Sunday, December 20, 2009
by Carmelo Amalfi
THE 15th meeting of the United Nations climate change conference has ended with an agreement to raise the finance needed to cut greenhouse gas emissions in both developed and developing nations.
The "Copenhagen Accord" is supported by a majority of countries including the United States and China, the two biggest carbon polluters.
The agreement will establish a fighting fund expected to reach 30 billion US dollars over the next three years. Long-term finance by developed countries will collectively attract 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to help developing countries fight global warming.
"We have sealed the deal," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement released yesterday.
"This accord cannot be everything that everyone hoped for, but it is an essential beginning."
The Accord backs the scientific view that an increase in global temperature below two degrees Celcius will help take the sting out of the worst effects of climate change.
It specifies that industrialised countries will commit to implement economy-wide emissions targets from 2020.
These will be submitted to the UN before January 31, 2010.
Countries will communicate their efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions every two years.
Mitigation actions seeking international support will be recorded in a registry with details of relevant technology, finance and capacity building support from industrialised nations.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer said the COP15 was a success despite the rollercoaster ride in negotiations over the past two weeks.
"The world walks away from Copenhagen with a deal," he said. "But clearly, ambitions to reduce emissions must be raised significantly if we are to hold the world to 2C."
Leaders plan to review the accord by 2015 and include long-term goals to limit the
global average temperature rise to 1.5C, which is the cap many African nations had argued for.
De Boer said heads of state and government intend to act promptly on mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology and reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries.
A "Copenhagen Green Climate Fund" will be established to support immediate action on climate change. Governments also plan to establish a new technology mechanism to accelerate the development and transfer of technology.
In total, 119 world leaders attended the meeting, the biggest gathering of heads of
state and government in the history of the UN.
"Climate change is the permanent leadership challenge of our time," Ki-moon said.
"I therefore urge world leaders to remain engaged. We now have a package to work with and begin immediate action."
But de Boer said the agreement was at this stage, "a letter of intent", not a precise about what needs to be done in legal terms. In other words, COP15 failed to set in stone a legally binding accord that locked both rich and poor countries.
"So the challenge is now to turn what we have agreed politically in Copenhagen into something real, measurable and verifiable," he said.
The next UN climate change conference will be held next year in Mexico City, preceded by a two-week negotiating session in Bonn, Germany, between May 31 and June 11.
The European Parliament delegation to the COP15 also released a statement describing the Accord as a huge disappointment.
"The outcome and the procedure show an urgent need to reform the UN working method," European Parliament president Jerzy Buzek aid.
"Copenhagen will only be a first step. We must learn the lessons of how to improve the negotiating process. There are some positive elements to the agreement, but the EU should continue to put pressure on the rest of the world to reach a more ambitious agreement at a later stage."
Delegation head Jo Leinen said the agreement postponed climate change protection to a later date.
"The document lacks a long-term vision for 2050, nor have short-term targets for 2020 been laid down in the final document. The present commitments of industrialized countries will by no means meet the CO2 reduction requirements stated by the scientific panel of the United Nations."
MEPs said the worst aspect of the "Copenhagen Accord" is it did not not hold nations legally accountable for their actions.
"The US has failed to adapt its reduction targets to global needs. China has refused to sign a treaty with international obligations," he said.
Vice-chair Karl-Heinz Florenz added: "It is a slap in the face for the world. There has been a huge lack of trust during these negotiations.
"Some developing countries have been blocking without contributing in a positive manner to the text. For further negotiations it will be crucial to overcome this for the further negotiations."
Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said he was satisfied a result had finally be achieved.
"Now nations will need to sign on, and if they do so, they will support what has been agreed to (in the Copenhagen Accord). This will have effect immediately."
Saturday, December 19, 2009
by Carmelo Amalfi
“MADAME chair, you have the floor”
Thank you [UN president Michelle Gore].
Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, citizens of Earth.
We open this conference, COP16, on the eve of a new century. Nearly 100 years ago this month, leaders of our world came together in Copenhagen to find a way to curb the greatest threat our planet faced, and still faces – climate change.
They failed. They failed the planet and they failed us despite so much hope, time and effort, the promise of a new world for more than six billion people faced with rising temperatures and expanding oceans.
My grandfather received the Nobel Prize for peace before he arrived in Copenhagen, his memoirs revealing his deep sorrow and regret at the lack of action and commitment by developed and developing nations.
Today, there are more than 21 billion people on the planet - a very different place to when our parents were children.
It is nearly five degrees Celcius warmer than 2010. The Arctic sea ice is gone. The Himalayan and Tibetan glaciers, which once fed the major water systems of some of the world’s poorest regions, have retreated. Antarctica, the last frontier where rich countries now exploit its deep reserves of fossil fuels, has lost a third of its ice cover.
Mauritius, the Maldives, once tourism treasures, and hundreds of once-populated islands in the Indonesian archipelago are gone while rising ocean levels have pushed most coastal communities inland.
Climate refugees flood detention centres around the world.
Indoor air pollution accounts for nearly half of all fatal acute respiratory infections in children under five years of age. The poor in India, which stood with those countries resisting global efforts to fight climate change, now loses an estimated four to five billion days of work each year because of sickness and ill health caused by malnutrition the spread of disease.
What pains me is the dramatic loss of so many of the world’s species, particularly fish, birds and mammals. The polar bears and penguins are extinct, their clones grown in “arks” established at zoos and special science parks.
Millions of people have died or been displaced by the impacts of global warming.
Millions more will follow. The African continent is a furnace and bushfires in Australia have become more frequent and devastating, causing major losses of human and animal life.
The Amazon forests have long been cleared and most of the world’s reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef, which once supported tourism, fishing and science have calcified - shells of their former beauty.
We come together today to take up where the last generation left off.
Faced with global recession and political unrest, our generation still wages war over water supplies and the air we breathe, the very things we as custodians of the planet were charged with protecting and preserving through adaptation and mitigation.
Flooding, fires and severe storms are commonplace and far more destructive than when I was a young girl.
The world has changed.
But it will not disappear, not unless we unite again to finish what our parents and grandparents began at the start of this century.
Consider this as you deliberate over the future of a planet too precious to abandon to dirty air, pollution and disease. Consider this as you discuss what those before us failed to achieve and what those after us will inherit. Please let us avoid a repeat of the past.
I declare COP16 open.
by Carmelo Amalfi
COULD it be true?
Has Nobel Prize winning president Barack Obama helped seal a deal in Copenhagen?
According to a senior United States administration official, China, India and South Africa have reached a “meaningful agreement” on the last night of the COP15.
Described as a “first step”, he is quoted saying it was not enough to put a meaningful dent in the climate threat. But it was a start.
Details of the tentative deal are sketchy. It was reached Friday night at the United Nations climate conference after a meeting between Obama, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and South African President Jacob Zuma.
Obama had earlier said he did not come to talk, but to act as the world’s biggest economy and second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.
Under the "Copenhagen Accord", leaders have committed to the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
It sets a global temperature rise maximum of two degrees Celsius, possibly limiting this to 1.5C after a review in 2016.
The Copenhagen Accord says developed countries would commit collectively to providing 30 billion US dollars in additional funding for developing countries for the 2010 to 2012 period. By 2020, developed countries aimed to raise 100 billion dollars a year.
By 2050, developed countries also would commit to emissions cuts of at least 80 per cent.
But countries including Venezuela, Sudan and Tuvalu are said to oppose the new deal that would need unanimous backing to be adopted by the 193 nations at COP15.
Other nations including European Union states, Japan, the African Union and Alliance of Small Island States urged delegates to adopt the plan.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd described the deal as, "a significant agreement on climate change action. It is the first global agreement on climate change action between rich nations and poor countries".
President Obama had promised the US would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020, “no matter what happens in Copenhagen”.
Nations have until the end of January 2010 to submit plans for curbs on emissions to the UN.
Environment groups criticised the hurried plan as ineffective because it was not a legally binding treaty.
"The city of Copenhagen is a crime scene tonight, with the guilty men and women fleeing to the airport," Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said.
