The International Institute for Sustainable Development (iisd)  presents 



19 August – 13 September 2002

Compiled by Richard Sherman

Edited by
Kimo Goree 

Published by the
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

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Editor's note: Welcome to the third issue of Climate-L News, compiled by Richard Sherman. If you should come across a news article or have a submission for the next issue, please send it directly to Richard. CLIMATE-L News is an exclusive publication of IISD for the CLIMATE-L list and should not be reposted or republished to other lists/websites without the permission of IISD (you can write Kimo for permission.) If you have been forwarded this issue and would like to subscribe to CLIMATE-L, please visit  

Funding for the production of CLIMATE-L  (part of the IISD Reporting Services annual program) has been provided by The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Canada (through CIDA), the United States (through USAID), the Swiss Agency for Environment, Forests and Landscape (SAEFL), the United Kingdom (through the Department for International Development - DFID), the European Commission (DG-ENV), the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Government of Germany (through German Federal Ministry of Environment - BMU, and the German Federal Ministry of Development Cooperation - BMZ). General Support for the Bulletin during 2002 is provided by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Environment of Finland, the Government of Australia, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Environment of Norway, Swan International, and the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies – IGES). If you like CLIMATE-L News, please thank them for their support. 


1)       CASHING IN ON KYOTO NO EASY TASK (The Moscow Times September 13, 2002)




5)       DUTCH MIGHT BREACH KYOTO PROTOCOL (Expatica News September 13, 2002)


7)       URBAN SPRAWL CHANGES WEATHER (BBC September 12, 2002)

8)       OIL CHIEFS RAP OTTAWA OVER KYOTO (Financial Post September 12, 2002)

9)       SCIENTIST: INJECT CO2 EMISSIONS INTO EARTH'S CRUST (Reuters September 10, 2002)


11)    KYOTO WON'T KILL CANADA'S OIL SANDS BOOM - ANALYSTS (Planet Ark September 6, 2002)

12)    PM WRONG ON KYOTO: BHP ( September 6, 2002)

13)    KYOTO, MEET THE TIGER (Globe and Mail September 6, 2002)





18)    PALAU FAULTS EARTH SUMMIT ON GLOBAL WARMING (Planet Ark September 5, 2002)





23)    KYOTO MAY COME INTO FORCE IN MONTHS (Independent September 4, 2002)







30)    RUSSIA GIVES KYOTO KISS OF LIFE (BBC September 3, 2002)

31)    CARBON DIOXIDE? NORWAY CAN'T GET ENOUGH (Planet Ark September 2, 2002)

32)    BUSH OUT IN THE COLD AS G8 WARMS TO KYOTO (The Star September 02 2002)

33)    BANK PLAN TO BURN LESS OIL RIG GAS MAY HELP POOR (Planet Ark September 2, 2002)






39)    RUSSIA BALKS AT KYOTO PACT (CNN August 30, 2002)

40)    KYOTO TO BE RATIFIED IN FALL: MP (National Post August 30, 2002)


42)    AUSTRALIA EYES ASIA AS MARKET FOR COAL – REPORT (Inter Press Service August 30, 2002)

43)    U.N.: FREAK WEATHER, WARMING LINKED (AFP August 30, 2002)


45)    EU SUPPORTS KYOTO PROTOCOL (Japan Today August 29, 2002)


47)    GREENPEACE, BIZ URGE CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION (United Press International August 29, 2002





52)    EUROPEAN SPACE WATCH ON CLIMATE (The Guardian August 28, 2002)

53)    CHRÉTIEN COULD DELIVER KYOTO TO WORLD (Globe and Mail August 28, 2002)

54)    NGOS URGE ENFORCEMENT OF KYOTO PACT (Japan Today August 28, 2002)


56)    CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION URGED (BBC August 28, 2002)


58)    CLIMATIC WINDFALL FOR CORPORATES (Economic Times August 27, 2002)


60)    SOUTH AFRICA SETS TARGET FOR GREEN ENERGY BY 2012 (Planet Ark August 26, 2002)






66)    KYOTO PROTOCOL GETS A RIDE IN FUEL-ALCOHOL CAR (Inter Press Service August 23, 2002)




70)    CHINA CLOSE TO RATIFYING KYOTO PROTOCOL (Agence France-Presse August 22, 2002)



73)    PWC LAUNCHES CLIMATE CHANGE SERVICE IN INDIA (Financial Express August 20, 2002)

74)    JOHANNESBURG SUMMIT: Senior UN Official Pleads for Effective Climate Policies (Inter Press Service August 19, 2002)

75)    SMALL ISLAND STATES AND CLIMATE CHANGE (Samoa Observer August 17, 2002)


76)    HOW AUSTRALIA PLAYS THE KYOTO GAME by Jeffrey Simpson (Globe and Mail September 13, 2002)

77)    WHY NOT HELP MAKE OUR WORLD CLEANER? by Wasant Techawongtham (Bangkok Post September 13, 2002)

78)    CHAMPIONS OF ENERGY (Mail & Guardian September 13, 2002)

79)    WHO SAYS GOOD SENSE IS TOO EXPENSIVE? by Emma Duncan (International Herald Tribune September 2, 2002)

80)    JUST A CLIMATE COWBOY by Duane D. Freese (TCS August 29, 2002)

81)    VIEWPOINT: END GLOBAL POVERTY BEFORE GLOBAL WARMING by Bjorn Lomborg (National Geographic News August 29, 2002)

82)    ANALYSIS: NATURE'S WARNINGS TO THE JOHANNESBURG SUMMITEERS by Jeffrey D. Sachs (Daily Times August 28, 2002)

83)    NOW IS THE TIME FOR RICH TO MATCH POOR'S GENEROSITY by Andrew Simms (The Guardian August 27, 2002)

84)    ENTERING THE POST-PETROLEUM CENTURY by Christopher Flavin (International Herald Tribune August 27, 2002)

85)    AN INDIAN PERSPECTIVE ON GLOBAL WARMING by Purnima M Gupta (Financial Express August 26, 2002)






90)    CLIMATE CHANGE A BALLOONING PROBLEM FOR DEVELOPING WORLD (Greenpeace International August 21, 2002)





The Moscow Times
September 13, 2002

Following Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov's recent announcement that Russia will soon ratify the Kyoto Protocol, debate is raging over how participating in the pact can turn a profit.  Before any money can be made from its unused emissions quotas, however, Russia will first need to invest into its energy sector -- but the mechanisms for such investment programs are yet to be created. Speaking after a seminar Thursday on the potential benefits of Kyoto for Russia, Oleg Pluzhnikov, deputy head of the Energy Ministry's ecological department, said that while the world has already began to invest in emission-cutting technologies, Russia lacks the means to run such projects. "Even if there are investors who want to invest in modernizing a power plant, they simply have nowhere to turn to," Pluzhnikov said.

Signed by 84 countries in 1997, the Kyoto Protocol is aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions in a bid to prevent global warming. The document set the maximum emission levels for participating countries at 1990 levels.  For Russia, whose industrial output and energy consumption have shrunk by about 25 percent since 1990, the treaty offers a chance to capitalize on the gap between its emissions and the higher levels it would be granted under the pact.  Consequently, one of the most popular topics related to the Kyoto Protocol is how Russia can make money out of it.

Options range from selling unused quotas to other nations struggling to meet their own emissions targets, to reducing Russia's foreign debt on the condition that the money saved is spent on nature conservation programs. The lucrative yet still vague option of cashing in on fresh air also faces a list of problems related to the lack of any legal basis for activities related to the Kyoto Protocol. State Duma Deputy Alexander Kosarikov said the potentially thorny issue of ownership of emission quotas must be addressed. "Should someone spend money on cutting emissions, it would be reasonable to assume that the difference than should be the property of the investor," Kosarikov said. "But there is no mechanism whatsoever for that." Kosarikov, however, noted that the protocol will likely sail through the Duma. "But surely there will a demand for the document to be beneficial for the country," he said.


China Daily
September 13, 2002

Global climate change will have a heavy impact on China's agricultural production, according to the latest research findings.  "If we do not take urgent measures, crop yields in China may decrease by 5 to 10 per cent in the coming 30 years," Lin Erda, head of a climate and agriculture research team, told China Daily on Thursday.  About 10 per cent of China's farmland is going to vanish because of global warming, said Lin, quoting from research findings of a group of scientists from China and the United Kingdom who are studying the impact of climate change on China's agriculture. In addition to decreases and fluctuations in crop yields, there will be changes in the disposition of China's agricultural lands and possible increases in investment in the sector, Lin said.

Lin, president of the Agro-meteorology Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, is acting head of the UK-China climate project, which was launched in 2001.  Lin made his comments prior to the wrap-up of a two-day UK-China workshop on the impact of climate change on agriculture on Thursday in Beijing.  Li Xueyong, vice-minister of science and technology, said on Thursday at the workshop that the Chinese Government has effectively curbed emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide by controlling population growth, improving energy efficiency and expanding afforestation work.

"Today's workshop is evidence that we are working hard to settle the world problem through international co-operation," said Li, whose ministry has poured a lot of energy into climate change research.  Scientists from the ministry are conducting basic research on climate change theory, technology and methods to slow down climate change and national strategies, policies and actions.  Official statistics indicate that between 1998 and 2002, China earmarked a total of 580 billion yuan (US$70 billion) for environmental protection, accounting for 1.29 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) for the period.

The co-operation between China and the UK in climate change work has been applauded by the visiting UK Vice-Minister of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Dennis Macshane.  "The workshop is an important step for us following the World Summit on Sustainable Development (which was recently held in South Africa's Johannesburg)," he said at the workshop. China and UK have both approved the Kyoto Protocol, showing their willingness to join hands with other countries to combat environmental degradation, he added.


September 13, 2002

A 15-year study of ancient Antarctic ice has challenged prevailing theories about the process of climate change, a scientist involved in the research said Friday.  The Australian-French project involved scientists drilling through 90,000 years of compacted Antarctic snow over a six-year period and then analyzing the ice core they recovered for a further nine years.  Their findings, to be published this week in the journal Science, appear to contradict prevailing theories that past climate change in Antarctica was triggered by change in the Northern Hemisphere.

Tas van Ommen, one of the study's authors, said information gleaned from Antarctic ice dating back about 14,500 years had shown a different sequence of global climate change at the time than previously thought. At that time, Greenland abruptly starting warming while Antarctica's temperature also changed, although more gradually.  Earlier study of that period using less precise dating techniques had put the Antarctic change after Greenland's, leading to widely held theories that the southern climate shift was a response to that happening in the north. "Using our better dating, we found that the Antarctic change occurred before the abrupt Greenland jump by as much as 500 years and so could not be a response at all," Van Ommen told the Australian Associated Press.

The new study indicates Antarctica could be the real driver of climate change or that changes in the two hemispheres are not connected at all, said Van Ommen, a senior research scientist at the Australian Antarctic Division and the Antarctic Cooperative Research Center.  Researchers said the findings underscored our lack of understanding of the exact mechanisms behind climate change and would force a rethink of computer models used to predict future environmental shifts.  "The fact that abrupt changes can occur in the climate system raises questions about climate stability, especially when forced by humans via the greenhouse effect," Van Ommen said, referring to theories that global warming is caused by man-made "greenhouse gases".  "For computer predictions of future climate to be reliable, they must be able to also reproduce changes in past climate like those probed in this study," he said.  

The key to the new study was the recovery of the ice core, done over a six-year period from 1987 at Placer Dome near Casey station in Australian Antarctic Territory.  The core, 10 centimeters (four inches) in diameter, was recovered in two-meter (6.6-foot) lengths until bedrock was reached at a depth of 1.2 kilometers (.7 miles) and taken to Hobart, Tasmania, for study by Australian and French scientists.  Analyses of tens of thousands of samples provided a window on the environment going back 19,000 years and, for the first time, allowed tight time scale synchronisation with core samples from Greenland. "What it does show is that unravelling the climate is like peeling layers off an onion skin and the more we learn, the more we know we don't know," Van Ommen said Earlier this week the release of a separate US study exposed another flaw in climate change models by showing that it was much colder in the upper atmosphere over the South Pole than previously believed. Those findings will impact on computer models used to predict the impact of global warming caused by greenhouse gases, scientists said.


September 13, 2002

NEW DELHI, India (Reuters) - Five years ago, the Indian capital was rated as one of the most polluted cities in the world, continually shrouded in an eye-stinging smog of foul gas and noxious fumes.  No longer. Pollution levels in the wheezing metropolis of 13 million people have come down significantly since the government cracked down on exhaust-belching vehicles and closed down smoke-spewing factories in the late 1990s.  "There has been a 25 percent reduction in pollution levels since 1995. Sulfur dioxide in the air is within prescribed limits and suspended particulate matter has also come down," said Dilip Biswas, chairman of the Central Pollution Control Board.  "Now you can see the stars at night," he told Reuters.  Delhi's air still may not be as clean as some Western capitals or Asian cities such as Singapore, but it is among the most successful in Asia at fighting pollution.  The cleanup, prodded by orders from the country's highest court, kicked off in 1996 when the government ordered thousands of chemicals and textile factories to close.  But the campaign gained pace when the government phased out commercial vehicles older than 15 years in 1998 and then ordered all public transport -- including taxis, buses and three-wheelers -- to switch to compressed natural gas.  


Delhi, which lacks a local rail network, relies on a fleet of about 12,000 buses, 65,000 taxis and three-wheelers for transport.  Today, about 6,000 buses have changed from diesel to natural gas and thousands of three-wheelers have also adopted the cleaner fuel.  "Today, if you are at a red light, your eyes don't water and you don't just see a haze around you," Anumita Roychowdhury, coordinator of air pollution control at the Center for Science and Environment, told Reuters.  Environmentalists say they're hoping to return the city, dotted with about 20,000 ancient monuments, back to the days when you could still breathe easily. Delhi -- said to be built on the remains of seven old cities, the first of which dates back to around 900 BC -- had just a few thousand cars and buses about 30 years ago and the word "pollution" was not in the local vocabulary.  But as the number of vehicles rose to 3.3 million at the end of 1999 from 1.8 million in 1981, New Delhi was smothered in black clouds of smoke spewing from old cars and lumbering trucks hauling huge loads which choked up main roads during rush hour.  Government statistics show there are currently 3.6 million vehicles in the Indian capital.


The majestic city of sprawling gardens and grand bungalows built as the capital of British India by the country's then colonial rulers turned into an urban nightmare.  Almost every other person suffered one respiratory disease or another and in winter both air and rail traffic were disrupted by thick smog hanging over the capital.  While the growing number of vehicles pumped smoke and fumes into the air, factories spread across the city, adding to the filth in the air. "Vehicles, especially those with diesel, account for 70 percent of the city's pollution while power plants are responsible for 15 percent and industry about 10 percent," said Roychowdhury.  

India concedes a need for urgent action to cut back on emissions of industrial gases blamed for global warming and creating more extreme weather patterns, but Environment Minister T.R. Baalu said at the Johannesburg Earth Summit he was skeptical of the "Asian brown haze" identified in a U.N report. The United Nations Environment Program report said a 2-mile thick cloud of ash, acids and other particles over south Asia threatened the lives of millions and could have an impact much further afield. It could bring drought and flooding as rainfall patterns altered, it said.


Expatica News
September 13, 2002

AMSTERDAM - The environment policies of the Balkenende government make it "uncertain" if the Netherlands will fulfil its requirements according to the Kyoto Protocol, it has been claimed.  The government's policies could in fact lead over the next eight years to the production of an extra three-megaton of CO2, one of the Greenhouse-causing gases. The NRC Handelsblad said the predictions were included in the new yearly environmental overview report from the Government Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). The higher production of CO2 is blamed on the abolition of the previously proposed kilometre levy - which was designed to reduce the amount of traffic - and the lowering of the excise duties on car fuels.

The report also identified the lowering of subsidies for environmentally friendly products and investment as playing a key role in the higher amount of C02 being released in the atmosphere.  On the positive side, the continued operations of the nuclear reactor at Borssele, located near Goes in Zeeland, is expected to help limit the amount of CO2 production.  According to the Kyoto Protocol, the Netherlands is obligated between 2008-12 to produce 6 percent less CO2 and other greenhouse gases compared against 1990 levels.  Without environmentally saving agreements, the Netherlands will produce over eight years 239 megaton of CO2 or other greenhouse gases such as methane and fluorine.

But that must be brought back by 40 to 199 megaton, the half of which can be obtained internationally - often by purchasing credits from more environmentally friendly countries. The other 20 megatons will need to be obtained domestically.  The RIVM report said the size of the domestic breaches of the protocol depend largely on the precise manner of the government's economising.  It also depends on voluntary business agreements in respect to the environment, RIVM said.  A domestic breach of the protocol might be as high as six megatons if the "uncertainty" effect of the government's environment policies was calculated in.  Moreover, RIVM said an "uncertain image" amounting to a 14-megaton rise in CO2 production is also being considered.  The Dutch rate of CO2 production has risen on average by 1 percent every year since the 1980s, but the production of other greenhouse gases has declined, in which the total amount of released Greenhouse gases in the Netherlands has remained stable.


UN Wire
September 12, 2002

A U.N. Environment Program official yesterday criticized Thailand's decision not to sell carbon credits to developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, saying the move could prevent the country from achieving cuts in its greenhouse gas emissions. "Thailand could benefit from some projects, particularly those dealing with renewable energy.  So it is unwise to refuse the mechanism," said UNEP regional coordinator Thanavat Junchaya.  He added that Thailand's rejection of the system, under which foreign countries would invest in Thai carbon dioxide-cutting programs in exchange for credits to put out more emissions of their own, shows Thailand's "disrespect for the spirit of the pact."

Thai Science, Technology and Environment Minister Sonthaya Khunpleum said that Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has called on the ministry to handle the issue carefully, as it could affect the country's natural resource management policy. "The government does not mean to shut the door on the mechanism," Sonthaya said. "However, we believe that Thailand has the potential to implement the projects ourselves and has no need to rely on rich countries." The administration will nevertheless set up a committee to handle the issue, the Bangkok Post reports. Chulalongkorn University law lecturer Chareon Khampeeraphab voiced support for refusing to participate in carbon-credit programs, citing possible economic exploitation of Thailand's biodiversity.  "It is dangerous to allow foreign countries to conduct reforestation projects in our country because of risks of biopiracy," he said (Kultida Samabuddhi, Bangkok Post, Sept. 12).


September 12, 2002

Climate experts are urging the UK Government to consider the impact of urban sprawl on the weather.  Cities are potentially as big an influence on local rainfall and temperatures as more general, large-scale changes in the climate, they say.  Skyscrapers and closely packed houses are of particular concern, a panel of UK climatologists told the British Association's science festival in Leicester.  Both designs of building could increase local rainfall by creating low-level turbulence in the air, said Professor Chris Collier of the University of Salford in Greater Manchester.  Another issue is so-called "heat islands" created by hot air from factories, cars, and people crammed into cities.  The centre of Manchester, for example, is warmer than surrounding rural areas by about 8 degrees Celsius.  This could change the way the air circulates, leading to an increase in rainfall in certain areas of the city, said Professor Collier.

New approach

Such factors must be taken into account by ministers when they plan increases in housing density, say in the South East of England, he said.  "The way in which the buildings are designed and built will have an impact on local weather," he told BBC News Online. "People need to understand that when you change the building fabric and building density, there will be an impact on local weather.  "We need to investigate it more," he added. "Because those changes could approach the size of the changes that you can get from climate change."  The "heat island" effect in major cities has been recognised for some years and has become a major subject for research. Only last month, scientists in Tokyo warned of the difficulties Japan's first city would face from local increases in temperature.


Financial Post
September 12, 2002

Gwyn Morgan, chief executive of EnCana Inc., North America's largest independent energy company, has written an eight-page letter to Jean Chrétien, the Prime Minister, urging him not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change because it would sacrifice economic growth without helping the environment. In the letter, Mr. Morgan maintains that "signing the Kyoto Protocol would go down in history as one of the most damaging international agreements ever signed by a Canadian Prime Minister." His letter emerged on the same day Tim Hearn, chief executive at Imperial Oil Ltd., Canada's leading producer, lashed out at the accord and the "deep-thinkers" in Ottawa while speaking at the Peters & Co. energy conference in Toronto. Mr. Hearn told the crowd of investors that signing the agreement "wouldn't be good for anybody." The statements by the two CEOs represent the strongest public opposition to Kyoto by Canadian executives so far, and are likely the heighten debate over the accord, which the federal government has pledged to sign before the end of the year. The Kyoto Accord would commit Canada to reducing greenhouse gas emissions 6% below 1990 levels. Mr. Morgan and Mr. Hearn both believe a separate, Canadian strategy would better serve the economy and environment. Mr. Morgan also warns "since EnCana operates in many countries in the world, we have greater flexibility than non-international companies to move our investment programs if growth is constrained here in Canada."  

He writes that an objective analysis of the facts shows signing Kyoto would create "a huge economic and environmental" disadvantage for the country. "The most severe impact would be on consumers, not producers of energy -- in other words, essentially all Canadian businesses and individuals from sea to sea," he writes." Why? Because more than 80% of greenhouse gas emissions come from the consumption of energy rather than its production." Mr. Morgan delivers a harsh rebuke of pronouncements that Kyoto would create an opportunity for companies to restructure their businesses to create new goods and services, compensating Canadians for a higher cost of living and job losses. "Such a leap of faith is tantamount to believing in the tooth fairy," he writes. Mr. Morgan goes on to warn that investors would take careful note of such developments, adding that it could lead to a stock market "risk discount" of home-based companies and make them more vulnerable to foreign takeover. And he attacks Kyoto for its environmental failings, noting that the countries constrained by the accord represent only about 30% of world's greenhouse gas emissions. He said the remaining 70% of emitters would likely increase their emission levels as new growth investments are transferred to such countries. 

As for the notion that emissions could be managed through carbon-trading credits are not the panacea they are made out to be. "Just imagine the potential for Enron-like games that could be played when accounting for the purchase of emissions credits from places like Russia and other countries. And how could anyone convince Canadian voters that sending money to Russia was good for the Canadian or global economy?" In his letter, Mr. Morgan pledged his company's cooperation in devising a proposed "Made-In-Canada" solution. In an interview yesterday, Mr. Morgan said he decided to write the Prime Minister after considering the implications of the accord for all sectors of the economy. He said he has yet to hear back from Mr. Chrétien. "We have the opportunity to truly reduce emissions," he told the Financial Post. "What really frustrates me about Kyoto is that it will result in a worldwide increase in carbon emissions." Meanwhile, Mr. Hearn received an enthusiastic response from an investor audience yesterday when he delivered a firm criticism of the Kyoto issue. 

"There's absolutely no reason in this country why we can't have good environmental management and ... economic growth for the prosperity of all Canadians -- my view is that Kyoto fails on both accounts," Mr. Hearn said. "It's somewhat incongruous to me that the federal government will end up going down a path that's going to shrink our economy, transfer wealth out of the country and reduce jobs." Mr. Hearn, who leads Canada's largest oil company, said through "very strong consultation" with the public, business community and interest groups, the country could develop its own emissions strategy that would achieve sound environmental management and economic growth.  He added: "To speculate today what kind of prevarications are going on with the deep thinkers in Ottawa, I think would be inappropriate. It would be highly speculative. "But I'll say one thing, if they sign Kyoto in its present form, it won't be good for anybody." Mr. Hearn's speech was well received. "The industry has been too quiet on this issue," one investor said he said. "It was about time someone stood up and really spoke out on Kyoto. We all want to help the environment, but this isn't going to help anyone." 

Rick George, chief executive of Suncor Energy Inc., added his voice to those looking for a made-in-Canada solution. "One of the things that concerns us the most is that when we compete, we compete in putting crude oil and other energy products in the U.S. So we are competing against Saudi Arabia, against Mexico and Venezuela, none of which are signatories to Kyoto. "Our whole game is staying competitive and getting our costs down, and anything that burdens us more than our competitors is obviously a concern."


September 10, 2002

LEICESTER, England (Reuters) - Carbon dioxide emissions will in future have to be injected into the earth's surface if the environment is to be saved, a scientist said on Tuesday. "CO2 sequestration is one of the most powerful tools we have of reducing CO2 emissions to the atmosphere," Andy Chadwick, principal geophysicist at the British Geological Survey told reporters.  "We need to bring about some quite Draconian cuts in CO2 emissions," he added on the margins of the British Association for the Advancement of Science annual festival. Chadwick said the technique of pumping carbon dioxide back into the earth in a manner that prevented it re-entering the atmosphere had been applied and perfected at the Sleipner gas field in the North Sea over the past few years.  

Operator, Norwegian oil company Statoil, had already injected some five million tons of carbon dioxide into a saline aquifer about one kilometer below the seabed.  Time delayed, three-dimensional seismic surveys had shown the CO2 was spreading gradually through the vast subterranean reservoir where it was being contained by an impermeable cap of shale and clay.  He said that even if only one percent of the aquifer's storage volume was used to store carbon dioxide it would represent one year's output of CO2 from the equivalent of 900 coal-fired or 2,300 gas-fired 500 megawatt power stations. 

Chadwick said the technique did involve a cost, which would obviously rise in the case of a power station and where no suitable geological structure was in the immediate vicinity.  "It is expensive at the moment, but a lot of research is being done to find out how to reduce the costs," he said, suggesting that exhausted oil and gas fields might provide useful storage areas.  He also acknowledged that CO2 sequestration was by its nature only an intermediate measure to help save the environment from the poisonous emission of greenhouse gases while renewable energy sources were developed.  "Carbon sequestration is viewed as an interim measure for the next 50-60 years to effect the major cuts we need to achieve," Chadwick said.


Associated Press
September 9, 2002

LONDON - Global warming could cause the extinction of thousands of Antarctic species in the coming century, a biologist warned Monday. Lloyd Peck, of the British Antarctic Survey, said the 2 degree Celsius (3.6 degree Fahrenheit) rise in sea temperatures predicted by many scientists could create fatal changes in the habitats of rare and fragile cold-water creatures. "We are talking about thousands of species, not four or five," he told the British Association Festival of Science at Leicester University in central England.  "It's not a mite on the end of the nose of an elk somewhere. ... If the climate models are correct, we are likely to lose at least large populations of these species."  

Among the threatened species are sea spiders that measure 30 cm (1 foot) across, fluorescent sea gooseberries the size of a rugby football, 750 kinds of sandflea and many small mollusks and worms, Peck said. While species that inhabit Antarctic lakes adapt well to large changes in temperature, those that live in the seas are far more sensitive, he said. Some areas of the Antarctic Ocean have temperatures that vary only 0.1 degrees Celsius (0.18 degrees Fahrenheit) over the course of a year, conditions that have existed for 10 to 15 million years. Temperatures rise to a high of about 1 degree Celsius (33.8 degrees Fahrenheit) during the summer, Peck said. Most cold-blooded residents of the Antarctic sea bed cannot survive long-term in temperatures higher than 3 to 6 degrees Celsius (37.4 to 42.8 degrees Fahrenheit), and are unable to carry out many essential activities when it is warmer than 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (35.6 to 37.4 degrees Fahrenheit). If these species perish, fish and larger organisms like penguins, seals and whales could eventually be affected, Peck said.

On the Net:  British Antarctic Survey,


Planet Ark
September 6, 2002

CALGARY, Alberta - Canada's energy future remains linked to Alberta's vast oil sands despite claims by some executives that ratifying the Kyoto Protocol will prevent companies from investing in the high-emission projects. Prime Minister Jean Chretien said on Monday Canada will put the accord to cut greenhouse gas emissions to a vote in Parliament this year, raising the ire of energy-rich Alberta. Huge oil sands reserves are still one of the industry's most attractive investments, especially with supplies of light oil declining in western Canada, said Stephen Calderwood of brokerage Salman Partners.  "It is the future of the Canadian oil industry. Sure we have to be responsible (with development plans) but we can't just drop the idea. It doesn't make any sense," he said. "I don't think there is any way you can replace the oil sands."  Some company officials have said Canada's pledge to approve the Kyoto Protocol by year-end will jeopardize a multibillion-dollar boom buoying Alberta's economy.  

The gooey mixture of oil and sand yields bitumen, or extra-heavy oil, which is into synthetic crude for use by refiners in Canada and the United States.  Numerous companies, including Canadian Natural Resources Ltd, Nexen Inc. and Petro-Canada, are planning large oil sands developments.  But Petro-Canada has said up to C$5.3 billion ($3.4 billion) in oil sands spending could be canceled if the federal government in Ottawa adopts any of its four proposed Kyoto implementation strategies.  The 1997 global treaty calls for Canada to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 6 percent from 1990 levels by 2012. Calderwood said talk by energy companies of canceling the big projects, which create thousands of construction jobs, are partly aimed at influencing federal and provincial politicians.  Despite years of talks between Ottawa and the provinces, the two sides have not agreed on a clear strategy to cut greenhouse gases. The emissions of gases such as carbon dioxide are believed by many scientists to cause global warming. "There is a certain amount of posturing, but there is also a certain amount of genuine concern about the idea that we're driving down this road with no headlights on," he said.  

