MORE CORPORATIONS TAKE STEPS REGARDING GREENHOUSE GASES
Dow Jones Newswires reported that energy giant Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies (RD) said it intends to cut the emissions of greenhouse gases from its global operations by more than 10% by the year 2002 compared with 1990 levels. The Anglo-Dutch group added it intends to exceed the emissions reduction targets set in the Kyoto agreement through the decade until the year 2010. Shell said it aims to reach the targets by reducing its own emissions as well as helping its customers to reduce theirs. It will also continue to develop and promote its lower carbon intensity gas businesses, renewable energy initiatives and explore the use of alternative fuel technologies, the company said in a statement. Also Petro-Canada reduced its greenhouse gas emissions in 1997, as documented in its annual progress report submitted today to the Voluntary Challenge and Registry. Data for 1997, summarized in the report, show that Petro-Canada cut total emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by 2.8 per cent from 1996, despite increased production of oil, natural gas and refined products. Specific initiatives in 1997 eliminated 79,800 tonnes of annual carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from ongoing operations. Measures of energy efficiency and carbon intensity per unit of production continued to improve. In Tokyo, the Federation of Electric Power Companies added new measures in its environmental action plan in the wake of agreements reached at the December 1997 United Nations climate change convention held in Kyoto. The new plan covers the trading of greenhouse-gas emission quotas among countries, targeting to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20% from the level of fiscal 1990 to 80 grams per kilowatt-hour in fiscal 2010. The emission rate in fiscal 1997 was 89 grams per kilowatt-hour, 4% less than fiscal 1996. The federation also added a measure to reduce emission of greenhouse gases excluding carbon dioxide. The target percentage of recycling of coal ash, created during power generation, was raised to about 70% in 2010 from the previous target of about 57%.
US STUDY EXAMINES EFFECTS OF PROTOCOL
The New York Times and Washington Post reported that the Energy Department's official forecasting arm produced an extraordinarily pessimistic forecast of steeply rising energy prices if the United States fights global warming by clamping down on emissions of heat-trapping gases that come from burning fossil fuels. Under various outcomes, the forecasting arm, the Energy Information Administration, projected gasoline prices would rise to between $1.39 and $1.91 a gallon, and electricity prices would rise 20 percent to 86 percent by 2010. Natural gas prices would rise significantly and coal prices would soar, the forecast said. The Energy Department's forecast was sharply at odds with the Clinton Administration's previous assertions that the United States can meet the targets set by the treaty without significant economic disruption. The forecast is to be presented on Friday at a Congressional hearing. According to the NY Times, the new study played directly into the hands of treaty opponents, but those who favor the treaty said it is deeply flawed. Energy conservation advocates said the forecast, produced using the Energy Information Administration's standard economic models, had relied on absurd assumptions and improper analysis to reach ridiculous conclusions. "This is one of the most flawed, biased, intellectually dishonest analyses ever produced by an supposedly unbiased analytical organization," said Joseph J. Romm, a former assistant secretary of energy. Romm is an expert on energy technologies like solar power and conservation that would help control greenhouse gas emissions. He and other critics said the study discounted many of the policies, like tax incentives and research subsidies, that the Administration had proposed for enforcing the treaty if the Senate approved it. They said it used computer models that were unreliable for long-term forecasting. They said it did not account for the lower costs that would result from a key feature of the Administration's climate change policy: international emissions trading, which would allow the United States to meet the treaty's targets largely by paying other countries to reduce their output of greenhouse gases.
Critics also said the forecast assumed that businesses would be slow to adopt new energy technologies although, under the forecast's own projections, the costs of not acting would be high. Many such computer models have been used for projecting the costs of the Kyoto agreement protocol on climate change. Because so much depends on the assumptions of the models, their predictions may not be reliable. And critics noted that the Energy Department had a long track record of making bad predictions about long-range trends in energy prices and pollution control costs. Even so, the new study is certain to fuel criticism of the treaty. The study's projections of the costs of controlling the emissions of greenhouse gases are significantly greater than the predictions of several similar studies, even the gloomy forecasts paid for by industry opponents of the treaty that predicted extraordinary costs. And it predicts that the costs would be much higher than predicted by Janet L. Yellen, chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers, in a study released in July.
EU DRAFTS WAYS TO LIMIT FLEXIBLE EMISSION-CUT SYSTEMS
Kyodo Newswire reported that the EUdrafted three ways to impose a ceiling on flexible mechanisms for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a draft discussion paper. The paper, "Draft Council Conclusions on Climate Change," will be adopted at an EU environment ministerial council meeting in Luxembourg ahead of COP-4. According to the paper, the council will discuss three "options," while reaffirming "a concrete ceiling on the use of flexible mechanisms has to be defined in order to ensure that those mechanisms do not undermine domestic actions or weaken the commitment" under a global protocol adopted in Kyoto last December.
Under the first option, the ceiling is defined as 50% of the emissions-cutting targets assigned to Japan, the EU, the United States and other parties under the Kyoto protocol. The second option would use quantitative and/or qualitative criteria, involving early domestic actions to demonstrate progress in meeting the targets, according to the draft paper. The third option would define the ceiling as a percentage of the emissions in 1990 or 1995. EU members are at odds over the options, with Germany and Austria, this year's EU chair, supporting the 50% idea, and France and Italy refusing to clarify their positions, EU sources said.
JAPAN APPROVES ANTI-GLOBAL WARMING BILL
A House of Councillors committee, unanimously Thursday approved a bill proposing domestic measures to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and five other greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, Kyodo News reported. The national land and environment committee, or Diet, passed what will constitute the main thrust of Japan's efforts to meet its target to cut gas emissions to 6% below 1990 levels by 2008-2012, based on a U.N. protocol adopted in Kyoto last December, the agency said. The legislation will be enacted Friday after its passage in an upper house plenary session, lawmakers said. The House of Representatives approved it on Sept. 8. The bill's coverage was expanded during Diet deliberations to oblige not only the state and prefectural governments but also municipalities down to village level to plan and implement programs to meet Japan's reduction obligation, the agency said. However, the limitation of the role of companies to a best effort basis raises doubts about the effectiveness of the legislative initiative, according to the agency. The gases covered by the bill are six gases required by the Kyoto Protocol for reduction, namely CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). In order to reduce emissions of these gases, the government will approve basic policies drawn up by local administrations and citizens, as well as form and publicize a plan on how to cut its own gas outputs, the agency reported.The bill also proposes the establishment of national and prefectural offices for the promotion of activities to fight global warming. The offices will be charged with studying, reporting on and publicizing the progress of reduction efforts.
CLIMATE CHANGE MEETING HELD IN OTTAWA
The Vancouver Sun reported that the relationship between developed and developing nations seemed to thaw a two-day meeting held in Ottawa. Environment Minister Christine Stewart and her Brazilian counterpart, Jose Israel Vargas, didn't say how much shape they had been able to bring to the rough concept of the Clean Development Mechanism when they briefed reporters at the end of the meeting Saturday. However, both ministers indicated the discussion had warmed the relationship between world's rich and poor countries on the issue of global warming. "I think (the mechanism) creates a friendly symmetry between developing countries and developed countries like Canada," Vargas said. Stewart, who credited Brazil with coming up with the idea, echoed his warm words. "I believe that this forum has helped nurture the seed that was planted in Kyoto," Stewart said. "The spirit here has been very good. We acknowledge that there's a lot more work to be done but there was some consensus around notions and principles and a way forward." "I consider it to be a win, win, win mechanism," Stewart said. "First and foremost, a win for the environment. Secondly, a win for developing nations' sustainable development. And it will help developed nations meet not only the Kyoto protocol but it will have an economic advantage for us and developing nations." Neither minister provided a clear picture for how the mechanism will work. Stewart said representatives at the meeting agreed with the goals of the Kyoto protocol and that reductions "must be real and measurable and verifiable." Both said it will be important to get the private sector involved in the process. The Canadian minister said they're shooting for a deadline of 2000. "We hope we can get a quick start for this particular mechanism and that the work we've done over the last two days will contribute to that."
CLIMATE CHANGE TARGETS SET
BBC World News reported that Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has announced fresh moves to cut greenhouse gases following two days of talks in Tokyo. The informal meeting has agreed on a three-year programme setting special targets to ratify the Kyoto deal made last year. The Kyoto protocol set industrialized nations targets for cutting emissions of greenhouse gases, but failed to agree how emission cuts could be traded among countries. The agreement between 20 nations, including Japan and the United States, will now be put before 140 countries at a UN conference in Buenos Aires. Ministers will then sort out ways of allowing countries to use credits from reductions in gases in other nations to meet their targets. Mr. Prescott described the Tokyo talks as "another British initiative to take forward the consensus towards ratification". He said: "This is what matters, and what is important is that we have secured the full support of ministers from America, Europe and Japan. "Our discussions have been frank and meaningful on many deep issues and have built on the political will."
