Pierri/IPS.

World Bank panel. Credit: Ana Libisch/IPS.

Raúl Pierri

COPENHAGEN (IPS/Terraviva) The World Bank proudly defended the global carbon market in the Danish capital Tuesday for its “contribution” to efforts to mitigate climate change, in spite of criticism from civil society.

The multilateral lender presented its publication titled “10 Years of Experience in Carbon Finance: Insights from working with carbon markets for development and global greenhouse gas mitigation”, at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 15), running Dec. 7-18 in Copenhagen.

The study assesses the World Bank’s experience of working with the Kyoto Protocol’s flexibility mechanisms, like the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI).

JI is a system that allows industrialised countries to fulfil part of their obligatory greenhouse gas emissions reductions by paying for projects that reduce pollution in other nations of the North.

In practice, this means building installations in the countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, financed by Western European and North American countries.

Meanwhile, the CDM allows rich nations to compensate part of their greenhouse gas emissions by financing projects that reduce emissions in the developing South.

The rich country that finances the project can acquire carbon credits, equivalent to the emissions savings made in the developing country, and these count towards its own binding emissions reductions. These carbon credits are, additionally, tradeable: they can be bought and sold on the carbon market.

The World Bank sees the carbon market as a positive development, as it estimates the countries of the South will need between 75 billion and 100 billion dollars a year, from now to 2050, to cope with the effects of global warming.

World Bank carbon finance specialist Martina Bosi reminded a press conference in Copenhagen Tuesday that the Bank created the 160 million dollar Prototype Carbon Fund in 2000, five years before the Kyoto Protocol went into effect.

Today, the World Bank manages several funds worth 2.5 billion dollars, the main beneficiaries of which are China, India, Brazil, Mexico and Colombia.

Among the most important funds are the BioCarbon Fund, which focuses on forestry and land-use projects, and the Community Development Carbon Fund, which focuses on projects in least developed countries, “that have received strong social co-benefits in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

According to the report presented Tuesday, 26 percent of the projects financed by these World Bank funds were based in Latin America and the Caribbean, 21 percent in Asia, a further 21 percent in East Africa, 18 percent in Europe and 13 percent in Southeast Asia.

Bosi stressed that a large proportion of the funds for World Bank projects under the CDM are from the private sector, and that market mechanisms are an important tool for including private capital in climate mitigation efforts.

Private capital has provided 49 percent of the resources for the projects so far. The carbon markets have contributed 21 percent, public foreign investment 17 percent and local public funding 13 percent.

Non-governmental organisations are critical of the CDM because they regard it as a “corrupt” system that is “cheap” for the countries of the North, as it allows industrialised countries to avoid real measures to reduce their domestic greenhouse gas emissions, while favouring transnational corporations.

Friends of the Earth said that the CDM should be abolished because it does not promote the structural changes needed to bring about a sustainable economy, and complained that “many projects in the CDM pipeline have severe negative social and environmental impacts.”

In a communiqué released at the Copenhagen conference, Friends of the Earth demanded rich countries “pledge to cut domestic emissions by at least 40 per cent (compared to 1990 levels) by 2020, without offsetting (using the CDM) or carbon trading.”

According to the organisation, “most of these projects do not actually reduce emissions,” and have catastrophic consequences for the environment and society in the developing South.

It also demands that the countries of the North “meet their obligations for financial transfers to developing countries for mitigation and adaptation,” without cutting development aid. These financial transfers should be administered by the United Nations, it said.

Other external financing, like the funds managed by the World Bank, should also not count towards the fulfilment of these obligations, it said.
(END/2009)

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CLIMATE CHANGE: Brazil Defends Biofuels

Posted on 08 December 2009 by editor

 

Smoke from sugar cane burn-off chokes the air in the countryside. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

Smoke from sugar cane burn-off chokes the air in the countryside. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

By Claudia Ciobanu

 

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – Being the world’s largest producer and exporter of ethanol, it is natural for the Brazilian government and its partners to push biofuels as  the only real alternative for a world trying to wean itself away from fossil fuels that contribute to global warming.

Brazilian authorities were ready with their arguments at the United Nations climate change summit underway here. Over the past 30 years, since the country embarked on its ethanol programme, an estimated 800 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions have been avoided.

Brazilian delegates were at pains to show that not only is biofuel production the best way to reduce greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions but it can also combat poverty as exemplified by the country’s scheme to promote micro-distilleries to provide additional income for rural families.

Biofuels have, however, come under serious attack in recent years for eating into farmlands meant for food production. As a result, the European Union backed out, last year, from a commitment to introduce a 10 percent mandatory quota of biofuels in all transportation by 2020.

In Brazil itself environmentalists have pointed to biofuel production as one of the key reasons for the steady deforestation of the Amazon basin.