The comments follow nearly two weeks of bitter debate and walkouts by delegates and running battles between Danish police and protestors.
by Carmelo Amalfi
JOURNALISTS who investigate climate change increasingly are at risk of harm and even death from hostile governments and companies, according to media agencies at COP15.
The International Institute for Environment and Development, International Media Support, Internews and Reporters Without Borders called on delegates and world leaders to sign a global petition to better protect journalists under principle 10 of the Rio Declaration and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The group representing national and international media organisations called on countries to give journalists access to information they need to convey to the wider public complex issues such as global warming, pollution and deforestation.
International Media Support director Jesper Højberg said in the past three years 15 cases of threats and intimidation, imprisonment and deportations, had been linked directly to environmental issues including climate change.
“There is a need to focus on better protection of journalists, particularly environmental and climate journalists,” he said.
“Journalists live very dangerous lives exposing corruption, nepotism and negligence which obstruct efforts to protect the environment.”
Vincent Brossel, head of the Asia desk at Reporters Without Borders, said many of the countries attending the conference recognised the importance of empowering people to tackle climate change issues. But they could not do so with their hands tied.
“Without a free press, companies and governments will not be compelled to join the fight against climate change,” he said. “Journalists must be free to investigate.
“More and more are being harassed, some even killed for reporting on environmental issues.”
The media delegation said journalists investigating deforestation faced imprisonment and death in countries such as Cambodia, Philippines, India, Brazil and South Africa.
They said these countries say they are committed to fighting the causes of climate change yet it is journalists in their countries who were being persecuted.
Internews Earth Journalism Network global director James Fahn said climate change journalists faced similar dangers to covering the crime beat when covering pollution and illegal logging in countries such as Indonesia and Brazil.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, freelance journalists make up nearly 45 per cent of all journalists jailed around the world.
Half of all those in prison are online journalists.
In its annual census of imprisoned journalists, released last week, the Committee found a total of 136 reporters, editors and photojournalists behind bars on December 1 this year, an increase of 11 at the same time last year. The increase is due to 23 journalists jailed after a media crackdown in Iran.
“The rise of online journalism has opened the door to a new generation of reporters, but it also means they are vulnerable,” CPJ executive director Joel Simon said in a statement.
* Novaya Gazeta is an independent newspaper uncovering corruption and human rights abuses in Russia. Four of its journalists have been murdered. Other journalists on staff have been beaten, arrested and continue to be watched closely by the police
* Jila Baniyaghoub is an Iranian journalist who has been beaten, arrested and imprisoned for covering women's rights and State oppression
* Terry Gould is a freelance investigative journalist and author of ‘Murder without Borders: Dying for the Story in the World’s Most Dangerous Places’. His book examines the lives of seven journalists killed because of their work.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
by Johan Lidberg
FROM the outside, without inside access to the no doubt complex negotiations, the whole situation seems bizarre. Here we have a clear and present global danger to the future of mankind and our leaders are arguing over…money.
The rich world has become rich by creating the situation we are in now. So, the rich world should make amends by supplying sustainable energy technology to the developing world and help these countries adjust to a sustainable economic system. Apart from changing at home (which is needed too) this is by far the most effective way to take action on climate change.
Billionaire hedge fund manager, George Soros, suggested last week at COP15 that the rich countries should draw on some of the their billions that lie idle in the coffers of the International Monetary Fund. This is a good concrete suggestion, but as so many times before Soros is not listened to. He is dismissed because he is a hedge fund manager. This is unfortunate as he is not your average venture capitalist. He predicted the financial crisis. He has long been deeply critical of unregulated, runaway markets and predatory capitalism. He has spent hundreds of millions on supporting civil society via his Open Society Institute. The man deserves and should be listened to.
It seems like a big chunk of the world is screaming to the leaders of the rich countries: ‘just pay the damn money so we can get started!’. Eleven million plus signatures in the on-line action group Avaaz.org’s save Copenhagen petition sends a clear message.
“Petition to the 110 Presidents and Prime Ministers negotiating in Copenhagen:
"We call on each one of you to make the concessions necessary to meet your historic responsibility in this crisis. Rich countries must offer fair funding, and all countries must set ambitious targets on emissions. Do not leave Copenhagen without a fair, ambitious and binding deal that keeps the world safe from catastrophic global warming of 2 degrees.”
Allow me to add to the petition. The delegates should stay in Copenhagen and the conference should go on until a substantial agreement has been made. This is your job. Anything less will be a failure and you will have let those down that elected you and that put their trust in you.
by Carmelo Amalfi
CALIFORNIA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says the world will continue to pursue ways to curb global warming even if no resolution is reached at the Copenhagen conference.
"Technological and economic forces will overtake the political and regulatory efforts of governments," he told delegates at COP15.
"The world's governments alone cannot make progress. They need everyone working together."
Using his state as an example, Schwarzenegger said California - the seventh biggest economy in the world - and other countries had already embraced the green revolution.
"The power of influence we have is equivalent to that of a continent," the Austrian-born former Hollyood actor said.
"In California, we are proceeding with renewable energy and a cap and trade system to reduce greenhouse gases.
"Nearly 60 per cent of venture capital in the US flows to California, creating a critical mass of money and intellect to create new green technologies."
California was one of the first states in the US to commit to reducing greenhouse gases by 30 per cent to 1990 levels by 2020.
Schwarzenegger said he believed the world's business community will move to solar and wind and other alternative technologies much faster than most people expect.
He said developing countries will leapfrog into the green economy and skip the fossil fuel industry.
"We are beginning one of history's great transitions to build an economic foundation for the 21st century," he said.
"This conference is already a success."
He also offered to host a climate summit to continue the work achieved at COP15.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
by Carmelo Amalfi
CHIEF negotiators in Copenhagen have accused Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of a climate change con.
Chinese delegates and Sudanese chairman of the G77 group representing 132 developing countries told reporters Mr Rudd was a liar.
Lumumba Di-Aping, who caused a political storm when he accused developed countries last week of drafting a secret deal to sideline the Kyoto Protocol, claimed the Australian Government was not genuine in its promise to fight climate change.
He said Mr Rudd’s message to people in Australia was, “a fabrication, it’s fiction”, when his promise at the last election was to join the Kyoto Protocol and global efforts to curb global warming.
“All what Australia has done so far is simply not good enough,” Di-Aping said, claiming Mr Rudd was trying to gain a strategic economic advantage by siding with the United States and European Union.
“Australia is committed to killing Kyoto,” he said.
Neither Mr Rudd nor Climate Change Minister Penny Wong, who are at COP15, have yet to comment.
Di-Aping’s claims precede the arrival of world leaders and heads of state in Copenhagen.
Mr Rudd told a news conference that his aim was to get the best possible agreement for Australia. That meant getting a genuine agreement between rich and poor nations that was, “the cheapest, the most effective, the most pro-jobs agreement possible”.
“Just as the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is the cheapest most effective way to act on climate change locally, so too is an agreement here in Copenhagen the cheapest and most effective way to act globally,” he said.
Mr Rudd flew into Copenhagen without parliamentary approval of his carbon trade laws, stating the talks were at risk of failure unless there was a compromise between the developed and emerging economies of the world.
But he was confident a landmark deal could be endorsed by the end of the week when US president Barack Obama is expected to arrive.
“We have a fundamental national interest at stake in securing the strongest possible global agreement, because it affects Australia,” he said.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
by Katie Day, Sana Mazloum, Isabelle Tolhurst and Matt Whitby
HUNDREDS of protestors in Copenhagen at the weekend were arrested and detained by Danish police guarding roads leading to the United Nations climate change conference.
Masked youths clashed with riot police to voice their concerns over the lack of action so far at COP15.
Protestors not caught behind the police lines spent hours calling on police to release their comrades, chanting “let them go” to the beat of drums.
Copenhagen resident Anders Solem said the demonstration was “tame” compared to past protests: “Most of the troubles on the street were started by young people who are not really environmental activists but just angry kids who want to fight the police.”
Police refused to reveal the reason behind restricting the movement of what was largely a peaceful demonstration.
