Posts tagged "copenhagen"

It’s not looking good on the global pain/happiness front…

NASA has confirmed that 2010 was the hottest year on record and 17 countries set new records for their all-time highest recorded temperatures. I’m guessing I’m not alone in feeling a small shiver of dread every time another drought, flood, fire, hurricane or famine is reported, in anticipation of the much greater horrors we’ll all be facing in the coming decades.
As for the UN Climate talks in Cancun last week (did anybody notice that they happened? it certainly seems a very long time since the days of the Stupid Show in Copenhagen), the media response has been surprisingly positive. But I fear that’s because they’re looking at expectation vs outcome rather than necessity vs outcome. Certainly it does look as though the negotiators managed to save the process, but will the process save the climate? Climate Action Tracker has worked out that the deal as it currently stands commits us to at 3.2 degree rise in temperaturewhich would result in large parts of Africa and Australia becoming uninhabitable, world food supplies critically endangered and hundreds of millions of refugees on the move. Not to mention probably triggering runaway climate change whereby two degrees leads to three to four to five to six… by which time it’s about over for life on Earth. Oh dear. But as this article rather wisely points out: "The question is not "Did Cancun do enough?" – we knew the answer to that already – but "Does it make further action more or less likely?" On that there’s no doubt." If you can bear to know more, see oneclimate’s video round-up of the complete drama…
So it’s not looking at all good folks. But at least with the collapse of the climate looking ever more inevitable, we can all stop worrying about the collapsing economy, eh? We won’t be needing money or subprime mortgages where we’re going… 
…On the subject of reproduction, when Lizzie first said she was pregnant a few people on this list asked why environmentalists would ever have children. Of course this is an ongoing debate, which is only going to intensify as climate impacts continue to increase and resources to do the opposite, but to me it’s very simple: we’re fighting to keep the climate habitable for human life because we value it above all else. And people who value human existence unsurprisingly want to be part of its continuation. It’d be like fighting to save a football club from closure and then not going to any of the matches… Which of course isn’t the same as saying environmentalists - or anyone else who’d like the planet to be able to support their children and grand-children - should pop out loads of little screamers: see Bill McKibben’s book “Maybe One" for all the arguments about family size…
I love this story of a man who has decided to give away all his earnings above the amount he needs to live a good life in Britain (18,000 quid - the median British income) - for his entire lifetime. He’s so far persuaded 64 people to join his Giving What We Can movement: "We have realised how easy it is to do large amounts of good in the world and have made a commitment to give 10% of our income to the most effective charities we can find. For a person earning £15,000 per year, this means saving 5 lives every year, or leading to 100,000 fewer missed days of school due to illness. These incredible sounding feats are within most people’s reach." 
- (the latest newsletter from ‘Age of Stupid’s Franny Armstrong had too much good stuff not to share - well, not ‘good’ exactly, but you know what I mean)

Posts tagged "copenhagen"
Posts tagged "copenhagen"
Posts tagged "copenhagen"

Invigorating Copenhagen Wrap-Up by Sean Kidney

Reflections towards a better strategy in the future:
1. Developing nations came to the Copenhagen Conference with a very
firm position, that Kyoto had to be extended, which meant tougher
commitments and cuts by developed nations but no cuts required of
developing nations, reflecting the view that the richer nations caused
the problem and had to do most to fix it (fair point). Developed
nations came to the table insisting that, as 90% of all future
emissions would be coming from developing nations, they had to accept
cuts as well, especially the now more developed ones like China, Korea
and, of course, Saudi Arabia (fair point also). They also, as Aubrey
Meyer at the Global Commons has pointed out, had a de facto
Contraction and Convergence position, which is a significant advance.
Copenhagen turned into the big collision between these positions; no
surprise that a binding agreement wasn’t possible. The hope is that
polarised positions will now have to be abandoned, at least by the

2. Some recent reports suggest China came to Copenhagen with more to
give than they ended up giving, but were put off by the US having
nothing extra to offer. The total lack of progress during the last
week of the negotiations seems to have been because China then decided
not to budge. Some people that were in the talks have privately
reported that they think the Chinese team had very tight negotiating
limits, and were not able to respond effectively to the fast-paced
negotiation the Americans tried to introduce in the last couple of
days. That’s positive news, because it means there really is room to
keep working on the process.

3. The outcome reminds us that the world is not run by the United
Nations. Expecting a consensus result from the flawed governance model
it represents was really a dream. The fact is that we now have a
multi-polar world - a number of large economies or economic blocks
have to be able to agree for anything global to happen. Whatever we
might wish for, the UN negotiations are a venue for big country
discussions, not a decision-making forum. The good news about this is
that it IS a multi-polar world - the Copenhagen Accord is the first
major international agreement of modern times that recognises Brazil,
South Africa and India, as well as China, as critical components of
the world order. This probably wouldn’t have happened before the
financial crisis when the dollar was still the primary world currency.

4. Civil society was impressively organised at Copenhagen. A number of
agencies had great looking campaigns and put a huge amount of money
and effort into them. Could they have been better coordinated? Yes,
room to improve, but the major civil society organisations are not
that far apart as it is. The rethinking to be had is with strategy -
the”ask” made of rich countries were not able to be met, even when
they were largely onside, as the EU was. Civil society organisations
are going to have to do the politician’s work for them - analyse the
various global blocks to change, whether in developed or developing
countries, and run more acutely targeted campaigns, presenting
progressive politicians with a politically easy path to make what we
all know are the right decisions.