CONFERENCE ENDS WITH NO PROGRESS
According to CNN Interactive, delegates from more than 20 major developed and developing countries ended a two-day meeting on Friday with no fresh agreements on ways to combat global warming. Despite the lack of visible progress, delegates said that the closed-door ministerial conference played an instrumental role in maintaining the "momentum" gained last November in Kyoto. The delegates also said they frankly exchanged their views while keeping themselves from being plunged into fierce confrontation. "Our goal is to engage in frank discussions on the areas of shared interest, to develop a consensus on next steps in key areas, and to avoid unproductive arguments on issues that cannot be resolved," U.S. UnderSecretary for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affiars Stuart Eizenstat said. The Tokyo conference was held to lay a groundwork for an annual U.N. conference on climate change scheduled to be held in Buenos Aires in November. In the ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto last December, a gathering of 159 countries agreed on cutting greenhouse gas emissions after frenetic negotiations.
"In our meetings, the United States made clear that developing countries must be part of the solution," Eizenstat told a news conference after the two-day gathering. "Meaningful participation by key developing countries is central, with their degree of commitment dependent upon their emissions level and state of development," he added. The European Union urged the United States to sign the protocol regardless of any action by developing countries. "We would like to see the United States sign the protocol," EU Environment Commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard said. "We would really like to see that as soon as possible," she told a news conference. She said the industrialised countries should demonstrate their "domestic action" to reduce greenhouse gases before telling developing countries to actively take part in the battle against global warming. For more information contact the Reuters Tokyo Newsroom +81-3 3432 8018
Reuters newswire also reported that the United States appeared to have relaxed its demand that developing countries commit to legally binding reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, according to a European Commission spokesman. ``Reductions commitments as such are not now a precondition. This is certainly movement on the part of the Americans,'' Commission spokesman Peter Jorgensen told Reuters. Jorgensen said U.S. Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat had said Washington still expected developing countries with fairly robust economies, such as South Korea, Mexico and Israel to accept legally-binding emissions reductions targets. But the U.S. would not make the same demands of poor nations like India or China. ``If these countries had sound environmental and economic policy and participated in the clean development mechanism, that would be seen by the Americans as a meaningful contribution,'' Jorgensen reported Eizenstat as saying. Jorgensen said Eizenstat had warned that, while Washington agreed that substantial domestic action was necessary, it would not accept a specific ceiling on trading. Jorgensen said the Buenos Aires talks were unlikely to finalise rules on trading, but should produce a timetable for solving ``all outstanding problems'' within two to three years. He said it was in the interest of the United States and other countries keen to trade emissions to define rules on flexible mechanisms and effective means of enforcing them soon. ``The Kyoto treaty does not allow trading before the rules are in place. But even if they never agree on rules, they will still have to meet their reductions commitments by 2008-2012,'' Jorgensen said. Jorgensen rejected claims by the European nuclear industry that the EU's executive Commission was promoting nuclear power as a CO2-free alternative to fossil fuels. ``You don't solve a problem by creating another,'' he said.
|TWO-DAY MEETING ON CLIMATE
CHANGE OPENS IN TOKYO
Dow Jones Newswires reported that environment ministers from 22 countries and the European Union opened a two-day meeting amid calls for quick implementation of the Kyoto treaty to prevent global warming. The ministers - from the US, Russia, Japan, the EU, China, Indonesia, India and Brazil - were meeting to discuss ways to stop global warming and to prepare for COP-4. Prior to the meeting, European Environment Commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard said she would tell Parties that the European Union will not insist on a cap on international emissions trading, but will stress that emissions trading and other "flexible mechanisms" will only be acceptable if they are strictly policed. "There can be no trade without tracking," Bjerregaard told the European Parliament in a statement setting out the position the Commission. She said that COP-4 must also decide on the role key developing countries should play in curbing global warming. EU environment ministers insisted until recently on the need to set a ``concrete ceiling'' on emissions trading and other flexible mechanisms to ensure countries made substantial efforts to cut emissions at home. But Bjerregaard indicated this week that support for a cap was crumbling both in EU states and in the central and eastern European countries closest to achieving EU membership. Both present and prospective EU nations were more interested in strict rules for emissions trading than a percentage limit, Bjerregaard said on Monday after talks with ministers from Hungary, Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia. Such rules should stipulate who would be allowed to trade and how trade should be reported, monitored and policed, one Commission official told Reuters. ``The system will only be credible if trade in emissions certificates is regulated as rigorously as a stock market,'' he said. The official said the EU believed only those countries capable of monitoring and tracking their emissions should be allowed to engage in trading.
The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported that the Japanese government will propose a scheme that will provide developing nations with incentives to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Developing nations would receive aid funds in exchange for their efforts to prevent global warming. Advanced nations will help developing countries by, for example, improving the fuel efficiency of thermal power plants and supporting forestation programs. Under an emissions trading system, the developing nations would then sell part of the resulting emission cuts to industrialized countries, so that those nations could include the reduction figures in their attempts to cut greenhouse gases. (see http://businessjournal.netscape.com/network/export/stories?template=bf4.ft&story=n0912091.600&topic=472&date=19980914)
"BRAINSTORMING" SESSION ON CLIMATE CHANGE IN NEW YORK
10-11 September 1998
A "brainstorming session" on climate change was held in New York from 10-11 September 1998. According the summary of the meeting produced by the current Chair of the G-77/China (Indonesia), the session provided an opportunity for delegates to exchange views on climate change in general and in particular on the FCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. It also provided a good opportunity to highlight and identify some of the most urgent issues on which there is still a need to gain a greater understanding and undertake more intensive discussions in order to advance the negotiations.
Some 14 experts from developing countries and four resource persons participated in the brainstorming session. There was no formal outcome at the end of the session. The Group saw the major usefulness of the meeting to be in the open exchange of views. The following panel discussions were held: Overview of the FCCC and the Kyoto Protocol; New mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol; Transfer of Environmentally Sound Technology and Financial Issues; and Land Use Change and Forestry. Without summarizing the discussions, the Chair made a few observations on the session:
For more information contact: the Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the United Nations, New York, N.Y., US; tel: +1 (212) 972-8333; fax: +1 (212) 972-9780; e-mail: email@example.com; Internet: http://www.undp.org/missions/indonesia/
GLOBAL EMISSIONS TRADE GROUP TO DEBUT IN NOVEMBER
A new international emissions trading association backed by the United Nations will be launched this November to advise companies and countries on how best to use carbon trading techniques. The group, a joint public-private venture called the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), will have its official debut at the United Nations conference on climate change in Buenos Aires, the IETA said. The new non-profit association, to be based in Geneva, will be actively supported by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), as well as by the non-governmental organisation, the Earth Council, set up at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the IETA said. The group hopes to become one of the first truly independent international verifiers of company greenhouse-gas emissions reports and carbon credits, the IETA said. Reuters news service reported that, as governments, exchanges and corporations make plans for trading on a global scale, deals are already beginning to emerge in locations as far afield as Siberia, Costa Rica, Ontario and Canada. The players -- companies like Bankers Trust Corp., Cantor Fitzgerald LP, Sumitomo Corp., Edison International Inc. and a handful of niche firms -- are betting they can turn the results of November's United Nations conference on climate change into a billion-dollar business over the next five years. Organizations as diverse as the World Bank, London's International Petroleum Exchange (IPE), the Sydney Exchange, oil giants Royal/Dutch Shell and British Petroleum, and the U.N. Industrial Development Organization have joined the hunt for workable schemes. This summer, the European Commission and the British government issued invitations to the public sector for potential trading program designs. Some firms, unwilling to wait for a global model for tradable emissions to take shape, have chosen instead to find niche trades and act on them independently. Analysts say as many as eight deals involving international credit transfers have taken place. For more information see: http://www.aetf.net.au/
STUDY SHOWS THAT LOWER ATMOSPHERE IS WARMING
According to the New York Times, as nearly as climatologists can tell by studying measurements dating back to the 1850s, the earth's average surface temperature has risen by about one degree over the last century. But measurements made by orbiting satellites have suggested that the lower atmosphere is cooling, leading some skeptics to argue that the world is not warming. Two scientists in California have reanalyzed the two-decade record of satellite data and concluded that it has been distorted by the inevitable decay, or lowering, of the satellites' orbits as they encounter atmospheric resistance. Once this error is corrected, the scientists report Thursday in the journal Nature, the satellite record shows the atmosphere has become warmer, but not as much as the surface has. The authors of the study, Frank Wentz and Dr. Matthias Schabel, atmospheric physicists with Remote Sensing Systems, a private research firm in Santa Rosa, Calif., report an atmospheric warming of about 0.13 of a degree Fahrenheit per decade. The finding could signal "a sea change in the global warming debate," Dr. James Hansen and four colleagues write in a commentary that is to appear Friday in the journal Science. Hansen, the director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, has long been an advocate of the view that emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide are warming the earth. If the Wentz-Schabel finding stands up, Hansen said in an interview, it will make it "very difficult to deny the reality of global warming," though he and his colleagues note in the Science article that the finding is likely to be challenged and possibly revised. See, the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1998-08/13/158l-081398-idx.html; Times of London: http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/news/pages/tim/98/08/13/timfgnusa02006.html?1996766; ABC News: http://www.abcnews.com/sections/science/DailyNews/globalwarming980812.html; USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nds27.htm; New Scientist: http://www.newscientist.com/ns/980815/nheat.html; San Francisco Examiner: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/examiner/archive/1998/08/13/NEWS15170.dtl; MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.com/news/187392.asp
MITI FLESHES OUT GREENHOUSE GAS STRATEGY
The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) has begun to fill out the details of its strategy and policies to fight global warming and to help Japan meet its obligations to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases. MITI's policy is to develop technologies and promote measures in order to achieve a 2% reduction by that time. The remaining 4% reduction will come through emission tradeoffs with other nations and by including in the calculation the absorption of CO2 by forests. The 2% reduction will come through national efforts to conserve energy, promote nuclear power, and develop new technologies. The ministry has specified a group of 20 essential technologies and it has devised a global warming strategy with three time frames. Up until 2010, efforts will focus on the improvement of 12 existing technologies in order to boost energy efficiency and to promote new energy resources. Goals include the development of solar cells with more than triple the existing energy conversion efficiency, semiconductors that consume more than 100 times less power, and highly efficient energy-from-waste systems. Between 2010 and 2030 the focus will shift to four other technologies, including hydrogen fuel batteries for cars, the effective use of heat storage systems, and chemical processes that do not rely on the chlorofluorocarbon substitutes. Beyond 2030, four more complicated technologies will be addressed, including the use of solar cells in space to generate power, and methods to decompose and dispose of CO2.