A project led by Shell Canada Ltd. illustrates why implementing the controversial program may not wipe out the oil sands boom.  Shell Canada and partners are spending C$6.2 billion to build the 155,000 barrel-a-day Athabasca oil sands project. It is scheduled to begin producing bitumen by the end of October.  Greenhouse gas emissions from the project will be lower than the conventional oil it displaces, Shell Canada spokeswoman Jan Rowley said.  The company will use new technology, upgrade existing operations and, possibly, use emission credits from a yet-to-be-defined trading program to meet the commitment.  "Can an oil sands project come on with aggressive greenhouse gas emissions targets? The answer is yes," she said. "We've demonstrated what's possible and so far we have no reason to believe we can't meet the targets."  However, the frenzied pace of recent years for oil sands projects will slow considerably if implementing Kyoto reduces returns on investments, another analyst predicted.  "If you layer in any more costs, it's just going to make it more difficult for the industry to find and develop crude oil and natural gas and make a dollar doing it," said Gord Currie with brokerage Canaccord Capital.

September 6, 2002,4057,5044169%255E421,00.html

BIG business has turned on Prime Minister John Howard over his opposition to the Kyoto Protocol. BP and BHP Billiton yesterday said the Prime Minister's refusal to sign an international agreement on climate change was further isolating Australia and would force them to invest offshore in clean energy and greenhouse gas reduction projects. The companies both said they would be seeking to invest in projects overseas so they could be involved in what is expected to be a trillion-dollar-a-year market in trading carbon credits -- credits for reducing emissions. They warned Australia would miss out on multi-billion-dollar deals and new jobs will be lost because greenhouse reduction projects like forests would be worthless here. The attack by big business is another blow to John Howard and further isolates the Government, which is already suffering fierce international and local criticism.


Globe and Mail
September 6, 2002

Nearly a quarter-century ago, Inco Ltd. of Sudbury, Ont., was North America's largest source of sulphur emissions that cause acid rain. When ordered to reduce those emissions, it protested that jobs would be lost, production reduced, investment forestalled. Yet today, Inco has cleaned up its act and become the world's lowest-cost nickel producer. And it sells its technological know-how to the world. Acid rain, meanwhile, is fading as a threat. Inco provides a valuable lesson as Canada attempts to cut carbon emissions linked to the warming of the planet, as required under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The broad challenge is to view Kyoto not merely as a new set of costs but as a reason to sharpen efficiency and translate that into an aggressive new industry. It is to seize the opportunity in what will be a decades-long battle internationally against climate change. On this challenge, Canada has fallen down. Alberta, the country's major oil and gas producer (and one that persists in approving coal-fired power plants), has naturally focused on Kyoto's costs, but the federal government has failed to reply with a bold investment strategy. 

"If we unleash the floodgates of investment," asks David McGuinty, president of the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, "what is the magnitude of opportunity?" A timely question. Ever since the Liberal Party's 1993 Red Book, the party has been talking up innovation. Cost estimates for turning Canada into an innovation-driven economy vary wildly; even as we talk about the Northern Tiger we wish to become, we're still pretty toothless. In that same vein, Canada has given much attention under the Kyoto process to emissions credits from countries such as Russia. Has it spent as much time figuring out how to generate more tangible returns at home -- in emissions reductions, in health-care savings that come from cleaner air, in energy savings from better-built buildings, in the spinoffs that come from say, public-transit expansion? A huge market in energy efficiency is waiting to be taken by the throat. Canada has a $23-billion-a-year industry in environmental technology and expertise, according to the Canadian Environmental Industry Association. Companies such as Ballard Power Systems Inc. of Burnaby, B.C., are selling fuel-cell engines to be installed in buses in San Jose, Calif. Still, Canada seems to be falling behind competitors, particularly in the United States, in high-demand areas such as renewable energy. 

Innovation comes through necessity. A domestic trading system in carbon credits will help produce innovations at the lowest possible cost. This is the system in which companies receive bonus points for exceeding emissions targets, and sell those points to companies that have trouble meeting their targets. Canada also should consider tax incentives and other support for research and development in the area of climate change. The United States is spending $4.5-billion to nudge renewable energies and other environmental technologies along. Kyoto means putting a price on carbon pollution. The market will have no choice but to become engaged, and so, too, will Canadian consumers and taxpayers. Just look at Inco.


September 6, 2002

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A sticky protein shed by fungi living on plant roots is responsible for absorbing and storing sizable amounts of the carbon dioxide pollution linked to global warming, U.S. Agriculture Department scientists said on Friday.  The protein, glomalin, glues soil particles and organic matter together which stabilizes soil and keeps carbon from escaping into the atmosphere. Farmland and forests around the world are seen as valuable to offset carbon emissions from cars and industrial plants, offering the potential for carbon credit emission trading.  Kristine Nichols, a soil scientist with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service, analyzed glomalin in soils collected from Colorado, Georgia, Maryland and Nebraska. Tests showed that the glomalin stored nearly one-third of the carbon absorbed by soil, an amount far greater than humic acid, which had been thought to store the most carbon.  Glomalin gives soil the rich, fertile texture readily recognized by farmers and longtime gardeners. It lasts from 7 to 42 years in soil, depending on conditions, researchers said.  Another USDA researcher, Sara Wright, is studying glomalin levels to measure the amount of carbon stored in soils beneath tropical forests.  

"Glomalin is unique among soil components for its strength and stability," Wright said. Other soil components that contain carbon are quickly degraded and break down, she said.  "Our next step is to identify the chemical makeup of each of its parts, including the protein core, the sugar carbohydrates, and the attached iron and other possible ions," she said.  Global warming has been linked to the growing amount of heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Scientists say the gradual increase in temperature may melt glaciers, increase sea levels and lead to broad weather changes in crop-growing areas.


Planet Ark
September 6, 2002

CALGARY, Alberta - Canada aims to have the costs of cutting emissions under the Kyoto accord hammered down next month as part of plans for meeting its commitments, the country's energy minister said this week ahead of a meeting with anxious oil executives.  The energy industry has blasted Prime Minister Jean Chretien's announcement this week that Parliament will vote on ratifying the treaty before the end of this year, saying the decision was made without knowing the costs and potential harm to the economy.  "I think it's important for us and for the industry, and particularly for the large emitters, to have a pretty good understanding of what does it mean for their costs, is it realistic and can we deliver on it," Natural Resources Minister Herb Dhaliwal told reporters.  The estimates will be part of a draft plan for implementation to be put before ministers from the federal and provincial governments at a meeting in October, he said.  Dhaliwal stressed Ottawa was still bent on making sure no region of the country is disproportionately harmed by any measures associated with the global agreement on reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, which are believed to cause global warming.  

The burning of fossil fuels, which in Canada are produced in large part in Alberta and other parts of the west, is a main source of such gases as carbon dioxide and methane.  The oil industry has lamented it would bear much of the cost of cutting emissions under Kyoto, hurting its competitiveness and sending investment dollars elsewhere.  Some firms have already said they may be forced to scale back planned investments in major oil sands projects.  The United States, the main importer of Canadian oil and gas, has backed away from the Kyoto accord.  In recent days, the industry and Alberta government have both accused Ottawa of breaking its promise to  engage in extensive consultations before making a ratification decision. Dhaliwal disagreed, saying talks were still going on.  "We've been consulting for a long time on this file, we've had many meetings, we've consulted all summer long. I've met this industry," he said before meeting with 10 top executives from large and small energy producers.  "We'll have a draft plan that is going to the joint ministerial meeting...We've done lots of consultations - now is the time to make a decision." 

He said Canada would keep pressing its Kyoto allies on its desire to gain credits for the clean energy it exports to the United States, even though European officials have flatly refused to give them up.  Dhaliwal declined to say if Canada might change its mind on ratification if it does not win the concessions, only that "it is extremely important to make sure that we do get credit."  A senior energy industry official said Dhaliwal's comments did little to remove uncertainty.  "I think it's hopeful that there will be a plan. It's got to be costed to be able to understand it," said Pierre Alvarez, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the industry's main lobby group.  "I think the time frame is highly ambitious. I won't say impossible, but it is highly ambitious when you consider what's at stake. I'm not sure how the provinces themselves will be able to respond to a plan they only receive in mid to late October."


Planet Ark
September 6, 2002

LONDON - A senior insurance figure said the industry had been frozen out of the Earth Summit in Johannesburg and called for tougher measures against climate changes, which risk costing insurers billions of dollars.  Carlos Joly, head of the insurance industry's environmental initiative, told Reuters that politicians had not listened to proposals from the world's biggest insurers' despite the industry's potential to lead efforts to tackle global warming.  He said political leaders lacked the courage to compel companies to clean up their operations, leaving insurers exposed to the devastating storms which some believe are increasingly common because of rising levels of greenhouse gases.  

Insurers have been unable to formally present proposed company reporting standards in Johannesburg, because finance ministries of the big governments seem apathetic, Joly said.  "My general observation about Johannesburg is that politicians and government officials have yet to realise the potential power for change that banks and insurance companies can wield as actors for sustainable development," he said.  Insurers monitor climate closely as they have very large exposures to floods, droughts, storms and hurricanes. Some companies believe such catastrophes have become more frequent because of changing weather patterns. Insurance companies have warned they will not pay the growing claims resulting from climate change. They will simply exclude paying out claims from events, such as flooding or windstorms, caused by global warming, leaving governments, business and individuals to pick up the bill themselves.

As a result, insurers have tried to raise awareness of the growing environmental problem and have begun looking at ways they can help the environment by how they run their own companies, under the United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) insurance initiative, which Joly chairs.  Some of the world's biggest insurers, including Munich Re, Swiss Re, Gerling, Skandia and Storebrand have taken the lead in considering the impact that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have had on the environment. But such actions have not been matched by politicians. "These companies have taken the environmental agenda to heart, but have found little encouragement from the political establishment," Joly said. Insurers who have signed up to the UNEP insurance initiative must report which environmental and social criteria they consider as part of their everyday operations and how they help achieve sustainable development.  


Joly said governments and supranational bodies such as the European Commission should pass legislation requiring insurance pension funds and long-term savings schemes to consider how they invest their money affects the environment.  Another way insurers can help tackle climate change is in how they underwrite certain environmental risks. But governments have not imposed regulations on businesses making them financially liable for their contribution to global warming.  Without this, Joly said, insurers have not been able to promote sustainable development through charging lower premiums to companies that emit fewer harmful gasses.  "The risks from carbon dioxide emissions are not included in any regulations," he said. "As a result those risks cannot be factored into how one prices an insurance policy...That is a gaping hole."  Insurers and investment funds also exert massive influence as the biggest investors in the financial markets and Joly said pension funds should be compelled to report annually how their portfolio choices reflect non-financial considerations.  

New "green" reporting standards could prompt companies to challenge for the title of being the most ethical investor, Joly said. "In a competitive world, best practice would win."  Individual countries have taken a few steps in this direction. In the UK, pension funds are required to state whether they have an ethical investment policy, but are not compelled to state what impact that has on their portfolios.  The Netherlands has gone further by offering pension funds tax breaks for investing in riskier but environmentally friendly companies in the emerging economies.  But environmental concerns are not at the forefront of most insurers' minds.  Insurers have been pummelled by the tumbling value of their equity investments, with the world's two largest reinsurers Munich Re and Swiss Re last week writing off around 2.0 billion euros ($1.99 billion) of the value of their equity stakes.  But Joly said: "It is worth reminding ourselves that the problems in the stock markets today are not the overwhelming issue from a long term point of view."


Associated Press
September 5, 2002

BERLIN - Germany is organizing a global conference on renewable energy in the coming months, officials said Thursday, to focus international pressure for binding targets, a goal opposed by the United States at the World Summit. Designed to build on the summit that ended Wednesday in Johannesburg, the proposal also offers German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder a chance to brush up his environmental credentials ahead of national elections this month. "We hope that countries will set targets for increasing the share of renewable energy sources," Environment Ministry spokesman Michael Schroeren said Thursday. "We want to send the message that there are numerous countries that have more ambitious goals than those agreed at Johannesburg."

Despite pressure from European countries, World Summit delegates failed to reach agreement on timetables and targets for boosting the use of energy from the sun, wind and other renewable resources. Environmental groups blamed the United States, oil-exporting countries, Canada, Australia and Japan for spearheading resistance. The summit's final declaration contained only an appeal for countries to promote renewable energy. Germany plans to invite government officials as well as scientists to the international energy conference, to be held in the former West German capital of Bonn, Schroeren said, expanding on a proposal that Schroeder presented at the World Summit. No date was immediately set, but preparations are likely to take several months. Last year, a U.N. climate change summit was held in Bonn.

Schroeder, who heads a government of Social Democrats and Greens, has recently played up the environment as a theme in his campaign for a second term in Sept. 22 elections.  Flooding that caused billions in damage in eastern and southern Germany last month gave the Greens, the junior coalition partner, an issue to mobilize voters. Some government leaders portrayed the floods as a sign of global climate change, saying it underscored the need for further steps to cut emissions of greenhouse gases. Schroeder has also pushed the point Germany has led most other countries in meeting international targets on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.


Planet Ark
September 5, 2002

JOHANNESBURG - The Pacific island state of Palau branded the Earth Summit a disappointment in fighting global warming this week, saying climate change was a growing threat to its people and myriad rare species. But tiny Palau in the western Pacific, which says it has more species of wildlife by area than any other nation, said it would not join the Pacific state of Tuvalu in a planned lawsuit blaming the United States for rising temperatures.  Palau says it has 1,400 different types of fish in its waters. Other creatures include rare green turtles, salt-water crocodiles and giant clams that can weigh up to two tonnes. "We're putting our hopes in the international community coming to its senses," President Tommy Remengesau told Reuters of climate change threatening a necklace of 200 islands making up Palau. "For island states it's a matter of life and death," he said of scientists' warnings that polar icecaps could melt and swamp low-lying states. "For us it's not just sustainability, it's survival." Palau has a population of about 19,000. He said there would be "a lot of disappointment" in nations like Palau after the World Summit on Sustainable Development, which ends yesterday and barely touched on global warming.  

U.S. President George W. Bush has pulled out of the 1997 Kyoto pact, under which developed nations agreed to rein in emissions of greenhouse gases produced mainly by cars, homes and factories burning oil and other fossil fuels.  Scientists say the gases are trapping heat in the atmosphere and boosting temperatures. Many islands in Palau could be swamped by rising sea levels.  Remengesau said that global warming was leading to more extreme weather, including a surge in sea temperature in 1997 that bleached about 80 percent of coral reefs.  Storms were also carrying salt water onto farmland and threatening wildlife.


September 5, 2002

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Suncor Energy Inc. will push ahead with its marquee Canadian oil sands projects regardless of whether or not Ottawa ratifies the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas reduction, its chief executive said on Thursday.  Prime Minister Jean Chretien said on Monday Canada will put the pact to a vote in Parliament this year, sparking pitched criticism by numerous oil industry executives, who question the ability of high-emission oil sands projects to operate profitably with the extra costs. "Regardless of what happens on Kyoto we've got an action plan on climate change and we've had it for about five years, so we've been working on it," Suncor CEO Rick George said in an interview in New York. "It isn't something where we think we should do nothing," said George, whose company produces 225,000 barrels per day of diesel, light sweet crude, and sour crude from oil sands located near Fort McMurray in northern Alberta.  

Suncor, Canada's fourth-largest integrated oil company, expects oil sands production to double by 2012.  The 1997 global Kyoto accord would commit Canada to cutting emissions of greenhouse gases that scientists believe are warming the earth by 6 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.  Suncor may be prepared for Kyoto, but George is far from a cheerleader for the pact. He said Chretien's decision on Kyoto had the mark of a lame duck leader, akin to former President Clinton 's pardoning controversial figures just before he left office.  "I think it's safe to say the prime minister's announcement took many people by surprise," said George. "He's announced his retirement and is trying to make this progress as he's going out the door." Chretien announced last month he will retire in February 2004  Still, George said Suncor has cut carbon dioxide emissions by 15 percent over the last 10 years, through efficiency and carbon sequestration. The latter pumps the greenhouse gas back into the ground at oil fields pushing up hard-to-reach oil.  The company has also experimented with carbon dioxide emissions trading with electricity producer Niagara Mohawk Power Corp., a National Grid unit that switched from coal to natural gas fired plants.  George said he could not estimate how ratification would affect Suncor's bottom line until more details are known.  

Canada aims to have the costs of cutting emissions under the Kyoto accord hammered down next month as part of a draft implementation plan, Herb Dhaliwal, the federal Minister of Natural Resources, said late Wednesday.  Suncor said much of how Canadian energy companies deal with Kyoto depends on what happens in the United States, the leading consumer of Canadian oil, and which last year turned its back on the climate change pact.  Development of northern Alberta's oil sands is widely seen as the key to Canada's energy future as traditional oil sources are depleted and the United States moves to bolster its sources of secure imports. Another company with multibillion-dollar oil sands plans, Petro-Canada, softened its tone on Kyoto on Thursday after saying earlier this week that implementing the treaty could threaten its investments. It said it remained concerned with potential costs of Kyoto on oil sands development, but stressed its plans are devised to ensure profitability under a range of scenarios.  "Our position going forward is to continue to pursue these opportunities," vice-president Gary Bruce said in a statement.  Petro-Canada is also building emission-reduction technology into its project plans, Bruce said.


September 5, 2002
Associated Press

TORONTO - While Canada intends to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, it will seek credits for up to 29 percent of the emissions reductions required by the agreement, a government minister confirmed Thursday. The 1997 protocol calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 6 percent below the 1990 level by 2012. In Canada, that would mean a drop of 240 megatons a year in the emissions blamed for contributing to global warming.

Natural Resources Minister Herb Dhaliwal said Canada's implementation plan includes claiming credits for exporting so-called clean energy - natural gas and hydroelectric power - to the United States and elsewhere.  Environment Minister David Anderson also said this week that Canada would seek credits for its exports, noting the natural gas and hydroelectric power would replace "dirty" energy such as coal-fired electricity.  Under the plan made public earlier this year, Canada would cut its emissions by 170 megatons a year and claim the other 70 megatons a year as credit for clean energy exports.

The idea is opposed by European nations. Roy Christensen, press attache for the European Union delegation in Canada, said ratification means accepting the agreement as negotiated instead of trying to change it after the fact.  "As far as we're concerned, the protocol is not open to renegotiation," he said.  Prime Minister Jean Chretien did not mention the credit scheme when he announced Monday at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa that Canada's Parliament would vote on ratification later this year. Chretien's Liberal Party has a solid majority in the legislature, making ratification virtually certain.  He was praised by environmental groups for his announcement, which would give the protocol a strong chance of obtaining the necessary support to take effect despite its rejection by the United States - the world's largest producer of greenhouse gases.

U.S. President Bush said the Kyoto limits would harm the U.S. economy, and he has called for a unilateral schedule of emissions reductions. The U.S. stance evoked widespread international condemnation.  Canada's powerful energy industry is lobbying Chretien's government to also reject ratification because of the potential harm to the Canadian economy. Opinion polls show a majority of respondents in Canada support ratifying the protocol.  Negotiators from more than 100 countries, including the United States and Canada, wrote the Kyoto agreement reached in 1997. Under it, the treaty must be ratified by at least 55 countries, including those responsible for 55 percent of the world's emissions in 1990.  With Canada and Russia pledging ratification, the protocol would meet the threshold to take effect.


The Guardian
September 5, 2002

Dismay over the weakness of the final outcome of the earth summit spilled over into the final plenary session of the conference yesterday when an EU delegation led an orchestrated protest over lack of targets for increasing renewable energy production across the world.  The leaders of more than 30 government delegations pledged to go further than the summit declaration on increasing the share of renewable energy as part of the global energy supply.  The countries concerned agreed to a regular review of progress, on the basis of clear and ambitious targets at a national, regional and "hopefully at a global level".  "Such targets are important tools to guide investment and develop the market for renewable energy technologies," their statement said.  Support for the proposal came from all 15 EU states, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia, Brazil, Argentina, Uganda, Mexico and other Latin American states, plus some Caribbean and Pacific islands.   The US isolation on the issue of climate change was further underlined when its only remaining ally on the issue, Australia, shifted ground yesterday.  

The prime minister, John Howard - who had previously insisted Australia would not ratify the Kyoto protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions - said he would now reconsider, "whether America has signed it or not".  One other last-minute change which particularly pleased the leader of the UK delegation, the environment secretary Margaret Beckett, was the reinstatement of a clause on human rights which had been resisted by the US, the Vatican and Islamic states - a rare combination. The clause had omitted the rights of women to contraception and abortion, and asserted the superiority of local cultural and religious values.  The objection from the US was removed when it was pointed out that the clause would give tacit approval to widely condemned local traditions such as genital mutilation.  "This is an extremely good outcome," Mrs Beckett said. "This could have set the clock back. This is a hugely important issue because it would have allowed such practices as genital mutilation, which are wholly unacceptable. I am very pleased about this outcome on another crucial issue."  

Meanwhile, an attempt by the US to water down provisions on corporate accountability and regulation was rejected, after objections by Ethiopia and Norway.  The US was reduced to writing a letter to the conference chairman, the South African president, Thabo Mbeki, to state its position that there should be no new rules in this area.  Wrangling continued into the evening - but was finally agreed - on the final political text for the summit, originally written by Mr Mbeki, which was also tough in the area of corporate accountability.  This was seen as a victory for environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth, which had made controlling the power of multinationals one of its main campaigns. 

Reflecting the continued fears for the future of the weaker developing nations, the text stated: "The deep fault lines that divide human society between the rich and poor and the ever-increasing gap between the developed and developing worlds pose a major threat to global prosperity, security and stability.  "The adverse effects of climate change are already evident, natural disasters are more frequent and more devastating, and developing countries more vulnerable, and air, water and marine pollution continue to rob millions of a decent life."

The statement said that globalisation had added to these challenges. The benefits and costs were unevenly distributed, with developing countries facing special difficulties.  "We risk the entrenchment of these global disparities," it said. "Unless we act in a manner that fundamentally changes their lives, the poor of the world may lose confidence in their representatives and the democratic systems to which we remain committed."  However, environment and development groups at the summit remained angry that so few targets and timetables for action had reached the final text.  A group of 50 American pressure groups attending the summit put out a statement saying: "We disassociate ourselves from the Bush administration's positions and role at the summit."  Disappointment was not confined to pressure groups. Jan Pronk, the special envoy to the summit of the UN secretary general Kofi Annan, said: "We have had a narrow escape. The outcome is better than we feared, but much less than we needed.  "There is a huge gulf between those inside the hall and people's expectations. We have to look at a better way of managing these things. It all could so easily have fallen apart."


Planet Ark
September 4, 2002

JOHANNESBURG - The Earth Summit's decision not to set itself a firm target for boosting green energy is a lost battle for renewable energies like solar and wind power, but it's not the end of the war, analysts said. Facing stern opposition from the United States and OPEC countries, attempts by the European Union and many South American countries to set the world's first target for increasing the global share of renewable energies failed.  "This deal is worse than no deal," said Friends of the Earth's Kate Hampton in a comment typical of green campaigners who see renewable energy as the only alternative to fossil fuels, which are blamed for potentially disastrous global warming.  

The wording agreed on the energy chapter of what will be adopted as the summit's action plan for sustainable development promotes "cost effective technologies" to the poor, "including fossil fuel technologies as well as renewable energy".  This may give some cheer to champions of development in a world where some two billion people, a third of the world's population, have no modern energy. But it did little to turn the world away from its thirst for oil, environmentalists said.  Fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas make up about 80 percent of world energy use. Environmentalists see them as unsustainable not only because they are finite but also because they emit heat-trapping gases when burned, leading to climate change. Alex de Roo, a Dutch Green Euro MP, said the summit had forgotten its role of supporting "sustainable" development - economic growth that would not damage the environment.  "The spirit of Rio is lost," said de Roo, referring to the first Earth Summit in Brazil in 1992 which issued a blueprint for sustainable development called Agenda 21.  "This was about classic economic development for the poor, and the link with sustainability has been lost."  


Kalee Kreider of Washington-based National Environmental Trust said the lack of targets for renewable energies was a victory for U.S. President George W. Bush, the man who pulled the United States out of the Kyoto climate change pact and is reviled by green campaigners as a friend of the oil industry.  "Despite the fact that President Bush is on his ranch, his shadow has loomed large in Johannesburg," Kreider said.

Bush declined an invitation to the summit, attended by some 100 other heads of state and government. Margot Wallstrom, the EU Environment Commissioner who was a key figure in keeping Kyoto afloat after the U.S. pullout, said the deal was far from a complete failure for renewable energies.  "What we have done is for the first time, we got the energy issue discussed as one of the core issues of sustainable development," she told reporters.  The fact that energy had dominated the summit boded well for the future, she said, adding that many countries which had said they could not accept targets told her afterward that they were sorry the EU's proposal failed.  

South African Mineral and Energy Affairs Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka told EU delegates as the meeting broke up: "Don't despair. You have raised the challenge.  "Many of you have raised the baton. I'd like to think that (in future) we can give it our best shot...clearly this (deal) is not enough."  But as the next Earth Summit may well be at least 10 years away, where do climate change campaigners take their battle now? They already rule out nuclear energy as an acceptable, climate-friendly option. 


One arena may be the Kyoto Protocol, the global pact on cutting largely fossil fuel-related emissions. Although that treaty was dealt a near fatal blow when Bush pulled out last year, it looked a shade healthier this week when Canadian Prime Minster Jean Chretien used the summit to announce parliament would vote on approving Kyoto by year-end.  Chretien's Liberals have a comfortable majority in parliament and Kyoto's approval is likely if the party backs it.  If Russia also ratifies, as it has said it intends to, the treaty will come into legal force, requiring some action on cutting emissions by the end of the decade.  

Kyoto signatories will soon start discussing targets for developing countries that are currently exempt and bigger targets for richer countries.  But ahead of that process, which will not begin for a few years, action on renewable energies and climate will begin at home - even in the United States, said WWF campaigner Jennifer Morgan.  The EU has its own target of doubling its use of renewables to 12 percent of total energy consumption by 2010. It is discussing a system to allow countries and firms to trade the "right to pollute" in order to bring costs down.  At national, regional and local level, including in some U.S. states and cities, politicians are setting targets for use of renewable energies, Morgan said.  "At that level it will be a different battle ground," said Morgan. "One where there won't be any alliances with OPEC."


September 4, 2002

Russia and Canada took the Earth Summit by surprise yesterday when they said they would ratify the Kyoto treaty to combat global warming. The announcements pave the way for the deal to take effect possibly before the end of the year. The news came as a blow to President George Bush, who did not attend the summit and has set out to kill the treaty since coming to power last year. The United States succeeded at the summit in blocking targets for increasing renewable energy supplies. Countries responsible for 55 per cent of the industrialised countries' emissions of carbon dioxide - the main cause of global warming - have to ratify the Kyoto Protocol for it to take effect. Ratifications by Russia and Canada will take the treaty well over the threshold, leaving America and Australia isolated in rejecting it. John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, and Margaret Beckett, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said they were thrilled. "We have been working very hard to persuade countries that this is the right thing to do," Mrs Beckett said. 

Both countries had indicated they might not be able to ratify the treaty. To complete delegates' delight, the Chinese Premier, Zhu Rongji, announced that his country had already ratified the Protocol. China's participation was not needed to bring the treaty into force, but still gave it an immense boost because the country is one of the world's biggest sources of carbon dioxide. Kate Hampton, of Friends of the Earth, said the news was totally unexpected. "This is wonderful. Russia and Canada have resisted intense US pressure. George Bush has been foiled again."


September 4, 2002

George W Bush has snatched defeat from the very jaws of victory. Just as the US President was doubtless beginning to congratulate himself on achieving almost all his objectives at the Earth Summit - most notably blocking targets for increasing renewable energy by rallying oil exporting countries - he has been unexpectedly routed on the environmental issue closest to his heart. Canada and Russia have announced, despite strong US pressure, that they are taking steps to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Their ratifications will bring into force the treaty on fighting global warming that Mr Bush has been trying to destroy ever since taking office. In a strange twist, the summit's greatest success has come in an area scarcely under discussion. The Kyoto Protocol was only a small part of an agenda mainly devoted to poverty and environmental issues, such as lack of energy and basic sanitation, which most immediately affect the poor. Before the summit Canada had warned it was unlikely to ratify Kyoto and during it Russia's Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade said there was, "a risk, without a doubt" that his country would not join in. Russia's omission would have been fatal. Under the protocol 55 countries, crucially including nations responsible for 55 per cent of the industrialised world's emissions of carbon dioxide, would have to ratify if the treaty was to come into effect. 

Ninety countries have ratified, clearing the first hurdle. But the treaty's supporters have struggled to make up the 55 per cent, with the United States and Australia, which together account for more than 38 per cent of emissions, staying out. Without Canada, it would have been tight. Without Russia it would have been impossible. Both countries have their problems. In Russia, left-wing representatives in the Duma oppose the treaty. And the country is likely to make much less money out of the treaty than expected by selling generous allowances of carbon dioxide emissions to other countries - the market has fallen since the US decided to stay out of it. 