On Saturday, tens of thousands of people gathered in the palace square at Christiansborg, calling for action to fight global warming by world leaders due to arrive this week.
The march ended at the COP15 venue at Bella Center, just outside the city, where activists held a candle-lit vigil late into the night.
Anti-capitalist group Not Your Business had tried to infiltrate several corporations at an organised demonstration starting at Nytorv and ending in a blockade on the city bridge.
Activists plan to try again after nearly 70 were arrested. Chanting “our climate, not your business”, they were stopped by police blockades.
Protestors threw cobblestones at the windows of the historic stock exchange and Foreign Ministry buildings.
Flares were set off as crowds ignored police calls to disperse.
Traffic also came to a standstill.
Police said bolt-cutters and gas masks were found during a search of a truck that led the demonstration. Only 13 of the 968 people detained during the mass rally remained in custody Sunday.
Reports say of those, three - including two Danes and a Frenchman - faced preliminary charges of fighting with police.
An estimated 40,000 people joined the mostly peaceful march toward the two-week conference which opened on December 7.
Observers criticised Danish laws that allowed police to make preventative arrests if they suspected a demonstration will turn violent and hold suspected troublemakers for up to 12 hours without a court arraignment.
The COP15 conference was suspended Sunday so police could sweep the area ahead of the arrival of world leaders, including American president Barack Obama and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
In Australia, climate change protesters scaled the Sydney Opera House and unfurled a banner saying, "Stop the politics, climate treaty now".
The protest is seen as an embarrassment for police after security was upgraded at the Opera House and Harbour Bridge because of the growing risk of a terrorist attack.
Monday, December 14, 2009
by Ben O’Halloran
HE got lost in Mongolia, robbed twice in China and Turkey and suffered sunstroke in northern Australia.
After 18 months covering 22 countries and some of the world’s toughest terrain, Kim Nguyen, 28, has arrived in Denmark – on his bike.
Attending the climate change conference in Copenhagen, Kim said he was lucky to have arrived in one piece. He was hospitalised three times.
“The most difficult part of my journey was in northern Australia and South-East Asia because of the heat,” he said, having repaired 15 punctures on his 18,000km ride.
“The coldest was Belgrade when I rode through a storm.”
The social worker who wants to promote sustainable travel says he plans to sail back to Australia once he raises enough money.
Sporting a beard he grew from Istanbul to Copenhagen, Kim left Brisbane on August 10, 2008, arriving in the Danish capital to coincide with Ride Planet Earth’s global campaign to fight climate change.
Cyclists from around the world joined Kim on his epic trek through some of the most beautiful and inhospitable parts of the planet, riders in Copenhagen accompanying him through the Danish capital on the last leg to the conference.
Speaking at the alternative climate conference Klimaforum09, Kim hopes to address delegates attending COP15 and pass on messages from around the world.
He set up a blogsite so people could follow him on his journey to the conference.
Kim’s bike ride covered East Timor, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and eastern and central Europe.
On day 390 of his ride along the Black Sea Coast, just before entering Turkey back in September, he wrote: “A young man … reached his hand into my back pocket and tried to pull out my wallet. I turned, furious, realising suddenly the reason for his lurking presence behind me. I pushed and shoved him in the chest as he tried to slide into the crowd, surprised at my own aggression, with the vague idea of intimidating him into a life of legitimacy.”
Kim’s friend Mamuka urged the young rider to leave immediately: “That man is a bad man. He has said he will kill you. This is Georgia, this is not Australia.”
Read Kim’s blog at http://rideplanetearth.org.
Friday, December 11, 2009
by Ben O’Halloran
UP to 6000 police have converged on Copenhagen to crack down on violent activists threatening to gatecrash the UN conference on climate change.
The protests are expected to attract more than 60,000 people to the Bella Center venue to coincide with the arrival of world leaders at the weekend.
The Danish Government passed new laws in the lead-up to the two-week conference for police to arrest and detain people suspected of trying to enter the conference.
On Wednesday, police seized a cache of 200 makeshift shields, paint bombs and other equipment, including nine platforms with crude staircases, after a police raid on a building that city officials had provided as free housing for activists visiting the Danish capital during the international climate talks.
Police say the demonstrators, who will march the 7km from the Danish Parliament to the Bella Center, intended to use the stairs to climb the barricades erected outside the heavily secured centre.
Under the $122 million crackdown dubbed by activists as the “turmoil and riot” law, police can hold people for up to 40 days if they believe they will be a public threat.
Makeshift holding cells have been established in an abandoned warehouse in the city to cope with the anticipated number of arrests.
Copenhagen police coordinator Per Larsen said the heavy police presence was needed to keep the peace during the conference.
He believes the holding pens are not over the top, but a deterrent against activists who wanted to disrupt the peaceful meetings.
Climate Justice Action, a global group committed to fighting climate change, has said despite the heavy police presence, demonstrators will break into the conference and take over proceedings under the guise of a ‘peoples assembly’.
It believes the UN climate talks will not solve the climate crisis: “We are no closer to reducing greenhouse gas emissions than we were when international negotiations began 15 years ago.
“Emissions are rising faster than ever, while carbon trading allows climate criminals to pollute and profit. The talks are essentially legitimising a new colonialism that carves up of the world’s remaining resources.”
“In response to this madness, a global movement for climate justice has emerged to reclaim power over our future.”
Danish police issued a statement in the lead-up to the COP15 conference which states:
* in Denmark, people have freedom of speech and the freedom to assemble
* participants must be unarmed and demonstrations must not be violent
• demonstrations, processions, and public meetings must be reported to the police no later than 24 hours prior to their start
• unless attacked, the police can only intervene in demonstrations if the crowd has been ordered to disperse three times in the name of the Queen and the law
• it is prohibited to wear a hood or mask or paint your face when participating in public gatherings or demonstrations, in order not to be identified
• if violence or threats are aimed at policemen or other persons in public service, special and more stringent regulations apply
• it is prohibited to be in possession of knives and other weapons in public places. Violation of this rule can result in detention, imprisonment and expulsion
• police can carry out body searches of all citizens in certain areas in order to find weapons.
by Carmelo Amalfi
POOR countries yesterday called on the United States Congress to release $200 billion to fight climate change on the day President Barack Obama received the Nobel prize.
Sudanese delegate Lumumba Dia-Ping, who represents the G77 group of 132 developing countries including China, challenged the president to show leadership and
“We ask president Obama and the US to join the Kyoto Protocol because the world can’t achieve an equitable or a just deal that would save the planet without the participation of the United States,” he told reporters at the COP15.
“Global peace and security will be endangered without US participation in resolving this serious threat to humanity. This is the war we need to fight.”
Dia-Ping, who created controversy this week over the leaked Danish text, said the world had enough resources to address climate change in a more radical and substantial way.
“The US Congress has to be asked, you approve billions of dollars in defence budgets,” he said. “Can’t you approve $200 billion to save the world?” he said.
He said Obama must show leadership at a time of global crisis: “This is what we expect from him as a Nobel Prize winner and one of the advocates of new multiculturalism.
“That is what we expect of him as someone who is a member of both the developed and developing world - his extended family, his brothers, his cousins, his uncles are still in that continent (Africa) of which he is proud to be a member.”
European Union delegates said the amount of money Dia-Ping wanted the US to spend was more than the world spent on development assistance each year.
“To dish up that kind of money would be difficult,” they said.
President Obama said in his acceptance speech in Norway that US military leaders also understood the urgency of fighting climate change.
“There is little scientific dispute that if we do nothing, we will face more drought, more famine, more mass displacement – all of which will fuel more conflict for decades,” he said. “It is not merely scientists and environmental activists who call for swift and forceful action, it’s military leaders in my own country and others who understand that our common security hangs in the balance.”
by Carmelo Amalfi
THE Kyoto Protocol will and must survive, United Nations climate official Yvo de Boer told reporters at COP15.
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change executive secretary said there was no good reason to abandon the protocol established in 1997.
“One reason is because it generally takes a little time for a new legal instrument to be ratified and to enter into force,” he said. “The Kyoto Protocol took eight years to enter into force.
“If there is an agreement on a new legal instrument under the convention, which I also expect, you can’t guarantee how quickly it will enter into force.”