SYDNEY FUTURES EXCHANGE ANNOUNCES IT WILL ADD GHG PERMITS
The Sydney Futures Exchange chief executive Les Hosking said that SFE is expected to add greenhouse gas permits to its list of tradable contracts before the end of 1999. Mr. Hosking said emission trading markets were already emerging in Chicago, New York and London. Emission trading could, within five years, have an annual turnover of as much as $US100 billion ($164 billion) globally. Mr. Hosking said that although the SFE had been proposing greenhouse trading for several months, it already had the systems in place to begin the contract within the next 12 months. Emissions trading is based on the Kyoto climate change protocol negotiated between governments in December 1997 and is a market-based mechanism to facilitate emission credits and "carbon sinks" such as replanted forests. In the lead-up to the next United Nations climate conference in Buenos Aires in November, the SFE will next month co-host, with the NSW Government, a high-level industry round-table to determine the make-up of its proposed carbon emissions contract. The round-table will include NSW Treasurer Michael Egan, Forestry Minister Kim Yeadon and representatives of electricity and transport industries and State Forests of NSW. Mr. Hosking said the SFE move was not premature in light of the November climate change conference as there was already an informal market developing in several countries for carbon trading. Several contracts between parties had already been undertaken in NSW. The speed at which products could be developed on rival exchanges meant the SFE was moving now on putting together an emissions contract. Internet: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/finance/4356971.htm
MITI FLESHES OUT GREENHOUSE GAS STRATEGY
Nikkei America reported that the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) has begun to fill out the details of its strategy and policies to fight global warming and to help Japan meet its obligations to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases. Japan has agreed to reduce CO2 emissions by 6% from 1990 levels by 2010. MITI's policy is to develop technologies and promote measures in order to achieve a 2% reduction by that time. The remaining 4% reduction will come through emission tradeoffs with other nations and by including in the calculation the absorption of CO2 by forests. The 2% reduction will come through national efforts to conserve energy, promote nuclear power, and develop new technologies. The ministry has specified a group of 20 essential technologies and it has devised a global warming strategy with three time frames. Up until 2010, efforts will focus on the improvement of 12 existing technologies in order to boost energy efficiency and to promote new energy resources. Goals include the development of solar cells with more than triple the existing energy conversion efficiency, semiconductors that consume more than 100 times less power, and highly efficient energy-from-waste systems. Between 2010 and 2030 the focus will shift to four other technologies, including hydrogen fuel batteries for cars, the effective use of heat storage systems, and chemical processes that do not rely on the chlorofluorocarbon substitutes. Beyond 2030, four more complicated technologies will be addressed, including the use of solar cells in space to generate power, and methods to decompose and dispose of CO2.
JULY BREAKS PLANETARY HEAT RECORD
The White House released figures confirming that July was the hottest month the planet has seen since reliable record-keeping began more than a century ago. The average global temperature last month was 61.7 degrees Fahrenheit, about 1.26 degrees above normal for July and nearly half a degree higher than the previous all-time monthly record set in July 1997, according to a newly completed analysis by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. July is now the seventh consecutive month in which global temperatures broke the previous record for the period – a trend the White House has cited repeatedly in pressing for action to curb global warming. "There's already an overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is influencing the climate," said an administration source, asked to comment on the new temperature data. "Month after month, we're accumulating even more evidence." The new global statistics are based on land and ocean temperature data collected at monitoring stations around the planet. Similar records have shown a slight increase in global temperatures – about 1 degree Fahrenheit – over the past century, a rise many scientists say may have been partly caused by a build-up of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from fossil fuel combustion. Other scientists remain skeptical, attributing the warming to normal fluctuations in climate and other natural factors. The land-based measurements show a sharp increase in warming in the last 15 years, with many of the hottest years on record occurring in the 1990s. Indeed, when measured against temperature records gleaned from tree rings and glaciers, the decade's weather appears even more remarkable, scientists say. "We know that the 1990s are the warmest decade in 600 years," said Thomas Karl of NOAA's National Climactic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. "And it is quite likely that 1998 will be the warmest year in the last 600 years." Internet: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/digest/weather1.htm
WHITE HOUSE STUDY SAYS TRADING POLLUTION PERMITS WOULD BE ECONOMICAL
The New York Times reported that the Clinton Administration, in a new economic analysis, said that paying other countries to cut their pollution could be the cheapest way for the United States to help control the heat-trapping gases that cause global warming, . A system of buying and selling pollution permits internationally, as proposed by the Administration, would cut the costs to the United States at least in half and possibly by as much as 85 percent, according to a study by the White House Council of Economic Advisers. "The world is filled with unbelievably cheap opportunities to reduce emissions abroad," said Janet Yellin, President Clinton's top economic adviser. The study was intended to substantiate Ms. Yellin's recent testimony before Congress that the United States could meet the targets of a new international climate change protocol, negotiated last year in Kyoto, Japan, at a modest cost. She has estimated that the typical household's annual energy bill might rise as little as $70 per year, although others insist the amount would be far higher. With the Senate balking at approving any treaty that does not include a substantial role for developing countries in the control of emissions, the Administration has struggled for more than a year to produce a comprehensive analysis of its proposals. Coverage of this report can found be at the LA Times and ABC News: (Portions of the White House report can be downloaded as PDF files from the RFF Weathervane site
CLINTON WARNS OF NEGLECT ON WARMING; CONGRESS BATTLES OVER SPENDING ON KYOTO
The Washington Post reported that the US House beat back an attempt to silence government education efforts on global warming. The vote was seen as a modest victory for the Clinton administration and a defeat for some of the most ardent congressional foes of the Kyoto Protocol. But opponents of the treaty were able to retain other measures in a House spending bill that would block the White House from taking steps to implement the climate agreement until the Senate votes to ratify it. The proposed ban on education efforts was attached to the House version of a $94 billion spending bill to fund independent agencies, including the EPA. See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1998-07/26/218l-072698-idx.html. On 26 July, Clinton accused Congress of negligence in not addressing the matter and ordered energy-saving measures in all federal buildings. "Despite mounting evidence, [Congress] would deny the science and ignore the warning signs," the president said in his weekly radio address. Announcing steps meant as an example for private industry, the president directed federal agencies to work with private contractors to equip federal buildings "with the best energy-saving technology." Hundreds of thousands of light bulbs will be replaced with more efficient fluorescent lighting, he said. And the Defense Department and six other federal agencies will ensure that all new federal buildings are designed to reduce energy use. The White House Fact Sheet on Global Climate Change, "Meeting the Challenge of Global Climate Change Increasing Energy Efficiency & Reducing Energy Use in Federal Buildings" is available at Internet: http://www.pub.whitehouse.gov/uri-res/I2R?urn:pdi://oma.eop.gov.us/1998/7/27/4.text.1
GLOBAL FLOODING AND USUAL WEATHER RAISE QUESTIONS ON GLOBAL WARMING