Canada, meanwhile, has faced opposition from energy-exporting states like Alberta. And it has suffered particularly heavy arm-twisting from the US, with which its economy is closely linked. But pressure built up at the summit has helped bring both countries on board. After intense argument, its plan of action includes a clause recording that the nations who have already joined the treaty "strongly urge" others to ratify it "in a timely manner". This was interpreted, particularly in Russia, as a call by the world to get on with it. And the pressure has built up as leader after leader has called on the waverers to join in. Tony Blair said that the treaty was "right", and called for further ratifications. Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany went further, calling on "states to ratify the Kyoto Protocol as quickly as possible so that it can enter into force before the end of the year". He warned that the recent floods in his country, central Europe and China showed that "climate change is no longer a sceptical forecast, but a bitter reality." But perhaps the most moving appeal of all came from President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom of the Maldives, whose country is due to disappear beneath the waves as global warming causes the seas to rise. "Low lying nations are at greater risk than ever before" he said. "Time is running out. The Kyoto Protocol must be universally honoured." 

Of course, the failure to agree renewable energy targets will make it harder to reduce carbon dioxide given off by fossil fuels that will be needed to fight global warming. But the world is unlikely to let President Bush have the last word here, either. The European Union announced that it would form a "coalition of the willing" with progressive developing countries to promote renewables. And Chancellor Schröder is to call an international conference on the issue. Besides, once the treaty is in force, countries will be bound to reduce their emissions and will have an incentive to do so quickly, because they will be able to sell their allowances to countries slower at reducing emissions. As money begins to be made out of the treaty, and new cleaner technologies take off, American business is likely to clamour to join the party. So Mr Bush - who chose to holiday on his Texan ranch rather than join his fellow leaders - may yet have cause to regret his decision to stay away.


September 4, 2002

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed on Tuesday that Moscow intended to ratify the UN Kyoto Protocol on global warming although some "technical" problems remained with the deal."We are positive about this process and the aims of the Kyoto protocol. We intend to ratify," Putin said during talks with German President Johannes Rau." There are still certain issues lingering on the technical level, so it is better that you talk to the experts about this," Putin told reporters. 

Earlier on Tuesday, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov announced at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg that Moscow hoped to ratify the Kyoto Protocol "in the very near future." "Russia has signed the Kyoto Protocol and now we are preparing for its ratification. This ratification we hope will occur in the very near future," Kasyanov said. Ratification by Russia will mean that the climate change pact will take effect, despite US opposition. The protocol can take effect only after it has been ratified by at least 55 of countries accounting for at least 55 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions in 1990.Analysts said ratification by Russia would push the numbers beyond 55 per cent.


Associated Press
September 4, 2002

CANBERRA, Australia - As pressure mounts on Australia to ratify the Kyoto accord on climate change, Prime Minister John Howard softened his previous hardline opposition to the pact Wednesday, saying he might still sign.  Like the United States, Australia has opposed the treaty, arguing that because developing countries are not covered, it would only transfer high polluting industries to poor countries without cutting emissions that lead to global warming. 

However, Howard said Wednesday that he would sign if it became clear it was in Australia's interest to do so.  "Our concern at the moment about ratifying Kyoto" is that the government does not know what its obligations to reduce greenhouse gases would be after 2012, the end of the first target period of the treaty, Howard said.  "If we become convinced in the months ahead that it's in Australia's interests to sign the protocol, we'll sign it whether America has signed it or not," the prime minister told Brisbane radio station 4BC.  

Howard's comments came after China announced Tuesday it had already ratified the treaty and Russia said it will ratify, clearing the way for the agreement to become law in much of the world.  The Kyoto Protocol aims to combat a slow but steady rise in the earth's temperature by getting industrialized nations to cut carbon dioxide emissions to below-1990 levels by 2012.  Many countries view the accord as crucial to reversing a global warming trend blamed for cataclysmic storms, floods and droughts worldwide. Enough countries have already ratified Kyoto, but for it to take effect, those countries must account for at least 55 percent of carbon dioxide emissions based on 1990 output. Russia's ratification would meet that requirement.  

Among the main industrialized nations, the United States, Canada and Australia are the main holdouts, though Canada promised Monday to put the accord before its Parliament this year. Australia is one of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases per head of population. It is responsible for more than 1.5 percent of emissions although it accounts for about 1 percent of global economic activity.  

See Also:

AUSTRALIA MAY SIGN KYOTO PROTOCOL Associated Press September 4, 2002


Associated Press
September 3, 2002

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Russia promised to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, a move that would bring the historic accord on cutting greenhouse gases into effect despite U.S. opposition. The announcement came as leaders at the World Summit wrapped up a long-term blueprint for tackling global woes of poverty and pollution and attention shifted to immediate crises, including Iraq. Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz sought support from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former South African President Nelson Mandela for heading off a threatened U.S. attack.  Annan urged Aziz to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions, which call for the unconditional return of weapons inspectors, his spokeswoman said.  

Mandela publicly urged Washington on Monday to act within the U.N. framework and not attack Iraq unilaterally.  U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was expected to hear more such advice Wednesday during his own meeting with Annan, as well as leaders including Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov. "I do not favor unilateralism no matter where it comes from," said French President Jacques Chirac at a news conference.  Moscow would veto any measure for military action against Baghdad that comes up before the Security Council, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said in Moscow. The United States also continued to be hammered for its rejection of the Kyoto protocol, which many countries view as crucial for reversing a global warming trend blamed for cataclysmic storms, floods and droughts worldwide.  

"All countries around the world need to address the questions of environmental protection ... under the same rules," said Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.  U.S. Environmental Protection Administrator Christie Whitman said the United States supported other countries' ratification of the deal. But she said the agreement was not appropriate for the United States, which is taking other action to limit climate change. Kasyanov did not say exactly when Moscow would ratify, frustrating Kyoto's U.N. and European backers, who had hoped for a commitment to get it done this year. "Russia has signed the Kyoto Protocol and now we are preparing for its ratification," Kasyanov said. "That ratification will occur in the very near future."  

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin also said "we intend to sign" the accord, but gave no timeline and said experts were still reviewing the documents.  But the strong signal after much wavering was viewed as positive by Kyoto backers.  Enough countries have already ratified Kyoto, but for it to take effect, those countries must account for at least 55 percent of carbon dioxide emissions based on 1990 output. Despite Washington's withdrawal last year, that can still be met if Russia joins the European Union and Japan in ratifying.  Russia, whose industry - and pollution - has declined dramatically since 1990, had hoped to benefit greatly from mechanisms established by Kyoto to let countries buy the right to pollute from those that come in under their quota.  

But the United States, as the biggest polluter, was expected to be the biggest buyer.  Environmentalists said they suspected Russia was dragging its feet hoping to gain in other areas, such as increased financial aid or compensation for maintaining its vast forests as a carbon sink, absorbing and storing excess carbon in the atmosphere.  Ecuador's president, Gustavo Noboa, raised a similar point during a forum on financing for sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean.  "If the developing world needs our oxygen, we must be economically compensated," he said, referring to competing demands between developing and preserving tropical rain forests. Ecologists often describe rain forests as the "lungs of the planet," transmitting oxygen to the atmosphere while using carbon dioxide. 

"I agree that we should fight against terrorism," he said. "This is something that has marked us all. But I would like to give some of the same impetus and financial resources to the fight against poverty."  His call for action was echoed by most of the dozens of leaders who spoke Tuesday.  "Put your money where your mouth is," said Jan Balkenende, prime minister of the Netherlands. "We've done the talking, so let's start walking!"  Late Monday, negotiators resolved the last main sticking points in a 70-odd page plan to turn commitments made 10 years ago at the Rio Earth Summit into reality. Most of the items were geared to helping the world's poorest people without polluting.  

After losing its push for targets on the use of wind and solar energy, the European Union said it would form a coalition of "like-minded countries and regions" willing to commit to strict timetables for increasing renewable energy.  Many developing countries had sided with the United States and Japan against including the targets in the summit's plan, arguing they were a rich country's luxury.  The text agreed late Tuesday includes a commitment to "urgently" increase the use of renewable energy sources, but says cleaner use of fossil fuels is also acceptable, diplomats said.  

British Environment Minister Margaret Beckett called the plan "a generous and serious and substantial outcome."  Dropped language linking women's health care with human rights become a sticking point in 11th hour deliberations, but was restored before the plan was official adopted by the summit's main committee of ministers.  As U.N. officials prepared the agreed proposals for final adoption by the full summit, world leaders worked to wrap up a political declaration in which they commit to building a "humane and caring global society in pursuit of the goal of human dignity for all."


September 3, 2002

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Russia and China gave their backing on Tuesday for the Kyoto protocol  meant to cut emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for warming the planet.  Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov told the Earth Summit he expected Moscow to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on global warming soon. Russian ratification would, due to a complex weighting system, virtually ensure the treaty is implemented despite its rejection by the biggest air polluter, the United States.  "Russia has signed the Kyoto Protocol and we are now preparing its ratification. We consider that ratification will take place in the very nearest future," Kasyanov said to applause from a plenary session of the U.N. meeting. The treaty has been passed to the Russian parliament.  

European Union nations in particular are pressing Russia to have its parliament ratify the 1997 treaty as soon as possible to bring it into effect and open the way to special aid flows for poor countries hit by climate change.  Shortly after his speech to the summit, Reuters asked him whether he expected the ratification to take place this year.  "Maybe this year," he replied, but declined further comment.  China, the world's second biggest polluter, earlier told the U.N. meeting it had ratified the agreement. But as a developing country, China is not bound by any goals for restraining emissions of carbon dioxide, mostly caused by burning fossil fuels such as oil and coal. 

Targets under Kyoto so far apply only to developed states but might in future be extended to China, the world's most populous nation with more than a billion people.  "I would like to announce hereby that the Chinese government has ratified the Kyoto protocol," Premier Zhu Rongji told delegates at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.  China had been expected to back the Kyoto climate pact.  The agreement holds industrialized nations to cutting emissions of carbon dioxide to around five percent below 1990 levels by 2012. "With reform and opening up, China has scored an average annual growth rate of 9.3 percent of gross domestic product in the past decade or so," he said. He also said "excessively rapid" population growth had been brought under control. 

See Also:



Planet Ark
September 3, 2002

SYDNEY - Rothschild Australia and Australia-based environmental group E3 International launched yesterday a new fund to allow highly polluting companies to offset their emissions by buying carbon credits from cleaner firms.  Billed as the first of its kind in the Asia-Pacific region and soon to be followed by other similar private investment vehicles, the Carbon Ring Consortium seeks to raise $2 million, with individual investors obliged to pay $100,000.  "With recent developments in international climate change policy, the question is no longer if, but when the global carbon trading market will emerge," said Richard Martin, chief executive officer of Rothschild Australia.

Rothschild said in a prospectus that the Carbon Ring Consortium would be open for investments until October 30.  It would be wrapped up in June 2003, when the carbon credits purchased will be distributed to investors pro rata.  Trading environmental credits is an emerging market designed to allow firms that fail to meet emissions standards to buy credits from other firms that undercut their targets.  The Kyoto accord signed by developing nations in the Japanese city of that name envisages some carbon credit trade between countries with so-called carbon sinks - forests - and others that produce higher levels of pollution than they are allowed to. 

The same applies to companies, and a nascent market has already emerged in the United States where some states have limits on acid rain components like sulphur dioxide and others have limits on carbon dioxide emissions.  Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are blamed by many scientists for rising world temperatures.  The investment bank said it was estimated that the global carbon trading market could be worth up to $150 billion by 2012.  It said it looked increasingly likely that the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions would be ratified by enough countries to come into effect, notwithstanding the decision of the United States and Australia to reject the accord.  

The process of investing will involve workshops to allow investors to gain hands-on knowledge of the new market.  The unregistered, managed investment scheme will be the first in a series of private investment vehicles that Carbon Ring Pty Limited, a joint venture between Rothschild and E3 International, expects to launch in the coming years, the partners said.


September 3, 2002

Russia is planning to ratify the Kyoto treaty on global warming soon, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has confirmed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Russia's backing would mean that enough big producers of greenhouse gases have signed up to bring the treaty into effect. The treaty received a massive blow when the United States - the world's biggest polluter - pulled out under the presidency of George W Bush. The ratification promise by Russia - the third biggest polluter - gives the ailing treaty the kiss of life. "Russia has signed the Kyoto Protocol and we are now preparing its ratification," Mr Kasyanov's told delegates at the summit in Johannesburg to warm applause. "We consider that ratification will take place in the very nearest future." The treaty needs a majority of greenhouse gas producers - responsible for 55% of 1990 worldwide carbon emissions - to sign up before it can be implemented. Russia's involvement would take it past that level, even without the US. The 1990 figures showed the US producing 36% of carbon emissions, and Russia 17%. Russian President Vladimir Putin said in April that his country would ratify Kyoto.  


However, a final review of costs and benefits was taking place over the summer, with opponents claiming the treaty might hinder Russia's economic development. But the benefits could be enormous. Russia expects its carbon emissions to be down by 20% from 1990 levels when Kyoto comes into force in 2008 - meaning it would then be able to sell carbon pollution "credits", bringing a potential windfall of tens of billions of dollars. Russia would be able to use this money to modernise its energy-intensive industries.  

However, Russia would have first to prove that its emissions levels for 1990 were accurate. If it cannot do this, experts say, the bonanza will not materialise. Russia's announcement was welcomed by environmental campaigners. "Confirmation by Russia is good news for the climate and brings us that bit closer to ratification of the Kyoto protocol this year," Gordon Shepherd of World Wildlife Fund International told BBC News Online. "Only Russia and Canada are needed to enable the protocol to enter into force." On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien told the summit his country's parliament would vote on ratification before the end of the year. The US has been unmoved by the welter of criticism it has received since pulling out. President Bush argues that US business interests would be harmed by the treaty. 

Chinese backing

China has also proclaimed its support for the protocol, with Prime Minister Zhu Rongji telling delegates at the World Summit that the government had completed the domestic phase of its path to adopting the treaty. "I would like to announce hereby that the Chinese Government has ratified the Kyoto protocol," Mr Zhu was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying. China, as a developing nation, is not bound by the goals for restraining carbon dioxide emissions laid out in the Kyoto agreement, but Chinese support is crucial for its survival. It is the world's second-largest producer of carbon dioxide emissions - and the US has long cited China as one reason why it will not ratify the deal. "China hopes that other developed countries will ratify or approve the protocol as soon as possible so as to enable it to enter into force within this year," Mr Zhu added.


Planet Ark
September 2, 2002

STAVANGER, Norway - The rest of the world may be struggling to get rid of greenhouse gas emissions but Norwegian oil companies and environmentalists are uniting to claim they cannot get enough carbon dioxide.  The focus is growing on returning the pollutant to oil and gas reservoirs, a process, which could help the world's third largest oil exporter to meet its Kyoto commitments.  Depending on the complexities of individual reservoirs, it can also have the side effect of increasing pressure and enabling even more hydrocarbons to be pumped out.  State-dominated oil company Statoil has pledged to use the technique of re-injecting carbon dioxide into rock strata, as it develops the Snoehvit gas field in the environmentally sensitive Arctic Barents Sea.  Statoil has already used the technique at its Sleipner field, a spokeswoman said.  

The company argues that putting back into reservoirs carbon dioxide produced as a bi-product of oil and gas exploration is environmentally friendly.  A parallel proposal to dispose of carbon dioxide by injecting it in liquid form into the Norwegian Sea has been vetoed by Norway's environmental minister.  But on the issue of injecting the gas back into reservoirs, even Norway's leading environmental activist Frederic Hauge commented: "The biggest problem is getting a big enough volume of carbon dioxide."  He said his Bellona environmental group had helped to find development partners to facilitate work by oil major Shell on a gas-powered zero emission fuel cell which could be used to provide energy on offshore rigs. At the same time, the cell would produce almost pure carbon dioxide ready for re-injection.  


At Norway's largest gathering of the oil and gas industry, Offshore Northern Seas (ONS) which ends last week, Norske Shell, the Norwegian unit of Anglo-Dutch major Royal/Dutch Shell, was awarded the conference's innovation award for the fuel cell, which could help Norway to meet its Kyoto commitments. Under the Kyoto Protocol on reducing emissions in greenhouse gases, Norway must reduce total emissions by 16 percent within six to 10 years.  Norway's oil and gas exploration activity is responsible for some 30 percent of the nation's carbon dioxide emissions, Shell says. Onshore, Norway relies chiefly on emission-free hydro-electric power. The zero-emission solid oxide fuel cell is not here yet, however. Shell said it plans to set up a pilot plant in western Norway, beginning in 2004.  Hauge estimates that orders for between 150 and 250 fuel cells for the southern part of the Norwegian sea would be needed to make a factory viable.


The Star
September 2, 2002

Industrialised G8 countries have broken ranks with the United States by urging the rest of the world to urgently ratify the Kyoto protocol on climate change. World leaders came to Johannesburg on Monday not just with promises, but with concrete plans to eradicate poverty. And in a surprise move, one of America's closest allies, Canada, announced its intention to ratify the protocol before the end of the year, along with another ally, Japan.

They joined the European Union and Britain in making urgent calls on the whole world to ratify the agreement on climate change and to implement measures to combat carbon dioxide emissions, which are believed to cause global warming. With hopes raised for a universal commitment to reduce emissions, all eyes will be on US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who will deliver his country's statement on Wednesday during a whistle-stop at the summit. America, Australia, and Russia are the major countries still refusing to ratify Kyoto. China last week announced it would start the process of ratification.

The US government, which tried to get even references to Kyoto eliminated from the draft summit text, now faces strong pressure to fall in line with the rest of the world. Recently, US President George W Bush again stressed that the protocol could not be endorsed because it evoked the principle of "common-but-differentiated responsibility", which placed a larger burden on industrialised countries to reduce emissions.


Planet Ark
September 2, 2002

JOHANNESBURG - A plan to cut down on wasteful burning of natural gas from oil rigs will help cut down greenhouse gas emissions and could provide poor people with access to cheap fuel, the World Bank said last week.  Launching the scheme at the Johannesburg Earth Summit, World Bank Managing Director Peter Woicke said although some oil companies already had to cut their own gas burning, evocative of oil fields and known as 'flaring', the new scheme would build on this and help the environment too.  "If we can reduce gas flaring we will make a major commitment to the environment," he said. "Were the flaring of gas in Africa alone to be used for power generation in efficient power plants, this could produce approximately 50 percent of the current power consumption of the African continent."  

Gas flaring is not only a waste of an otherwise fairly clean fuel, but the inefficiency of the process can result in the release of methane, a greenhouse gas approximately 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide and blamed for global warming.  Philip Watts, Chairman of Royal Dutch/Shell, said the new partnership, involving public and private money, would help bring on board companies who had not managed to make much progress in reducing their gas wastage.  "Some companies have been more progressive than others," he said. "This is an opportunity to share best practices."  They also said the initiative would explore using the gas saved as a cheap and clean fuel for small-scale use in local communities. Despite commitments by governments and companies, the level of gas flaring has remained virtually constant over the last 20 years, according to a World Bank report.  Over 100 billion cubic metres of gas are flared every year, equivalent to almost 600 Tera Watt hours of energy, or about one and a half times the amount used in Africa.


September 2, 2002

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A dispute between Europeans and Americans on Monday over curbing the use of oil held up a deal at the Earth Summit as world leaders urged support for the grand U.N. action plan to end poverty and save the planet. A parade of heads of state and government took to the podium in Johannesburg to support its lofty goals, urged on by children who demanded an end to international bickering and chided them for breaking the promises they made to future generations at the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro 10 years ago. "Too many adults are too interested in money and wealth to take notice of serious problems that affect our future," said 11-year-old Justin Friesen from Canada, standing next to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the podium before the leaders.

But the reality of human conflict was everywhere in view. Behind closed doors, officials from the United States and OPEC oil exporters stonewalled efforts by the European Union and some developing countries for a firm global target for switching away from oil and other climate-warming fossil fuels toward "green" renewable energy sources like wind and solar power. In the main hall Third World leaders blasted greed among the rich nations as tensions over Iraq and Zimbabwe crackled. In downtown Johannesburg, police turned water cannon on about 100 pro-Palestinian protesters outside a venue where Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres was due to speak.

The energy issue was the main remaining hurdle to agreeing a plan tackling a host of threats to mankind, from pollution and poverty to AIDS and the extinction of plant and animal species. Skeptics say its vast ambition deprives it of meaning, especially as the United States has resisted what it sees as empty symbolism in setting targets for such sweeping goals and argues that, as after Rio, many nations will simply ignore them. "We deal with everything and there is a risk at the end of the day that it means nothing," said Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, whose country holds the EU presidency.


President Bush) was notably absent and the only leader of the Group of Seven industrial powers not to speak. So the leader of world's strongest nation did not hear the leader of one of its smallest make an earnest plea to Americans and others to adjust their lifestyles and save his entire island state from disappearing beneath the waves of the Pacific. "We want the islands of Tuvalu, our nation, to exist permanently for ever and ever, and not to be submerged under water merely due to the selfishness and greed of the industrial world," Prime Minister Saufatu Sopoanga told the summit.

Rising sea levels caused by polar ice being melted by global warming threatens the low-lying coral atolls. And scientists say it is the gases of vehicle exhausts and industry that are causing a greenhouse effect, warming up the atmosphere. Sopoanga called on industrial states to bind themselves to the Kyoto Protocol on curbing those emissions. Bush pulled out of it, saying it was expensive and unfair for the U.S. economy.

European leaders including British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder also pushed for the pact. Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien ended months of uncertainty, announcing he would ask parliament to ratify it. Russia holds the key to implementing the accord and has said it intends to. But it is not yet clear when that might happen. Bush was represented in Johannesburg by a low-level delegation led by Undersecretary for Energy Robert Card. In a separate approach to the problem, the EU, Brazil and some other countries are trying to embed firm targets for increasing the use of "green" energy sources in the U.N. plan. Talks broke up in the small hours and resumed to continue throughout the day. Washington says it cannot bind the American people to targets it believes other nations will not respect. 


South African President Thabo Mbeki called on the World Summit on Sustainable Development to end the "global apartheid" between the rich and billions of poor, with a plan that contains reaffirmed commitments to Third World aid and fairer trade. Western leaders insisted they were doing their bit. "Today in Johannesburg, humanity has a date with destiny," said French President Jacques Chirac. "Our house is burning down and we are blind to it," he added, suggesting a "solidarity levy on the wealth created by globalisation" to help the poor. An aide suggested taxes on air tickets or financial deals. But that is hardly likely to find favor with U.S. business.

There was rather more blistering rhetoric from Third World firebrands like Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chavez. "If we are tackling fires, let us not respect arsonists," he said, recalling a coup this year that nearly toppled him as the United States looked on with what many saw as tacit approval. "We must confront the privileged elites who have destroyed a large part of the world," he added. President Robert Mugabe laid into Blair over his support for white farmers being forced off their land in Zimbabwe: "Blair, keep your England and let me keep my Zimbabwe," he said to loud applause for a stand against colonialism. Blair had already left. Mugabe was out of the room when Blair gave his speech. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who sent Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz to the summit, won some support from South African former president Nelson Mandela over U.S. threats to oust him: "We are really appalled by any country whether it is a superpower or a poor country that goes outside the United Nations and attacks independent countries," Mandela said.

September 2, 2002

Japanese deputy minister said industrial technology is the key element in sustainable development. Yoshihisa Oshima was speaking at the Ubuntu Village in Johannesburg at the World Summit on Sustainable Development Conference. The Kyoto Protocol, signed by 142 countries in 1997, required that developed nations reduce global warming by cutting their greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2012. To lessen its use of fossil fuels, Japan has implemented trial tests involving various technologies, making use of wind, ice and snow. Oshima said Japan is doing all it can to follow the ideals set out by the Kyoto Protocol. "We are developing more electrical appliances and cars. There will be no solutions without zero emission technology. It must be developed and utilised," he said.

Working in conjunction with the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (Nedo), the government hopes to bring together financial and human resources, and technological expertise, in order to create this new technology. "If industry proves to be a primary driver for sound technology, then the government will support these industries," says Oshima. This project aims to establish how to distribute wind power systems by installing systems at locations with different weather conditions to gather data on which conditions produce the greatest amount of output. Wind is a clean, renewable energy and, like solar energy, is inexhaustible. In Japan, the introduction of wind power generation began in the 1980s, while Germany, the United States, Spain and Denmark are also using wind energy. Once this form of energy is developed and implemented, it is important that industries follow suit. "All industries should encourage and support these ideas. It is an industrial responsibility," says Takao Suzuki of the Japan Automobile Company (Jama). "We are trying to support environmental protection as well as trying to meet the Kyoto goals." Jama is looking into ways of using fuel cells in cars in order to reduce emissions. By 2010, Japan hopes to have at least 3,8 million units of these cars on the road. The government is studying what infrastructures are necessary to implement this new technology, Oshima says. "Only once we've achieved this can we say that technology has helped sustainable development." This new technology works in Japan, but needs to be adapted so that it can be marketed to the rest of the world, particularly the developing world. - Witsnews.


September 1, 2002

MAPUTO, Mozambique (Reuters) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair called on Sunday for more ambitious goals to curb climate change, saying sceptics like the United States could be won over by a global drive to develop clean fuel technology. Trying to bridge one of the bitterest disputes at the Earth Summit in South Africa, Blair said harnessing clean energy sources held the key to ensuring economic growth without threatening the planet. He told a gathering of politicians and businessmen in Mozambique that world leaders needed to set goals beyond the Kyoto protocol on climate change set five years ago -- which the United States has refused to ratify. "In truth Kyoto is not radical enough," he said. "Yet it is at present the most that is do-able and even then the largest nation, the United States, stands outside it." "They believe the targets are unachievable without unacceptable economic consequences."  

Blair will address the Earth Summit on Monday. His close but absent ally, U.S. President George W. Bush, faces fierce criticism from environmentalists who say he is obstructing progress on the environment and sustainable development.  The British premier said that, to address U.S. fears, better use of science, technology and market incentives were needed to win support for Kyoto "and the necessary, more radical, action on climate change." Calling for greater political will to tackle the problem, Blair promised to put forward specific British proposals after consulting with G8 allies.  "We need a systematic attempt to work out the potential of the most exciting scientific work now being done, for example in the areas of fuel cell technology, offshore wind and tidal energy, and converting waste to create methane," he said.  "Kyoto is right, but it is not enough." 

Blair's own green adviser has criticised his domestic record, saying that in five years under Blair environmental progress has been too timid and describing his Labour government as intoxicated with big business.  But Blair said he was proud of his record and defended the role of business in promoting growth and development.  "We can't solve climate change by being anti-business or anti-success," he said.

He also repeated British calls for an opening up of U.S. markets and reform of EU farm subsidies, which developing countries say block their agricultural exports to Europe.  "Free trade is vital and neither the EU, the U.S., Japan nor any other wealthy nation should be retreating from it," he said.  

Blair was due to fly from Mozambique on Monday to join leaders from around 100 countries at the Johannesburg summit.  Environmental groups said he would set out proposals aimed at preventing the mismanagement of revenues paid to developing countries by oil, gas and mining companies through open accounting of all payments to governments.  Publish What You Pay, a coalition of more than 60 non- governmental organisations, said it "warmly welcomes the announcement and Mr Blair's leadership on the issue."  But it said regulation rather than a voluntary framework was needed. The groups said oil, gas and mining industries were important to more than 50 developing countries that were home to 3.5 billion people. More than 1.5 billion of those people lived on less than $2 a day.  But often the oil firms paid money to institutions which were unaccountable to their citizens and became "a vehicle for embezzlement, fraud and corruption," they said.


Associated Press
September 1, 2002

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - As heads of state started arriving at the World Summit on poverty and the environment, bleary-eyed negotiators were upbeat Sunday after reaching deals on climate change and trade.  "We have absolutely no choice. We must deliver," Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said. The 10-day conference, which started last Monday, aims to agree on a plan to turn promises made at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio into reality.  Diplomats said one contentious issue was resolved late Saturday, when negotiators settled on wording to address the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which the United States has refused to sign.

The agreed text says nations that have ratified Kyoto "strongly urge" states that have not done so to ratify it in "a timely manner."  "This is very encouraging," said Danish Environment Minister Hans Christian Schmidt, whose country holds the EU presidency.  Environmentalists also welcomed the agreement. Steve Sawyer, climate director for Greenpeace, called it "a tremendous achievement in this process because basically it doesn't go backward."  "It's about the only thing in this text that doesn't," he added.

Negotiators also reached compromises on trade that largely stick to language agreed to at a World Trade Organization meeting in Doha, Qatar. They include a reaffirmation of commitments to hold negotiations with a view to phasing out agriculture and other trade-distorting subsidies. The last outstanding issue was resolved late Sunday when negotiators agreed to delete language giving the WTO precedence over multilateral environment agreements, diplomats said Sunday.  "There's a sense of euphoria among the delegates that they've been able to settle this very difficult issue," said Lucian Hudson, spokesman for the British delegation. 

Delegates have now agreed more than 95 percent of the 70-odd page plan, though a few tough issues remain, summit Secretary-General Nitin Desai said. "The document is almost finished," South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said.  The head of the U.S. delegation, Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky, said she was "encouraged" by the progress made.  "The process is not just about approving text. It's about working with developing countries that look to us for concrete action," she said. "Failure is not an option."  Negotiators meeting behind closed doors worked late into the night Sunday to settle remaining differences over energy and sanitation.

Developing nations have sided with the United States against setting targets on renewable energy sources, while the European Union and other countries are pushing for a commitment to halve the number of people without access to sanitation by 2015.  Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, representing the 15-nation EU, said the goal was feasible.  "We have the technology and the talent, and I would also say we have the money," he said.  But the United States has resisted including new targets and timetables in the action plan, arguing the way to get results is through concrete projects - not paper agreements.  