The Kyoto Protocol, which aims to slow global greenhouse emission, ends in 2012.
The US, which is the world’s top polluter closely followed by China, has not signed up to the treaty.
US envoy to the talks in Copenhagen, Todd Stern, said on Wednesday that the US would not join, particularly if China was unwilling to sign up.
“The country whose emissions are going up dramatically is China and that’s the reason why we can’t have an agreement that doesn’t have a real commitment by China,” he said.
“You can’t even think about solving this problem without having a significant commitment by China.”
Mr Stern said American greenhouse gas emissions were “flattening out and they’re going to go down”.
He said China had an extraordinarily successful economy in a different stage of development to the US.
“Emissions are emissions, you just have to do the math,” he said. “This isn’t a matter of politics and morality or anything else.
“It’s just math. And you can’t get to the kind of reduction that we need globally if China is not a major player. That’s the reality.”
Chinese climate officials want the US to boost its commitment to cutting gas emissions, describing as unfair moves to set limits on nations that were still developing while emissions from developed countries were rising.
“Currently, the target is to reduce emissions by 17 percent from the 2005 level,” they said. “This figure cannot be regarded as remarkable or notable.”
China’s top climate envoy Xie Zhenhua said: “I do hope President Obama can bring a concrete contribution to Copenhagen.”
Mr Xie said China could accept a target of halving global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 if developed nations stepped up their emissions cutting targets by 2020.
Developing nations are asking for at least $US300 billion in financial support to help them deal with the impacts of climate change.
by Katie Day
POLICE in Copenhagen do not expect violence at Saturday’s COP15 demonstrations in which up to 60,000 people are likely to voice their concerns over climate change.
Anti-capitalist group Never Trust A Cop says the true purpose of COP15 is to restore the legitimacy of global capitalism and is encouraging demonstrators to stay in the city near the hotels of COP15 delegates to ensure their protests are heard.
Police spokesman Henirek Fuhr, who is reluctant to disclose how many police will be present, said they were prepared for the Saturday demonstrations.
“We are prepared for the whole summit and that means we are prepared for the demonstration as well,” he said.
“We do know how many police will be out there but all I will say is that there will be enough.
“We expect no problems at the demonstration, but if they should occur then we will be ready for any problems that do arise.”
New laws passed for the demonstration will allow police to arrest people who can be imprisoned for up to 40 days for hindering police and resisting arrest.
“The change in law is that we now have the right to keep people in custody for 12 hours instead of 6 hours,” Fuhr said.
“If protesters are being disobedient in the street we can and will fine them up to 5000 kroner. That is only during the demonstration not on normal days.”
Several climate and green groups have organised a demonstration under the umbrella of The Global Day of Action.
Demonstration spokesperson Knud Vilby said organisers have cooperated fully with police to ensure a peaceful protest.
“There are a lot of logistics, we are cooperating with police and other organisations to ensure this is a peaceful family demonstration,” he said.
“We have been meeting with the Copenhagen police to discuss how to cooperate and how to handle any violence. It has been carefully planned, and we don’t expect any violent protesters.”
Vilby said that the Global Day of Action is not affiliated with the Never Trust a Cop demonstration.
“We are aware of Never Trust a Cop, they are not big and they are not associated with our peaceful demonstration,” he said. “We do not support them.”
Thursday, December 10, 2009
by Katie Day
THE Socceroos have scored a goal for climate change by agreeing to a UN plan to offset carbon emissions for travel to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Head of corporate and public affairs, Bonita Mersiades, said the team is fully supportive of the plan and committed to reducing emissions during the international tournament.
“We are strong supporters of FIFA’s move to support reduced carbon emissions for teams and fans,” she said. “We also feel it is important for host nations to look at ways to reduce their carbon emissions.”
More than half of the qualifying countries have committed or pledged to offset emissions travelling to and from South Africa.
They include Argentina, Brazil, Cameroon, Chile, Cote d'Ivoire, England, Greece, Italy, Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Serbia, the United States, Uruguay and host South Africa.
Dorah Nteo, of South Africa’s Environment Department, told the conference air travel to South Africa equalled 67 per cent of the one-month event’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
UN Environment Program chief Achim Steiner did not want to wait for an international climate deal to start working towards cutting emissions among participating teams.
“There are only two things the world is pre-occupied with at the moment, climate change and the World Cup,” he said. “We want footballers to lead by example and not wait for an international deal to start cutting emissions.”
UNEP will help host cities in South Africa to cut their energy consumption by installing solar-powered and energy-efficient street lamps, traffic lights and billboards in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Polokwane, Rustenburg and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality.
The scheme is a partnership with the Global Environment Facility, which unites 179 member governments to address global environmental issues.
Up to have half a million fans are expected to attend the tournament and UNEP strongly encourages fans to offset their emissions as well.
“Fans have a choice through their airline to offset their emissions or they can find other ways,” Achim Steiner said. “My appeal to the fans that will travel to the World Cup is make yourselves part of the solution, then you won’t be part of the problem.”
by Matt Whitby
WORLD leaders attending COP15 have been urged to adopt tough regulations on the use of energy efficient buildings as a way of reducing carbon emissions.
A panel of experts hosted by Climate Consortium Denmark said the technology to reduce building energy emissions by 80 per cent was already available.
Senior energy policy advisor from the International Energy Agency Jens Laustsen says a 50 per cent reduction to building energy efficiency was reasonable and rational.
“We have the solutions now, we should start implementing energy efficiency and ensure it is part of a sustainable energy future,” he says.
Rockwool chief executive Eelco van Heel says he firmly supports government regulation to encourage energy efficiency standards despite business traditionally favouring liberal market policies. Rockwool is an insulation technology developer.
“We have the opportunity to reduce 460 million tonnes of CO2, save 270 billion Euros and create 500,000 jobs,” he says. “All we need is the politicians and the regulators to help us through this process.
“We have to accept that 70 per cent of the planet’s population will be living in cities by 2030. Buildings consume the most energy of any sector in the world and are a major emitter of CO2.”
Buildings are responsible for 40 per cent of energy use in the European Union and North America. China is growing to nearly 35 per cent. The International Energy Agency has found Australia's energy efficiency has improved at less than half the rate of other countries. The energy used by homes and commercial buildings in Australia accounts for about 20 per cent of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.
Over the next two decades, CO2 emissions from buildings will increase by about 50 per cent worldwide, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts.
The leader of the World Wildlife Fund’s Global Climate Initiative, Kim Carstensen, says financial incentives are needed to encourage energy efficiency standards.
“We need investment schemes to provide opportunity to help people make the right choices,” he says.
Mr Laustsen advocates the construction of zero emission buildings and even pointed out the possibility of private buildings being net producers of energy.
“Let’s produce the energy in buildings instead of consuming it,” he says. “Governments will be able to meet their CO2 reduction targets by making buildings more energy efficient. This potential is enormous.”
by Matt Whitby
ABOUT 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions are created by producing food that no one eats, a food awareness group said at COP15 yesterday.
The founder of a group dedicated to raising awareness about food waste in Denmark says she is disappointed the topic is not on the agenda for politicians during the conference.
Graphic artist Selina Juul, who established the non-profit organisation Stop Spid Af Mad (Stop wasting food), says that the amount of food each Dane throws out each year costs around $1400.
“Food waste is very large problem in Denmark at the moment,” she says. “Every year the average Dane throws away 63 kilograms of good edible food away.”
Ms Juul says she is concerned the issue is not being discussed at COP15.
Stop Spild Af Mad has more than 3700 members, including politicians and leading Danish chefs.
Danish chef Bo Jakobsen works at Restaurationen, a downtown restaurant in Copenhagen.
Although not a member of Stop Spild Af Mad, he has strong opinions about food waste. He says the amount of food thrown away in the world is ‘morally disgusting’.
“Fifty percent of the food we produce in the world gets wasted,” he says.
“With millions of people around the world starving it’s just ridiculous.”
Ms Juul says preventing food waste is very easy and something everyone can do something about.