Around the world, the first half of 1998 has been the hottest six months in the 120 years that temperatures have been recorded. The heat has led to major climate fluctuations and raised the issue of global warming. Bangladesh put its army on full alert yesterday as devastating floods hit two-thirds of the country, officials said. They said more than 90 people had died and some 10 million were suffering the effects of the flooding, including one million marooned in remote districts. Officials in the flood-hit districts said 93 people were killed, many of them drowned, but others were crushed by collapsing houses. Reports from Beijing said devastating rains pounded three central China provinces last weekend, adding 145 deaths to the toll of more than 1,100 dead from summer flooding. Flooding caused by heavy rains from July 17th to July 20th affected 21 million people in 71 counties in the provinces of Jiangxi, Hubei and Hunan, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said. Meanwhile, doctors in Bratislava appealed for medical supplies to check disease spreading in eastern Slovakia, where more than 100 people are feared dead in floods which have hit five central European countries. The death toll rose to 11 in neighbouring Poland and the Czech Republic, farmland remained underwater in Hungary and Austria also suffered damage from torrential downpours. In the Czech Republic three rivers burst their banks and cut off one village. Four people were confirmed dead and two are still missing, officials said yesterday. In Austria, torrential rain caused damage to bridges, while in Hungary 4,000 hectares of farmland remained underwater. The devastation revived memories of floods which affected central and eastern Europe in July last year, killing dozens in Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria and eastern Germany. Some weather experts say the consecutive summer flooding is probably just a "tragic coincidence" and not a result of global climate change. Devastating forest fires - fuelled by dry weather and strong winds - are continuing to ravage vast areas of Russia's taiga, the deep coniferous forests between the steppes and the arctic tundra of north-east Russia. Hundreds of fires had swept across some 100,000 hectares of tinder-dry land, the Russian Itar-Tass news agency reported. See http://www.irish-times.com/irish-times/paper/1998/0725/wor2.html
Over the past decade, more of the United States has experienced severe drought or severe wetness than any other time in the 20th century, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In the South the heat wave there has killed at least 143 people since June 1, caused $1.5 billion in agricultural damage and more than 6,765 wildfires. Texas has been hit the hardest. Hot temperatures are nothing new , but this heat wave has been relentless, with higher temperatures holding on both at night and in the morning. In the Northeast, the region has experienced exceptionally wet weather, with some parts of New England reporting one of the wettest Junes on record. Farmers are already seeing the effects of the surfeit of rain. See: http://www.abcnews.com/sections/us/DailyNews/weather980723.html
EU ENVIRONMENT MINISTERS URGE ENERGY MINISTERS AGAINST DILUTING CO2 TARGETS
At a meeting in Graz, Austria, European Union environment ministers warned energy ministers against watering down targets designed to cut the 15-nation bloc's emissions of greenhouse gases. EU energy ministers agreed in May to allocate funds to promote renewable energy sources such as electricity so that big energy consumers could be weened off conventional fuels like oil, coal and gas. But they did not confirm the target proposed by the Commission -- the EU's executive arm -- nor commit member states to setting their own national targets for so-called renewables. Environment Commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard told reporters that a 12 percent share of renewable energies in the EU fuel mix was still a target for 2010 and called on the 15 nations to set their own national targets for renewables. ``Without such targets, the contribution that renewables can make to meeting our Kyoto commitments are not defined, the political will to promote renewables is uncertain and results cannot be evaluated,'' she told an informal meeting of EU environment ministers. To honour this commitment, the EU needs to convince big energy consumers to switch from CO2-producing fossil fuels to environmentally friendlier sources like wind, wave, biomass, solar and hydro power. Austrian Environment Minister Martin Bartenstein, whose country took over the EU presidency this month, said ministers had reached broad agreement so there would have to be a tax on fossil fuel energy if the Kyoto targets were to be met.
MERKEL SAYS GERMANY TO MEET GLOBAL WARMING GOALS
German Environment Minister Angela Merkel said Germany was on track to meet its ambitious target for cutting output of greenhouse gases. Introducing a study by two environmental research institutes, Merkel told a news conference, ``I am optimistic we will meet our national goal of reducing carbon dioxide (emissions) 25 percent by the year 2005.'' Merkel also said the study showed the reduction was not due to the collapse of east Germany's industrial base. In 1997, Germany emitted 888 million tonnes of CO2, down from 1.014 billion tonnes in the base year 1990, she said. Germany's reduction target is more ambitious than that adopted by the European Union or other industrialised nations at the Kyoto conference on global warming at the end of last year, but Bonn had been criticised for making the most of its ``wall-fall profits'' after reunifying with eastern Germany. Merkel said more efficient use of energy was the main reason for the improvement. Andreas Troge, head of the Federal Environment Agency, told the same news conference that despite improvements, the east German economy was still more energy-intensive than the western states, and presented great potential for further reductions in energy use and greenhouse gas output. Michael Mueller, the opposition Social Democrats' parliamentary spokesman on the environment, said Merkel was painting a slanted picture. CO2 emissions in western Germany have not fallen in any year since unification, and in the east they have been rising since 1995, he said.
CLINTON AND GORE PUBLICLY LINK THE "HOTTEST 6 MONTHS" TO GLOBAL WARMING
US climate experts publicized information that the first half of 1998 was the warmest six months ever recorded on earth and July would likely set a record as well. Temperatures in June were the highest recorded for the month in more than 100 years of record keeping, averaging 1 degree Fahrenheit (about 1 degree Celsius) above the long-term mean temperature dating back to 1880, officials said. Temperatures over land were even more dramatic 1.75 degrees Fahrenheit (about .88 degrees Celsius) higher than the long-term mean, exceeding the old record by several tenths of a degree Fahrenheit. US Vice president Al Gore, who brought federal climate officials to the White House to announce the latest global temperature data, called it more evidence of a long- term warming of the planet because of man-made pollution. `` There is no time in recorded data history that we have seen this sequence of record-setting for six consecutive months,'' said NOAA administrator James Baker, calling the findings ``remarkable and sobering''. On 9 July, Clintion stated that if the world does not move to curb greenhouse gases, the US will have to deal with more natural disasters like the raging wildfires that consumed so much of Florida in recent weeks, Clinton said. "We have to believe, based on the evidence of the last decade, that if we get hotter and hotter, and we have periods of more extreme wet, followed by periods of more extreme drought, we're going to have more things like this happen," the president said. Critics accused Clinton and Gore of "overheating Americans with fudged data."
SOUTH KOREA AGREES TO VOLUNTARY GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS CUTS FROM 2018
Dow Jones newswire reported that South Korea told Japan, at a Japan-South Korea joint meeting on conservation of the environment which was held in Seoul, it is ready to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 2018, despite not being obliged to do so under an agreement adopted at U.N. Climate Change Conference in Kyoto in December last year, the Kyodo News Service reported Wednesday, citing Japanese government sources. South Korea is the first developing economy to express its intent to reduce greenhouse gases voluntarily. The focus beyond the Kyoto conference has been on how such developing economies will participate in the reduction of greenhouse gases, the Japanese sources said, adding that the issue will be the center of attention at the next global warming conference in Argentina in November. Argentina has proposed placing the voluntary reduction of greenhouse gases by developing countries on the agenda at the November conference, but is facing strong opposition from developing countries.
CLINTON ADDRESSES CLIMATE CHANGE DURING US-CHINA SUMMIT
President Clinton devoted two of the closing days of his China tour to a campaign aimed at persuading the Chinese that robust economic growth does not have to come at the expense of their country's fragile environment. In Shanghai, Clinton delivered an environmental warning: China soon will have the ''unfortunate distinction'' of replacing the US as the world's No. 1 producer of greenhouse gases. But while the problems are enormous, attitudes are changing, and Clinton pledged U.S. support for China's efforts to clean up its environment. In Guilin, Clinton launched a series of exchanges between US and Chinese experts on global climate change. Also being spotlighted was U.S. assistance for a nationwide air quality monitoring network in China and a $50 million Export-Import Bank loan for clean energy projects. China has pledged a $54 billion investment in the environment between 1996 and 2000 and is seeking foreign technology and investment to combat the problem. Beijing, along with other major cities, has banned leaded gas, tightened emissions tests and ordered that all new cars beginning next year be fitted with catalytic converters. The president, at breakfast with U.S. business leaders in Shanghai, expressed disappointment that he and Jiang failed to reach agreement on lowering trade barriers and other economic reforms, conditions that must be met before China gains entry into the World Trade Organization. ''But we'll keep working at it until we reach a commercially viable agreement,'' he added. Earlier on 27 June, Clinton and Jiang Zemin on agreed to disagree over human rights and the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, but they announced a series of agreements on arms control, energy and environmental issues. An extraordinary joint news conference was broadcast live in China. As a result, both nations agree to intensify cooperation on clean energy and on building an air-quality monitoring network to cut back on greenhouse gases believed to contribute to global warming.