With governments increasingly cash-strapped, the summit has emphasized the role public-private partnerships can play in alleviating poverty and protecting the environment.  "We've all realized that governments can't do it alone. We live in an era of partnerships," U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan told government and corporate leaders at a series of "Business Day" events. Israel and Jordan announced a partnership of their own, the largest ever between the two countries, a dlrs 800 million pipeline intended to save the shrinking Dead Sea.  Both governments also appealed for international assistance to fund the project that will take three to five years to complete. 

More than 50 world leaders were expected in South Africa for the start of the final session Monday, when heads of state will address the summit, with the number climbing to 109 before the summit ends Wednesday. Outside the summit Sunday, a group of protesters demonstrated against the increasingly authoritarian rule of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, who arrived in South Africa on Saturday.  Also Sunday, Annan and South African President Thabo Mbeki visited the Sterkfontein Caves, an archaeological site near Johannesburg. Among the hundreds of finds at the 13 caves are the remains of a 3.5 million-year-old human ancestor.  "This is the window through which we get a glimpse into our shared past," Mbeki said. "I hope and trust that this valley of human ancestors will inspire and guide us as we face the challenges of our modern world."


Japan Today
August 31, 2002

JOHANNESBURG - The United States plans to submit an alternative to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on curbing global warming in an implementation document top leaders aim to adopt next week at the ongoing Earth Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, several negotiation sources said Friday. A U.S. delegation source said that although Washington accepts references to the Kyoto Protocol in the Plan of Implementation, the protocol is only one way of dealing with global warming and that wording in the protocol in the draft implementation plan must be changed. 

The new proposal is expected to contain wording that would clarify the U.S. position of having companies independently deal with global warming, and is almost certain to be opposed by Japan and the European Union, which hold the position that the Kyoto Protocol is the only international standard on global warming. The issue is expected to become one of the main points of contention at the ministerial-level talks of the 10-day U.N. Summit on Sustainable Development. The current draft of the implementation plan states that governments must fulfill their resolution "to make every effort to ensure the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change," but the U.S. has been opposing such wording. According to sources close to the summit, the U.S. has compiled a new proposal, which it plans to submit to the ministerial-level talks, and has conveyed its intention to the Japanese side.

A senior Japanese Foreign Ministry official said, "It is desirable for countries to move forward with the Kyoto Protocol, which is a common rule for the world to deal with global warming." The pact, adopted in the ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto, will only enter into force 90 days after being ratified by 55 states representing 55% of industrialized countries' carbon dioxide emissions in 1990. The U.S., the largest carbon dioxide emitter in the world, has rejected the protocol. (Kyodo News)


August 30, 2002

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Russia has said it could decide not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, a move that would threaten the future of the global warming pact.  The U.S. has already rejected the protocol, which is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, amid widespread international criticism.  Although Moscow plans to ratify the treaty, Russian Deputy Minister Mukhamed Tsikanov of the Ministry for Economic Development and Trade warned there was a possibility it may yet be rejected: "There is a risk, there is a risk, without a doubt."  "Because... we don't have the economic stimulus, the economic interest in the Kyoto Protocol," he told Reuters at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg on Friday.  

Moscow feels billions of dollars it had expected to earn by selling "rights to pollute" under the treaty's quota trading mechanism are now in doubt since the U.S., the biggest potential buyer, has pulled out of the Kyoto process.  "That means that it turns out that Russia is losing a potential market for its trading quota. The economic stimulus to the Kyoto Protocol is disappearing," Tsikanov said.  "This is a key point that could play a negative role overall in the whole Kyoto Protocol process."  Countries accounting for 55 percent of the developed world's carbon dioxide emissions in 1990 must sign up for the treaty to become effective. Countries responsible for just over 37 percent have signed it, including all 15 countries in the European Union and Japan. Ratification by Russia would add 17.4 percent. 

Moscow did sign up to a plan for implementing the 1997 treaty at protracted negotiations in Bonn a year ago, following U.S. President George Bush's rejection of the protocol.  Tsikanov said his ministry would report to the government next month having gathered data from various departments on the likely impacts of ratification.  So far, he believed, there was not sufficient reason to refuse ratify: "Today, on the basis of all the material gathered, I can say there is for the time being no reason for Russia to be against the Kyoto Protocol."  But the absence of the U.S. from the process is a serious drawback, he added. 

See Also:

RUSSIA THROWS A CURVE ON KYOTO ACCORD United Press International August 30, 2002




National Post
August 30, 2002

ZURICH and OTTAWA - Parliament will be asked to ratify the hotly contested Kyoto Protocol on climate change before the end of this year despite opposition from Alberta and large parts of the business community, the chairman of the House of Commons environment committee said yesterday. The government's own testing of public opinion, meanwhile, has found support for Kyoto declines when people find out more about the implications of the treaty on the economy and on their own lives. Extensive focus group testing, which has not yet been shared with Cabinet members, warns that support for ratifying and implementing Kyoto could evaporate quickly. The testing found that many people are not prepared to see substantial public spending on the issue and are not prepared to be inconvenienced themselves. Charles Caccia, a long-time Liberal MP and the chairman of the environment committee, said the Prime Minister will bring the accord before Parliament for a vote late this fall whether or not consultations with business leaders and the provinces have yielded agreement. "I would bet my last dollar on that," he said. "I am convinced we will ratify, so it is only a question of when, but by the end of the year. That is my understanding of what is in place." The treaty will be ratified over Alberta's objections, he added. The Prime Minister's Office said yesterday the government will finish its consultation process before moving ahead, quashing speculation Jean Chrétien would announce Canada's decision to ratify the accord at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg next week.

"The Prime Minister has said he will continue to consult with the provinces and other stakeholders," a spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office said. The protocol would commit Canada to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 6% below 1990 levels by 2012. Scientists believe the emissions -- caused mainly by burning oil, coal and gas -- are causing the global atmosphere to warm up, leading to more extreme weather events like floods, droughts and storm swells. Alberta says the Kyoto accord would put too heavy a burden on its fossil-fuel-driven economy, while business groups worry the requirement to cut emissions will put them at a disadvantage against the United States, which has said it will not ratify Kyoto. Both say the federal government promised them more consultations before ratification.  Mr. Caccia, who is travelling with the Prime Minister, said it is clear to him that while consultations may have to continue, the result is not in doubt. "The process has to have its full course, fine. But the substance is there. At the end of the process is ratification," Mr. Caccia said. Cabinet is set to consider an implementation plan on Sept. 26, then present it to the provinces at an October meeting. The plan would include $500-million in funding to offset business costs and the continuation of Canada's demand to receive credit for exports of hydroelectricity and clean-burning natural gas. Business leaders are expecting the ratification announcement at a key meeting on Oct. 23 of the Kyoto parties in Delhi, India, giving the federal government the months of September and October to consult with provinces, environmentalists and industry. 

"The schedule we've been hearing is targeted toward an announcement in Delhi," said Skip Willis, vice-president of ICF Consulting, a company that advises major companies like Alcan and Dupont on greenhouse gas strategies. "Our sense is that the critical decision has been made and now it's a question of putting together a reasonable implementation plan." "There is a commitment to conclude the consultations. That I understand will be in October," Mr. Caccia said. "Once that is done, then the process will have been completed and then the substance will be decided upon, and that's when the ratification is likely to be approved by Parliament." The Canadian Alliance, the Official Opposition, is against the treaty, but the New Democratic Party, Bloc Québécois and the Conservatives support it. Mr. Chrétien, accompanied by Mr. Caccia and Senator Nick Taylor, Liberal chairman of the Senate environment committee, stopped in Zurich to attend a conference on federalism before continuing to South Africa. Mr. Taylor, an Albertan, agreed with Mr. Caccia that ratification will come before the end of talks with the provinces. Mr. Caccia, a veteran environmentalist who has served in Parliament since the 1970s, said fears that Kyoto will cost the Canadian economy too much are overblown. He said business would be better served by certainty. "The lesson can be drawn from the acid rain experience," he said. "Acid rain did not prove to be the business disaster everyone predicted at the time and it will be the same with greenhouse gas emissions." "Business was very nervous at that time. It wants to be given assurances about timetables and targets." 

The focus group testing found strong support for the principle that industries and regions causing most of the greenhouse gas emissions should bear the cost burden of reducing them. This "polluter should pay" principle runs contrary to the Prime Minister's stance that the burden of combatting climate change should be shared by the whole country. The probe, the result of 26 focus group sessions in 13 cities, involving more than 200 people, was conducted between June 17 and July 4 on behalf of Environment Canada. The work was carried out by public policy research companies Créatec of Montreal and Earnscliffe Research and Communications of Ottawa and delivered to Environment Canada in early August. Among the key messages of the focus group sessions is that the public has a very limited understanding of the treaty and the issue of climate change. "When asked about causes, there was a large amount of guesswork, much of it incorrect, and many people simply couldn't muster a thought about the causes [for climate change] beyond 'pollution,' " the report says. The main thing people understand about the Kyoto Protocol is that the United States doesn't support it and won't sign the treaty, a draft report on the focus group results said. But, as focus groups were presented more information, this additional information raised concerns about job losses and reduced economic growth and fears that Canada would be put at a disadvantage economically to the U.S., the draft report said. 

Support for a Canadian alternative to the Kyoto treaty is stronger in the West than in the eastern part of the country, the report said. The focus groups split evenly on the question of combatting climate change through the Kyoto treaty or working with the U.S. on policies to reduce greenhouse gases, the draft report said. "While many believe that ratification of the Kyoto Protocol is the ideal scenario, the more prudent scenario is generally believed to be a made-in-Canada/made in North America approach," the draft report said. Any policies on climate change need to embrace the principles that they won't increase government spending significantly, or increase the cost of living to citizens or cause a lot of inconvenience in people's everyday lives, the focus groups said in weighing different policy options. As well, the groups said the policy to be adopted by Ottawa should not damage the competitive position of Canadian business or the health of the Canadian economy. The focus groups also expressed support for the idea of consultations with the public and the provinces before the federal government takes a final decision on whether or not to ratify the agreement.


Planet Ark
August 30, 2002

BRUSSELS - The European Union said this week it hopes to set up a disaster relief fund of up to one billion euros (dollars) after floods caused havoc in Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.  Officials will also work on freeing up billions of euros in aid from reshuffling budgets to help Germany meet the costs of cleaning up after the disaster.  The floods in central Europe in August caused deaths, forced evacuations of homes and left widespread damage in historical cities such as Prague and Dresden.  The decision to form a disaster fund was taken to provide fast relief in the wake of any catastrophe.  "This will be an expression of European solidarity," Commission President Romano Prodi told a news conference.

At present, the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, has to scramble around to find money from other sources, usually by reallocating spending from the budget, which amounts to more than 98 billion euros for 2002.  Prodi said 500 million euros would initially go into the fund, which he expected to be available for disaster relief this year. The size could be doubled in future years, he added.  But the head of the European Parliament's budget committee, which must ultimately approve any such fund, said the EU legislature might prefer having one-off budgets for disasters.  A statement quoted budget chief Terry Wynn as saying that parliament "would rather support ad hoc actions to cover the costs of future floods or other natural catastrophes. "Furthermore the unpredictability of natural disasters makes it questionable to freeze EU money in future budgets," he said.  Parliament has before thrown out the idea of disaster fund, rejecting the idea in 1997. It said that the amount, 10 million euros, was too small and rules to get funds were complicated.  


Prodi said disaster relief money would be focused on emergency requirements, rebuilding water and  electricity supplies and for social and transport needs.  "We need to tackle these problems decisively and quickly," Prodi said. The disaster fund would be available for current EU states as well as those negotiating entry, he said.  He added that the fund would not cause the EU budget to break the spending limit of 1.27 percent of EU gross domestic product, set at a summit in Berlin in 1999.  

A Commission statement estimated the flood damage to Germany at 15 billion euros, to Austria at two billion euros, the Czech Republic two to three billion and 35 million euros for Slovakia.  The Commission said that the floods should make EU leaders reflect on how such disasters happen and the extent to which human intervention is responsible.  It said the Earth Summit on sustainable development, currently taking place in Johannesburg, should lead to concrete steps to promote the better use of land and water and cut greenhouse gases, believed by many scientists to affect the weather by creating global warming. EU officials said Germany and Austria would also benefit from several billion euros more in spending from a reshuffle in funds used for regional aid and to develop roads and transport.


Inter Press Service
August 30, 2002

BANGKOK, Aug 30 (IPS) - As the ''king coal'' of fossil-fuel exporting nations, Australia should stop pushing dirty-fuel onto Thailand and other Asian nations and promote clean energy if it is serious about reducing greenhouse gases, two environmental groups said in a report Friday.  In a report they jointly released while the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) is underway, the environment group Greenpeace and the Mineral Policy Institute accused Australia of trying to make developing Asian nations dependent on fossil fuels -- which pollute the environment and produce greenhouse gases that cause global warming. They say these moves by Australia, which the report calls ''the king of coal', give yet more proof of its poor record on taking genuine steps to address global warming.  This record is already evident in how Australia has thumbed its nose up at international efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions - such as the 1997 Kyoto protocol that binds industrialized countries to reducing these emissions, critics say.  ''Australia needs to stop using dirty tricks in the Third World and sign the Kyoto Protocol,'' Greenpeace South-east Asia campaigner Penrapee Noparumpa said.  Australian industry ''is dependent on producing polluting fuel and wants to export its coal and its coal technology to Thailand, but people here want something different,'' Penrapee added.  She was talking about plans for a 1,400-megawatt, coal-fired power station to be built in coastal town of Ban Krut in Prachuap Khiri Khan province south of Bangkok, which would use 80 percent Australian coal from the PT Adaro mine in Indonesia.  

Residents there have been campaigning against the project since it was first proposed eight years ago, winning a two-year respite earlier this year when the prime minister said project construction would be temporarily suspended. Other parts of South-east Asia are also the target of Australia's coal exports. As it is, the authors of the Greenpeace report write, ''Australia is expected to remain the major coal exporter to Asia until 2020, meeting half the region's coal import demand.''  ''Coal consumption in South-east Asia is forecast to rise annually by 9.5 percent, on average,'' the report says. ''Consequently coal imports to these countries are expected to rise by 14 percent per year to 30 million tons in 2010, with total consumption reaching totaling 75 million tons.'' With coal-fired technology becoming increasingly unpopular in developed countries like Europe and North America, multinational energy firms are finding it difficult to sell their now antiquated coal technology. But that is where the search for new markets comes in. In an effort to stay relevant and profitable, energy firms are looking to developing countries, where demand for electricity is booming and where restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions are still in the early stages.  By opening up export markets for Australia's coal, the government and Australian fossil fuel producers are flouting international efforts to reduce dependence on burning coal and other fuel that contributes to climate change, Greenpeace says.  

Scientists have long issued dire warnings about the environmental and social costs of ignoring mounting evidence that global warming is being caused by greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide that comes from industry and the burning of fossil fuel - mostly by industrialized nations.  ''In Australia 90 percent of electricity comes from coal, one of the reasons why Australia produces the most greenhouse per person in the developed world,'' Greenpeace climate campaigner, Frances MacGuire, said. ''I call that hypocrisy, Australia will not ratify Kyoto but at the same time wants to push Thailand into a situation where it is dependent on coal-fired technology, Penrapee said. ''What about what people here want? What damage will this do to the environment?''  Australia says that signing the Kyoto Protocol would drive Australian industry offshore, as most of its developing country neighbors have not set targets to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases.  Industrialized countries say that big developing countries like China and India should also be bound by targets to cut greenhouse gases. But developing nations argue that the countries that are the biggest producers of these gases - rich nations - should bear the biggest burden of the cutbacks.  ''We're surrounded by countries that are not within the Kyoto framework and we could seriously disadvantage our industry,'' Minister for the Environment Robert Hill told ABC Television earlier this month.  

''We could impose heavy costs on our businesses, we could be driving investment offshore at the very time when really what we want to do is to continue a strong and competitive economy while at the same time meeting our international obligations to cut back on greenhouse emissions,'' he said.  For the Kyoto climate treaty to become international law, 25 nations that account for more than 55 percent of the world's greenhouse gases must agree to abide by it.  This task has been made difficult with the United States, the world's largest producer of greenhouse gases and responsible for around 25 percent of global emissions, pulling out of the agreement in March 2001. Australia and Canada have also said they would not sign the climate treaty.  However, Thailand's cabinet confirmed this week its intention to ratify the Kyoto climate treaty when it sits down with world leaders in Johannesburg, South Africa at the WSSD this week.  ''It is up to Thailand to reject dirty energy and demand renewable energy technology,'' Penrapee said in a telephone interview from a rally in Ban Krut, where the coal-fired plant is supposed to be built.  With installation help from Greenpeace, locals are celebrating the setting up of a 400-watt wind turbine that will generate enough clean energy to light up the town center.  ''Thailand has the chance now to go down the path of clean electricity - without relying on fossil fuels,'' said Penrapee.


August 30, 2002

Aug. 30 - Evidence is growing of a link between global warming and the floods and droughts that devastated parts of Asia and Europe this year, the head of the United Nations' body on climate change said at the Earth Summit Friday.  Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told journalists there was undeniable proof that the Earth was warming.  Scientists, he said, were striving to determine whether these higher temperatures had already wreaked climate change, including extreme weather events.  It was impossible to give a "scientifically robust answer" at the moment, he said. But, he said, "I think the evidence is becoming stronger that a lot of these extreme events are part of the overall process of climate change." "(...) There is a fair amount of statistical evidence and there is certainly anecdotal evidence that with the events that you see around the world which are extreme in nature, there is obviously a growing frequency, a growing severity, and I think the indications are that there is a link there."

Ramon Pichs Madruga, a member of the panel that specializes in mitigating the effects of climate change, told AFP that the cyclones hitting the Caribbean were become more frequent and more intense, and there was "evidence and associations" that this was caused by global warming.  In a lengthy report last year that had resounding political repercussions, the IPCC predicted the Earth's mean surface temperature would increase by between 1.4 and 5.8 Celsius (2.5 to 10.4 Fahrenheit) by 2100, compared with 1990 levels. Sea levels would rise from 8 to 88 centimeters (3.6 to 35 inches), a potential threat to small island states and low-lying areas, it said. Action to tackle global warming was launched 10 years ago at the first Earth Summit in Rio, which led last year to the Kyoto Protocol, a deal that commits rich industrialized signatories to cutting emissions of fossil-fuel gases. 

President George W. Bush walked away from the treaty last year, leaving the ambitious pact almost crippled. American opposition to Kyoto was a key factor in ensuring that global warming and climate change are only minor items at this summit, delegates said.  Attempts to include a brief reference of support for Kyoto in the summit's blueprint for action have triggered fierce rows between the United States and the European Union, the protocol's main backer.  On Thursday, an Austrian research paper released on the sidelines of the summit warned that more than three dozen of the world's poorest countries might lose up to a fifth of their grain-growing capacity by 2080 because of water scarcity caused by warming. Ironically, the rich world, which has most to blame for the climate change threat, would benefit. Farmers in cold regions in North America and northern Europe would be able to open up lands for crop-growing, according to the study, conducted by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.  

Pachauri said that it was vital to start work now to help combat the effects of climate change in poor, vulnerable countries.  Global warming is a complex interplay of the world's seas, atmosphere and land, and it is only in the past decade that scientific tools have emerged that give an accurate idea of the phenomenon. Oil, gas and coal release carbon dioxide when they are burned. The gas acts like an invisible shroud, trapping the sun's heat instead of letting it radiate safely back into space.


ABC NewsOnline
August 29, 2002

The Pacific island of Tuvalu is renewing its threat to take legal action against Australia on the issue of global warming. Tuvalu is trying to rally support from other island nations at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. The Tuvalu Government is calling on Australia to cut down its greenhouse gas emissions. Finance and Planning Minister Bikenibeu Paeniu is lobbying other nations at the Sustainable Development Summit to join in a planned lawsuit against Australia and the United States. Mr Paeniu says Australia needs to come clean about its environmental record. "I for one need to be convinced that Australia is indeed cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions as we are told by the Minister for the Environment," he said. Tuvalu says the emissions are contributing to global warming, which could put island states at risk, as sea levels rise.


Japan Today
August 29, 2002

JOHANNESBURG - Danish Minister for the Environment Hans Christian Schmidt said Wednesday the 15 member states of the European Union (EU) support the Kyoto Protocol, in reference to an implementation plan expected to be adopted at the U.N. summit on sustainable development being held in Johannesburg.His statement followed reports that the EU was considering removing the words of resolve for countries "to make every effort to ensure the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol," from the draft of the Plan of Implementation. (Kyodo News)


Planet Ark
August 29, 2002

NEW YORK - Big business brokers in trading rooms at staid Wall Street addresses may be doing more to cut pollution than protesters at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa. Take Benedikt von Butler, a broker at Evolution Markets LLC in Manhattan, who is one of a new breed of environmental financiers at natural gas, bonds, and coal brokerage firms.  Brokers like von Butler create markets out of 30 types of air pollution - from sulphur dioxide (SO2), a component of acid rain, to carbon dioxide (CO2), a gas scientists say warms the Earth by trapping solar heat in its atmosphere. In emissions trading, companies who have cut pollution by more than agreed targets can sell "credits" to other companies that are still polluting more than they should.  A variety of regulators set the targets. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set limits on acid rain components SO2 and nitrogen oxide (NOx). For CO2, Oregon, Massachusetts and New Hampshire have passed reduction laws.  But most CO2 trading is spurred by the prospect of international caps such as those outlined by the Kyoto Protocol, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas levels to near-1990 levels by 2012.

"Sometimes companies decide to trade because they fear future regulations; they need to cover the risk which can be potentially devastating," said Neil Cohn, a greenhouse broker at Manhattan's Natsource LLC, a company set up in the 1990s to broker natural gas.  President George W. Bush has rejected the pact saying it would result in job losses, but all 15 European Union members and Japan have ratified the plan.

The SO2 market, at $4 billion a year and growing, is the oldest and most successful. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency capped SO2 emissions of 200 of the nation's biggest utilities in 1990. Soon 2000 utilities will be capped - by even tighter emissions limits. Brokers profit on the deals and emissions have been reduced well beyond legal limits. The youngest market kicked off in April after British regulators required utilities to generate 3 percent of their electricity from renewable sources such as wind farms.  In the morning, von Butler telephones British utilities to look for demand. In the afternoon, he calls green projects in Latin America who provide supply. The British utilities only manage 2.8 percent renewable generation. "It's a chronically short market," he said. 

Whether they work on Wall Street or through Web trading platforms like, a Cantor Fitzgerald company formed with PricewaterhouseCoopers, emissions brokers create value for pollution by linking industries such as utilities, oil refiners, cement, paper and glass makers with similar firms in their industry who invest in emissions reduction equipment.  "Some people think emissions trade means you are paying to pollute, which really isn't true," said Peter Zaborowsky, Evolution Markets' managing director. "You're basically financing emissions reductions elsewhere."  Brokers also link buyers with global green projects that reduce emissions such as Blue Source LLC, which has sequestered CO2 deep into the ground at oilfields since 1999, both reducing CO2 levels and retrieving hard-to-get oil. Landfills that create electricity by burning methane, a potent greenhouse gas formed by rotting garbage, also provide supply. "If I'm an aluminum manufacturer or a utility, I don't want to spend my time in India, China and Latin America finding little projects to invest in and having risks involved," said Natsource's Cohn.  "I would want to deal with someone that's going to cover this for me at a cost and probably create a lower cost portfolio than I could ever do on my own," he said.  Globally, Natsource now has more than 50 greenhouse brokers.  


At the Earth Summit in Johannesburg this week and next, delegates will discuss methods of reducing emissions, but on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., a battle is also brewing.  Bush's Clear Skies Act, introduced this month, proposes further market-based initiatives for SO2, nitrogen oxide and mercury emissions but not for CO2.  Senator James Jeffords, the independent from Vermont who chairs the Senate environment committee, has stated that he prefers a bill that regulates greenhouse gas.  Companies have lined up to manage their risks. Liabilities including potential shareholder lawsuits blaming industries for global warming problems have created a whole category of insurance.  


The world's top reinsurance company Munich Re , estimates that global warming impacts could cost $300 billion annually by 2050.  Trading in carbon emissions could grow somewhere between $75 billion and $145 billion annually according to the world's No. 2 reinsurer Swiss Re .  CEO Jacques Dubois said: "The way we deal with climate change and substantial emissions reductions ultimately turns into a financial issue, and the problems associated with environmental disaster quickly become measured in dollars and cents."  A few companies, including DuPont Co. , acknowledged possible consequences if the Kyoto Protocol passes in their financial statements. Other companies, such as the world's No. 2 energy company BP , have started trading emissions within their company. 

Swiss Re this summer hosted an emissions trading conference in New York with the Coalition of Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES), a Boston-based group of environmentalists and investors.  "It was great because it was a dry business conference - people in suits talking emissions trade," CERES spokeswoman Nicole St. Clair told Reuters. "Emissions trading has finally gone mainstream." Some 200 million metric tons of CO2 have traded since 1992, brokers said. Brokers and companies do not reveal how much money they make on deals. But CO2 brokers said credit reductions for CO2 run between 50 cents and $2 per metric ton per year. By 2012 the price will rise to $5 to $9 per ton as the markets mature and regulations broaden, they said. This summer, brokered the largest CO2 deal to date: 6 million tons of CO2 equivalent. In that deal, Ontario Power Generation bought credits from Blue Source.  "All sorts of people have been laid off on Wall Street," Evolution's von Butler said. "Five years ago this job didn't exist. We're hiring people, so that's encouraging."  Evolution, which also trades over-the-counter coal, has 15 environmental financiers on its staff.


United Press International
August 29, 2002

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- The business community and the environmental action group Greenpeace, in a self-described unprecedented event, Thursday joined to urge action on climate change and to demand the United States ratify the Kyoto climate protocol.  The two groups, in making the announcement, said in a statement: "Greenpeace is well known for its disagreements with and campaigns against activities of some of the companies who are members of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development."

The WBCSD is well known for advocating a market-based and free trade approach to solving environmental problems, including voluntary measures that often differ radically from Greenpeace approaches. The two groups, however, share the same belief that the threat of human-induced climate change requires strong efforts and innovation by all sectors in a common international framework. They have agreed to convene a dialogue to urge governments to act more forcefully to provide an international political framework that enables, stimulates and rewards innovation and implementation of the Kyoto protocol.  

WBCSD President Bjorn Stigson said: "We are making this statement before the heads of state arrive at the world summit. We are calling on them to put their own differences aside and make the reduction of the greenhouse gases a reality." At a conference that has so far delivered little, there has been considerable attention to this meeting of minds. Mark Moody Stuart, new chairman of Anglo American mining group and former head of Shell, joined the positive mood by saying, "It's a myth that we are not in favor of regulation. Yes, corporations are part of the problem but they are an integral part of the solution as well."  While many of the non-governmental organizations see this coalition as a climate coup that might just deliver action, James Shikwati, of the Kenya-based Inter Regional Economic Network, is concerned. "Of course big business likes regulation, it provides a useful barrier to entry to small businesses," he said.   Shikwati points to the statement of WBCSD member Chris Boyd of Lafarge, the French cement maker, that "It will be easier for businesses to implement global climate change policies rather than adhere to different national regulations." Shikwati said what Lafarge and the rest of big industry wants is for no climate change policies but since that approach failed they now want "all countries to have to implement climate policies." If all have to comply then there is a level playing field but Shikwati said it's a level playing field just for the rich. "What the developing world needs is to export goods to the west and if we have to comply with their regulations then we will never be able to sell them anything," Shikwati complained.  

It's far from certain the business initiative is as nuanced and calculating as Shikwati believes because many business people seem to genuinely believe they have to act against climate change. Many of the pro-trade NGOs think this will be a temporary peace since the Greens want large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The WBCSD has been able to focus the climate debate even more strongly on Exxon Mobil and the U.S. administration, but since they are not popular at the conference the long-term effect is uncertain.      Exxon is not a member of the WBCSD and disagrees with the tack taken by the council. U.S. President George Bush is not attending the meeting so the debate is unlikely to flourish. The next stop will be a climate conference in Delhi in October. 

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Planet Ark
August 29, 2002

JOHANNESBURG - The devastating floods which have killed scores of people across central Europe are the wake-up call that could push industrial nations to act faster to stop the planet heating up, a leading scientist said this week. Robert Watson, now the World Bank's chief scientist since he was ousted from the chair of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) in April due to U.S. opposition, insists dramatic floods and droughts will become more frequent.  "You don't have to identify each event with climate change. All you have to say is this is the type of world that may become more prevalent. It is the sort of wake-up call, I believe, that could have an impact," he told reporters at the Earth Summit. Scientists say "greenhouse gases" produced by human activities during the past 100 years have made the world a warmer place and increased carbon dioxide emissions are set to linger in the earth's atmosphere for years to come.  As head of the IPPC, Watson predicted the Earth's temperature could rise by up to 5.8 degrees Celsius (10.4 Fahrenheit) over the coming century, a change that he says would lead to more extreme weather patterns.  "(The floods are) the type of event which will become more prevalent in a warmer world. It's the sort of thing that can be a wake-up message to say 'If this becomes more frequent this is not the type of event we want to see in the future'," he said.  