“It is a very simple problem which we all could contribute to fixing,” she says. “We don’t have to donate any money.
“The only thing we have to do is change our mindset, to only use the amount of food that we need, instead of just throwing the food away.”
Ms Juul says she wanted to see political decisions made to reduce the amount of waste.
“Things like building a network of donating good and fresh leftover food from companies, canteens and restaurants to homeless people,” she says.
by Carmelo Amalfi
COPENHAGEN will be remembered as the city that failed the world if it adopts a secret deal to sideline UN efforts to fight climate change, according to the Sudanese chairman of the G77 group representing 132 developing countries including China.
Lumumba Di-Aping told reporters on a day of accusations and threats by some delegates to leave the COP15 that the leaked draft agreement would destroy the Kyoto protocol by proposing to hand over effective control of climate change finance to the World Bank.
“This text is an extremely dangerous document for developing countries,” he said. “It’s a total violation of the principles of transparency and openness.
“This text does not even mention a single proposal from the G77 member States.”
The document sets unequal limits on per capita carbon emissions for both developed and developing countries in 2050. It is understood to include proposals by the UK, US and Denmark and has only been shown to a handful of countries.
Danish officials are trying to play down the significance of the paper which they describe as a draft document issued to, “a number of people for the purpose of consultations”.
Di-Aping called on the Danish prime minister Lars Rasmussen to distinguish between his political career and ambitions and the need for a successful deal.
“The prime minister is desperate for success at any price,” he said. “This text is an insult to the elected president of COP15 (Danish climate minister Connie Hedegaard) because this text comes from the office of the prime minister.”
Di-Aping said that US president Barack Obama should join the Kyoto Protocol: “Global peace and security is not served by isolation and exceptionalism.”
US delegation chief Todd Stern said in a briefing later in the day the US would not join.
“We are not going to do Kyoto and we are not going to do something that is Kyoto by another name,” the special envoy for climate change said.
Singapore youth delegate Amira Karim told the COP15 she was concerned at the move.
“You have proposed a new framework that will overturn the balance of obligations and responsibilities enshrined in the UN framework convention on climate change.
“You have erected barriers to exclude your peers from influencing their own futures and in turn have subverted the very principle of inclusions and equality at the heart of the UN.
“This imposition without discussion is tantamount to carbon colonialism, a profoundly destructive development that we the youth are compelled to condemn.
“All countries should uphold and enhance the Kyoto Protocol.”
by Ben O’Halloran
COPENHAGEN is a city of carbon contradictions.
As the host of the UN climate change conference, the Danish capital has gone out of its way to be environmentally friendly to the tens of thousands of visitors who are attending the COP15. Even the bikes are free during the conference.
But below the surface is a city largely dependent on dirty coal and, to a lesser extent, imported nuclear power.
Hoping to become the world’s first carbon neutral city by 2025, Copenhagen homes and offices at this time of year are dressed in tinsel and blinking lights.
Lots of lights.
So how green is Copenhagen?
With a population of about 1.1 million people, the city has enjoyed strong economic growth, Denmark boasting a GDP of more than $300 billion.
Fossil fuels account for 85 per cent of the country’s energy use, but the Government recognises the need to increase the use of alternative energy sources and plans to further reduce its carbon footprint by 2025.
In 2007, Denmark used more coal per capita than China, something Climate Change Minister Connie Hedegaard hopes to change.
Hedegaard, who is the president of COP15, wants to cut carbon emissions by 40 per cent to 1990 levels.
But while the Danes take a tough stance on nuclear energy, the country imports eight per cent of its energy from nuclear power sources.
The Government’s energy strategy also includes a renewable energy target of 30 per cent by 2025. Presently, about 15 per cent of the country’s total energy use comes from renewable sources, which supply 27 per cent of its electricity.
Denmark became one of the first countries to establish offshore wind farms, with up to 5500 wind turbines spread across the country. They produce 20 per cent of power in Denmark, which plans to increase this to 50 per cent by 2025.
Copenhagen also has more than 350km of bike paths used by 37 per cent of the city’s population. By 2015, about half of the city is expected to use bikes.
The low carbon message also adorns the public transport system. Train passengers on the Metro line to the COP15 cannot avoid the wall-to-wall Oceana posters which warn of impending doom for the world’s reefs, fish and shellfish.
‘The price of oysters in 2050 will total 350ppm of carbon dioxide,’ one poster warns.
The transport sector now accounts for about 25 per cent of Denmark’s carbon dioxide emissions. This is expected to increase over the next few years, having increased by more than 50 per cent over the past 20 years.
Copenhagen mayor Ritt Bjerregaard told the COP15 this week the city had adopted a range of energy efficiency measures to cut energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
“Next week, mayors from more than 70 cities will come to Copenhagen to stand side by side to fight climate change,” she said.
“Today, cities are responsible for 75 per cent of global CO2 emissions. Cities also contain 50 per cent of the world’s populations and some of the world’s largest economies.
“We may be part of the problem but we are definitely part of the solution.”
Bjerregaard said Copenhagen had 50 specific initiatives to achieve a 20 per cent cut in emissions by 2015.
It’s a good start.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
by Ben O’Halloran
AUSTRALIAN Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has arrived in Copenhagen to take part in negotiations over a new global climate treaty.
Wong left Australia yesterday, leaving in her wake a defeated ETS, emissions trading scheme, and a Liberal party in turmoil.
With no ETS, many believe Australia has lost any chance of playing a leading role at COP15.
Left to defend the loss of the ETS in the Senate, Wong suggests Australia will still go to Copenhagen with an ambitious emissions cut of up to 25 per cent.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has committed the Government to an emissions target of between five and 15 per cent.
The Opposition removed former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull over his support for Rudd’s amended ETS.
The new leader Tony Abbott has challenged Mr Rudd to a debate on the integrity of the science on which the ETS is based.
Mr Rudd has refused.
The Australian delegation also includes Australia’s new climate change department secretary, Martin Parkinson, deputy secretary and special envoy on climate change Howard Bamsey and ambassador for climate change, Louise Hand.
Mr Rudd is expected to arrive in Copenhagen next week.
by Carmelo Amalfi
THE world is in their hands.
Young people from around the world including Australia have converged on Copenhagen to ensure world leaders listen to their concerns over climate change.
Australian Youth Climate Coalition delegate Ellen Sandell said climate change was a big concern among young people.
“We’re the generation that will be most affected,” she said at the AYCC booth at COP15.
“We are here to put pressure on our government to come up with a fair agreement.”
Ms Sandell said Australia should play more of a leadership role, particularly in setting up practical targets to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
Australia is the biggest capita producer of atmospheric pollution - about five times the per capita emissions of China.
“We need a 40 to 50 per cent cut by 2020,” she said. “The five to 15 per cent target which the Government has committed to is not enough.
“The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) said developed countries need to reduce emissions by 25 to 40 per cent if we are to have a 50:50 chance of avoiding a two degree increase in global temperatures.”
The AYCC is the biggest youth organisation in Australia consisting of about 30 national youth organisations representing students, indigenous Australians and professionals.
The growing coalition is a youth-run and youth-led organisation, with all staff, volunteers and steering committee members under 30 years of age.
Asked whether recent political events in Australia could jeopardise its efforts to highlight the need for a climate change deal, Ms Sandell said: “It’s a real shame what’s happened.
“I think the Liberal Party is completely out of touch, especially with young people.”
She said the federal election next year would test the parties’ commitment to fighting the biggest environmental problem facing the planet.
“It looks like climate change will be a major issue, we will make sure it’s the number one issue,” she said.
Young people have attended climate negotiations since the 1992 Rio Earth summit, their actions having resulted in widespread media coverage and mobilisation of thousands of people.
With financial support of the government of the Netherlands and input from YOUNGO, the UNFCCC secretariat has planned a series of events at COP15 to support youth engagement and contribution.
After the first official UNFCCC press conference on Monday, young people from around the world held up LEGO blocks stating “10 million people expect a fair, ambitious and binding” deal.
Fiji delegate Leah Wickham, 24, delivered the message to UNFCCC executive secretary Yvo de Boer and COP15 president Connie Hedegaard.