U.S. CALLS FOR QUOTA-SHARING IN CO2 EMISSIONS CUTS
Kyodo News Service reported that the US proposed a group approach for industrialized countries on the Pacific Rim to meet targets for greenhouse-gas emissions cuts, an about-face from its previous, country-by-country policy. The Japanese government has reserved comment on the U.S. proposal, but pressure on Japan is expected to increase as some Pacific Rim nations are inclined to back the idea, officials said. Group members envisaged in the U.S. strategy include Australia, New Zealand and Russia in addition to Japan and the US. The Kyoto Protocol allows industrialized countries to form a group for joint emissions calculations. If some group members have trouble achieving their targets, their shortfall can be offset by the unused portion of others' emissions quotas. European Union (EU) member nations have taken this approach. The Japanese officials said the U.S. proposal calls on Pacific Rim nations to jointly attain their emissions-reduction targets mainly by using Russia's expected unused emissions quota in exchange for environmental technical assistance from Japan and the U.S. The U.S. previously stuck to a country-by-country approach, hoping that an ''emission rights trading'' system would be introduced at an early date. Kyodo reported that stalled negotiations on the system, however, prompted the US to seek the joint approach, which would virtually open the door to the emissions-trading system. The emissions-trading system would enable countries to sell the unused portion of their emissions quota to others having difficulty achieving their binding targets. Environmental groups opposed to the U.S.-proposed joint approach, arguing that the proposal will pave the way for big greenhouse gas producers, such as Japan and the US, to attain their emissions-reduction targets without making full cuts at home.
US HOUSE SPENDING BILL DICTATES DELAY IN ACTION ON TREATY
The New York Times reported that Congressional opponents of the Kyoto Protocol are using the annual spending bills now before Congress to send a blunt message to the Clinton administration: Don't even think about how to meet the treaty's goals before it wins Senate approval. As a House committee drafted a bill Thursday that finance the Environmental Protection Agency, the treaty's foes won language warning that the money was not to be used "for the purpose of implementation, or in contemplation of implementation, of the Kyoto Protocol." The treaty's opponents in the House want to bar the EPA from even holding seminars on the need to cut emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. Administration officials warned that the EPA spending bill might be vetoed, because of differences with Congress over climate policies, along with other objections to bill, which also finances housing programs, veterans' programs and others. The House bill "could threaten to block administration efforts to encourage activities like energy efficiency and renewable energy that are clearly good for the country," said Todd Stern. President Clinton's climate-change policy coordinator. "It amounts to a gag order that seeks to prevent the administration from educating and informing the public," he said. The House Appropriations Committee fended off attempts Thursday by Democrats to modify the disputed language. But the legislation still faces consideration by the full House and Senate. The disputed provisions were inserted by a subcommittee last week at the urging of Rep. Joe Knollenberg, a Republican from the suburbs of Detroit. Treaty opponents have seized every opportunity to challenge the administration. Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., recently objected when the EPA paid for a study on limiting greenhouse gases through a system of trading emissions credits. The study, he complained in a letter to EPA Administrator Carol Browner, assumed that the Kyoto protocol would be ratified.
AUSTRALIA'S FIRST LONG TERM CARBON TRADE
Pacific Power, a leading Australian utility, has revealed Australia's first long-term carbon trade. This follows Pacific Power's announcement two weeks ago of its involvement in Australia's first carbon trade. These developments have occurred ahead of any government structure for trading in Australia. The details-- Who: Pacific Power and NSW State Forests; How Much: 250,000 of CO2, price undisclosed; What: Rights to carbon from 1,000 hectares of hardwood eucalypt plantation over ten years; and Process: Audited by Margules Poyry. Pacific Power is one of Australia's largest electricity generators and operates Erraring, a 2,400 MW Coal fired power station. It is also the country's leading utility in renewable energy. Pacific Power had announced it had agreed to purchase the carbon credits from a 1,000 hectare forest plantation from the NSW State Forests over one year. This week it revealed it is extending that trade over ten years. This will remove around a quarter of a million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to offset emissions from electricity generation.For further information contact the Ecos Corporation: firstname.lastname@example.org
EU STATES SIGN AGREEMENT ON DIVIDING KYOTO TARGETS
The Times of London reported that after two days of bargaining, European Union states agreed on the reduction in greenhouse gases that each must make to honor Europe's pledge to curb by 8 per cent its share of the emissions causing global warming. The Times reported that the deal, which allows Germany and three other northern states to soften their earlier commitments on gas emission, "saves the EU's face" after it appeared to waver from its strong line at Kyoto. Ministers wrangled through the night over the legally binding national shares, with each percentage point representing huge future costs for their industries. Most of the burden will fall on the energy and manufacturing industries, and transport and farming. Each state must produce a plan, in coordination with Brussels, to implement their promises. The main tools for governments will be higher taxes and, to a lesser extent, a system by which companies and countries may trade their "polluting rights". Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark and Austria - among the "greenest" EU states - joined Belgium and Luxembourg in demanding a smaller share of the burden than they had agreed last year. Britain, with its own longer-term target of a 20 per cent cut, was the only state offering to increase its target. It agreed to raise its share to 12.5 per cent from 12 per cent. Germany agreed to 21 per cent. The Times reported that the agreement will put the EU in a strong position when it proposes strict international rules on how to implement the cuts at a conference in Buenos Aires in November.
PANEL UNVEILS JAPAN'S LONG-TERM NATIONAL ENERGY PLAN
News reports said that Japan looked set to build more nuclear power plants in order to attain its goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a master plan drawn up by a special government office set up to promote measures against global warming. The office, which also made proposals to initiate lifestyle changes, such as the introduction of daylight saving time, said the plan will ''mobilize every policy means'' available and maximize the government's efforts through subsidies, loans and tax privileges to cut gas emissions by 6% from 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. Measures that should be urgently implemented by fiscal 2010 include the promotion of nuclear power plants around the country, the reduction of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases through such means as energy conservation, development of new energy sources and participation in an international emissions trading scheme. The plan said there is a need to build additional nuclear power plants that would augment by fiscal 2010 the volume of electricity produced in fiscal 1997 by more than 50%.Growth in Japan's total energy consumption should be limited to an annual rate of 0.1 percent, with the amount generated by fossil fuels reduced from the current 83 percent to 75 percent by 2010, according to a new, long-term national energy plan announced Thursday. The supply and demand plan was compiled by the Advisory Committee for Energy, a body that advises the minister for international trade and industry. The plan was criticized by experts for introducing energy-saving plans that are not likely to be realized. It also has been attacked for adopting too narrow an approach to the restriction of greenhouse gases. The government's projections were further accused of being excessive. Kazuya Fujime, managing director of the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan, said: "Energy demands increase in line with the growth of the real gross domestic product. Compared with the government's projection for 2.3% annual growth, forecasts for primary energy supply in fiscal 2010 - 1.1% in the standard case and 0.2% where measures are taken - are unrealistic."
|2 – 12 June
MEETINGS OF THE FCCC SUBSIDIARY BODIES
The subsidiary bodies of the FCCC met from 2-12 June 1998 in Bonn, Germany. Participants at the first post-Kyoto subsidiary body meetings in Bonn encountered a distinct and worrying loss of momentum caused, in part, by unresolved negotiation of the priorities for the COP-4 agenda in Buenos Aires. The insubstantial outcome of the subsidiary body meetings cannot be attributed entirely to the important political disputes. This was the first meeting since the end of the AGBM where the burden of complex work fell entirely to the subsidiary bodies. As one observer commented: "The Bonn meeting did not have a center." Reflecting this view that the meeting lacked an adequate equivalent to a Plenary (despite joint meetings of the two subsidiary bodies), there were complaints that insufficient time was given to exchange views on, for example, each of the flexibility mechanisms, in advance of going into contact groups. Complexity itself has begun to close in on the delegations and the Secretariat as an issue, compounding the political differences as Parties move from the "what" questions of the AGBM process to the daunting "how" questions (some 324 meetings, including special events, took place over the two weeks) around implementing the Kyoto Protocol and its mechanisms.