Besides the floods which swept across Europe this month, hundreds have died as torrential rain hit China, Nepal, Iran and the Philippines in recent weeks.  Watson said as the globe heats up rainfall would become heavier and more frequent in areas where it already rains a lot while arid areas would suffer from more droughts.  On the positive side, crop yields would increase in more temperate zones, such as Europe and North America, but this would be offset by a decrease in the tropical zones where many of the world's poor live.  Climate change is notably absent from the agenda at the 10-day World Summit on Sustainable Development, a conference to find ways of hauling millions of poor out of economic despair without putting further strain on the planet's ecosystem.  The United States, which emits a quarter of the world's man-made greenhouse gases, has rejected the Kyoto protocol on cutting pollution and Watson says pressure from Washington ensured climate change was not on the agenda in Johannesburg.


USA Today
August 28, 2002

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) - The tiny island nation of Tuvalu sees the issue of global warming as a matter of life and death. Few at the U.N. development summit seem to care. Tuvalu fears it will be crushed by storms, rising ocean levels and disruptions to marine life caused by global climate change. But the United States does not want the summit to commit to specific pollution controls, and the world's developing nations - many of them major oil producers - have little interest in the concerns of a country of 12,000 people. "If this issue of climate change is ignored, what will happen to Tuvalu?" said Paani Laupepa, Tuvalu's assistant secretary of the environment. Tuvalu comprises nine low-lying coral atolls in the Pacific Ocean between Australia and Hawaii whose highest point is just 15 feet above sea level. Studies suggest the global sea level has risen about 7.8 inches over the past 100 years, and some experts say the rate is increasing. "Tuvalu is flat. As flat as a pancake," Laupepa said. "We are at the front line of climate change." In March, the country's prime minister appealed to Australia and New Zealand to provide homes for his people if his country is washed away. But at what is expected to be the world's largest U.N. gathering, the country's worries are being largely ignored.

Contentious negotiations over the conference's action plan have mainly involved three groups, the European Union, a coalition of industrialized nations including Japan and the United States, and the G-77 group of developing nations. Tuvalu is a member of none of these. When Tuvalu's representative raises his hand in heated negotiating meetings, he is never called on, some officials say. His contributions to the climate change debate are brushed aside. "The nations with the most at risk should be the ones that are the most heard," said Jennifer Morgan, of the World Wildlife Fund. The issue of global warming, which was so central to negotiations at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, is barely present here. At the earlier summit, 170 nations agreed to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which is strongly supported by Europe, seeks to codify the Rio pledges and make emissions reductions binding. But the United States has rejected the protocol and strongly opposes any explicit mention of Kyoto in this summit's action plan. "We would prefer it to refer to a global effort without a specific reference to the Kyoto protocol that would respect those that are pursuing Kyoto as well as those producing other strategies," a senior official with the U.S. delegation said. 

The United States and other oil-producing countries also have proposed watering down timetables for expanding the world's use of renewable energy. Many experts believe that fossil fuels and other nonrenewable energy sources contribute to global warming. Tuvalu worries that global warming is causing more deadly cyclones at odd times of the year. It is changing its seasons, throwing off the island's agricultural schedule and damaging the marine ecosystem that many depend on for their livelihoods. Many of Tuvalu's climate change concerns are shared by fellow members of the 43-nation Alliance of Small Island States, which includes nations as diverse as Cuba and Mauritius. "Climate change continues to be a highly underrated issue," said Tuitoma Neroni Slade, Samoa's mbassador to the United Nations and the chair of the island alliance. "Everybody that should be backing Kyoto is stepping back." Morgan, of the World Wildlife Fund, said the main climate change concerns should be dealt with through the Kyoto process, not here. But she said the effort to ignore Tuvalu's plight has been unfair. "It just shows the balance of power. These rich nations, they have such a bigger say when Tuvalu has so much at stake," she said.


August 28, 2002

India has ratified the contentious Kyoto Protocol, said Union Minister for Environment and Forests T. R. Baalu said in Johannesburg on Wednesday.  India had submitted the instruments of accession at the United Nations headquarters two days ago, said the Minister. "India's accession to the Kyoto Protocol is a reiteration of our commitment to addressing and resolving various issues of global concern in a multilateral manner," Mr. Baalu said at the ongoing World Summit for Sustainable Development. "I hope that other countries will also soon ratify the Kyoto Protocol so that it could come into force before Cop-8 [Conference of Parties to the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change], which starts in New Delhi on the 23rd of October," he said. The Kyoto Protocol, which commits a country to the principle of multi-lateralism in resolving issues of global concern, was adopted in 1997 and aims at reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.  

The protocol requires that the industrialized countries reduce their emission of greenhouse gases by an average of 5.2 per cent during the first implementation period between 2008 and 2012. Industrialized countries that contribute 55 per cent of the emissions are required to ratify the protocol before it is brought into force. Till now, only those countries that contribute 36 per cent of the emissions have ratified the protocol. The Minister said United States and Russia must sign the protocol to make it effective. While the US has walked out of Kyoto Protocol, Russia was contributing 17 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, he added. 

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August 28, 2002

Australia is pushing to have any reference to the Kyoto protocol dropped from the statement on climate change produced by the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development. This came as Australia was accused of playing a spoiler role with the United States and Canada. Despite Australia's continued opposition to the international climate change treaty it has gained the responsibility for writing the draft statement that will go before the international meeting next week. A member of the 50-strong official Australian Government delegation, led by the Environment Minister, David Kemp, will spend the next few days trying to find language acceptable to all countries on one of the summit's most contentious issues. Australia and the US continue to question the effectiveness of the greenhouse gas emissions treaty, a position that has brought both countries into conflict with the European and British delegations.

The executive director of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Don Henry, said allowing Australia to play a lobbying role on climate change was "like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse". By being given the job of writing the statement Australia must find the middle ground in a debate over whether or not to ratify the Kyoto protocol. There is talk at the summit, which began on Monday and runs until next week, that the two extra countries needed to bring the protocol into law could be persuaded during the course of the talks. Australia has so far followed the lead of the US and refused to ratify the Kyoto protocol, arguing that it is an ineffective way of dealing with the problem of climate change.


The Guardian
August 28, 2002

European space scientists were preparing last night to launch the latest in flying thermometers - an instrument to take the temperature of the planet.  A two-ton Meteosat second generation satellite, known as MSG, was scheduled to have taken off just before midnight aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou in French Guiana. It will sit in geostationary orbit 22,000 miles above the Gulf of Guinea, the point where the Equator and the Greenwich meridian intersect.  And its most advanced instrument will be the first to measure the Earth's radiation budget - that is the sunlight absorbed by the planet, and the infrared warmth radiated away into space or absorbed by the atmosphere. With GERB, the geostationary Earth radiation budget experiment, climate scientists will have new insight into the processes by which the planet is heated or cooled.

"Climate change is an issue of vital concern for today's society," said Jacqui Russell, science coordinator for GERB. "We will learn much more about how our complex climate system behaves, and increase our ability to predict climate change by using GERB."  The driving force for the Earth's climate is the sun. But the planet's total heat is affected by changing circumstances such as clouds, ice cover, urban pollution, fossil fuel burning, volcanic dust, shifts in the chemistry of the atmosphere and even the vapour trails of jet aircraft.  Global average surface temperatures rose by 0.5 C and sea levels by between four and 10 inches in the last century. Six of the 10 warmest years recorded were in the 1990s, and the other four were in the 1980s. To understand how temperatures will change in the next century, researchers need very precise data now and for the next decade.  

The experiment will cost £9m and was designed and built by scientists and engineers in the UK, Italy and Belgium. The all-important detector package - the "eyes" of the instrument - was produced at the University of Leicester space centre.  "Producing these detectors was a major challenge as there are 256 sensitive elements to the detector, each of which has to be carefully calibrated and characterised. Data has to be simultaneously collected, amplified and processed for each of the 256 elements, 256 times during every 2 minute period," said David Llewellyn-Jones, professor of earth observation science.  This process generates large volumes of data which has to be sent back to Earth. This is done from a spinning satellite: MSG rotates at 100 revolutions per minute as it scans the Earth.  MSG is an £800m eye in the sky that will also provide better warnings of flash floods, disastrous snow, hailstorms and tropical cyclones.


Globe and Mail
August 28, 2002

OTTAWA and TORONTO -- Will he or won't he? A big political question hanging over Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's trip to Johannesburg next week is whether he will use the occasion to commit Canada to ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. The temptation to announce Canada's ratification has to be huge. Mr. Chrétien can effectively deliver the protocol to the world community if he agrees in Johannesburg that Canada will ratify. For a Prime Minister at the end of his mandate who is casting about for a legacy, that would be a world-class coup.

The protocol will come into force globally once countries responsible for at least 55 per cent of the world's greenhouse-gas emissions in 1990 have ratified. As it stands now, countries responsible for 37.1 per cent have done so. Russia, which is responsible for 17.4 per cent of the 1990 emissions, has vowed to ratify and is expected to do so this year. Canada's ratification, with 3.3 per cent, would bring the total above the magic 55-per-cent mark. In international eyes, that would confer heroic status on the beleaguered Canadian leader. It would also bring the World Summit on Sustainable Development back from the brink of irrelevance by delivering a finished international protocol that was born 10 years ago at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Yesterday, much of the buzz in the corridors at Johannesburg centred on what Canada will do. Many recalled the heady days of the Rio Summit when then-prime minister Brian Mulroney was the first world leader to sign the international biodiversity convention, and they wondered whether Canada might play a similar role this time. 

But if unconditional ratification would make Mr. Chrétien a hero in Johannesburg, it would likely cripple him at home. His government has already pledged not to ratify the accord until a workable plan to enact the global warming deal is produced and consultations with provinces and the public conclude this fall. Mr. Chrétien is expected to signal a strong commitment to Kyoto in a speech on Monday, but senior officials who spoke at a background briefing yesterday were coy about how far the Prime Minister is prepared to go at Johannesburg. 

One of the aides even said they "don't know" what Mr. Chrétien is going to say during his address. "I think we will leave it to the Prime Minister to reveal what's in his speech," an official added. Any move to unconditionally embrace ratification of Kyoto in Johannesburg would ignite a political backlash back home. Alberta has already warned of a court challenge if Ottawa goes it alone on the issue.  Sources say privately that Mr. Chrétien's aides are pleading with him to stick to the government's pledged timeline and avoid jumping the gun in Johannesburg. Former Liberal cabinet minister Lloyd Axworthy, a strong supporter of Kyoto, said he believes Mr. Chrétien has the "will, the spirit" to ratify as soon as possible, but thinks the Prime Minister is leery of rushing things.


Japan Today
August 28, 2002

JOHANNESBURG - Japanese nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) appealed Tuesday night to Japan's environment minister to ensure the inclusion of a prompt realization of the Kyoto Protocol in an implementation plan of the ongoing Johannesburg summit on the environment and development. "We, the environmental NGOs attending the (World Summit on Sustainable Development) strongly request the Japanese government support stipulating that the Kyoto Protocol be put into effect before the end of the year and that its implementation is ensured, at an official meeting," the NGOs said in a statement. (Kyodo News)


August 28, 2002

Japan made an appeal at the Earth Summit Wednesday for the United States to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the UN agreement to combat global warming that President George W. Bush ditched last year.  Japanese Environment Minister Hiroshi Ohki said that the protocol, agreed in the Japanese city of Kyoto in 1997, was the cornerstone of efforts to curb greenhouse-gas pollution blamed for climate change.  "Japan calls upon the United States of America, the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, to ratify the Kyoto Protocol," Ohki said at a seminar. He also appealed to Russia to move quickly to ratify the treaty so that it could take effect.

The Kyoto Protocol requires rich industrialised countries to trim output of carbon-based gases by a deadline of 2008-2012.  Bush abandoned it in March 2001, shortly after taking office. He complained that it would be too costly for the US economy and unfair because it did not require big, emerging countries such as China and India to make targeted reductions in their own pollution.  Bushs move almost destroyed efforts to complete Kyotos complex rulebook, but the accord was saved thanks to concessions by the European Union that were eventually accepted by Australia, Canada and Japan.  The accord will take effect once it has been ratified by at least 55 countries accounting for at least 55 percent of carbon dioxide pollution as of 1990 levels.  Ratification by Russia, the last major industrial signatory, is therefore vital, but experts at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg say this is unlikely to happen before 2003.  Ohki said that achieving Japans goal of a six-percent reduction from the 1990 level "is not an easy task" given that the country is a big energy consumer, but he said it had already made big strides to improve efficiency before the 1990 benchmark because of the oil shock.  But, he said, Tokyo was confident that it could keep the target, and there was also a benefit that the campaign would create "entirely new industries" and boost employment.  The United States accounts by itself for around a quarter of global emissions of greenhouse gases.


August 28, 2002 

Researchers at the science and technology forum at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg have called for a new "cold war" on climate change.  They said urgent action was needed to combat damage humans have done to the world's climate, atmosphere and biodiversity.  The call comes after delegates reached agreement on ways to tackle the world's fisheries crisis.  US researcher Berrien Moore said that political interests had dominated research agendas on climate change for too long.  He added that the irreversible changes humans had wrought on the environment, including the felling of large swathes of forests, meant that policy makers could no longer ignore the dangers.  "The issues are there and we're not going to be able to duck them," he said.  

Fisheries deal

The fisheries deal - the first substantial one reached at the summit - envisages restoring most of the major global fisheries to commercial health by 2015.  At the insistence of the US, the agreement stipulates that replenishment of stocks should happen "where possible".  But the agreement is also seen as a defeat for the US because it does specify a target and a timetable.  The Americans had argued that, instead of new targets, countries should try to keep to existing commitments. The UN says more than 25% of the world's fisheries are over-exploited, 50% are being fished to their full capacity and 75% need immediate action to freeze or reduce fishing to ensure future supplies.  Another section of the agreement provides for the establishment of marine protected areas across the planet by 2012.  

Targets set

This is the first agreement reached which has a specific date for completion.  It will be incorporated in the action plan at the end of the summit.  The BBC's Alex Kirby in Johannesburg says the agreement has eased the dour mood that marked the opening of the World Summit.  Agreement is also said to be close on about 50 specific targets for improving the environment, preventing loss of biodiversity, education for women and aiding poor countries, Canadian officials told French news agency AFP. Activists had complained that agreement on important issues was being stifled by the interests of big business.  But green activists scored a small victory on Tuesday by having the issue of big business accountability over the environment put back in the summit's draft action plan.  The re-proposed text calls for a "global reporting initiative" in which businesses are encouraged to report annually on activities that affect the environment. 

Activist complaints

Public discussions on agriculture began on the second day of the summit. Observers say agreement on agriculture will prove difficult, as developing countries say that the Europeans and Americans are not prepared to discuss reform of the world trade system and the reduction of subsidies to agriculture.  They also said the broad agenda of this summit creates almost endless scope for disagreements and is making consensus difficult to achieve. Delegates from the European Union have complained that their American counterparts are not prepared to sign up to specific targets on issues such as energy and water.  At the summit opening on Monday, South African President Mbeki urged delegates to come up with practical ways of tackling poverty and ending a world order based on the "survival of the fittest".


Seychelles Online
August 28, 2002

The Minister for Environment, Mr Ronnie Jumeau, who is heading a six-strong delegation at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) taking place in Johannesburg, has made a statement highlighting the concerns of small island developing states especially with regard to their vulnerable ecosystems in the context of global warming. Minister Jumeau made the statement on Monday in a panel discussion on biodiversity and ecosystems which followed the opening speech of President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa. According to the Seychelles delegation at the WSSD, Minister Jumeau received an ovation and applause for his statement, and soon afterwards was interviewed by the Agence France Presse (AFP). In his statement Minister Jumeau noted that small islands make up one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on earth, but as a microcosm of the environmental ills afflicting us all, "we are also among the most threatened ecosystems especially within the context of global warming." "Unfortunately, since many of us small islands tend to have relatively high GDP's per capita when viewed within the context of developing states ... we are faced with an increasing paucity of international support at the very moment when our very economic survival and physical existence are being threatened by changing trade rules and global warming respectively," the minister said.  

"And yet we do our very best, within the economic and technical constraints particular to small island states, to do our part. In Seychelles, for example, 46% of our total land area of only 455 km2 is protected in national parks, nature reserves and protected areas, and we have two world heritage sites, both fully managed and financed by ourselves. All this is done by a population of 80,000 people only, and much of the time, just for a pat on the head," the minister added. "The Seychellois, all 80,000 of us, would like to add our voices with a loudness that belies our size, to all of you here calling for a change in rules of trade which we feel are especially unfair to small island developing states which are having to add increasing economic isolation to our physical loneliness.  

"And to those of you who are refusing or delaying to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, we the small island developing states say this, as the water slowly but surely rises above our ankles: this to us is not a matter of protecting short-term political or money interests, but a matter of our very survival," Minister Jumeau said. Besides Minister Jumeau, the Seychelles delegation at the WSSD include Mr Peter Sinon, Seychelles Ambassador to South Africa; Mr Rolph Payet, director general in the Ministry of Environment; Mr Terry Jones, director for International Relations in the Ministry of Tourism; Mrs Florence Benstrong, Mayor of Victoria as well as Chairman of the Women's Parliamentarians Association and representative of the civil society; and Mr John Neville, director of the Marine Conservation Society, representative of a Seychelles NGO.


Economic Times
August 27, 2002

NEW DELHI: Heard of the base Indian who threw away a pearl richer than all his tribe? Now hear about Indian companies sitting on pots of gold invisible to their blinkered eyes. Many projects initiated by them after January 1, 2000, in diverse areas of energy efficiency, cogeneration, natural gas, alternative auto fuels, hydel power, etc, qualify for certified emission reductions that will become tradable commodities circa 2005 in a global market worth billions of dollars. Climate change and the Kyoto protocol that mandates targeted reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 36 developed countries could mean a windfall for Indian corporates. In other words, reducing greenhouse gas emissions as part of a strategy to arrest climate change is not so much bleeding-heart environmentalism as corporate finance. Many leading companies of the world have already latched on to the commercial potential of abating emissions. Energy major BP, for instance, has reported a saving of $650 million from its climate change initiatives.  

Trading in carbon has already begun in several countries, most vigorously in European ones. And once the Kyoto Protocol, ratified by India recently, comes into force in 2003 - which is likely despite US opposition - the ground would be ready for formal trading in CERs.  Michael Molitor, head of PriceWaterhouseCoopers' global practice in Climate Change Services, told ET that formal trading in CERs and other related products is expected to begin in 2005. He expects carbon to be listed on the major commodity exchanges of the world and traded just like any other commodity. In the first year itself, he expects carbon worth $6 billion to be traded. Under the Kyoto Protocol, 36 developed countries have an obligation to reduce their emission of greenhouse gases by 2012. Nations will pass on the responsibility to their companies that produce the emissions. A sound method of containing emissions is through trading in emissions.  Emissions trading works like this. The aggregate amount of pollutant permitted is determined by the appropriate regulatory body and allocated among companies that produce the pollution.


August 27,2002

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The devastating floods which have killed scores of people across central Europe are the wake-up call that could push industrial nations to act faster to stop the planet heating up, a leading scientist said on Tuesday.  Robert Watson, now the World Bank's chief scientist since he was ousted from the chair of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) in April due to U.S. opposition, insists dramatic floods and droughts will become more frequent.  "You don't have to identify each event with climate change. All you have to say is this is the type of world that may become more prevalent. It is the sort of wake-up call, I believe, that could have an impact," he told reporters at the Earth Summit. Scientists say "greenhouse gases" produced by human activities during the past 100 years have made the world a warmer place and increased carbon dioxide emissions are set to linger in the earth's atmosphere for years to come.  As head of the IPPC, Watson predicted the Earth's temperature could rise by up to 10.4 Fahrenheit over the coming century, a change that he says would lead to more extreme weather patterns. "(The floods are) the type of event which will become more prevalent in a warmer world. It's the sort of thing that can be a wake-up message to say 'If this becomes more frequent this is not the type of event we want to see in the future'," he said.  

Besides the floods which swept across Europe this month, hundreds have died as torrential rain hit China, Nepal, Iran and the Philippines in recent weeks.  Watson said as the globe heats up rainfall would become heavier and more frequent in areas where it already rains a lot while arid areas would suffer from more droughts.  On the positive side, crop yields would increase in more temperate zones, such as Europe and North America, but this would be offset by a decrease in the tropical zones where many of the world's poor live. Climate change is notably absent from the agenda at the 10-day World Summit on Sustainable  evelopment, a conference to find ways of hauling millions of poor out of economic despair without putting further strain on the planet's ecosystem.  The United States, which emits a quarter of the world's man-made greenhouse gases, has rejected the Kyoto protocol on cutting pollution and Watson says pressure from Washington ensured climate change was not on the agenda in Johannesburg.


Planet Ark
August 26, 2002

PRETORIA - South Africa said last week it planned over the next decade to supplement coal energy with green fuels in a bid to clean up an industry that is one of the most notorious air polluters on the continent. Deputy Energy Minister Susan Shabangu said the country hoped to tap the wisdom of environment experts scheduled to attend the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg next week where renewable energy will be a key issue.  “We're confident renewables are a viable form of energy. We're committed to reducing our contribution to global warming," Shabangu told reporters at the launch of a draft white paper on promotion of renewable energy and clean energy development.  South Africa, Africa's economic powerhouse, relies heavily on its vast coal reserves for most of its energy requirements. Coal-fired power stations generate 90 percent of the country's electricity.  The country boasts electricity prices among the cheapest on the continent is also the most notorious air polluter, officials say.  Despite its dirty image, South Africa says it is unlikely to replace coal as the primary source of fuel.  But in the wake of global pressure for a cleaner earth, the government is moving to diversify its energy mix and plans to generate an extra 10,000 Gigawatt hours of green energy in a decade.  

"Our target is that two percent of electricity demand by 2012 will be supplied by renewable energy sources. Alternatively it could replace eight percent of our current diesel with bio-diesel," Shabangu said.  The white paper seeks to lay out a regulatory framework for the renewable energy sector, lay out a pricing structure and create an attractive environment for foreign direct investment.  Shabangu said the white paper would be submitted for cabinet approval in September after which it will become government policy.  Official statistics show acute respiratory illnesses due to noxious gases emitted by fossil fuels are the second biggest killer of children under five in the country.  The biggest culprit for the emissions is the domestic stove fired by charcoal or wood used mostly in poor rural households. The government hopes to replace this with cleaner fuel made from sunflowers, staple maize and solar energy.  Other alternative sources include wind energy along the Cape coast and wild coast. At least 40,000 delegates and 100 heads of states are expected to gather at the summit in Johannesburg, to discuss ways to curb global poverty while protecting the planet.


August 26, 2002

OSLO, Norway, August 26, 2002 (ENS) - A last minute veto from Norway's environment minister has scuppered what would have been the world's first attempt to demonstrate sequestration of carbon in the oceans by injecting liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) into the Norwegian Sea. Carbon sequestration is being considered as a technique to remove the main greenhouse gas, CO2, from the atmosphere to curb global warming.  Echoing the arguments of environmental nongovernmental organizations that had campaigned to stop the experiment, Børge Brende said in a statement that the project "could come into conflict with current international regulations on the marine environment."

A license for the experiment granted by the Norwegian pollution control agency on July 5 was therefore rescinded.  "In the opinion of the environment ministry, the use of deep sea marine areas as potential storage places for CO2 must first be thoroughly discussed at international level and clarified legally," Brende said.  Led by the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (Niva), a coalition including American, Japanese, Canadian and Australian organizations had planned to inject five metric tonnes of liquid CO2 at 800 metres depth off the coast of Norway.  The CO2 ocean sequestration project was originally set up to run a similar test off Hawaii, but this plan was dropped in the face of local opposition.

The decision has prompted Niva to decide to drop out of the project, a spokesperson told reporters today. Capturing and sequestering CO2 from fossil fuel burning is being pursued as a possible means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, the European climate change program concluded that it offered "good potential" for reducing emissions, but that further research is needed, in particular to reduce costs.

The Norwegian oil firm Statoil is already injecting some one million metric tonnes of CO2 per year into the rock strata of an offshore oilfield in the North Sea, but no one has yet tried sequestration in the oceans.  Environmental groups argue that the project would have meant "dumping" CO2 in the ocean in violation of the 1972 London dumping convention and of the 1992 Ospar convention on protection of the North Sea environment. The Ospar Commission discussed this issue in late June but is unlikely to have an answer until next year, a spokesperson said.  Greenpeace and other NGOs also claim that injecting CO2 into the oceans could harm wildlife, and that the gas might return much more quickly than expected to the atmosphere, undoing the object of the exercise. The NGOs fear that sequestration of CO2 might prop up the fossil fuel industries and distract attention from efforts to move towards a low carbon economy based on renewable energy such as solar and wind.  Still, Norway is making an effort to limit the emission of greenhouse gases. On May 30, Norway became one of the first industrialized countries to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases.  "Global climate change is the largest environmental threat to our planet in this century. By being one of the first industrialized countries to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, we signal the seriousness we attach to this problem and that we want to do our share to solve it." The Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change establishes legally binding commitments on limitations and reductions in emissions of six greenhouse gases, including CO2. The protocol was adopted in 1997 and commits Norway to limit its emissions of greenhouse gases in the period 2008 to 2012 to a maximum of one percent above its emissions level in 1990.


August 26, 2002

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, August 26, 2002 (ENS) - Some 1.6 billion people today have no access to electricity, while 2.4 billion rely on primitive biomass for cooking and heating. In the absence of "radical" new policies, 1.4 billion will still have no electricity in 30 years time, according to a new study by the International Energy Agency released today at the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

The International Energy Agency (IEA), based in Paris, is an autonomous agency linked with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a group of the world's industrialized nations. The study points to "enormous" new investments needed to supply energy to growing economies. "We are not on a sustainable energy path unless we make considerable changes," said Robert Priddle, IEA executive director. "A secure supply of energy to underpin essential economic activity and provide services to society is essential if sustainable development is to be achieved."  The IEA is the energy forum for 26 member countries whose main function is to maintain and improve systems for coping with oil supply disruptions. The agency also claims to improve the world's energy supply and demand structure by developing alternative energy sources and increasing the efficiency of energy use, and to assist in the integration of environmental and energy policies.  

In its new study, "Energy & Poverty," the IEA shows the magnitude and future trends in what it terms "the vicious circle of energy and poverty."  "We believe that energy supplies are secure only so long as they are produced and used in an environmentally sensitive manner," said Priddle.  The study is one chapter in the next edition of the IEA's biennial world energy projections, the "World Energy Outlook 2002," due for release in Osaka, Japan on September 21. These findings from the study have been made available now because of their direct relevance to the World Summit on Sustainable Development, where energy is one of the central themes, the agency said. The World Energy Outlook presents projections till the year 2030 for supply and demand of oil, gas, coal, renewable energy sources, nuclear power and electricity covering the world and 18 major regions. It draws conclusions for energy security, trade and investment, and assesses energy related carbon dioxide emissions and policies designed to reduce them.  The IEA has identified eight areas where "action must be taken" to guarantee the world a sustainable energy future: energy security, greater efficiency in the use of energy, greater use of renewable energies, improving the way energy markets work, enhancing the role of technology and research to provide clean and cost effective energy, addressing health, environment and safety concerns, increasing access to energy, and developing sustainable transportation systems.  

Sustainable transportation systems are essential, since transport is the fastest growing use of energy worldwide, the IEA says. Rapidly increasing populations and vehicle usage have created gridlock and sprawl, as well as exceptionally high levels of air pollution, noise and accident rates. A new IEA publication, "Bus Systems for the Future, Achieving Sustainable Transport Worldwide," shows how new transit systems can revolutionize urban travel using clean diesel, compressed natural gas, hybrid-electric and fuel cell powered buses. "Express busways, employing high capacity buses and new technologies such as GPS-based bus tracking systems, can conveniently and reliably move up to 10 times as many people along a route as can cars - and cover their costs," the agency says. Calling it "sustainable development in action," IEA member countries work to enable developing countries and transition economies to adopt clean technologies and best practices through the Climate Technology Initiative, providing design and technology assistance along with training and capacity building programs.

August 26 2002

Australia may be in the doghouse on global warming - but we're not alone, as John Garnaut explains. Professor Warwick McKibbin, one of Australia's internationally recognised experts on global warming, is not one of the 272 economists petitioning the Federal Government "to ratify the Kyoto Protocol without delay". "It is a pretty sad indictment of the profession when people sign these things en masse without expertise," he says. Clive Hamilton, whose Australia Institute pushed the petition, says he "wouldn't waste the postage stamp" inviting McKibbin to enlist because he "serves the Government's interests". The world may be moving towards a consensus that greenhouse emissions are causing global warming but has never been more polarised on what to do about it.  