She broke down, calling on the heads of COP15 to save her generation with less talk and more action.
“I am here to fight for my identity, for my culture and for the right to exist,” she said. “I really hope the decision makers sign a deal that will mean that my children inherit a safe world,” she said. “All the hopes and dreams of my generation rest on Copenhagen.”
By Carmelo Amalfi
MURDOCH University youth delegate Braden Hill, 22, says the Copenhagen conference marks a personal and historic moment to change the world.
One of only two Indigenous Australians attending the climate change conference, Braden said simply being there was overwhelming and amazing.
Braden says the indigenous voice has been largely lost on the international stage.
“At Copenhagen, there is an opportunity for indigenous people to be heard,” he says. “I am interested in climate change and want to do what I can do to save the planet.”
Braden, a Wardandi man from Nyungar country in southwestern WA, has completed a double degree, including a Bachelor in Education (secondary) and Bachelor of Arts (Australian Indigenous Studies), with a minor in history and English.
“Young people will inherit what comes out of Copenhagen,” Braden says, adding the majority of the Indigenous population in Australia is under 25.
He says ultimately economics will determine whether or not people act.
“If it impacts on our standard of living, the cost of a meal or electricity bills, all of a sudden it will become a reality.
“And it is starting to happen now. There will be an economic sacrifice.”
Climate change is particularly important for Nyungar peoples, whose country will feel the impacts of a changing climate, he says.
Braden believes Indigenous Australians can play a leading role in tackling the adverse impacts of climate change such as rising temperatures and sea levels.
Climate change threatens Indigenous culture and the land that is so essential to cultural traditions and survival.
He says there is an urgent need for stronger partnerships between scientists, academics and indigenous custodians of knowledge dating back thousands of years.
For the past two years, Braden has worked as a casual tutor at the Kulbardi Aboriginal Centre at Murdoch, working with students embarking on undergraduate studies.
Through his involvement in several research projects at the Murdoch Centre for Social and Community Research, Braden has gained valuable insights into the environmental management in the South-West and the potential for using Indigenous knowledge to improve land and natural resource management practices within one of the most biodiverse regions of the world.
Braden also is investigating the Indigenous history of Wadjemup (Rottnest Island) and the opportunity to develop WA’s iconic location into a symbol of active reconciliation under an Australian Research Council grant.
He was one of 20 young Australians chosen by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition to attend the UN climate negotiations. The Australian delegation will meet other youth representatives from around the world. It plans to organise media stunts and release information to the media while in Copenhagen.
Braden will be blogging every few days at http://www.aycc.org.au.
by Ben O’Halloran
GREENPEACE ships have sailed into Copenhagen to turn up the heat on climate change delegates during the two-week conference.
The environmental activist group has two ships moored in the city's harbours, with another on the way.
Greenpeace spokesman Sini Harkki said the Arctic Sunrise, its premier ship, is moored near the airport.
Its message - Stop Climate Change Here - can be seen by visitors flying into the Danish capital.
Greenpeace have messages all over the city including advertisements inside the airport aimed at particular heads of states, including American president Barack Obama and French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Ms Harkki said the ads, such as the Greenpeace ad opposite, contained images of what world leaders such as Obama and Sarkozy would look like 10 years from now if no agreement is reached at COP15. The images include the caption, ‘Sorry, we could have stopped catastrophic climate change, but we didn’t’.
“The ads are very scary but they help take our message to delegates and heads of state,” she said.
Greenpeace has a big presence inside and outside the conference at Bella Center, with awareness campaigns, youth delegations and action rescue teams planned for the conference.
Ms Harkki said she is optimistic about the conference and believes negotiators will agree to a legally binding treaty.
She said there was a political momentum building: “There are over 100 heads of state coming, Obama is coming … so it would be a waste of this momentum not to have an agreement made here.
“I don’t think we will gain anything by postponing, it might just mean that things that are already agreed on will be re-opened for negotiation for the next rounds, and that’s something we should try to avoid,” she said.
Greenpeace wants an agreement forged in Copenhagen to contain significant and clear commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
“We need to stay as far below a two degree temperature rise and we know that to get that we need a 40 per cent reduction in emissions by industrialised nations by 2020,” she said.
“We also need to get cuts in the emissions growth from the developing countries.
“We’re hoping for some kind of action plan that does not compromise these counties development.”
Greenpeace would also like to see funds from the industrialised countries go to developing countries to help ease the burden and help developing countries adapt to any change an agreement would impose.
With such a presence at COP15, Greenpeace hopes to shake the foundations of political debate and work with delegates inside the Bella Center and in the streets with the people of Copenhagen.
“There is really no time for political talk anymore, we need to get clear commitment on paper in a legally binding manner,” Ms Harkki said.
by Matt Whitby
A LEADING American scientists has accused bad ‘sound bite journalism’ for causing public confusion and misrepresentation of scientific evidence about climate change.
Speaking during COP15 at an event hosted by climate communication group Global Observatory, Stephen Schneider says journalists trying to apply political reporting techniques to environmental stories were warping public opinion.
“In a political world, most of the reporting is based on a two party system where you speak to both sides of a political situation,” Dr Schneider says.
“But when you apply that model to science we get someone presenting all the worst cases, talking about the end of the world as if that was the only case and then you have scientists who tell you that carbon dioxide is just plant food.
“No wonder people are confused. Science is about accessing potential outcomes and assigning probabilities to them. This does not translate well into sound bite journalism, which is exactly what the business kind of journalism is in western democracy.”
Dr Schneider is a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and a professor of biology at Stamford University.
He argues 90 per cent of scientists agree climate change is real, but the media always tries to speak to the ‘other side’, which confuses people.
“When people are confused they generally give a lower opinion in the polls about the seriousness of a problem,” he says.
“The media have to stop giving people credibility for making claims which are not verified by scientific process.”
Global Observatory director Aimee Christensen said it was critically important for the public to understand the key issues of climate change.
“I have seen that people all around the world are playing catch-up with climate change,” she says. “People need to catch-up quickly if they are going to understand what is happening here in Copenhagen.
“Global Observatory was established to help take information which is hard to understand and make it easily accessible to the public.
“We do this by working with science communicators to convey these complicated issues in a manner which everyone can understand.”
The task ahead of Global Observatory is challenging as they have only 10 more days to change the way environmental journalism is done before the end of COP 15.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
“Klimaforum is not about giving charity to the developing world its about taking responsibility and the industrialized countries cleaning up our own mess.” - Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein.
by Ben O’Halloran
PEOPLE power will play a crucial role in global efforts to save the planet from the impacts of climate change, according to speakers at the alternative Klimaforum09.
The alternative peoples’ forum opened at the DGI-byen sports complex in central Copenhagen last night.
The forum gives international environmental groups and people from all walks of life an opportunity to take a part in the biggest environmental challenge facing developed and developing countries.
“Where politicians fail the people must take over,” Klimaforum09 organisers said. “We can no longer wait for politicians to finish their never-ending negotiations where false solutions, based on economic growth for the rich, continue to be the pivotal point.”
Klimaforum09, which coincides with COP15, provides a venue for people to meet to discuss and develop a constructive response to the climate crisis.
Kilaforum09 will draft a global climate declaration during the COP15 conference. This treaty is not a legally binding document but aims to show COP15 delegates what can be achieved when people mobilise over such an important issue.
“One year ago, a group of Danish organisations decided that when the politicians at COP15 were going to negotiate a politically binding declaration, we decided to find the real solutions,” negotiations coordinator Mathilde Kaalund-Jørgensen said.
“Half a year ago the declaration process started with around 70 organisations from all over the world coming up with the first draft that was finalised one month ago.
“The second draft has also now been released.”
She said the final negotiation of this alternative declaration would take place at Klimaforum09 in the next few days and will show COP15 delegates an alternative way forward.
The opening of the forum included addresses by leading author and environmentalist Naomi Klein and Friends of the Earth International chair Nnimmo Bassey.
One of the highlights included an unusual performance by Danish percussionist Lisbeth Diers, who played instruments made from Arctic ice fashioned by Swedish ice sculptress Tjåsa Gussfors.