Countering such criticism, Jose Migues from the Brazilian ministry of science and technology said:  “We were told that biofuels lead to deforestation in the Amazon, but the ethanol production areas are 3,000 km away from the Amazon.’’

Migues referred to Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC), a phrase describing the effects of biofuel production, which pushes human activities towards the Amazon rainforest. In the Sao Paulo area, where most ethanol production is concentrated, there has been a significant decrease in cattle raising and agricultural production.

“But is it fair to say that all of these activities are now moving to the Amazon?” asked Thelma Krug, another representative of the ministry.  “There is much room for making agriculture and cattle raising more efficient in Brazil.”

While the question of where Sao Paulo’s farmers have moved remained unanswered in Copenhagen, the planned expansion of the ethanol industry threatens further displacement. There are currently over six million hectares under sugar cane in Brazil, but Krug said there are “64 million ha available for expanding sugar cane production.”

She said the government is working on using satellite imagery to monitor the loss of forest cover and keep deforestation under check. A representative of Nature Conservancy, a Brazilian NGO, spoke of the thoroughness of forest protection laws.

As for food security issues linked to biofuel production, Andre Correa do Lago, director general of the energy department in the ministry of foreign affairs, stopped short of an outright denial that biofuels were to blame for the 2008 rise in food prices.

“Food security is one of the main concerns of our government,” he said. “Biofuels, like any other human endeavour, can be done in a better way. So we should not use the worst case as a general reference point.”

Legislation is under consideration to prevent biomass burning, which is responsible for large amounts of GhG emissions. Much of the waste, especially bagasse, is increasingly replacing polluting nitrogenous fertilisers. The production process is being made more efficient with nine units of energy being produced from bagasse for every unit of fossil energy.

But while admitting that “biofuels are no silver bullet,” Brazilian authorities insist that they are the best way forward for developing countries.
(END/2009)

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Banco Mundial defiende mercado de carbono

Posted on 08 December 2009 by editor

Martina Bosi presenta el informe del Banco Mundial. Crédito: Raúl Pierri/IPS

Martina Bosi presenta el informe del Banco Mundial. Crédito: Raúl Pierri/IPS

Por Raúl Pierri

COPENHAGUE (IPS/TerraViva) El Banco Mundial defendió orgulloso el martes en Copenhague el mercado mundial de carbono y su “contribución” a los esfuerzos contra el cambio climático, a pesar de las críticas de la sociedad civil. Continue Reading

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CLIMATE CHANGE: Latin America Between Hope and Realism

Posted on 08 December 2009 by editor

Daniela Estrada and Raúl Pierri*

COPENHAGEN

Wheat is one Latin American crop that could be hit hard by climate change. Credit: Mauricio Ramos/IPS.

Wheat is one Latin American crop that could be hit hard by climate change. Credit: Mauricio Ramos/IPS.

(Tierrámerica/TerraViva) – Latin America has come to Copenhagen with the goal that the wealthy nations of the North pay their climate debt by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing resources to developing nations. But facing the risk that this strategy could fail, the Latin American representatives are also willing to accept some compromises. Continue Reading

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Les jeunes en action à Copenhague

Posted on 08 December 2009 by editor

20091208_QAAmiel_Editedpar Nasseem Ackbarally

Frederick Amiel est un de plus d’une centaine de jeunes venus du monde entier, membres de la regroupement Global Youth Movement, sont à Copenhague pour faire entendre raison aux leaders politiques sur la nécessité de trouver un accord  en vue d’empêcher l’aggravation du réchauffement climatique de la planète. Continue Reading

 

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The Water Challenge: A World Political Forum Initiative

Posted on 08 December 2009 by editor

By Riccardo Petrella*

Riccardo Petrella

Riccardo Petrella

LOUVAIN (IPS/TerraViva) – Excluding water problems as such from the negotiations of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) has been a serious historic error at a scientific, politic and social level. The same holds true for the exclusion of biodiversity. Continue Reading

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Beware of Carbon Trading Trap – Activists

Posted on 08 December 2009 by editor

Activists with poster depicting clock ticking on climate change. Credit: Claudia Ciobanu/IPS

Activists with poster depicting clock ticking on climate change. Credit: Claudia Ciobanu/IPS

By Claudia Ciobanu

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – As the climate change summit in the Danish capital moves into a second day, environmental groups warn that by pushing carbon offsetting and trade, governments of developed countries are bypassing their responsibility to significantly reduce domestic emissions and  provide aid to developing countries. Continue Reading

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Quién da menos en la COP-15

Posted on 08 December 2009 by editor

Protesta en la conferencia. Crédito: Ana Libisch/IPS

Protesta en la conferencia. Crédito: Ana Libisch/IPS

Por Raúl Pierri

COPENHAGUE (IPS/TerraViva) Estados Unidos reiteró su oferta en el primer día de la COP-15, pero la Unión Europea condicionó la suya a un mayor esfuerzo de Washington. ¿Quién da menos? Continue Reading

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