Today, the key players line up in Johannesburg for Earth Summit 2002 - and some say the future of the Kyoto Protocol is on the line. "The fundamental problem with the Kyoto Protocol is it assumes that nature is priceless and therefore the costs of taking action should be unbounded. Extreme environmentalists don't believe in trade-offs but incorporating trade-offs are inevitable for sustainable policy," McKibbin says.He warns that an "arbitrary" system of emission targets could kill the Kyoto Protocol. And if the protocol is ratified, he says, "it will be because the framework has become so corrupted that its targets are essentially meaningless". In its original form, Kyoto purported to limit global greenhouse gas emissions to 5 per cent below 1990 levels by 2010.  The developing world, which is increasing its rate of emissions faster than any other group of countries, has been excused from the regime. The US, under President George W Bush, refuses to sign until the developing world is included. By 2050, the US and the developing world will account for 75 per cent of greenhouse emissions.  The base year, 1990, was chosen because it coincided with the peaks of European and Soviet bloc gas emissions. Emissions fell dramatically in Europe and the Soviet bloc after 1990 due to restructuring of the European coal industry and the collapse of the Soviet bloc economies, but not because of climate change considerations. For these countries, Kyoto's targets are likely to be meaningless because they will be well below them anyway.  

And countries that stood to be affected by Kyoto's targets, such as Japan, have been given allowances for carbon "sinks" to effectively relax the restrictions. Greens senator Bob Brown, who strongly advocates signing Kyoto, concedes that the agreement will only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 1 or 2 per cent. "Kyoto is a symbol of global efforts to turn this thing around, but nothing more than that," he says.

The Australian Government's position is confusing. It has refused to sign but has spent vast diplomatic resources on expanding its Kyoto targets and carving out its own methods of calculating emissions. It has mouthed support for greenhouse gas reduction programs but declined to put forward an alternative policy. The Minister for Environment, Dr David Kemp, recently announced that Australia was close to meeting its Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gas emission targets for 2010. He projected that Australia's emissions would then be 11 per cent above 1990 levels, slightly exceeding Australia's specially negotiated level of 8 per cent. Senator Brown says Kemp's figures are a "technical snow job".  

Even Professor McKibbin, who played a hand in calculating Kemp's figures, agrees that the apparently benign picture is "almost completely" due to creative accounting rather than actual reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.  "The land-use loophole is called 'the Australia clause' because it only affects Australia," he says. "It is legitimate within the Kyoto political compromise process. Everyone's a winner if you negotiate intelligently for your own exemption here and [carbon] sink there."  Contrary to the Government's claims, Australia has increased its emissions by 31 per cent since 1990. We have the distinction of producing one-third more greenhouse gas per capita than anyone else in the world, with the volume of emissions increasing more rapidly than in any other industrialised country. 

Supporters acknowledged that the Kyoto Protocol has been badly compromised by politics but say it is an important symbolic first step and far better than nothing.  Perversely, in Australia at least, Kyoto's failings may have postponed the advent of an effective greenhouse policy and given businesses a sense of complacency.  Regardless of whether Kyoto is a symbolic first step or it fails altogether, the challenge for business will be "to get ahead of the curve" and adjust products and production processes for policy post-Kyoto. What we know with certainty is that a bunch of atmospheric gases, particularly carbon dioxide, let through the sun's ultraviolet rays but reflect the earth's infrared rays - thus trapping heat like a greenhouse. Climate modelling suggests that doubling the concentration of carbon dioxide would increase global temperatures by 1.5C to 4.5C. The range of uncertainty is large because heating causes a whole host of counter-effects, such as increased humidity, cloud cover and precipitation and changing ocean currents, each of which introduces other variables. The rate of greenhouse gas accumulation depends on another set of variables, including population growth, economic growth and the development and distribution of technology.  

Rising temperatures will cause sea levels to rise - because water expands rather than because melting ice caps will shrink - which may lead to devastation in heavily populated delta areas of Thailand, Indonesia and Bangladesh.  In the absence of preventative measures, a 50cm rise in sea level (the median projection for 2100) would flood 11 per cent of Bangladesh, displacing 5.5 million people, and increased humidity would also spread devastating malarial epidemics and intensify the severity of tropical storms.  The developing world will wear the human cost of global warming. The change and damage to global ecosystems are even more complex, more difficult to measure and more difficult to rectify.

Some economists argue that an "absolute" emissions cap, as was intended for Kyoto, is an inappropriate and politically impractical response to the uncertain costs of global warming. It is estimated that for American businesses and consumers to reduce their levels of greenhouse emissions to the levels required if the US signed the Kyoto Protocol (on its present terms), the price of oil would have to rise by 65-275 per cent and the price of coal would have to rise by 3-12 times. If vested interests and consumers allowed such a cap, the American economy would be crippled.  

While the present Australian Government has opposed measures to make business and consumers answerable for the environmental costs of their actions, the dramatic costs of global warming will force future governments to adopt different policies. The NSW Government has already proposed its own greenhouse reduction measures. In Victoria the Opposition has proposed replacing petrol with hydrogen in all cars by 2020.  A proposal by Professors McKibbin and Peter Wilcoxen would leave it to individual governments to apply a fixed cost on greenhouse emissions, with that cost agreed globally and applied uniformly across countries. Businesses and consumers would then be left to determine whether any given gas-emitting activity was worth that cost. They propose a hybrid system of carbon taxes and permits. For example, carbon emissions would cost $10 per ton, financed either by owning or buying a permit or paying that fee as a tax to the Government. This would raise the cost of oil by about 15 per cent.  And tradeable permits, both annual and permanent, could be issued to existing users for free or new users at a cost. The permit system would create valuable carbon property rights and, accordingly, encourage vested interests to help police the system. Such a system would not require a complex international monitoring process because it would create a source of revenue for governments who would then have the incentive to monitor the system domestically.  

But many businesses, such as the Australian power industry generally, remain stuck at the bottom of the coal pit. Coal produces four times more greenhouse gas emissions than petrol and 30 times more than natural gas. One third of Australia's greenhouse emissions derive from power generation and 90 per cent of our power generation is fuelled by coal. A new study by energy consultant Dr Robert Booth shows Australia is actually increasing its reliance on coal power and, despite improvements in technology, production has become less efficient over the past eight years.  Whether future regulation takes the form of McKibbin's flexible economic model, the Victorian Liberal Party's interventionalist proposal or Kyoto-style limits, energy-intensive industries are in for some unpleasant surprises.


August 26, 2002

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A new study provides the first direct evidence that global warming may be worsening epidemics of infectious disease.  Researchers have found that the cyclic global weather phenomenon El Nino has begun to affect the course of cholera epidemics in Bangladesh, an effect that is likely driven by warming of the land and water in the area due to climate change. El Nino is an unusual warming of the Pacific Ocean close to the equator. The phenomenon occurs every 2 to 7 years, and can cause weather changes, such as increased temperatures and decreases in rainfall and relative humidity. It has been linked to outbreaks of infectious diseases including dengue fever, malaria and cholera. Cholera spreads through contaminated food and water, and is common in many less-developed countries. A cholera pandemic is currently under way, affecting more than 75 countries.  

To investigate whether there might be a connection between El Nino and cholera, and to determine if global warming could play a role, Dr. Mercedes Pascual of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and colleagues reviewed climate records and information on cholera cases in Bangladesh. Their findings are reported in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The investigators found little association between cholera cases and El Nino during the first half of the 20th century. But the climate phenomenon was related to changes in the number of cholera cases during the 1980s and 1990s. In fact, the researchers estimate that El Nino accounted for 70% of the variation in the number of cholera cases during the last two decades of the 20th century.  

The fact that the link between climate variability and cholera has become stronger in recent decades "provides the first evidence for an effect of climate change on an infectious disease," Pascual told Reuters Health.  "The idea is that with climate change, the variability of climate also changes, leading to a stronger effect on the disease," she said.  Pascual and colleagues note that El Nino, along with global warming, are heating up the land and water of the Indian subcontinent, which could lead to increased proliferation of the bacterium that causes cholera. Also, the authors note, this warming could itself increase the likelihood that people will come into contact with contaminated water.  Most experts expect that the climate changes caused by future El Ninos will be more dramatic, either as a result of global warming or because of naturally occurring variations in climate.  "The implications," according to Pascual, "are sustained or increased levels for future cholera outbreaks in Bangladesh."


August 24, 2002

Berlin, Aug 24, IRNA -- German Development Aid Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul here Saturday once again urged the United States to join the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. "One has to apply pressure on the American government for it torejoin the Kyoto Protocol in the future," Wieczorek-Zeul told the radio station Deutschlandradio in Berlin. "The US, with its level of energy consumption, is the biggest     

polluter of carbon dioxide emissions," she pointed out. Wieczorek-Zeul added that this topic would be a major point at the discussions and debates during the upcoming 2002 Earth Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa. The US accounts for 36 percent of the industrialized world's carbon dioxide emissions output. The 1997 UN protocol, the first world response to tackling global warming, requires industrialized countries to cut emissions of  greenhouse gases below 1990 levels over the next 10 years.           


Inter Press Service
August 23, 2002

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 22 (IPS) - Germany and Brazil will formalize a project at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, to begin Monday in Johannesburg, that entails production of automobiles in line with the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, announced Foreign Minister Celso Lafer in the Brazilian capital Thursday. Brazil's President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Germany's Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder are to sign an initial accord to foment the manufacture in Brazil of 100,000 new cars that run on fuel-alcohol. Ideally, manufacturing will begin before the end of next year, said Lafer. Cardoso and Schroeder are both planning to participate in the summit, also known as Rio+10, to take place Aug 26-Sep 4 in the northern South African city of Johannesburg. The project calls for the Brazilian government to grant a sales tax exemption of 1,000 reais (320 dollars) in order to stimulate the purchase of the new vehicles by taxi drivers, car rental agencies and government entities. The costs of the tax incentive, totaling some 100 million reais (32 million dollars), are to be covered by the German government.  

The aim is to curb emissions of carbon dioxide, which is produced in the combustion of gasoline and other fossil fuels and leads to the so-called greenhouse effect, the cause of global warming. With this initiative, Germany and Brazil are putting into practice the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty that sets targets for reducing emissions of gases that cause climate change. Germany's financial contribution will not be a donation, but rather represents the acquisition of credits to be included in future calculations to determine whether the European nation has met its greenhouse-gas-reduction targets, as stipulated by the Protocol. The 100,000 new vehicles in Brazil will require an estimated annual supply of 430 million liters of alcohol, for 10 years, which is considered the productive life of the car.

The demand for fuel could spark a re-launch of an alcohol production program that Brazil began in the 1970s to overcome the need for imported petroleum. But the program has been on the decline for more than a decade due to relatively low gasoline prices and the uncertainty surrounding fuel-alcohol supplies. Cars that run on alcohol, which at one point represented more than 90 percent of Brazil's total car manufacturing output, today do not reach even 0.1 percent of the total number of vehicles in circulation. Producers of sugarcane -- used in the production of fuel-alcohol -- have been clamoring for a reactivation of the Proalcohol initiative, even as a measure to stabilize sugar prices. Now the sugarcane growers may see the greenhouse effect and the Kyoto Protocol as their allies. The agreement with Germany will allow them to expand production, create jobs, and tag more sugarcane for distillation, thus preventing a surplus on the sugar market. 

The Kyoto Protocol was approved in 1997, but will only enter into effect when enough countries -- whose greenhouse gas emissions add up to 55 percent of the total world output -- have ratified it. It has proven a difficult target, given that the United States has withdrawn from the treaty, and alone is responsible for 25 percent of emissions. With the new Brazil-Germany project, the two nations confirm their intentions to hold world leadership positions on environmental questions. Brazil will present other initiatives as well at the Johannesburg Summit, including one that calls on all countries to achieve renewable energy production equal to 10 percent of total national consumption by the year 2010.  

The European Union with Germany in the lead, has implemented a similar program, so is expected to back the Brazilian proposal, already approved by the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean. Fuel-alcohol could be an important tool for achieving the objective of 10 percent renewable energy sources. With its experience, technology and low production costs, Brazil could become a major exporter of this fuel.

China, India and Japan have already expressed interest in replacing petroleum-based fuels with alcohol, says Sergio Amaral, Brazil's Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade. The Cardoso government enacted several environmental measures Thursday, leading observers to believe the president is trying to strengthen the country's position going into the Johannesburg Summit. Cardoso formalized the National Biodiversity Policy, a plan resulting from broad public debate, and decreed the creation of Tumucumaque National Park, considered the world's largest reserve of protected tropical forest, located in the northern state of Amapá.  

In Congress, meanwhile, lawmakers are considering to legislative bills that would stiffen penalties for environmental crimes, particularly bio-piracy, and improve management of Brazil's extensive genetic wealth. Cardoso said that he will make an appeal at the World Summit on Sustainable Development for wealthy countries to contribute more towards the protection of Brazil's natural resources, given that this South American giant's biodiversity and Amazon forests are vital for the health of the entire planet.  Because of its efforts and initiatives, Brazil is qualified to play a global leadership role when it comes to environmental issues, said the president.


Business Day
August 22, 2002

IN 30 years Durban could find itself a high-risk malaria zone all year round, and SA will be facing massive food shortages due to a dramatic reduction in rainfall. That is just part of the alarming picture painted by the Africa Environmental Outlook, a recent United Nations (UN) Environment Programme report. The cause of the predicted problems is climate change caused by global warming. With the World Summit on Sustainable Development looming large, Paul Norrish is making a concerted effort to disseminate the message that climate change is everyone's problem, and not just a mess that the world's richest nations should be cleaning up. He is the campaign manager for the Johannesburg Climate Legacy project, which is hoping to raise $3m to support local initiatives that will permanently reduce carbon emissions contributing to global warming.  The project was conceptualised by SA businesses, including Eskom and Anglo American, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. It has been managed by UK-based Future Forests in association with partners including the International Institute for Energy Conservation, South South North and Energy Cybernetics. SA has a dismal track record when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, being the world's 14th largest emitter of carbon dioxide. Some of the greenhouse gases are captured and stored by "sinks" like the ocean and forests, but others remain in the atmosphere and trap heat, creating the greenhouse effect. Culprits include carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, methane and water vapour. 

The summit will generate an estimated 300000 tons of carbon dioxide, most of it created by delegates as they fly to and from SA. Airline travel contributes about 15% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, says Norrish, a figure that is set to rise as airline travel increases over the coming years. Countries that have signed the 1997 Kyoto protocol, which seeks to codify pledges made at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, agree to cap their emissions of greenhouse gases, though not necessarily immediately. SA has signed the protocol, but because it is a developing country, it will only have to cap its emissions from 2012. Even so, Kyoto does not cover airline travel. The legacy project is therefore asking delegates to the summit to travel "carbon neutral", by buying "Climate Legacy certificates" to offset the carbon they will generate. They can calculate how much carbon their travel and energy consumption during their stay in SA will generate on the climate legacy's website, A $10 certificate is worth about one ton of carbon emissions. The money will be placed in a trust fund and used to support a variety of projects in SA that encourage efficient use of energy and create jobs. Proposals include an initiative to equip two mine shafts with energy efficient lighting, by replacing 50000 incandescent 100W light bulbs with 11W lamps. The mining sector is one of the biggest energy consumers in sub-Saharan Africa. Norrish says a company can expect to see a 30% reduction in its energy bills, and recoup its investment in the new lighting system within three years. And since the bulk of SA's electricity comes from coal-powered generators, less energy consumption means less carbon dioxide emissions about 200000 tons less over a 10-year period. 

Another project plans to conduct an "energy audit" of Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, the largest hospital in the southern hemisphere, and reduce its energy consumption. Norrish says that energy saving steps can be simple, such as alerting people to just how much energy cellphone chargers consume when they are left plugged in 24 hours a day. "Few consumers realise that 95% of the energy used by a mobile phone charger is used when it is not charging. If it was switched off at the socket, we'd all save money and carbon dioxide."

The hospital would also benefit from energy efficient lighting, heating, and boilers, and plans to work with the water affairs and forestry department to reduce its water consumption. So far the British and Norwegian delegations have undertaken to travel carbon neutral, as have those from the UN Development Programme, UN Environment Programme, World Bank and the Global Environment Facility. Corporate sponsors include Rio Tinto, Procter & Gamble and Shell. The legacy project is clearly hoping to raise awareness about just how much gunk is spewed out by airline travel, but perhaps more importantly, it is a creative attempt to encourage local industry to start taking steps to reduce their energy consumption long before they are legally obliged to do so under the Kyoto protocol.


August 22, 2002

BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Thursday it is close to approving the Kyoto climate pact, a move that would give the protocol the backing of one of the world's top polluters and further isolate the United States in its rejection of the treaty. "We are currently making preparations on this matter, but it has not been finalised," a Foreign Ministry official told Reuters when asked if China would ratify the Kyoto treaty.

Another ministry official familiar with the matter, speaking privately earlier this week, said the State Council, China's cabinet, was putting the finishing touches on approving the treaty. State Council backing is essential for all major treaties and laws in Communist-ruled China. The treaty would also need ratification from China's parliament when it meets next March, but the body is a rubber stamp for decisions made by top leaders. The Kyoto treaty is aimed at spurring industrialised nations to cut emissions of carbon dioxide -- said by many scientists to be a major cause of global warming -- to about five percent below 1990 levels by 2012. As a developing country, China would not be held to emission reductions under the treaty even though it is the world's second-largest producer of carbon dioxide after the United States. But as a signatory to the pact, China would be eligible for so-called clean development mechanisms, which would allow developed countries to earn credits for their emission goals by investing in emission-reducing projects in developing countries.


Premier Zhu Rongji, who has tackled environmental issues in the past, could announce China's backing for the pact at a U.N. conference on sustainable development starting later this month in South Africa, diplomats said. "During meetings in the last month, we have perceived a clear intent from the Chinese to ratify the Kyoto Protocol as soon as possible," one diplomat said. "We cannot be sure of the timing, but we wouldn't be surprised if they had something at the conference in Johannesburg," the diplomat said.  

China's ratification would once again focus criticism on the United States, which says the treaty would hurt its economy while freeing developing countries such as China and India from environmental controls.  A Chinese Foreign Ministry official said on Wednesday Beijing opposed any attempt to renegotiate the pact or draw up a replacement. "There is no time to waste and there is no time to have long-lasting debates or negotiations," Zhang Jun, deputy director of the ministry's department of international organisations, told reporters. China has criticised suggestions it should also cap emissions, saying it must first focus on economic growth to raise standards of living for its 1.3 billion people. However, China is increasingly concerned about environmental problems such as the clouds of smog hanging over its cities, and has taken its own steps to cut pollution. Earlier this year, the State Council approved a plan to spend nearly $8 billion to clean up pollution and enact strict control targets by 2005.


August 22, 2002

BERLIN, Germany, August 22, 2002 (ENS) - Carbon dioxide emissions in the European Union rose in 2001 by three-quarters of one percent, according to new data from the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW). Emitted by the combustion of fossil fuels, carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming as it forms a blanket trapping the Sun's heat close to Earth.  Last year's rise is greater than between the years 1999 and 2000, when CO2 levels increased by just 0.5 percent across the 15 EU member countries. The 2001 increase pushed CO2 emissions once more above 1990 levels, at which the EU pledged to stabilize them by 2000.

A European Environment Agency report in April showed a rise in total emissions of greenhouse gases during 2000. Releases of the six greenhouse gases governed by the Kyoto Protocol rose by 0.3 percent from 1999 levels the agency reported. In 1999, emissions had fallen by two percent.  Some EU countries have already reported rising CO2 emissions in 2001, including the UK, Germany, and Denmark. DIW's report shows the trend is widespread across the European Union.  Findings of the DIW report are based on statistics from oil firm BP's 2002 energy review adjusted to take account of the carbon dioxide output when various fuels are burnt.  This "combustion CO2" comprises about 95 percent of all human CO2 emissions - industrial processes, international aviation and shipping are excluded - which in turn represent 82 percent of EU greenhouse gas emissions.  According to the DIW report, combustion CO2 emissions rose in 2001 in 10 of the EU 15 member states and fell in only four.  Those countries with rising emissions include not only Germany and the UK, which provided the motor for lower aggregate emissions during the 1990s, but also all six of the countries furthest adrift from their greenhouse gas limitation targets under the Kyoto Protocol.  Under the Kyoto Protocol, an addition to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ratified by the EU in June, the member states must cut their emissions of the six greenhouse gases by eight percent from 1990 emission levels.  

Countries with increasing emissions percentages were:

  • Ireland: +5.7

  • Finland: +3

  • Sweden: +2.7

  • Netherlands: +2.4

  • Portugal: +2.1

  • Germany: +1.6

  • UK: +1.5

  • Spain: +0.8

  • Denmark: +0.6

  • Austria: +0.2

Italy managed to stay even with the previous year while Belgium led the reductions with -4.7 percent, followed by Luxembourg with -4.4 percent, France with -1.6 percent, and Greece with -0.1 percent.  Renewable sources of energy that do not emit greenhouse are being used more widely across the European Union, according to an official report released today. Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities in Luxembourg reported that six percent of energy consumed in the EU comes from renewables.  The data was made public in conjunction with the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development opening in Johannesburg, South Africa on Monday.


Agence France-Presse
August 22, 2002

China is close to ratifying the Kyoto Protocol on global warming and an announcement will be made around the time of the upcoming U.N. Earth Summit, a senior foreign ministry official said yesterday.  "China's State Council (cabinet) has already decided to ratify the Kyoto Protocol," said Zhang Jun, deputy director-general of the foreign ministry's department of international organizations and conferences.

Zhang added that procedures were under way to finalize the details of China's ratification.  He was speaking during a news briefing on Premier Zhu Rongji's trip to Johannesburg at the end of this month to attend the Earth Summit, formally known as the U.N. World Summit on Sustainable Development.  Zhang stressed that the formal stages of ratifying the agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions had not been completed, saying that this will be done "around the time of the summit." Asked whether ratification would be announced before Zhu heads to South Africa, Zhang suggested Zhu could make a formal statement at the summit. "The summit begins on August 26 but Premier Zhu will speak on September 3," Zhang said.  

The 1997 U.N. protocol, the first coordinated world response to tackling global warming, requires industrialized countries to cut emissions of greenhouse gases to below 1990 levels by 2008-2012.  The United States dropped out of the agreement last year.  China's decision to ratify the agreement will likely put additional pressure on Washington, which has faced criticism from other countries for its decision.  Beijing has advocated that developed countries, such as the United States, take a leading role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to do more to protect the environment.  The Kyoto Protocol does not require China and other developing countries to reduce emissions, a point Washington has objected to as being unfair.  But Zhang said China is nonetheless committed to improving the environment and has adopted measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  He reiterated China's longtime stance that developed countries should shoulder most of the responsibility.  "It's a plain fact to everyone that without proper development of developing countries, sustainable development in the world cannot have a good foundation and cannot have a good future," Zhang said.  "In light of this ... we should first solve the problems of the developing countries."


August 21, 2002

Boulder is willing to join a lawsuit to force American-financed energy projects in other countries to detail their impact on global warming.  A Vermont-based environmental law firm asked the city government to join the lawsuit if it is filed.  Joining the lawsuit is projected to cost Boulder $7,000. On Tuesday, the City Council approved backing the legal action.  The lawsuit is expected to be filed on behalf of Greenpeace U.S.A. and Friends of the Earth against the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

The intention is to raise awareness about how U.S. corporations - with federal government financial help - contribute to green house gas emissions through their activities abroad, City Attorney Joe de Raismes said.  The lawsuit would be an unprecedented effort to try to apply National Environmental Policy Act disclosure standards to financial and insurance entities backing international energy projects, he said.  "It is test litigation," de Raismes said.  

Ronald Shems, a partner in the Burlington, Vt., firm of Shems, Dunkiel & Kassel, is exploring the suit to represent the interests of maple sugar producers, marine biologists and wind energy companies in addition to environmental groups, a city memorandum said.  Shems declined to discuss the suit or when it might be filed, saying he had an ethical obligation not to talk about it before it is filed.  The law firm contacted Boulder officials because studies have suggested that global warming could reduce snowpack runoff that Boulder relies upon for its water supply. Councilman Mark Ruzzin said global warming could have a big impact on Boulder and other American cities, and he predicted that Boulder will ultimately be just one of many municipalities involved in the lawsuit.


August 20, 2002

A new report by a conservation group warns that food and water supplies in Africa could be put at risk if global warming continues at the current rate.  The World Wide Fund for Nature, WWF, says climate change could spell disaster for millions: changes in the amount and distribution of rainfall would affect crops and animals alike.  As an example of the impact of climate change, WWF says that the ice-cap on Mount Kilimanjaro has shrunk by more than 80% since 1900.  The WWF calls for the implementation of limits or reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to global warming, that were adopted at the Kyoto international climate conference in 1997.  The global implementation of the Kyoto protocol on gas emissions has been effectively blocked by the decision of United States President, George Bush, to reject mandatory controls on gas emissions in March 2001.  

US key

Reduced rainfall in the semi-arid Sahel region south of the Sahara desert is another example of the effects of pollution and climate change on Africa in the WWF report. "If carbon pollution is left unchecked, climate change will have a pervasive effect on life in Africa.  "It will threaten the people, animals and natural resources that make Africa unique," according to the report's author, Dr Paul Desanker, Co-Director of the Centre for African Development Solutions in Johannesburg.  He says the coming World Development Summit in Johannesburg must decide to implement the convention on pollution and gas emissions agreed at Kyoto five years ago. The United States is key to achieving this, he told BBC News Online.  As the largest producer of carbon pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, the United States can make or break international attempts to limit pollution.  "If the US doesn't come aboard to limit gas emissions, this will be a complete waste of time," according to Dr Desanker.  He says that action on emissions by the European Union and other industrialised countries will have no significant effect if the United States is not persuaded to back the Kyoto convention.  

Coral reefs

The WWF report also calls for action to support sustainable land use in Africa and the development of "clean and affordable" energy sources in Africa by 2010.  Dr Desanker says Africa should be helped to develop energy provision that does not rely mainly on burning fossil fuels such as coal, which increase carbon pollution.  The Fund's report also warns that climate change is leading to "widespread loss of human life and livestock" It also says that East Africa's coral reefs are in danger of disappearing. Over 50% of the area's reefs have died as a result of "bleaching" through pollution.  The loss of reefs will affect fisheries, food security, marine biodiversity and tourism income.  Further climate change will also threaten vulnerable animal and plant species in Africa and threaten migration routes for animals and birds within Africa and between Africa and other continents.


Financial Express
August 20, 2002

New Delhi, Aug 20:  PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has started a climate change service in India as the country has emerged a potential destination for the developed world to meet emission reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.  "Many corporations, including British Petroleum, Shell, Dupont, IBM and Johnson and Johnson, have plans to tie up with companies in the developing world, including India, to fulfill their commitment of the Kyoto Protocol. PwC has already initiated talks with 10 Indian companies to provide its services on climate change," a senior PwC official told FE.  The Indian companies are in the power generation, wind and bio-mass renewables, equipment manufacturing, cement and aluminium sectors.  PwC has appointed its director (climate change services) Michael Molitor to set up a separate team for India. "India and China have the potential to account for nearly three quarters of all developing country clean development mechanisms (CDMs)," Mr Molitor told FE.  The Kyoto Protocol requires the developed countries to limit the emission from greenhouse gases (GHGs). The protocol provides for an option to member-countries to implement CDMs in any other non-member country and get 'carbon credit.' Six main GHGs are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogenoxide, hydroflorocarbons, perflorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride.  

The strategy of big corporations in the developed world is to invest in energy efficiency improvement programmes, fuel substitution, adoption of renewable sources of energy and in some cases even carbon offset (forestry) creation initiatives.  The investment in this direction will result in 'carbon credits,' which determine the amount GHGs emission allowed for a particular company operating in the developed world. They are looking at India, China, Mexico, Brazil and South Africa as potential partners where they can uarn valuable 'carbon credit,' Mr Molitor said.  "The developing nations have also to gain," he said, adding corporations in the developing countries benefit on three counts, they get capital to finance their energy efficiency programmes, it enhances profitability resulting from improved efficiency and access to newer technologies. "Country commitments to reduce GHGs in Europe and Japan are translated into corporate commitments. The opportunities for reduction of emissions are fewer and also per unit cost of GHG reduction in these countries is very high, hence, many corporation in the developed countries are turning to corporations in the developing countries and forming strategic alliances," he explained.  India is witnessing a spurt in CDM-related activity in light of the government of India's decision to host conference of parties. The ministry of environment and forests has issued a notification to all PSUs to identify and develop CDM projects.


August 19, 2002

Effective climate policies can contribute to progress on all the issues that top the agenda of the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), according to a senior United Nations official.  In an interview with IPS, Joke Waller-Hunter, executive secretary of the Bonn-based UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), stressed that ''Climate change issues are closely linked to those of sustainable development.''  

BONN, Aug 19 (IPS) - Effective climate policies can contribute to progress on all the issues that top the agenda of the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), according to a senior United Nations official.  Recently UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan highlighted water, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity as issues ''requiring urgent action'' in Johannesburg.  In an interview with IPS, Joke Waller-Hunter, executive secretary of the Bonn-based UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said: ''Climate change issues are closely linked to those of sustainable development.''  Waller-Hunter, who replaced Michael Zammit-Cutajar last May said: "During the Convention's first decade, the centrepiece of global negotiations was to agree on the rules for its implementation. Our challenge now is to apply those rules and to move climate change to the centre of national policy-making and action by business and civil society."  In fact, the contribution that action on climate change can make to sustainable development was emphasized by the Marrakech Ministerial Declaration, adopted by the Conference of Parties (COP) last November in Morocco as an input to the Johannesburg Summit.  