Klimaforum09 will host nearly 200 talks and 50 exhibitions over the two weeks.
by Katie Day
NO it’s not from Mars. Nor is it an optical illusion.
Floating in St Jørgens Lake in Copenhagen, the ‘CO2 Cube’ is a stunning sculpture of light and sound, mirrored in the cold calm waters reflecting pictures of the Earth.
Constructed of 12 shipping containers stacked in an interlocking pattern on a custom-made barge, the cube is turning heads among joggers and visitors to the Danish capital.
Multimedia messages from around the world and solutions for reducing the planet’s carbon footprint will be displayed on the cube during the 15th UN meeting on climate change, COP15.
Millennium ART executive director Mia Hanak says the cube visualises the invisible – the size of one cubic metre of carbon dioxide gas emitted each month by an average person in an industrialised country.
“We wanted to engage the public on the effects of climate change and show what one cubic metre of CO2 look like,” Mia says.
“It is the size of a three-story building measuring 8.2m x 8.2m x 8.2m.
“What we hope to achieve in these two weeks is to impact as many people on the ground, capture what we have here and get it out to the rest of the world.”
Partner of the arts for the United Nations Department of Public Information, Millennium ART has also teamed up with artists, architects, scientists and technologists from around the world to create the CO2 Cube.
The interactive multimedia elements to the cube are powered through a partnership with Google and YouTube.
Google senior industry analyst Jonas Vang says the cube will connect visitors to climate change discussions.
“Through YouTube we are asking local citizens to upload video questions,” Jonas says.
“The questions will be featured on the cube and posed to a panel of climate experts on December 15. We are opening up Copenhagen to the rest of the world.”
'Social justice demands that the industrialised world digs deep into its pocket and pledges cash to help poorer countries adapt to climate change...'
The transformation will be costly, but many times less than the bill for bailing out global finance - and far less costly than the consequences of doing nothing...'
Many of us, particularly in the developed world, will have to change our lifestyles. The era of flights that cost less than the taxi ride to the airport is drawing to a close. We will have to shop, eat and travel more intelligently. We will have to pay more for our energy and use less of it'
But the shift to a low-carbon society holds out the prospect of more opportunity than sacrifice.'
Comment & Analysis
by Johan Lidberg
These four quotes from the 56-newspaper editorial lead published by The Guardian in the UK communicates clearly what our political leaders have not wanted to or have not been brave enough to spell out in the last 10 years.
Some of us have pointed it out time and again, but the scale and reach of this coordinated editorial is unprecedented. The Guardian and the other 55 newspapers should be commended for their courage and clarity.
Apart from long-term prosperity, the climate challenge also offers an opportunity for humankind to pull together in a common project of great importance to every single individual. It's hard to think of any other challenge in the history of humankind that is as daunting, but at the same time, offers such possibilities - because it's, 'all about the biosphere stupid'.
Too often in the debate do you hear references to 'saving the planet' or 'rescuing earth'. This is yet another version of hubris.
Earth will pull through whatever humankind throws at it. Even if we detonate nuclear devices simultaneously and create a nuclear winter or warm the globe by 10 degrees Celcius, Earth would pull through.
On a geological time scale, it would be a mere blip.
It's about HUMANKIND's terms of existence.
Do we choose a sustainable and connected way of life or do we continue towards social upheaval and unrest which will be the concrete results if we don't take action on climate change?
There are thousands of journalists covering COP15. But imagine if you were an 'extraterrestrial correspondent'. How incredibly weird this gathering would seem?
Here you have an entire species discussing how to deal with the fact that the branch it's sitting on is being sawed off.
Come to think of it, you don't have to be from another planet to find that weird ...
It's disappointing that none of the major US newspapers dared to lead on this. From an Australian perspective you feel ashamed that NO newspaper signed up. Then again, when you think back to the countries that did not sign the Kyoto agreement from the start it's not surprising.
Yet, the 56 paper editorial offers great hope and it sends a clear message summarised in the conclusion:
'If we, with such different national and political perspectives, can agree on what must be done then surely our leaders can too.'
Be inspired Copenhagen delegates - be very inspired!
by Carmelo Amalfi
GLOBAL warming recognises no borders. It does not discriminate. And, according to the Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen, it already affects us all.
“The grim projections from science grow more alarming each day and already many face the dire consequences of global warming,” he said in his opening speech at the 15th United Nations conference of …
Mr Rasmussen called on rich and poor nations to share the burden of curbing greenhouse gas emissions by agreeing to a climate deal that is constructive, flexible and reasonable.
“I’m painfully aware we have different perspectives on the framing and precise content of such an agreement,” he said.
“And I’m sure no-one in this hall underestimates the difficulty we are facing in finding a common approach in coming weeks.
“But differences can be overcome if the political will is present.”
Mr Rasmussen said 110 heads of State and governments were due to arrive in the Danish capital next week at the conclusion of the conference.
“It represents a huge opportunity the world cannot afford to miss, they’re not just coming to talk, but to act,” he said. “The deal we invite leaders to sign off on is one that affects all aspects of society.”
Denmark Climate and Energy Minister and COP15 president Connie Hedegaard said that the science had never been clearer and the solutions never more abundant.
“This is the place to commit,” she said.
“This is our chance, if we miss this one it could take years before we get a better one. The time has come to set the right course for our world, while we still can.”
UN chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Rajendra Pachauri said nations such as Bangladesh with land surfaces just a metre or two above sea level will face serious threats to life and property with each storm surge and ocean upwelling.
“The global community has a moral and material responsibility to do all it can to limit the growing impacts of climate change on societies around the world,” he told delegates at the opening session of COP15.
Dr Pachauri said that the world faced the disappearance of sea ice by the latter part of the century, increases in heatwaves and tropical cyclones, decreases in water resources and loss of species. The loss of the Greenland ice sheet due to rising global temperatures could lead to a seven metre rise in sea levels.
“This would compare with levels estimated at 425,000 years ago when the palaeoclimate information suggests a four to six metre sea level rise,” he said.
He said that tens of millions of people are expected to be exposed to water stress unless developed and developing nations embraced change.
Norway has committed to cut its emissions by 40 per cent in 2020 and South Korea by 30 per cent. Australia, the biggest coal exporter and per capita polluter, has committed to cutting emissions by 5 to 15 percent from 2000 levels in the next decade.
Monday, December 7, 2009
by Carmelo Amalfi
THE failure of the Rudd Government to introduce a new emissions trading scheme is a serious setback for global efforts to fight climate change, according to delegates at COP15.
Antigua’s UN ambassador John Ashe said Australia had put forward many useful ideas about how to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
“I don’t want to say nasty things about Australia,” he said. “But the ETS defeat is quite a setback for Australia.”
The ambassador, who chairs a working group on commitments to cut future emissions by industrialised parties under the Kyoto Protocol, was speaking after a pre-conference media briefing yesterday by Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
When asked in the briefing whether the defeat of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s proposed ETS undermined efforts to find a solution, de Boer avoided the question.
Asked again outside the briefing, de Boer replied, “no comment”.
Denmark Climate and Energy Minister Connie Hedegaard also expressed concern but was reluctant to comment on the implications of Rudd's ETS defeat.
"Domestically, there have been huge problems in Australia," she said. "But I also know from my deliberations with Penny Wong and the Prime Minister that the Australian leadership is very keen to come here and actually deliver.
"I don't want to comment on your Opposition."
Mr Rudd was returning from a meeting last week with President Barack Obama when he heard the news of the ETS defeat in the Senate, where the Government does not hold a majority.
Experts say the failure of Australia to introduce legislation will make developing nations less likely to agree to cut emissions and undermined Australia’s credibility at COP15.
Mr Rudd wants to cut carbon emission by five per cent to up to 25 per cent by 2020.
During the briefing, de Boer described the Copenhagen conference as a turning point on the road to a safe climate future.
De Boer said with cuts of up to 40 per cent by 2020 and 85 per cent by mid-century, the private sector would be mad to invest heavily in the energy sector.
“If we can use limited public funds to help the private sector go that extra ‘green mile’, we will have an excellent blending of financial resources over the long term,” he said.