The climate change phenomenon confronts the tradition of multilateral negotiation, consensus building and cooperation with unprecedented challenges. There will be opportunities at a number of intersessional activities, including high-level meetings in Canada, Japan and Argentina, for key Parties to refine their respective agendas in advance of COP-4. Perhaps out of a sense of "AGBM nostalgia," some are mooting the possibility of a Buenos Aires Mandate to restore momentum and create deadlines for this new phase in the negotiations. Deadlines can, in a sense, become "star players" in a negotiating process and may help to assuage the fears of those who believe that urgent decisions may be left to COP-5, allowing the all important date for the Protocol's entry into force to drift to the sidelines. There may be truth in this. It will also be worth remembering, however, that the content of the issues at stake has also shifted towards greater complexity and deeper uncertainty in the post-Kyoto phase. After Kyoto the future is not what it used to be. The full ENB report is available at http://enb.iisd.org/vol12/enb1286e.html. Daily reports, as well as photos and RealAudio recordings can be found at http://enb.iisd.org/climate/bonn98.html
1998 HEADING FOR WARMEST YEAR MARK
US scientists presented research concluding that global warming and El Niño combined to make each of the first five months of 1998 the warmest since reliable records began in 1880. That follows research earlier this year that concluded that 1997 was the warmest year on record. And while scientists had already concluded that El Niños contribute to a warmer Earth, the new research suggested that the general warming trend might be making El Niños more frequent and progressively warmer. "We set temperature records in every month since January, and it appears that this general warming trend is making the effects of El Niño worse," Vice President Al Gore said in a statement ahead of a White House event announcing the findings. "This is a reminder once again," Gore said, "that global warming is real and that unless we act we can expect more extreme weather in the years ahead." The new research, conducted by the National Climatic Data Center, concluded that the global average surface temperature for the period between January and May jumped a half-degree Fahrenheit when compared to the same period last year. Thomas Karl, a senior NCDC scientist who headed the research, told The New York Times the temperature jump was "rather spectacular" and "to see every month breaking the record is rather significant." For the five months as a whole, the average global surface temperature was 1.76 degrees above a benchmark average of 61.7 degrees set between the years 1961 and 1990.
CHINA AND NEW ZEALAND SIGN THE PROTOCOL
China became the 36th country to sign on 29 May 1998. New Zealand, the 35th country, signed the Kyoto Protocol in New York on 22 May. The complete list of signatories can be found at http://www.unfccc.de/fccc/conv/signdate.htm
US CHAMBER OF COMMERCE LAUNCHES INTERNET CAMPAIGN OPPOSING THE KYOTO PROTOCOL
The Washington Post, New York Times and others reported that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to build opposition to the Kyoto Protocol, launched an Internet campaign to connect foreign policy veterans with the public. The Chamber is going further in its effort to inform people about its opposition, which it sees threatening America's security and sovereignty. Speakers were remaining after their presentation today to answer e-mail sent in during the opening conference. After the conference is broadcast live over the Internet, the video will be saved and catalogued. Video clips, transcripts and supporting documents will be available at the group's Internet site. Chamber spokesman Frank Coleman said Internet broadcasts will replace the organization's town hall meetings, where speeches and interviews are broadcast via satellite to conference rooms and other gathering spots. The chamber also plans to send notices to members of Internet discussion groups, inviting them to visit its global-warming Web site. For the future, the chamber plans to use the Internet to set up an electronic lobbying network to instantly inform members of key votes. It could, for example, could send out an alert that Congress was scheduled to take up an issue that afternoon, and urge its members to instantly call or e-mail their federal lawmakers. The conference web site is http://www.climatetreaty.com
G8 LEADERS ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE
The final communiqué of the G8 meeting in Birmingham stated, inter alia, welcomed the recent signature of the Protocol by some of G8 countries and confirmed the intention of the rest to sign it within the next year. They G8 leaders resolved to make an urgent start on the further work that is necessary to ratify and make Kyoto a reality and to this end agreed to: undertake domestic action to reduce significantly emissions; work further on flexible mechanisms such as international market-based emissions trading, joint implementation and the clean development mechanism, and on sinks; draw up rules and principles that will ensure an enforceable, accountable, verifiable, open and transparent trading system and an effective compliance regime; work together and with others to prepare for COP-4. They also vowed to look at ways of working with all countries to increase global participation in establishing targets to limit or reduce emissions. They aim to reach agreement as soon as possible on how the clean development mechanism can work, including how it might best draw on the experience and expertise of existing institutions, including the Global Environment Facility. They looked forward to increasing participation from developing countries and vowed to work together with developing countries to achieve voluntary efforts and commitments, appropriate to their national circumstances and development needs. We shall also enhance our efforts with developing countries to promote technological development and diffusion. The complete communiqué is available at http://birmingham.g8summit.gov.uk/docs/final.shtml.
UK OUTLINES POSITION
The UK Minister of the Environment, at the GLOBE International launch of "Contraction and Convergence" in the House of Commons, set out the UK position. Regarding flexible mechanisms, he said "make no mistake" the EU favors their use, but noted two concerns. First, domestic actions must be the main means of achieving the emissions reductions. Domestic action allows countries to make changes that are necessary to tackle climate change in the longer term - and it demonstrates to developing countries our clear commitment to taking action, hopefully helping to persuade them to eventually take on similar commitment. He said the EU will propose in Bonn, a limit to the amount of emissions reductions that can be achieved through flexible mechanisms. Second, he addressed "hot-air" trading, where some countries under the Protocol have targets significantly less demanding than their business-as-usual projections. He If these countries sell this "surplus" (or "hot-air"), there is an overall environmental loss since the two countries involved (the buyer and the seller) do not take any actions to reduce actual emissions. This would set an unwelcome precedent for developing countries, many would invariably end up with less than challenging targets which would undermine both the overall aim of the Protocol, and the system of trading in emissions permits.
He also said that not only will the developed country emissions need to be reduced substantially but developing country emissions will also need to be controlled perhaps allowing for some growth initially. It does mean that global emissions will eventually need to be reduced by 60 to 70 percent to reach stabilization. In the shorter term developed countries need to consider ways for engaging developing countries in the process. Two are being discussed. The first of these is allowing developing countries to take on voluntary reduction targets or for a review, under UNFCCC of the commitments of all Parties to it. Such a review would need to consider what extra commitments would be necessary in the longer term. The EU favors the review approach, which would need to be wide-ranging and recognize the legitimate needs and aspirations for economic growth in the developing countries. He said the concept of "Contraction and Convergence" is one that would be considered in such a review of commitments. But there will probably be others such as the pre-Kyoto Brazilian proposal for an eventual extension of targets to developing countries.
NEW POLICY CENTER SEEKS TO STEER THE DEBATE ON CLIMATE CHANGE
The New York Times reported that "with millions of dollars from a charitable foundation known for its environmentalism and with endorsements from some of the nation's biggest corporations, a former State Department official who helped negotiate the climate change treaty is mounting a new campaign for action to head off global warming." Eileen Claussen, who as deputy assistant secretary of state for environmental affairs helped develop the climate protocol approved at an international conference last December in Kyoto, Japan, said Thursday that she would run a policy center that would seek to lend "a credible voice" to the debate. Pew Charitable Trusts gave her a $5 million annual grant for the project. The new Pew Center on Climate Change plans to publish an advertisement festooned with the corporate logos of its supporting companies, which include the aerospace giants Boeing and Lockheed-Martin, the Japanese automaker Toyota, the appliance manufacturers Maytag and Whirlpool, the diversified conglomerates United Technologies and 3M, and several big energy companies: British Petroleum, Sun Oil, American Electric Power, U.S. Generating Co., Enron, and Intercontinental Energy. The companies are not contributing financially to the new center, but they are promising to seek ways to reduce their own emissions and to invest in new, more efficient products and technologies. The advertisement says these companies "accept the views of most scientists that enough is known about the science and environmental impacts of climate change for us to take actions to address its consequences." Ms. Claussen's group does not explicitly endorse the Kyoto agreement, but sees it as "a first step." More information about global climate change and the Pew Center can be found on the Web site, located at www.pewclimate.com in the near future.
US HOUSE AND SENATE MOVE TO BLOCK SPENDING TO CURB EMISSIONS
Rep. Joe Knollenberg said he would introduce a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives to block the Clinton administration from carrying out programs to reduce carbon emissions as a companion measure to one offered by Missouri Republican Senator John Ashcroft. The bill would block the administration from spending money on programs to reduce emissions of heat-trapping carbon gases from burning fossil fuels unless the Senate ratifies an agreement reached last year in Kyoto, Japan, to fight global warming. Republicans charged that the administration is proposing a $6.3 billion five-year package of tax incentives and research to improve energy efficiency as a ``back door'' way of implementing the Kyoto accord without a Senate vote. Because the accord only requires industrialized countries to cut emissions, Republicans say it will give developing countries such as China and Mexico an unfair competitive edge. Knollenberg in a statement called the Kyoto accord ``a terrible deal for the United States'' that the Senate would reject. Because of this, he said, ``...the President is attempting to accomplish his goals by regulatory fiat. Congress must not allow this to happen.''