A small example in the US of how campaigns could be better targeted to
make it easier for politicians: have a look at a story just published
in the Columbia Journalism Review on the extraordinarily powerful
impact on US public opinion of pseudo-scientist TV weather reporters -
I first became aware of the assertive ignorance of some weather
reporters when my news monitoring kept turning up denialist stories on
the Weather Channel website, and I dived in to try and correct some of
them. The Columbia Journalism Review story explains just how
widespread the problem is and, at the same time, just how central
weather reporter views are to the understanding of climate change by
the US public. When asked in a national survey who they trusted for
information about global warming, 66 percent of respondents named
television weather reporters!  …. unfortunately, most weather
reporters don’t ‘believe’ in climate change. The underlying story is
how the ‘sceptic’ Heartland Institute targeted weather reporters some
years back, giving them free tickets to sceptic’s conferences and the
like. That would have to be one of the more successful targeted
campaigns in history, helping block policy progress for years; it
needs to be reversed.

We’ve run out of time to rely on convincing governments to do what’s
required; we now need cleverer targeting of pivotal groups in society,
from weather reporters to the investors who really decide whether
coal-fired power plants will be built or not.

What do you think? Comment at

Posts tagged "copenhagen"
Posts tagged "copenhagen"
Posts tagged "copenhagen"
Posts tagged "copenhagen"

More from Sean Kidney in Copenhagen

> Amazing scenes in the negotiator’s Plenary today, with Tuvalu rep arguing and China resisting - both politely but in a very determined way - that a treaty has to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees and to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere to 350ppm. No resolution yet.

> You may have seen news of “leaked Danish PM text” suggesting rich nations sort out climate change via the World Bank rather than the UN and pretty well tell developing nations what to do; quite a controversy at COP, as you can imagine. Gossip here is that a Danish Cabinet Minister colleague leaked it; seems the PM has been pushing it against lots of opposition, and the opposition hasn’t given up.

> Hot news: Indonesia announced it’s proposing a feed-in tariff for geo-thermal energy. Apparently they have 40% of the world’s hot rock resources! See

> Russia announced it would cut emissions by 25% by 2020 (from 1990 levels) if other countries agreed to do the same; they had been saying 10-15%; the EU is saying “we convinced them”. EBRD at a seminar today explained that Russia’s energy intensity is incredibly bad; they have enormous potential to cut emissions from energy efficiency measures. Hopefully the high returns will entice energy efficiency investors despite political and crime risks. EBRD aims to help de-risk.

> Outlook for a “good” Copenhagen Agreement seems to be improving. Insiders are saying that having so many world leaders (more than 100) turning up, and Obama now coming for the end of the Conference, is forcing a better outcome. 

> Also helping was the US EPA announcement this week to formally classify CO2 as a pollutant. That allows Obama to regulate CO2 without Congress - it dramatically increases his ability to deliver at least the cuts he’s promising.

> The Saudi Arabian representative was being obstructive again this week; at one point he made a speech about the implications of the East Anglia Uni email leaks and how they raised doubts about global warming science. Apparently the speech was met with silence; no other country followed up. Would’ve been different under Bush.

> The Conference is quite a buzz; 15,000 people talking non-stop in the conference centre. Thousands of laptops, lots of coffee, chanting anti-REDD demonstrators in the background. The cloak room is open 18 hours a day this week; it advertises that next week, as negotiations come to then end, it will be open 24 hours a day.

> Had a talk with a couple of big EU pension funds this week to see if they’d join Danish ATP pension fund’s new €1 billion ‘Climate Change Action Fund for Emerging Economies’, reported earlier this week. They think they tackle the issue of investing better by building in relevant criteria across all their asset classes - i.e. in the whole fund. The €1 billion, they think, puts it into a sideline rather than mainstreaming the idea.



PS. Some of you asked for more info on my earlier reports on transport projects and solar cell prices. These are coming soon.

Posts tagged "copenhagen"

Copenhagen update from Sean Kidney

7 Dec 09 (better late than never)

There is a real excitement in the air, with some 20 thousand people turning up from every corner of the world and a party atmosphere in the streets. The talk, however, is all climate:

1. Nick Stern in a speech a couple of nights ago talked of the stark choice we face between acting fast or sliding into disaster, and thus how important this Conference was to the future of the planet. Lord Giddens talked of the Copenhagen Conference being, with the sense of pressure for a global agreement and over 100 heads of States turning up, the first real gathering for global governance: an historic event.

2. More practically, Q-Cells, one of the world’s largest photovoltaic solar companies, claims that solar cells have reached grid price parity in key markets, such as Italy and Germany. That means that solar cells are price comparable with fossil fuel energy (gas in Italy’s case) coal and gas for Germany. Big news! Why would you still build coal, let alone high-emission-potency gas?

3. According to the International Energy Authority, 77% of the energy infrastructure that will exist in the world 2050 has not been built. So we have an extraordinary chance to make sure it’s infrastructure for a low-carbon, not a high-carbon, economy.

4. Denmark’s ATP pension fund, one of the largest in the world, announced that they’re setting up 
ATP will set up a € 1 billion ‘Institutional Investor Climate Change Action Fund for Emerging Economies’. The aim is for the Fund to become a joint initiative involving several like-minded institutional investors.  The Fund will operate on private sector conditions and only invest in projects that are expected to deliver relevant risk-adjusted rewards.  


Sean Kidney
+44 752 506 8331

Posts tagged "copenhagen"