De Boer said by the end of the Copenhagen conference he wanted to see a list of rich country targets which were ambitious; clarity on what developments countries are undertaking to limit emissions; and a list of financial pledges.
“This will make it possible for the much broader developing communities to both change the direction of their economic growth and adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change,” he said. “That’s what I am asking Father Christmas for.”
He said the money pledged at COP15 must be, “real, significant and immediate”, starting with $10 billion in 2010, 2011 and 2012. By 2020 and 2030, this would have to increase to hundreds of billions of dollars to deal with mitigation and adaptation.
“I think the majority of countries present at these negotiations have made it very clear they want to see a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol,” he said.
He added the process of getting there had to be based on solid science.
“And if the quality and integrity of the science is being called into question, then that needs to be examined,” he said.
by Ben O’Halloran
A BOMB scare left hundreds of journalists out in the Danish cold today, one day before the start of the Copenhagen climate change conference.
The scare turned out to be a false alarm after bomb squad police found a suspect bag inside the Bella Center, where up to 15,000 people including delegates and world leaders are expected to attend this week.
The conference has attracted 6000 police from around Denmark, this number due to rise as activists converge on Copenhagen.
With delegates from nearly 200 countries expected to attend the UN conference, today’s bomb scare was a test run for police and security.
Today's scare follows a bomb threat at the French parliament last Wednesday when it was discussing the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen.
The parliament was evacuated as bomb experts and sniffer dogs combed the building for explosives. None were found.
The waiting journalists outside the Bella Center were just some of the 3500 registered for the conference, with more than 5000 journalists having applied to attend.
The UNFCCC has had to restrict media numbers due to space constraints at the Bella Center, which can hold up to 15,000 people. The UNFCCC has been inundated with more than 34,000 requests to attend.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
by Katie Day
COP15 is set to be the world’s biggest meeting to discuss climate change. It’s a time to agree to a way forward to limit the damage we have caused.
It was hoped a legally binding agreement would be signed to limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but this seems unlikely now.
Negotiations between world leaders has been slow, each country waiting for the other to set goals before they set their own.
Some countries have set targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The European Union has agreed to cut CO2 emissions by 20 per cent below 1990 levels.
The aim of COP15 is to help world leaders reach agreement under a new Kyoto Protocol to fight climate change.
But the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading body on assessing the effects of climate change, suggests this simply is not enough.
The latest IPPC report states with about 90 per cent certainty that climate change is the result of actions by human beings.
The report states that current actions being negotiated at COP15 will not be enough to stop the warming of our planet by two degrees Celcius.
The IPCC predicts we will not be able to reduce the impacts of climate change even if leaders were to agree on a climate change deal that reduced CO2 emissions by 20 per cent below 1990 levels. In fact, we will not even come close - scientists stating that governments should aim to cut emissions in half from 1990 levels by 2050.
The statistics show our planet will become warmer by four degrees even with a cut in emissions by 20 per cent.
We are running out of time, with the effects of climate change already being felt around the globe.
World leaders need to see the bigger picture, not what it will cost them - but the planet.
The question is, what are they waiting for?
by Ben O’Halloran
CLIMATE change is no longer an issue for scientists.
Since the signing of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, climate change has become the issue of our times.
The ‘green movement’ has gained momentum and there is widespread concern for the health of our planet.
People from all walks of life are getting involved in the debate, the COP15 conference in Copenhagen representing a chance for the world’s leaders to tackle some of the key issues, such as sea level rise and rising global temperatures.
A lot is at stake, with more and more people aware of the consequences of not protecting the environment. People are recycling, becoming more energy efficient in their homes and at work and more is now being done to achieve a carbon neutral world.
People are also voting with their feet as tens of thousands yesterday rallied in the streets of London, Paris, Stockholm and Dublin to ensure delegates in Copenhagen moved towards finding an international solution to reducing industrial emissions before the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
Barbara Stocking, chief executive of Oxfam, which helped organise the protests, said the COP15 negotiators must return home with a fair and comprehensive climate deal.
Stop Climate Chaos director Ashok Sinha said negotiators had to make the summit count by “committing rich countries to reduce their emissions by at least 40 per cent in the next 10 years, finally putting the right sort of money on the table to help poor countries, and urgently starting the process of decarbonising our energy supply”.
Protesters in Copenhagen plan to voice their concerns later this week.
In the meantime, the climate debate runs hot, both at home and abroad, our own political parties locked in a fierce battle over the Australian Government’s defeated emissions trading scheme.
We have also seen scepticism raised by ‘climate deniers’ who question the legitimacy of decades of climate science.
Australia is in a unique and powerful position at the COP15 conference. With strong political ties globally and a number of world leaders voicing support for an Australian ETS before Copenhagen, eyes are on the world’s biggest per capita producer of polluting greenhouse gases.
The conference in Copenhagen will be the single biggest opportunity for Australia to show leadership on the world stage.
The conference is a chance for world leaders to discuss the fate of the planet, to take positive steps towards implementing polices to ensure coming generations live in a world that is viable and sustainable.
Our leaders and policy makers have a big responsibility at COP15, the decisions they make in Copenhagen will affect billions of people around the world.
It is important they get it right.
Climate change and global warming is an issue that must be solved by the global community and COP15 is the best chance for world leaders to come to some agreement, or at the very least clarify what needs to be done after they have gonehome.
Some commentators are already calling COP15 a failure due to the unlikelihood of a new treaty being signed. But binding agreements are not all we should hope for from the Copenhagen talks.
I believe pre-empting the conference as a failure is pessimistic and mischievous. I am excited to see what develops from Copenhagen.
I believe the environment will be THE issue of the coming decades. It’s overwhelming to see a large number of young people getting behind environmental issues, both in idea and action, as it will be up to today’s young people to carry the legacy of Kyoto and the ideas of COP15 in to the future.
I am in Copenhagen for the COP15 conference to see first hand what emerges from the talks. I will keep a close eye on Australia's involvement at COP15 - what issues are given importance, what commitments are made and how it is perceived by the media and the Australian public.
In 2010, I will take the outcomes of COP15 to Greece where I will be studying environmental journalism at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki as part of the Global Environmental Journalism Initiative in which Murdoch University is a member.
As a student of journalism and a product of Gen Y, I feel the need to be trained and educated in the scientific and environmental issues.
My contribution will serve an important function in society by covering the environment in a responsible and informative way, allowing people to form their own opinions on this controversial issue.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
By Johan Lidberg
Tony Abbot – the new leader of the federal Opposition in Australia. Who would have thought that only a week ago? Climate change provokes a shift in climate - and politics.
When the Senate today voted against the Rudd Government’s emissions trading scheme, or ETS, it sent a clear message to the world and the Copenhagen summit: the per capita greatest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world will not take the lead on reducing its emissions.
The ETS is by no means a perfect model for concrete action. After endless rounds of watering down and negotiations between the heavy polluters, such as coal-fired power plants, the Federal Government and the Opposition, it looks far too much like the earlier failed European version of ETS. Its main flaw is the pollution permits given away to the industry that should adapt to a new green economic system, rather than being allowed to continue as if nothing has happened.
Instead of firm action to counter climate change, the ETS has become a symbolic issue in Australia – a start of the transition from an unsustainable to a sustainable economy. Now, it seems, Australia cannot even deliver symbolic action.
The Liberal Party has promised its own version of the ETS in January 2010. Judging by the last few weeks of in-party convulsions on climate change, this may be an overly optimistic time line. At least, if Liberal Senator Nick Minchin’s estimate is correct that about half of the Liberal federal MPs are climate change sceptics.
Events such as the killing of the ETS Bill in Australia clearly illustrates the pivotal importance of the Copenhagen conference delivering some sort of agreement and commitment to firm action to counter global warming. The responsibility weighs heavily on the delegates going into the conference.
However, this is their job. They have been elected to do it and there is little sympathy for the fact that they left it so late to focus properly on their task. If the world could swing quickly into action to counter the global financial crisis it can do the same on climate change. After all – a damaged biosphere is really bad for business – isn’t it?