US Senators Robert C. Byrd and Chuck Hagel wrote in the Washington Post on 6 May that responded to an earlier article by John Passacantando, director of Ozone Action, a nonprofit advocacy group. Passacantando had taken issue with the involvement of the Senate during the negotiations concerning this treaty, saying, "From the day [the Byrd-Hagel resolution] was passed in July, its language has shaped both the negotiations over and the debate about the global warming treaty agreed to in December 1997. Now the Byrd-Hagel resolution is also likely to influence the coming Senate debate about ratification of the treaty." The senators argued that this was precisely the role the Senate was intended to play They also noted that the resolution was introduced on June 12, 1997, and the vote did not occur until July 25, 1997. More than a month before the vote occurred, two hearings on this issue were conducted by a Foreign Relations subcommittee, the first of which included testimony from the administration's lead negotiator for this treaty. The resolution called on the president not to sign any treaty or agreement unless two conditions were met. First, the resolution directed the president not to sign any treaty that placed legally binding obligations on the United States to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions "unless the protocol or agreement also mandates new specific scheduled commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for Developing Country Parties within the same compliance period." The second requirement of the resolution was that the president should not sign any treaty that "would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States." They said the Kyoto Protocol does not meet either of the criteria laid out in the Byrd-Hagel resolution. See the FULL TEXT OF THE RESOLUTION
EU, BRAZIL, CANADA, AUSTRALIA, NORWAY, MONACO SIGN CLIMATE CHANGE TREATY
The BBC's Environment Correspondent reported that Japan became the first major industrial country to sign the Kyoto treaty on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Ireland and Britain followed suit. Australia, Brazil, Canada, Norway and Monaco also signed the treaty on Wednesday. A number of countries signed last month. Russia and the United States have not said when they will sign. European ministers in particular were angry at what they see as attempts by the United States, Japan and Russia to go against the spirit of the agreement by trading emission targets with one another to avoid taking significant action to clean up their own industry. The British Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, called on the United States to follow the lead of those who have already signed. "This is a very pleasing and proud day for the community because Europe led the way in Kyoto last year," he said. Britt Bjerregaard, EU environment commissioner, said: "I hope by being here and signing for the European Union, we are stressing very clearly that we would like the programme President Clinton presented to the Congress to go through." See the FCCC Secretariat site
ANTI-PROTOCOL PETITION CIRCULATED
The Washington Post reported that a petition with 15,000 signatures surfaced shortly before the April 22 Earth Day and quickly became music to global warming's critics. They highlighted it in news releases, at congressional hearings, even on the Senate floor. The work of a chemist at a small research institute in Oregon, the petition of scientists -- and some nonscientists, it turned out -- has become "the center of the latest furor in a contentious debate over whether human activity is changing the earth's climate." Arthur Robinson, a physical chemist from Cave Junction, Ore., who circulated the petition by mail among scientists, said questionable names were added to the petition by pranksters. The petition urges rejection of the Kyoto Protocol. While the petition has been portrayed by global-warming skeptics as authoritative evidence that many scientists reject the catastrophic scenario of global climate change, Robinson acknowledged that little attempt was done to verify credentials of those who responded. Several environmental groups questioned dozens of the names: ``Perry S. Mason'' (the fictitious lawyer?), ``Michael J. Fox'' (the actor?), ``Robert C. Byrd'' (the senator?), ``John C. Grisham'' (the lawyer-author?). And then there's the Spice Girl, a.k.a. Geraldine Halliwell: The petition listed ``Dr. Geri Halliwell'' and ``Dr. Halliwell.'' Robinson, who acknowledges he has done no direct research into global warming, said the petition includes thousands of people ``qualified to speak on this subject'' including biochemists, geophysicists and climatologists.
SHAREHOLDERS DEFY EXXON OVER GLOBAL WARMING MEASURE
The Washington Post reported that more than 4 percent of Exxon shareholders voted against the oil company and in favor of a resolution aimed at requiring Exxon to take stock of the impact of global warming on its policies and operations. That was a large enough margin -- more than the 3 percent minimum required by Securities and Exchange Commission rules -- to ensure that supporters will be able to bring up again next year a measure that Exxon tried to keep off the ballot this year. The company had sought help from the SEC to prevent the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility from posing its resolution to shareholders at yesterday's annual meeting in Dallas. Exxon argued unsuccessfully that the statement by proponents in support of the resolution was contrary to a rule that prohibits false and misleading statements in proxy statements.During last year's proxy season, the SEC had about 60 requests from companies to bar shareholder proposals on such grounds and rejected about half of them. Among other defects, the company said that the shareholder statement "implies a scientific certainty on climate change which, in fact, does not exist" and that it misstated chief executive Lee R. Raymond's remarks to the 15th World Congress in Beijing in which he raised questions about whether global warming exists and, if it does, whether burning fossil fuels contributes to it.The resolution, which also will be voted on next month at annual meetings of General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. shareholders, would have required Exxon to create a committee of outside directors to independently review the impact of climate change on Exxon's policies and practices. The proposal sought to have Exxon weigh issues such as potential liability, and to work toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Exxon urged shareholders to vote against it, saying the committee would be an "unwarranted duplication of effort" and that the basis for the proposal was "erroneous." The company is taking measures to reduce its energy consumption, it told shareholders. According to Exxon, the vote was 4.6 percent in favor of the resolution (which must get more than 6 percent of the vote next year to stay alive) and 95.4 percent against.
NEW EVIDENCE FINDS THIS IS WARMEST CENTURY IN 600 YEARS
The New York Times reported that scientists are turning to indirect means of measuring past temperatures and have reconstructed temperature variations in the Northern Hemisphere since about 1400. Combining this evidence with thermometer readings and historical records, they have concluded that the 20th century has been the warmest century in the last 600 years -- and that the warmest years in all of that period were 1990, 1995 and 1997. They examined the multiple forces that determine the earth's temperature. Until the 20th century, they found, a variety of mostly natural factors combined to influence the climate. These included changes in solar radiation, volcanic haze that reflects sunlight and heat-trapping greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere. But in the 20th century, they found, the greenhouse gases have been the dominant influence. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have been rising because of the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. "Our conclusion was that the warming of the past few decades appears to be closely tied to emission of greenhouse gases by humans and not any of the natural factors," said Dr. Michael E. Mann, a climatologist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the chief author of a report on the new study that appears in the current issue of the journal Nature. The other authors are Dr. Raymond S. Bradley, also of Massachusetts, and Dr. Malcolm K. Hughes of the University of Arizona, in Tucson. Both are paleoclimatologists, who study ancient climates. Other kinds of analysis have come to essentially the same conclusions, but the study provides a new, independent line of evidence. This analysis, like all others, is surrounded by considerable uncertainty. Most proxy data are inherently imprecise; tree rings, for example, reflect changes in precipitation as well as temperature. See the University of Massachusetts at Amherst
INDUSTRIAL GROUP ANNOUNCES PLANS TO FIGHT CLIMATE TREATY
The New York Times reported that industry opponents of the Kyoto Protocol had drafted an ambitious proposal to spend millions of dollars to convince the public that a 1992 environmental accord is based on shaky science. Among their ideas is a campaign to recruit scientists who share the industry's views of climate science and to train them in public relations so they can help convince journalists, politicians and the public that the risk of global warming is too uncertain to justify controls on greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide that trap the sun's heat near Earth. An informal group of people working for big oil companies, trade associations and conservative policy research organizations that oppose the treaty have been meeting recently at the Washington office of the American Petroleum Institute to put the plan together. Joe Walker, a public relations representative of the petroleum institute leading the project, said in an interview that the plan had been under consideration for about two months and was "very, very tentative." Walker said no industry executives had yet been approached to pay for it. But an eight-page memorandum that he wrote shows in unusual detail how some industry lobbyists are going about opposing the climate treaty. Documents describing the proposal to undermine the mainstream view were given to The New York Times by the National Environmental Trust, whose work in support of the global-warming treaty is financed by major philanthropic organizations, including the Pew Charitable Trusts, the biggest of the nation's pro-environment grant makers.
SHELL OIL WITHDRAWS FROM POWERFUL U.S. ENERGY LOBBY GROUP
Dow Jones Newswires reported that Shell Oil Co, Royal Dutch Shell's U.S. unit, has withdrawn from the Global Climate Coalition following irreconcilable differences over the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. The powerful U.S. lobby group's opposition to ratifying the protocol was in conflict with Shell's commitment to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions, said Mark Moody-Stuart, chairman of U.K.-based Shell Transport and Trading.The decision was taken after meetings with the lobby group, which counts U.S. oil, coal and transport companies - including U.S. oil major Exxon Corp. - among its members, he said. Moody-Stuart said its withdrawal wouldn't create conflict with Exxon, with which Shell has many joint projects around the globe.Moody-Stuart was speaking after the release of a new report designed to balance profits against business principles. Separately, Moody-Stuart added that Shell is unlikely to withdraw from the international coal business entirely, following a review of its coal operations released late in 1997. He said the company sees opportunities in improving environmental efficiencies in countries such as India and China. Shell is also seeking to sell gas into those markets in which coal is the dominant energy source.