The ministers called for capacity building, technology innovation and cooperation with the biodiversity and desertification conventions.  From their start at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, the three conventions - climate, biodiversity and desertification - address the complex interactions among human and natural systems and represent different aspects of the same challenge, that is, how to ensure the sustainable exploitation of the earth's resources, Waller-Hunter said.  The international community was working through these conventions to promote economic and social development while preserving living and non-living environment. Together, the Rio Conventions offered a sound platform for promoting sustainable development over the coming decade. ''Their practical toolkits and their focus on partnerships and synergy show the way forward. Accelerating action under the three agreements will go a long way toward meeting the goals set by the Johannesburg Summit,'' the UNFCCC executive secretary said. 

To mark the tenth anniversary of the development and implementation of the Rio Conventions, a special exhibit has been organized at the WSSD in Johannesburg. "Rio Conventions: synergy for sustainable development" is the name of a joint exhibit in the 'Ubuntu Village' at WSSD.  The exhibition is set up by the secretariats of the conventions on climate change, desertification and biodiversity.  Staff from each secretariat will be on-hand to provide information and respond to questions. Presentations and demonstrations of websites, databases and other information products will be given.  Of special note are the 'WEHAB Theme Days' during which special presentations will show linkages between the work of the conventions, partner organizations and the WSSD themes. WEHAB stands for water, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity.  The UNFCCC executive secretary said at their meetings June 5 to 14 in Bonn, delegates from 186 countries had discussed the need for capacity building, technology innovation and cooperation with the biodiversity and desertification conventions.

The meetings coincided with the completion of ten years after the Climate Change Convention was opened for signature at the Rio Earth Summit. Bonn discussions revealed that the Eighth Session of Conference of Parties to the Climate Change Convention (COP8) October 23 to November 1 in New Delhi would focus on national and international efforts to accelerate action under the Convention. These actions will then link to new work under the Kyoto Protocol agreed five years ago in Japan. Waller-Hunter expressed satisfaction that the European Union and Japan had ratified the Kyoto Protocol at the start of the June meetings. But it is not expected to enter into force in time for the New Delhi conference.  However, the Bonn meetings prepared a number of draft decisions for adoption by the COP8 in New Delhi. For example, they agreed on guidelines for the reporting and review of national greenhouse gas inventories, a vital step for ensuring a standardized and more rigorous approach to tracking long-term emissions trends and determining whether progress is being made.  

The meetings also considered the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as contained in its Third Assessment Report published last year. Delegates discussed the relevance of these findings to their work and asked various international research programmes to provide their views on the IPCC's proposals on how to prioritise future research.  Other issues included establishing the procedures for the Executive Board of the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism and making practical arrangements for the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. Work programmes were agreed on education, training and public awareness and for the Expert Group on Technology Transfer. The Clean Development Mechanism itself is purported to assist developing countries in achieving sustainable development.


Samoa Observer
August 17, 2002

The small island states of the Forum held their annual Summit in Suva this week and have issued a statement outlining concerns of the smaller islands states of the region. These states are the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, the Republic of Marshall Islands and Tuvalu, representing the Smaller Island States of the Forum: The statement reads:

(1) Noted the authoritative nature of the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued in 2001;

(2) Expressed their continuing grave concerns about the current and potential adverse impacts of climate change, climate variability and sea level rise on all Smaller Island States members;

(3) Called for urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and for further commitments in the future by all major emitters;

(4) Emphasized the need for all nations to commit to the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the adverse impacts of climate change, taking into account the special circumstances of small island developing States;

(5) Agreed that the only truly effective way to address the issue of climate change globally was through full commitment by all UNFCCC Parties to the objectives of the Convention and the full implementation of the Kyoto Protocol;

(6) Expressed profound disappointment at the decision of the US to reject the Kyoto Protocol;

(7) Urged all Parties of the UNFCCC to urgently ratify the Kyoto Protocol which is a significant first step forward on a path to ensuring effective global action to combat climate change;

(8) Warmly welcomed the acceptance of the Protocol by Japan and approval of the Protocol by the European Community. 

The smaller island states are considered the most vulnerable to the impact of climate change and sea level rise. And the issue is already creating dissension in the Forum meeting with Australia also refusing to sign the Kyoto Protocol. aimed at reducing green house gas emissions to 1990 levels. The USA, the biggest producer of greenhouse gasses has under President Bush refused to sign the Protocol negotiated during the Clinton administration. President Bush's pro-big business stance and close connections with the energy sector in America are coming under more fire in recent weeks with revelations of fraudulent accounting by big business, and by the collapse of the energy company Enron. Like the USA, Australia is a major user and producer of fossil fuel, the number one source of greenhouse gases.



Globe and Mail
September 13, 2002

CANBERRA -- Australia, a big carbon emitter like Canada, has a simple answer to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change: No deal. In June, Prime Minister John Howard's government said it would not sign the protocol. It repeated that position at the Johannesburg summit, where Canada hypocritically declared it would ratify Kyoto while unilaterally giving itself a 30-per-cent credit for "clean" energy exports to the United States. The Canadian position is universally rejected by other Kyoto signatories, and privately sniggered at by Australians, who found themselves condemned along with the United States in Johannesburg. But condemnation did not shake the Howard government's position: Australia rejects Kyoto but will try to meet its targets for emission reductions outside the treaty. 

That rejection should theoretically encourage Kyoto critics in Canada. After all, the Australians negotiated brilliantly at Kyoto, winding up with a target that would allow them to increase emissions by 8 per cent from 1990 levels, while Canada agreed to cut emissions by 6 per cent. Canadian critics might now ask: If Australia, with such a generous target, won't sign, why should Canada, with a more stringent one, do so? Canada, of course, did not fully know what it was doing in the Kyoto negotiations, in the sense that it did not think through how it would achieve the stringent reductions. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien instructed his negotiators to stay close to the U.S. position, and when it unexpectedly changed during the negotiations, so did Canada's. 

The results have been evident ever since: The government could not figure out how to meet the target. Rather than say so directly, it engaged in a sleight of hand by unilaterally assigning Canada a 30-per-cent reduction for hydro and natural gas exports to the U.S. Australia's position, although not hypocritical, is a trifle curious. While rejecting Kyoto, the government insists it will meet the country's target, which means that, instead of emissions increasing by 22 per cent from 1990 to 2012, as they would have, they will now rise by "only" 8 per cent. Australia will not be bound by the treaty, although the opposition Labour Party and the state premiers (all Labour) believe it should be ratified. 

From the start, Australia complained that Kyoto provided no requirement or even incentive for developing countries, including China and India, to reduce emissions. With those countries excluded, and the U.S. rejecting Kyoto, 75 per cent of the world is out of the protocol. So, asks the Howard government, why should Australia be in? It's the same kind of argument that Kyoto critics in Canada will use. Australia, a big coal producer, uses lots of coal domestically to fire energy plants and aluminum smelters and exports large quantities throughout Asia. It worries that Kyoto's methods would impose undue hardship on Australia. "Any greenhouse penalty not shared by our competitors could see Australia lose plants offshore, with no benefits to global greenhouse effects," argued a government policy paper. 

And yet the government is committed to spending $900-million (Canadian) on measures to combat global warming. Some of the government's strategy has already been announced -- measures it says can reduce the increase of emissions from 22 per cent to 11 per cent. How to get the remaining 3 per cent to meet the overall target of "only" an 8-per-cent increase has yet to be determined. One way might be to slow down the conversion of forested land to agricultural uses. But the country's farm lobby is very powerful, and the Liberal government gets political support from rural areas. Australia is also a major agricultural exporter, although its wheat crop has been battered by drought. No wonder the government has committed itself to extensive consultations before deciding how to proceed. 

The Kyoto debate in Australia is much less intense than in Canada. The major disagreement between the government and opposition is not over the 8-per-cent increase, but over the best method to achieve it: inside or outside Kyoto. Canada's decision to "ratify" the protocol got a little attention in Australia, but the subsequent sleight of hand over the 30-per-cent credit for "clean" emissions went largely unnoticed. Except by government officials who are much too polite to underline its hypocrisy; they merely inquire how Canada expects to get away with its unilateral exemption. They are asking a good question, to which there is no clear answer, as the mumbling comments from Canadian ministers reveal.

77) WHY NOT HELP MAKE OUR WORLD CLEANER? by Wasant Techawongtham

Bangkok Post
September 13, 2002

Wasant Techawongtham is Deputy News Editor for Environment and Urban Affairs, Bangkok Post.

What is this cabinet resolution that rejects easy money from rich countries to help poor folk like us emit less gases that warm the Earth? The cabinet surprised a lot of people on Tuesday when it decided that Thailand would play no part in a scheme that would let industrialised countries buy their way in polluting the world. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was reported to have a direct hand in this. With this decision, this little land called Siam is about to play havoc with an international deal that took negotiators years to strike. It could set a trend among developing countries, and that should worry many people in the United Nations and the industrialised world. The action came only two weeks after this same cabinet decided to ratify the Kyoto Protocol just as Earth Summit II began in Johannesburg. Some people opposed the move, fearing the impact of the so-called clean development mechanism (CDM). 

The protocol, agreed in the Japanese city of Kyoto in 1997, is a pact that will guide attempts to fight global warming under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Initially, industrialised countries are committed to cutting on average 5.2% of their emissions between 2008 and 2012 based on 1990 levels. Some will have to cut as much as 7%. To achieve these targets, rich countries will have to transform the way they run their industries and, to some extent, the way they live. To make it easier to reach targets, the protocol contains sweeteners that allow the rich nations to ``buy''emissions reductions from poor countries. This can be done by paying for projects that result in reduced emissions of greenhouse gases, such as cleaner production technology or afforestation.A lot of money is expected to be spent under the scheme. The total cost is not known but the World Bank estimates that reducing a tonne of carbon will cost between $5 and $15 in the Third World compared to $50 in the developed world. 

The CDM is supposed to benefit both rich and poor countries, sort of like a trickle down theory of carbon emissions. The World Bank two years ago established a $150 million ``prototype carbon fund'' to experiment with this mechanism. A Thai firm is said to be in the pipeline to receive funding for its power plant that uses biomass as fuel. With so much money involved, is PM Thaksin being a fool for refusing it? Experts have cautioned the government not to reject it out of hand but to consider proposals on a case-by-case basis. No doubt the prime minister has his reasons for coming out with such a strong stance against the deal. These, I suspect, are more economic than environmental. Mr Thaksin is probably looking several years down the road to when Thailand will need to rely on its carbon emissions surplus. For now, developing countries have no reduction targets to meet. But talks will begin soon on setting some targets for the less developed countries. 

As an agricultural country, Thailand will have to deal with an abundance of methane, a major greenhouse gas produced by rice paddies. It is also no secret that Mr Thaksin aims to make Thailand a powerhouse in the region. The process will be energy-intensive, resulting in a great deal of carbon emissions. Whatever emissions surplus the country has now will come in handy when the time comes. Mr Thaksin's motives make economic sense but they do nothing for the global environment. Rich and poor countries alike have a responsibility to keep their emissions down. The CDM is a cynical instrument that exploits the poor purportedly for the sake of the environment. Mr Thaksin is right to reject it but he should prove that his heart is in the right place by declaring that Thailand will try to reduce emissions as well.


Mail & Guardians
September 13, 2002

Northern countries are 'buying' projects in South Africa that are compatible with the Kyoto Protocol. Monwabisi Booi used to believe that the environment was a liberal issue, irrelevant to basic needs. "It was an academic debate," he says, "all about the saving of the white rhino." But factors in his life collaborated to pull him into the debate, converting him from political activist to energy champion. At home in East London Booi helped to lay bricks to raise money for his development studies at the University of the Western Cape. Later, from his service shack in Khayelitsha, he realised the link between community needs and sustainable energy. After two years in development work, he joined a force of young, black energy activists placed at local level to introduce cutting-edge initiatives into communities. 

Booi and his peers, says Sarah Ward, manager of Urban Sustainable Energy for Environment and Development (Seed), are of necessity humanists as well as political animals -- selling environmental urgency to national ministers, political councillors and local residents. They shine in contrast to South Africa's traditional environmentalists, white engineers with "technical know-how and a narrow field of vision".Seed plants its energy champions in local structures -- local municipalities, government departments and NGOs -- to tackle the "hidden part of poverty". Energy burns up more than a quarter of the income of the urban poor, but the pressure to deliver houses tends to override this critical detail. Seed, which targets low-income housing and public development, is a Sustainable Energy Africa programme, funded by Danish development funders Danida. 

Seed pays for the training and wages of its nine advisers, and covers network meetings and computer expenses. The partner organisations cover the rest of the expenses. The "infiltration" of these activists into local structures makes a big change, says Ward, to NGOs "scratching on the outside of local authorities, often in opposition to them". Their placement "inside" also cancels out the temptation to blame local authorities. Partners include the South African Local Government Association, the Ethekwini Municipality and NGOs such as the Development Action Group. Seed also supports "links" (designated staff) in the Department of Minerals and Energy Affairs and the Department of Housing. 

In between sitting on the caucus of the Environmental Justice Network Forum, which trains community- based organisations in energy issues, Booi makes presentations to local politicians and national portfolio committees on the environment and energy. Within their stations the advisers are connected to people with power, people who have sufficient charge to introduce new policies. Booi's connection is Ossie Asmal, environmental coordinator at Tygerberg Administration -- City of Cape Town. Starting with a master's in environmental management and experience in community development in Hanover Park on the Cape Flats, Asmal became a key founder of the Local Agenda 21 group. This group translates sustainable development resolutions made at the 1992 Rio world conference into local action. Booi is one of Asmal's vital conduits in his job of overseeing different strategies to manage the local environment. 

Booi's initial mandate was the Build and Live Safe project in Khayelitsha. He trained building inspectors, helping them stretch their role beyond the settling of boundary disputes and the enforcement of building regulations to giving advice to residents about layout planning, insulation and placement on sites. The Build and Live Safe project includes a schools energy programme aimed at conscientising children about energy. High school children, for example, are required to do energy audits of their school, says Booi. The project amplified into the Kuyasa Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) pilot project, aimed at mitigating climate change. This is one of the country's four efforts to "package" projects compatible with the 1990 Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement to mitigate 5,2% of the world's carbon emissions by between 2008 and 2012. The world's northern countries gain points for paying for such projects in developing countries. "Pollution knows no boundaries," says Booi, and the northern countries are "buying" projects in places such as South Africa, Bolivia and Mozambique. 

South South North, funded by the Dutch government, is helping to "package" the CDM pilot. Ten "demo houses" in Khayelitsha have been fitted with ceilings by local artisans. Solar water heaters and incandescent light bulbs have also been installed. A baseline study calculating the savings in terms of potential carbon emissions from the burning of paraffin for warmth or coal for electrical geysers must be done before the package is ready for sale. The country that takes it will ultimately pay for identical additions to 2309 houses in Kuyasa, Khayelitsha. Booi is involved in a second CDM project in which methane will be recovered from decomposing organic matter in a closed landfill site in Bellville. Methane can be burned to create electricity, replacing coal as a much cleaner source of fuel. A critical requirement for these projects, says Booi, is that they contribute to the sustainable development of the country as a whole.


International Herald Tribune
September 2, 2002

The writer is managing editor at WWF International, formerly the World Wide Fund for Nature, in Gland, Switzerland. She contributed this comment to the International Herald Tribune. 

JOHANNESBURG: Critics of the Kyoto Protocol argue that its targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions are not economically viable. But many companies have of their own accord put similar targets in place, with benefits not only to the environment but to profits and productivity as well.  The consequences of global warming and climate change - rising sea levels, more frequent and intense extreme weather events such as floods and droughts, and adverse effects on a variety of species from coral to polar bears - are accumulating rapidly and measurably. They require immediate attention.  Industry accounts for about 25 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions from industrialized countries. The effort required to change industrial practises to reduce emissions need not be a burden. Many businesses are realizing that reducing emissions can have a positive effect on earnings.  One of DuPont's largest plants in the United States cut its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of product by close to half from 1993 to 1997, and shaved $17 million a year from its total energy bill. Other companies are also realizing that strategies for climate management and improving energy efficiency will be necessary to remain competitive.  

In 2000, WWF International established the worldwide Climate Savers initiative to get industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with a focus on carbon dioxide. The Climate Savers team works with companies to customize a cost-effective strategy for reducing emissions. Firms agree to have their emissions verified by an outside party. One of the first companies to enter into a Climate Savers agreement was Johnson Johnson. It pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2010. The company plans to achieve this through a variety of measures including increased efficiency, recommissioning buildings and using more environmentally friendly sources of energy.

Other firms that have made Climate Savers agreements - IBM, Polaroid, Nike, Lafarge and the Collins Companies - have similar plans. Lafarge, the world's largest cement manufacturer, also plans to increase the use of less carbon-intensive cement materials, such as fly ash from coal-fired power plants and slag from the steel industry.  The commitments made by these firms will result in a significant dent in global emissions. Lafarge alone emits some 70 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year, equivalent to twice the emissions of Switzerland. Their goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2010. The actions of these companies show that it is possible not only to meet but to exceed the commitment made by most industrialized countries under the Kyoto Protocol, which is to cut global warming gases to an average of 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. They debunk the claim made by countries refusing to ratify the protocol that meeting Kyoto targets will be too expensive and therefore not economically viable.

80) JUST A CLIMATE COWBOY by Duane D. Freese

August 29, 2002

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, responding to a question from Washington Post columnist William Raspberry, listed President Bush's breaking with the Kyoto Protocol and its reductions of greenhouse gas emissions as first among three specific ways where he says the United States has fallen short in its role as world leader. (The other two are failure to support the anti-torture convention and a new International Criminal Court.)  "Leadership comes with some obligations," Annan intoned. Then, in the midst of Europe's flooding, The Washington Times' Paul Martin quoted Gallus Cadonau, managing director of the Swiss Greina Foundation, as urging punitive tariffs on U.S. imports to force cooperation on greenhouse gas emissions. As though floods hadn't occurred since the time of Noah, Cadonau claimed, "This definitely has to do with global warming. We must change something now. Those nations that really are careless with the environment should have to compensate."  

Finally, some environmental groups on Aug. 27 filed a suit against the administration in an attempt to force it to conduct environmental studies before approving energy projects, claiming such projects might contribute to global warming. "This first-of-its-kind legal action is urgently called for because we need to compel the Bush administration to take some action against global warming," said Friends of the Earth president Brent Blackwelder.  Well, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan's retort to Jimmy Carter's attempts to portray him as a radical ideologue: "There they go again."  Just as liberal critics of Reagan here and abroad denounced him as an ignorant cowboy in foreign affairs for what proved to be his successful positions on arms control, so environmental alarmists today try to portray Bush as insensitive to world concerns on climate change.  

Nothing, though, could be further from the truth. Bush is giving the issue of climate change plenty of deference, more than most conservatives would like. And he is hardly going it alone. On the home front, the administration will spend $1.8 billion on climate science, another $1.3 billion on climate technologies and $4.6 billion over the next five years on tax incentives on alternative fuels. It is all part of an effort outlined in March by which the administration hopes to increase energy efficiency - decreasing the volume of carbon required for each dollar of economic growth - by 18 percent over the next decade. On the foreign front, it has put up $500 million for the replenishment of the Global Environment Facility, which funds the transfer of clean energy technology, including fully funding the arrears left by the Clinton administration. Even more important, the administration has negotiated eight bilateral agreements, including deals with the European Union and Italy as well as China and India, both of which have no obligations under Kyoto to reduce greenhouse gases even though each will exceed U.S. levels within two decades. And it has six other agreements in the works, including one with the Russian Federation, which is the 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gases. 

To free marketers, especially those of us skeptical of the whole global warming scare, the preferred prescription is to fund continued research into climate, as what is known today doesn't support the alarmists high-cost remedies. But at least the approach the Bush administration is following has the virtue that it won't put the world in an economic straightjacket, as those suing the administration want to do. While giving the alarmists' views too much weight, the Bush approach at least recognizes that technology and economic growth - not regulation and litigation - are the keys both to improving the environment and adapting to weather's constant bad behavior.  That makes them far preferable to Kyoto, which Congress would never approve and Bush rejected for good reason. Every reputable economic study has demonstrated the short timetable to meet its strictures would impose heavy economic penalties for almost no environmental gain, especially as it excludes developing countries that now produce more than half the world's emissions and where they are growing the fastest. 

Indeed, a study in the spring edition of the Journal of Economic Perspectives by Australian economist Warwick J. McKibbon and economist Peter J. Wilcoxen of the University of Texas, both of whom consider climate change a real problem, found Kyoto to be "a deeply flawed agreement that manages to be both economically inefficient and politically impractical." They note that its effect would force U.S. firms "to spend $27 billion to $54 billion to buy pollution permits from abroad every year. That amount exceeds the $26 billion that manufacturing firms spent to operate all pollution abatement equipment in 1994 (the most recent year for which data is available)." But that's the least of the problems. Those permit purchases likely would do neither the nations that bought them nor the nations that sold them much good. "The balance of trade for a developed country that imported permits would deteriorate substantially, possibly leading to increased volatility in exchange rates. Developing countries that exported permits ... would see their exchange rates appreciate, causing their other export industries to collapse." In short, Kyoto is a lose-lose proposition.  

What is win win? Well, trying to make developing nations meet greenhouse gas targets, too, isn't the answer. As Paula Dobriansky, undersecretary of State for Global Affairs, told the preparatory session for the U.N. sustainability summit that began Aug. 26 in Johannesburg, South Africa: "It would be unfair - indeed, counterproductive - to condemn developing nations to slow growth or no growth by insisting that they take on impractical and unrealistic greenhouse gas targets." Instead, fostering transfers of cleaner energy technologies to developing countries, which is what the Bush approach with its bilateral accords attempts to accomplish. According to Assistant Secretary of State John H. Turner told a Senate committee in late July, the purpose of the bilaterals is "to enhance our multilateral cooperation." "We are seeking to build relationships that will enable us and others to address the long-term challenge of climate change on a balanced and measured basis, consistent with the need to ensure continued economic prosperity for our citizens and our nation," Turner testified.

India and China, for example, need to and are going to use coal to fuel a large portion of their energy use. Clean coal technologies developed in this country have the virtue of producing fewer noxious emissions, such as the sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide that make up much of the "brown cloud" now hovering over much of Asia. Bilateral agreements with those countries can ease the transfer of cleaner coal technologies to them. Similarly, Australia, also a major coal burner, has its own clean coal technologies to share. And it has an interest in developing technologies to take care of the one gas that clean coal technologies don't reduce - carbon dioxide. So agreements with it encourage exchange of information and joint ventures on both clean coal technology and carbon sequestration technology. An agreement with the seven Central American countries encourages better forestry practices, as the region's rainforest provides a sink for collecting carbon. Aid improving disaster preparedness in a region subject to sharp swings in weather in any event will save lives immediately. A ton of carbon is a ton of carbon, however it is reduced - by sequestration, creation of a sink, foregoing of an emission, or substitution of one energy source for a cleaner one. And the great advantage of bilateral agreements, as opposed to the multilateral Kyoto protocol, is that these deals build on the strengths and needs of each country. 

Developing nations are going to use the resources they have at hand. They cannot afford exotic technologies - such as wind and solar - that developed countries have yet to demonstrate they can afford to put into widespread use. It's less of a leap to see these countries make use of hydroelectric, clean coal and, even, nuclear technologies, all of which can be done with lower carbon emissions than now projected as long as developed countries advance those technologies and make them safe and available. As Dobriansky said, "The hope of growth and opportunity and prosperity is universal. It is the dream and right of every society on our globe." By not acting as a lemming on Kyoto and leading the world over a climate change cliff, President Bush is meeting his obligations to the citizens of this country and the people of the developing world. There goes another president again, defying the conventional logic of alarmists by following his aspirations and uncommon sense for a better world.


National Geographic News
August 29, 2002

Bjorn Lomborg is the director of the Danish National Environmental Assessment Institute, and author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, Cambridge University Press 2001.

With the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development underway in Johannesburg this week, much is being said about sustainability and development. The phrase sustainable development is a curious mix of Western concern for environmental sustainability and the developing world's concern for substantial, economic development. At these big environmental gatherings it has historically been the First World's priorities that have won out. The challenge in Johannesburg is to finally get the courage to put development ahead of sustainability.

Why does the First World worry so much about sustainability? Because we constantly hear a litany of how the environment is in poor shape. Natural resources are running out. Population is growing, leaving less and less to eat. Species are becoming extinct in vast numbers, and forests are disappearing. The planet's air and water are becoming more polluted. Human activity is, in other words, defiling the Earth, and humanity may end up killing itself.  

Unlike the person pictured here, an estimated 1.2 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water, and about 2.5 billion lack proper toilets or sewerage systems. More than five million people die each year from water-related diseases such as cholera and dysentery. Third World leaders say that their priority is development in order to eliminate poverty. There is, however, one problem: This litany is not backed up by the evidence. Energy and other natural resources have become more abundant, not less so. More food is now produced per head of the world's population than at any time in history. Fewer people are starving. Species are, it is true, becoming extinct. But only about 0.7 percent of them are expected to disappear in the next 50 years, not the 20 percent to 50 percent that some have predicted. Most forms of environmental pollution look as though they have either been exaggerated, or are transient-associated with the early phases of industrialization. They are best cured not by restricting economic growth, but by accelerating it. 

That we in the West are so willing to believe the litany despite the overwhelming evidence pointing in the other direction means that we often make poor prioritization, focusing excessively on sustainability. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the discussion on global warming. There is no doubt that pumping out carbon dioxide from fossil fuels has increased global temperature. Yet too much debate is fixated on reducing emissions without regard to cost. By agreeing to the 1997 Kyoto climate treaty, Europe has set itself the goal of cutting its carbon emissions more than 30 percent below what they would have been in 2010. But even with renewable sources of energy taking over, the UN Climate Panel still estimates a temperature increase of four degrees to five degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100. Such a rise is projected to have less impact in the industrialized world than in developing countries, which are predominantly in warmer regions and have fewer resources to cope with the problems of climate change. Despite our intuition that we need to do something drastic about global warming, economic analyses show that it will be far more expensive to cut carbon dioxide emissions radically, than to pay the costs of adaptation to the increased temperatures. Moreover, all current models show that the Kyoto Protocol will have surprisingly little impact on the climate: Temperature levels projected for 2100 will be postponed for only half a dozen years.  

The Economic of the Kyoto Protocol

Yet, the cost of complying with the Kyoto Protocol will be U.S. $150 billion to $350 billion annually (compared to $50 billion in global annual development aid). With global warming hurting primarily Third World countries, we have to ask if the Kyoto treaty is the best way to help them. The answer is no. The cost of meeting the Kyoto treaty for just one year would be enough to solve the biggest problem in the world-we could give clean drinking water and sanitation to every person on the globe. This would save two million lives each year and prevent half a billion people from contracting a severe disease. In fact, for the same amount the Kyoto Protocol would have cost just the U.S. every year, the UN estimates that we could provide every person in the world with access to basic health, education, family planning, and water and sanitation services. Wouldn't this be a better way of serving the world?

We need to focus more on development than on sustainability. Development not only possesses intrinsic value but in the long run it will lead the Third World to become more concerned about the environment. Only when people are rich enough to feed themselves do they worry about the environment and future generations. Focusing more on sustainability can easily result in prioritizing future generations at the expense of current generations, which is a backward way of solving our problems. In contrast, focusing on development has the advantage of both helping people today and creating the foundation for a better tomorrow. The U.S. has a unique opportunity in Johannesburg to refocus the attention on development. The Bush administration has been chastised by many Europeans for not caring enough about sustainability, especially in its rejection of the Kyoto Protocol. The cynical Europeans are probably right that the U.S. decision was an expression of rather narrow U.S. interests. But in Johannesburg the American decision could be recast as an attempt to focus on the most important issues on the global agenda, basically championing fundamental issues such as clean drinking water, sanitation, health, and poverty reduction. Such a move would regain for the U.S. the moral high ground. When the U.S. rejected the Kyoto treaty last year, the EU talked endlessly about how it was left to them "to save the world." But if the U.S. is willing to commit the resources to ensure development it might actually end up being the savior.


Daily Times
August 28, 2002

Jeffrey D. Sachs is Professor of economics and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

Nature's awesome powers have been on frightening display lately. As world leaders gather in Johannes-burg to discuss global environmental threats, many parts of the planet are battered by floods, droughts, harvest failures, massive forest fires, and even new diseases. Man's relationship to nature is a theme as old as our species, but that relationship is changing in complex ways. The most important result of the Johannesburg Summit should be a recognition that more scientific research and much more global cooperation is needed. Floods and droughts have been scourges from ancient times, yet the frequency, size, and economic impact of these disasters has grown in recent years. Insurance claims against natural disasters rose to unprecedented levels during the 1990s, suggesting that the social costs of environmental upheavals have intensified. Climate shocks such as the fierce El Niño of 1997-98 played a major role in recent economic upheavals. Indonesia and Ecuador, among other countries, succumbed to financial crises in 1997-98 that were linked (in part) to agricultural crises caused by the severe El Niño. 

Part of the growing climate effect ressults from our sheer numbers. Largely as a result of technological successes in the past 200 years, the human population has grown seven-fold since 1800, from around 900 million in 1800 to more than 6 billion people today, crowding humanity into vulnerable spots throughout the world. More than 2 billion of the world's 6 billion people live within 100 kilometers of a coastline, and so are vulnerable to ocean storms, flooding, and rising sea levels due to global warming. Hundreds of millions more live in fragile habitats on the steep slopes of mountains, or in semi-deserts, or in rain-fed regions where crops fail regularly when rain doesn't arrive. Human beings are also changing the environment everywhere, often in ways that make societies more vulnerable. This is especially the case in impoverished countries. The increasing population density in rural Africa, with its intensification of farming, is leading to massive soil depletion. When drought comes to Southern Africa, as it has this year, tens of millions of impoverished peasant families struggle for survival. 

Because African poverty contributed to the uncontrolled spread of AIDS, the combination of climate shocks and epidemic disease is devastating. Millions of AIDS orphans in Southern Africa live with grandparents too old and weak to produce food or to secure it. Because of the onset of the El Niño, it's likely that the drought will continue into the coming year. The most remarkable feature of these environmental changes is that they are not limited to local environments. For the first time in human history, human society is undermining the environment at the global scale, through climate change, extinctions, and degraded ecosystems. Man-made global warming, caused mainly by fossil-fuel burning in rich countries, may well be a factor in the frequency and severity of major droughts, floods, and tropical storms. The frequency and intensity of the El Niño cycle in the past 25 years may also be the result of global warming. China's heavy floods in recent years are partly the result, it seems, of the excessive melting of mountain snows on the Tibetan Plateau, which was caused by higher temperatures. 

These growing environmental risks are complex. The effects of environmental change may occur only after many years and may be felt halfway around the world. Or the effects may be indirect. Land use changes, say, can amplify the spread of infectious diseases by changing the mix of species or the ways that animals and humans interact.  Politicians are inept at handling such problems, so environmental risks continue to grow without adequate changes in public policy. When disasters hit (such as this year's droughts or floods), politicians cannot be held accountable for mistakes made over the course of many decades. 

The summit in Johannesburg can draw the world's attention to these pressing problems. Even if the summit produces few specific results, it can make a difference if three demands are made of the summiteers: we should insist that the world's politicians recognize the overwhelming scientific evidence that points to the major environmental perils humanity faces; we should press these leaders to invest more public money in basic environmental research and in the development of new technologies to address environmental risks. For example, investments in research on alternative energy systems that can limit global warming are vital; third, we should insist that our politicians agree to greater international environmental cooperation, lest the neglectful and shortsighted policies within each nation end up destroying the global ecosystem.


The Guardian
August 27, 2002

Andrew Simms is the policy director of the New Economics Foundation, a social and environmental thinktank  

Ten years ago the world saw the most generous gesture in the history of international relations. To support the lifestyle of millions, one group of countries relinquished their claim to the debts - worth trillions of dollars - of another. In 1992 most of the poorest countries in the world queued up to sign the UN framework convention on climate change. In a stroke they wrote off the historical ecological debts of rich countries, run up by their burning of finite fossil fuels and the resulting legacy of global warming. The convention called for a plan to stop dangerous climate change based on precaution, equity and the high-polluting countries taking the lead. Poor countries agreed their price before signing. But has it been met over the past 10 years?  The review is dismal. Aid has fallen dramatically. The price of commodities depended on by poor countries have halved since 1980. Heavily indebted countries have "unsustainable" debt return, and they will have to pay, even if it means less money available for health, education and the environment.  

This is how the poor have been paid back for their forgiveness of the carbon debts of the rich. By contrast, rich countries committed a paltry $400m (£263m) a year from 2005 to help developing nations adapt to climate change. At the same time the rich countries subsidise their dirty domestic fossil fuel industries by a minimum of $70bn-$80bn a year.  Incredibly, global warming has been squeezed off the agenda at Johannesburg. Is it because the different treatment of ecological debt and financial debt is too embarrassing? Because if you change the accounting system to measure what really matters, such as whether or not the environmental budget is balanced, Europe and the US look hopelessly indebted.  For at least two centuries industrialised countries built their wealth on a dripfeed of fossil fuels. Since Britain received its first oil shipment in the 1860s, the global economy expanded enormously. Oil equals economic opportunity, but also unprecedented trouble. For every fossil-fuel step forward, the global economy takes three steps back due to the global warming. According to the World Disasters Report, three things have shot up over the past 30 years: the number of climate-related disasters, their economic costs and the number of people affected.  Experts talk of "adapting" to global warming. But for island dwellers whose land barely breaks the ocean's surface, their only adaptation is to become environmental refugees. The full scale of damages is potentially so large that it promises the end of human development.  

Fossil fuels will have to be rationed. The big question is, how? Echoing his father at the first earth summit, George Bush says he will do nothing to hinder the US way of life. America behaves like a dissolute aristocratic son, selfishly blowing the family's inheritance.  But controlling global warming means shrinking and sharing the carbon emissions cake. A workable global deal means moving, in a set time, to equal slices.  Yet rich countries seem only capable of passing on bad habits. Research shows that for every tonne of carbon pollution Britain has cut over the past 10 years, it adds three by backing dirty fuel projects in developing countries. One step forward, three steps back.

Today, the global economy is like a multinational audited by Andersen, guided by nonsense statistics. We need an accounting system to avoid an environmental Enron - new indicators to measure real progress, to see if we are living within our environmental budget and increasing human well-being. At Johannesburg the world needs another gesture as generous as that made by poor countries at Rio. The rich have to leave space in the atmosphere for poor countries to develop.


International Herald Tribune
August 27, 2002

The writer, president of the Worldwatch Institute in Washington, contributed this comment to the International Herald Tribune

JOHANNESBURG The renewable energy sources of today have about the same share of the overall energy supply, and the same prospect for rapid future growth, as petroleum did a century ago. In 1902, petroleum accounted for around 2 percent of total commercial energy. But it was expanding quickly in niche markets. With wind and solar power markets now doubling in size every three years, manufacturers are able to scale up production and drive down costs. Only sectors like cell phones and the Internet have growth rates comparable to those of renewables today. The market for oil is growing at less than 1.5 percent per year.

The current energy system based on fossil fuels is undermining global security. It is dangerous to depend on the Middle East for oil. It is also ecologically risky to continue polluting and warming the atmosphere with oil and coal residues. Reducing dependence on fossil fuels before a major crisis forces an unplanned transition should be a security priority. The selection of energy by the United Nations secretary-general, Kofi Annan, as one of five key themes for the World Summit on Sustainable Development is an important indicator of progress in the past decade. What a difference a decade can make. Since 1992, renewable energy markets have shifted into a new gear. Global wind power generation, for example, has risen from 2,170 megawatts at the start of 1992 to 24,800 at the start of 2002, a more than tenfold increase. 

The world has entered the post-petroleum century in which diminishing oil supplies, the limited capacity of the atmosphere to absorb carbon dioxide and the burgeoning energy needs of billions of people in the developing world all point to the need for new sources of energy to complement and replace the previous century's fossil fuels. The extraordinary growth of renewable energy in the last decade was driven by dynamic markets in a handful of countries. In the case of wind power, three-quarters of the global capacity is found in Germany, the United States, Spain, Denmark and India. In some regions of Denmark, Germany and Spain, wind power already provides more than 20 percent of the electricity - more than the hydro or nuclear share of world energy supplies.  

The success of these five countries, plus Japan, which has dominated the solar market in recent years, stems from policies adopted in the last decade. The challenge for Johannesburg is to extend the success of these five nations to the world as a whole. It is essential that the summit action plan include a clear recognition of the important role of renewable energy in powering a sustainable world, as well as practical recommendations for what national governments and the international community can do. With 4 billion people relying predominantly on unsustainable energy sources, and the remaining 2 billion lacking access to electricity or liquid fuels, the world's energy haves and have-nots are each in unsustainable positions. Both could benefit enormously from the accelerated spread of renewable energy.  

The potential for renewable energy is increasingly recognized both in the worlds of government and of business. This is seen in a growing flow of capital into renewables from large oil and power companies, as well as from the venture capital sector. Legislation is starting to spread at national and state levels. Brazil, China and India are among the countries that have recently strengthened their renewable energy laws, with the aim of accelerating market growth. In the United States, nearly half the members of Congress belong to the renewable energy caucus. 

The Group of Eight has set up a special government/industry Task Force on Renewable Energy that issued a report in July 2001. It concluded that "renewable energy resources can now sharply reduce local, regional and global environmental impacts as well as energy security risks, and they can in some circumstances lower costs for consumers." The leader of that task force, Mark Moody Stuart, a former chief executive officer of Royal Dutch/Shell, has called on governments "to expand renewable energy targets, removing inappropriate subsidies and switching some to renewable energy to provide a level playing field in the energy sector." 

The main responsibility for accelerating the use of renewable energy lies with governments that regulate the energy sector, dictate taxes, allocate subsidies and otherwise influence energy trends. The international community can provide assistance in a number of important ways, and the Johannesburg summit offers important opportunities for progress:

1. Ambitious, specific goals for increasing the share of renewables in the total energy supply are proven tools for galvanizing government action. The success of renewable energy goals can be seen in Germany, where a national target on renewables passed in 1991 spurred market and policy development, allowing the country to greatly exceed its initial goal. More recently, the European Union has established a goal of doubling the contribution of renewables to its electricity supply by 2010. A Latin American and Caribbean proposal to the Johannesburg summit calls for 10 percent of world energy to come from renewables by 2010.

2. Since the policies of just a few countries have expanded markets so dramatically in the past decade, it is important that the policies of these nations be widely introduced to government and industry leaders around the world. Particular focus should be on providing access to the grid under a system of standardized contracts at fair and reasonable prices; and on providing limited, cost-effective subsidies at the minimum level needed to spur market development. 

There is also a need for a specific institution to serve as a clearing house and disseminator of effective new energy policies, and to provide active policy advice and human capacity-building for all countries, with a particular focus on developing nations. 3. International institutions and bilateral agencies have generously subsidized the export and development of fossil fuel and nuclear technologies during the past five decades. Even today, the bulk of such financing goes to well established but in many cases unsustainable energy sources. A shift in energy funding priorities to renewable energy is essential to accelerate market growth, especially in developing nations.


Financial Express
August 26, 2002

The author specialises on climate change-related issues

Despite hectic pre-summit preparations that went in for the World Summit on Sustainable Development - also popularly known as "Rio+10" - being held at Johannesburg from August 26 to September 4, it did not get the kind of attention that was given to the previous Earth Summit held at Rio de Janeiro in 1992, which alerted the global community to the hazards of deprivation in the natural environment. At Johannesburg, the global community will take stock of the prevailing situation. As a leading developing country, India is an important participant at Rio+10.  

Awareness about environmental degradation across different strata of society has increased significantly since the 1992 summit. However, the action taken to deal with the issues involved has not been commensurate with the magnitude of the problems. That environmental issues have still not moved to the centre-stage of political decision-making is evident, particularly in the case of Global Warming (GW). According to climate experts, there are six main greenhouse gases (GHGs) - carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydro fluorocarbons, perfluoro carbons and sulphur hexafluoride. The major culprit responsible for GW, however, is carbon dioxide, produced by burning fossils like coal, oil natural gas, etc. 

The threat from GW is now accepted to be real. The average global surface temperature is projected to increase by 1.40C to 5.80C over the period 1990-2100, with the frequency and severity of droughts increasing in Asia and Africa. GW is also believed to be responsible for the melting of glaciers. Receding glaciers are affecting the levels of water in rivers. Recent reports have also brought out that the Ganga is drying up because the Gangotri glacier, its main source, is receding at the rate of 10 to 30 metres a year. While the Ganga is drying up, there are signs now of rising water levels in the Bhakra Nangal Dam reservoir. The melting of glaciers in the upper Himalayas has been cited as a major contributor to this. This does not bode well for the physical environment in India.  

For instance, the extremely deficient monsoon showers in India this year are being attributed to GW. The Centre for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies, based in the US, had predicted acute soil moisture stress conditions in major parts of India due to less than normal rainfall and high temperatures. An earlier edition of The Financial Express (July 14, 2002) carried an exhaustive report on this. Moreover, studies at Cornell and Princeton Universities have brought out that climate change has begun to trigger the spread of disease in plants and animals, but which may eventually spill over to humans.  

Kyoto Protocol

The Earth Summit of 1992 arrived at a Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC). The Conference of the Parties (CoP) held at Kyoto in Japan in 1997 arrived at a Protocol setting legally binding targets for industrialised countries to reduce their GHG emissions by about 7 percent from 1990 emission levels by 2008-2012. The success of the Protocol hinges upon ratification by at least 55 countries, particularly the biggest contributors of emissions. However, the US, which is the largest producer of GHG emissions, despite having signed the Protocol with a commitment to reduce emissions by 25 percent to 30 percent by 2010 as compared to 1990 levels, refuses to ratify the Protocol until the developing countries, particularly India and China, are also brought on board.  

The Way Ahead - Need for a Roadmap

Current political agendas at national and international levels revolve more around Terrorism, relegating issues on Environment to the background. The Development versus Environment debate makes it even more difficult for environmental issues to come to the centrestage of politics. But the problem of GW is here to stay for several decades. The developed group of nations have still not arrived at an agreement on implementing significant cuts in GHG emissions. The principle of "differentiated responsibilities" included in the Climate Change Convention places a greater responsibility on the countries of the North in emissions reductions. 

Undoubtedly, there has been a lot more than mere rhetoric in dealing with climate change issues, across both the North and South. The international negotiating processes have evolved the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation Programmes, apart from Emission Trading, to bring about "clean energy", i.e. low carbon energy. Nevertheless, the action taken so far has been significantly less than desired levels. The Indian government and non-governmental organisations have been actively participating in the global negotiations and their follow-up actions with a view to moving along the path of "clean energy" technologies. This is a long term process involving not only resources but also a commitment to implement clean technologies.  

The entire exercise of bringing about clean energy has to be viewed against the nexus between conventional energy lobbies, industry and political priorities. GW is closely connected with this. It is a "good" dose of incentives, financial assistance and political will that will take forward the process of implementing cuts. Climate change negotiations are hard economic negotiations. This is the predominant reason for the absence of any cuts in emissions by the North over a period of 10 years. This reflects the strength of the existing energy lobbies. 

India has to work hard to realise the goals of the Kyoto Protocol. After witnessing the impact of GW, the contributory anthropogenic factors (i.e., human-induced) have to be curtailed. If sufficient care is not taken, climate change will add additional stress to the already difficult living conditions for the vast majority of Indians, visible in varying areas such as deteriorating health, food production, water resources along with desertification, sea level rise and loss of biodiversity. 

It is industrialising countries like India who will be the major losers due to the adverse impacts of climate change because of their dependence on agriculture. India and other developing countries must adopt response strategies to combat climate change on a wider scale. An important response strategy is to prepare the communities and increase their resilience to face and cope with the adverse impacts of climate change.  

The global community must come forward to help in building capacity in this respect in India.  India has to tackle climate change from a short-term and long-term perspective. In the short term, energy-efficient and low carbon fuels need to be encouraged through suitable incentives, eg., tax rebates. A long-term approach to deal with this problem should emphasise the use of renewable sources of energy like solar and wind energy. Greater application of solar energy in rural areas (farming and household energy) would go a long way in reducing dependence on conventional fossil fuels. These suggestions should be put forward at the Rio+10 summit for initiating global action on them.



World Bank
September 2, 2002

JOHANNESBURG, September 2, 2002-Sixty-four of the poorest countries in the world such as Mozambique, Togo, and Senegal in Africa, Honduras in Latin America, and Nepal and Bangladesh in Asia could benefit from the new Community Development Carbon Fund (CDCF) initiative, launched by the World Bank on Monday, at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.  

The World Bank and the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) have joined forces to collaborate on the US$100 million fund, which will provide finance for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, to small-scale projects in small developing countries and rural areas of all developing countries. The emphasis within the CDCF will be on renewable energy, energy efficiency, solid waste to energy conversion, and agroforestry projects, with significant and measurable community development benefits.  Poorer communities will get the advantage of development dollars coming their way, and participants in the fund will receive carbon emission reduction credits for reduction in carbon emissions. This initiative is the first to exclusively target small-scale projects and local communities in the developing world through the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol.  

" Until now, countries like mine have been bypassed by the growing market in carbon emission credits," said Lidia Brito, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology for Mozambique. " This will enable private capital seeking carbon credits to reach deep down into the poorest areas of the developing world, not just to reduce carbon emissions, but to serve the aims of sustainable development through transfer of clean energy technology and sustainable agriculture.  And that will mean real improvement in the lives of the poor." By working through local intermediaries such as financial institutions, micro-credit institutions, cooperatives, and NGOs, and by applying streamlined project procedures compatible with small-scale Kyoto projects, the CDCF will seek to lower transaction costs and the risks involved in developing such projects. 

At Monday's CDCF launch, the CEO of the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Mr. Mandla Gantsho, and Mr. James D. Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank, signed the first such intermediary agreement, to channel funds for the purchase of greenhouse gas emissions ("carbon finance") to small and medium scale enterprises under the CDCF in the Southern Africa region. The carbon finance business has taken on a new sense of urgency in the face of mounting evidence that the Earth's climate is changingand that could have dire consequences for major parts of humanity. Climate change, and accompanying disrupted weather patternscaused by the so-called greenhouse effect through atmospheric loading of greenhouse gasescould wreak havoc on the planet, particularly parts of the developing world.   The threat climate change poses to long-term development and the ability of the poor to escape from poverty is of particular concern to the World Bank.

"The impacts of climate change will put the poor of the developing world at even greater risk.  We are facing a climate crisis of unprecedented proportions, and it will take responses at every level, both private and public," said World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn. "Our challenge is to make markets work efficiently to internalize the costs of environmental degradation for the benefit of the poor and for sustainable development.  The Community Development Carbon Fund is a natural extension of our efforts to make sure that poor countries can benefit from carbon emissions trading." Five years after it started, the global carbon finance business the market that provides credits for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions is approaching the half-billion dollar level in cumulative trade value.  It is expected that the carbon market will exceed one billion dollars a year by 2008.  Yet right now most developing countries are missing out on the benefits of carbon finance dollars. The Bank's responsibility is to make sure that an equitable share of this money, much of it private sector, ends up in the hands of the poorest, in the poorest areas of developing countries.

The private sector will be key to the success of the CDCF.  In dealing with their carbon emission obligations, companies will face an acid test from their investors and stakeholders to be accountable for not just how much they save in carbon emissions, but also where they save those emissions. Add to that, how they contribute to sustainable development as required under the applicable Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol. More than a dozen companies and governments see the CDCF as an opportunity to do just that put a human face on carbon finance, by combining carbon emission reductions with development.  These companies and governments have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the CDCF to help develop the new fund.  They include the European companies Swiss Re, Rabobank, four Japanese companies including Chugoku Electric and Idemitsu Kosan oil company; the Canadian company TransAlta, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the Norwegian company Industrikraft Midt-Norge, the French transport entity RATP,  and the governments of the Netherlands and Norway. "This is both a powerful example of public/private partnership, and a practical way of financing sustainable development," said Andrei Marcu, Executive Director of IETA.


September 1, 2002

The goal of bringing new and less polluting energy sources to billions of deprived people around the world came a step closer today as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) launched a pioneering global network of "sustainable energy" centres. JOHANNESBURG/PARIS, 1 September 2002 - Speaking at the launch here at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, Klaus Toepfer, UNEP's Executive Director said, "The provision of environmentally sound energy services are integral to poverty alleviation and sustainable development."  "Over two billion people in developing countries do not have access to reliable forms of energy," Toepfer said. "Nine out of ten Africans have no access to electricity," he continued. "Providing clean energy on a sustainable basis is not only vital for fighting environmental issues like global warming but for reducing poverty and misery in Africa and parts of Asia and Latin America."  

Access to affordable, modern energy services is increasingly seen as a pre-requisite for sustainable development and poverty alleviation. Access to energy is a condition for achieving the UN's Millennium Development Goals including the goal to halve the proportion of people in poverty by 2015 that is at the heart of the Johannesburg debate.  For one-third of the world's population, dependence on traditional fuels results in many hours spent each day gathering wood, animal and crop waste. Moreover, limited access to adequate and appropriate energy, including electricity (there are currently two billion people worldwide who lack access to electricity) means that value-adding income generating activities are constrained.  The consequences for the environment of present energy production and consumption patterns are also significant. For example, in developing countries, the widespread use of traditional fuels for indoor cooking and heating results in serious respiratory diseases and loss of life related to indoor air pollution, as well as a contribution to deforestation, particularly in arid and semi-arid areas.  

Air pollution in developing countries is one of the four most critical global environmental problems. Such pollution causes an estimated two million excess deaths per year, or 5 percent of the global burden of disease.  At the global level, emissions of greenhouse gases, which mostly originate from the use of fossil fuels, (presently 80 percent of the world's primary energy comes from fossil fuels), will have to be reduced in order to combat global warming. Solving the climate change challenge means reducing global dependence on fossil fuels.  The new Global Network on Energy for Sustainable Development (GNESD), made up initially of ten centres in ten developed and developing countries, will help promote the research, transfer and take-up of green and cleaner energy technologies to the developing world. It will achieve this by strengthening collaboration between existing "centres of excellence" that work on energy, development and environment issues. And, through these centres, influence sustainable energy policies, strategies and programmes.  "The underlying rationale of the Network is that it increases the capacity of developing country research institutions to look at energy for sustainable development issues, says Mark Radka, head of UNEP's Energy Unit. "Furthermore, it creates a shared research and information base on policy and technical guidance, advice and information."  "Critically, the Network will help all partners to develop and apply policies suitable to the needs and constraints of developing countries, thus supporting the use of energy as an instrument for poverty alleviation and sustainable development," he said.

Promising advances in energy-related technology hold a great potential for sustainable development, particularly regarding renewable energy and energy efficiency.

A number of technology options (energy from wind, "new" biomass, solar, geothermal sources) have been advanced to a state of technical reliability, and technological developments continue to reduce costs. The challenge remains to introduce or scale up the application of sustainable energy services. Similarly, policy and regulatory challenges remain if these are to become commercially viable options and able to compete with conventional and environmentally harmful energy options that typically benefit from favourable pricing conditions and perverse policy incentives.  "Technological solutions to energy problems are available today. We now need the political will and action to implement them," Toepfer said.  "The choices humankind makes on energy in the next decade will largely determine the history of the 21st century, and in particular whether we are able to put ourselves securely on the path to sustainable development," he said.


August 30, 2002

Johannesburg, 30 August 2002 - As delegates in Johannesburg work towards broad agreements on poverty alleviation and sustainable development, three issue-specific treaties that contribute to these goals - the conventions on biological diversity, climate change and desertification - continue to attract vital support for carrying out their mandates. The biodiversity, climate change and desertification conventions all have their roots in the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. After a decade of institution-building and national and international

action, they provide coherent frameworks and practical tools for promoting sustainable development. The Convention on Biological Diversity has thus far received some $1.4 billion in funding from the Global Environment Facility and $2 billion in co-funding for country-driven projects to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity. Meanwhile, since the start of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the CBD has welcomed two newcomers: Kuwait and Bosnia-Herzegovina - bringing the total number to 185 parties. The CBD's Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety has added six new parties - Austria, Belarus, Bhutan, Denmark, the EC and Mexico - bringing the total to 31. Fifty ratifications are required for entry into force.  

The number of ratifications of the Kyoto Protocol of the Climate Change Convention went up drastically during the summit. The total number now stands at 89 ratifications, including developed countries representing 37.1% of the rich world's carbon dioxide emissions, some two thirds of the way to the 55% required for entry into force. In addition, the Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism, one of the most important new instruments for financing sustainable development since Rio, is fast becoming operational. 

The UN Convention to Combat Desertification, which until now has relied on a so-called Global Mechanism for identifying possible sources of funding in support of activities for reversing dryland degradation, is also opening up new and concrete opportunities for financing. The WSSD has called for the GEF to become a financial mechanism of the Convention and it is expected that the next assembly of the Global Environment Facility to be held in Beijing in October 2002 will agree to open its multi-billion dollar fund to anti-desertification projects. The Convention to Combat Desertification has welcomed seven new parties this year: Andorra, Somalia, the Slovak Republic, the FYR of Macedonia, Ukraine, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Maldives bringing its membership to 184 parties.


Greenpeace International
August 21, 2002


As governments from around the world prepare for the Earth Summit next week in Johannesburg, Greenpeace today launched a hot air balloon with the message "Save the Climate" over Mae Moh, the biggest coal-fired power station in Southeast Asia, to protest against the continuing growth of fossil fuels globally. "Climate change starts right here at Mae Moh and everywhere around the world that we continuously and recklessly burn fossil fuels," said Athena Ronquillo- Ballesteros, Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaigns manager. "Climate change is the biggest environmental threat facing the planet and developing countries like Thailand are most vulnerable to its effects on agriculture, livelihoods and major ecosystems. Fossil fuels are a dirty, old fashioned way to generate electricity and have no place in the 21st century, yet globally, rich developed countries are continuing to push these climate- damaging technologies on the developing world.  Hypocritically, many of these same countries are pretending to do something about climate change at home while dumping their dirty technology abroad," Ronquillo-Ballesteros added. 

Greenpeace is calling on governments around the world to make a commitment at the Earth Summit to provide affordable renewable energy to the two billion people around the world who live without electricity, to phase out all subsidies to fossil and nuclear fuels, and to ensure that 10% of global energy is provided by renewable resources by 2010. Greenpeace is also seeking a commitment that international financial institutions be required to move 20% of their energy investments to clean, renewable energy. Mae Moh is the oldest, largest and dirtiest fossil-fuel power plant in Thailand. The power station complex covers 135 square kilometres of open cut lignite coal mine and includes 13 power generation units. The mine has operated since 1955. Construction of the power plant units began in 1975 and the last unit was completed in 1995. 

"Mae Moh is a typical example of power stations built in the developing world with money from rich countries, seeking to make profits by exporting dirty polluting technology which would not be acceptable in the North," said Ronquillo- Ballesteros. "For example, the last coal-fired power station built in the UK was completed in 1972. Yet the UK, through its Export Credit Guarantee Department, has funded fossil fuel and nuclear power generation projects worth US$2.7billion each year, during the last ten years." The USA and Australia - two of the countries doing their utmost to derail international action on climate change, are also encouraging fossil fuel dependence in the developing world. US corporation Mirant owns and operates some of the biggest coal-fired power stations in the Philippines, such as Sual and Pagbilao coal-fired power stations.  

Edison, another US company - in conjunction with a consortium of US, Hong Kong, Japanese and Thai corporations - is proposing to build two power stations in the Thai province of Prachuab Khiri Khan. Australia provides most of the Philippines' imported coal and wants to expand its Thai market to provide coal for the Edison projects. The UK French corporation, Alstom, has provided technology for several existing coal-fired power plants in Southeast Asia, including Sual in the Philippines, and is planning more. "Like many developing countries around the world, Thailand is hungry for clean, reliable and affordable power," said Ronquillo-Ballesteros. "This will only happen if foreign investments coming into the country are diverted away from fossil fuel projects to clean projects like solar, wind and modern biomass." 

Greenpeace is supporting the campaign of local residents who have opposed these dirty energy projects for the past eight years. Today's balloon protest is part of Greenpeace Choose Positive Energy tour of Southeast Asia with the ship MV Arctic Sunrise. Throughout the tour, the ship's crew, the staff from the Greenpeace office of Southeast Asia and other Greenpeace offices have worked with local communities in Thailand and the Philippines to fight the development of dirty, polluting energy and promote clean renewable energy. Tomorrow (22nd August) Greenpeace will launch its Alternative Energy Scenario for Thailand, illustrating how renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, can meet Thailand's future electricity needs.



Open Democracy
August 2002

Aubrey Meyer is director of the Global Commons Institute (GCI) Aubrey Meyer of the Global Commons Institute defends his pioneering 'contraction and convergence' approach to climate change as the only path to survival. (See Climate New #1)

During the past decade, negotiations at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), have become progressively divorced from the objective and principles of the original agreement reached at Rio in 1992. The objective had been to stabilise rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the global atmosphere below a level that would trigger dangerous rates of climate change. The principles were precaution and equity. The Kyoto Protocol of 1997, the result of the post-Rio negotiation, has been recognised both as 'a heroic first step' and also as completely inadequate. However arduously achieved, it is a creature of blame and shame resulting from what was, effectively, guesswork. It is hardly a robust long-term framework for survival.

There is a real need for a global framework for survival that takes us beyond guesswork. Contraction and Convergence (hereafter C&C) is such a model. The Global Commons Institute (GCI)has advocated it at the UN and elsewhere during the past decade. Precisely because it is a global accounting system based on the objective and principles of the UNFCCC, it has attracted increasingly influential support. Many governments at the UN support it, as do eminent persons and institutions. C&C is a tool for negotiating the totality of global greenhouse gas emissions contraction to save the climate on the basis of precaution. At the same time, it offers a way of negotiating the international shares of the process which addresses two fundamental requirements - that the negotiation takes place on the logical basis of equity (that is convergence to equal per capita shares or rights by all the parties involved); and that the negotiation takes place on a global and time-specific basis.  

GCI's C&C-Options computer model simply provides the numbers for all the possible rates of emissions contraction and, within this, all the possible rates of convergence. GCI has its own views about what rates of C&C will be effective, but in essence C&C is a straightforward calculating procedure that makes possible a review of all the options and therefore an effective, inclusive outcome that is both safe and fair.