INFORMAL FCCC CONSULTATIONS
The Chairs of the SBSTA and SBI convened informal consultations in Bonn from 14-15 April to review submissions from Parties, voice their initial views and discuss the issues. The allocation of issues between the Meeting of the Parties (MOP) and the Conference of the Parties (COP) was reportedly the most controversial issue. Over 30 Parties made submissions for consideration at the June meeting of the subsidiary bodies.
G8 NATIONS PLEDGE GREENHOUSE GAS CUTS
Meeting at Leeds Castle in England, environment ministers from the G8 -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US -- declared they would make immediate cuts to greenhouse gas emissions and launch a coordinated fight against eco-criminals trafficking in endangered species and hazardous chemicals. They said such emissions had to be cut to combat climate change, which they said was the biggest environmental threat. The two-day gathering was organized mainly to discuss ways to meet the 5.2 percent reduction in emissions of six greenhouse gases by 2008-2012, pledged in the Kyoto pact signed in Japan in December. In the statement, the environmental ministers recognized that a "strong, efficient and effective compliance regime" should be put in place to back Kyoto's legally-binding targets. International issues such as the trade of emission quota limits, joint implementation and "clean" development will be backed by domestic action, the statement said. British Environment Minister Michael Michaer admitted that the Kyoto deal will have an impact on employment, saying: "There will be some job losses but finally a positive gain" especially in the transport and energy industries. He added that the success of the Kyoto pact rested on three key issues: legal rules enforcing the changes, the voluntary participation of developing countries such as China, India, Korea and Mexico -- "not in Buenos-Aires in November but at the fourth or the fifth Climate Conference" -- and an open trading system of quotas. Michaer said the European Union's target of reducing its emissions by eight percent by Kyoto's deadline was achievable. The contribution of individual EU countries to that target will be discussed in June, he said.
WORLD BANK DESCRIBES PLAN TO SET UP EMISSIONS TRADING SYSTEM AT GEF ASSEMBLY
The World Bank's managing director of operations said the Bank plans to set up a pilot project to help countries trade their carbon dioxide emissions allowances. The project, called the Carbon Investment Fund, would help buyers and sellers trade their allowed emissions of the gases responsible for global warming. ``Potentially this could be huge business in the coming decade and done primarily by the private sector, at which point we will think that we have played our catalytic role and could leave it to the private sector,'' he said. He said the bank might be able to pull back from the project eventually and let the private sector take it over and widen its scale. He said the bank was increasing its investments in renewable energy programmes, which now stood at $2.6 billion. The World Bank came under heavy flak at the Assembly meeting. Much ammunition was contained in the recently concluded "Study of GEF's Overall Performance," which found that the World Bank had actually not increased lending for biodiversity conservation after the formation of the GEF. It also could have increased targeted spending on energy efficiency and renewable resources, the study said. A more serious problem was the failure of the Bank management to recognize and reward work on GEF as equal in importance to its regular business. For more information see: the World Bank Press Release; World Bank Address to the GEF Assembly; the Sustainable Developments report on the GEF Assembly
OECD ENVIRONMENT MINISTERS AGREE TO SHARED GOALS FOR ACTION
OECD Environment Ministers of the leading industrial countries agreed here Thursday to phase out subsidies to agriculture and other sectors which cause pollution, but gave no time frame. The ministers environmental as well as economic performance should be measured and taken into account when assessing a country's growth and development. The ministers also agreed that the OECD members will give a high priority to ratifying and implementing the Kyoto protocol, agreed in December, on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, said to be responsible for the global warming effect, but they failed to find common ground on the need for a fuel tax on the fast-growing aviation sector in a bid to offset the environmental costs. The ministers agreed to give "particular priority to ratification and implementation of the Kyoto Protocol" in a way that paves the way for further progress in limiting global emissions. Senior Japanese environment official Kazu Takemoto said this meeting did not make any specific progress on details of implementing the Kyoto agreement, but did offer a good chance for an exchange of views. New Zealand Environment Minister Simon Upton, who chaired the Paris meeting, said that because the whole climate change problem is extremely complex, organisations such as the OECD cannot make rapid progress. Fpr more information see: the OECD ENVIRONMENT MINISTERS SHARED GOALS FOR ACTION or the OECD Home Page
UK and EU PLAN TAKES SHAPE
The Times of London reported that half of Britain's responsibility for cutting global warming gasses will be met through green energy schemes in the developing world, under plans being drawn up by the Government. The proposals, which are supported by other European countries, will lessen the cost of the agreements signed in Kyoto in December, reducing the need for an increase in fuel prices and tougher controls on British industry. The rest of the cuts will be met by setting up clean power stations and other green energy projects in the Third World, for which Britain will claim emission credits. The UK Environment Minister said that it was important to have a cap on the amount of pollution that rich countries could offset overseas. He said that meeting 50% of the European Union's target of an 8% cut by 2010 was far more sensible than the position held by the US, which wants to meet all its agreed cuts by trading pollution credits with Russia. The Advisory Committee on Business and the Environment (ACBE), published its report to the Prime Minister on how business can contribute to meeting the challenge of Climate Change. ACBE's report indicates that the challenge of meeting energy needs by developing new products and services with less reliance on carbon can be met. This requires Government to create a long term flexible policy framework which stimulates innovation and new technology, while also providing sufficient incentive to change behaviour across all sectors including housing and transport. ACBE recommended that if further measures are required, Government should consider the case for a carbon tax, providing it is set at a level which does not lessen UK competitiveness, that its revenues are fully recycled, and used to encourage low carbon technology, that it is targeted to achieve change in behavior, and should not fall exclusively on business. For information see the ACBE Plan.
G8 ENERGY MINISTERS SIGN ACCORD
A meeting of energy ministers from the Group of Eight industrial countries ended in Moscow with delegates signing a communiqué on cooperation in the energy sector. Russia's Acting First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, representing Russia at the talks, also said the positions of Russia and the U.S. with regard to developing pipeline routes in the Caspian basin were moving closer together. Nemtsov and British Trade and Industry Secretary Margaret Beckett signed the communiqué on behalf of the other ministers, and hailed progress made on cooperation in the energy sector. Nemtsov said the communiqué signed at the summit highlighted several areas where the ministers agreed to cooperate. These were state measures to ensure competition in the energy sector; non-discriminatory access to transport networks; opening markets to investment without discrimination or restrictions; and implementation of fair fiscal regimes. During the discussion, which involved 70 representatives of major international energy companies and the G-8 it was stressed that taxation and the tax system should be fair in the energy sector as in every other sector. He also said safety should be a top priority, especially in the nuclear sector, adding that special attention would be paid to the Kyoto Protocol. US Energy Secretary Peña told the conference the U.S. attached high importance to safety in the nuclear sector, but acknowledged the role it had to play in cutting CO2 emissions. He had been quoted earlier by the Wall Street Journal as saying in an interview that he had ``grave'' reservations over Russian negotiations to complete a partially built nuclear reactor near Havana. The meeting took place against a background of oil prices, which hit nine-year lows last month. OPEC agreed to trim output by 1.245 million barrels per day to the end of the year to boost prices.
CLINTON URGES AFRICA TO JOIN IN CUTTING GREENHOUSE GASES, ANNOUNCES STUDY
US President Bill Clinton called on Third World countries, notably in Africa, to join in what he hailed as an international effort to cut dangerous greenhouse gas emissions. "Greenhouse gases from human activity are raising the earth temperature at a troublingly rapid rate. Unless we change course, seas will rise so high they will swallow islands and coastal areas the world over, destroying entire communities and habitants," the US leader warned. However, Clinton acknowledged that "as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the US has a special responsibility to our own people and the rest of the world to act." The Times of London reported that Mr. Clinton pledged support for the Convention to Combat Desertification in Africa, but backed away from endorsing wider environmental treaties aimed at reducing global warming. Some environmentalists were disappointed that he did not offer any new commitments to reducing so-called "greenhouse" gases. Mr. Clinton said that he would ask the space agency NASA to commit satellites and ground-based surveillance equipment to a project to monitor land-use changes in southern Africa. He said the project would improve seasonal drought predictions and measure the impact of land use on climate change. The climate change initiative will involve NASA's first-ever scientific assessment of the environment in southern Africa. The space agency will commit $200,000 to use satellite and ground-based surveillance to study land use changes.
WMO SAYS FEBRUARY 1998 WARMEST ON RECORD
This past February was the world's warmest since global record-keeping began in 1856, the U.N. weather agency said Tuesday. In a report on the impact of the El Niño climate phenomenon, the World Meteorological Organization said the average air temperature around the world was 0.75 degree Celsius (1.35 Fahrenheit) above normal for the month. "We must caution that this does not indicate temperature change for the whole planet although it does show how unusually strong this current El Niño really is," said WMO spokeswoman Eirah Gorre-Dale. The WMO report said the Northern Hemisphere was at its warmest in February since 1950. The El Niño Update predicted a return to normal between June and August, slightly later than previous forecast, which called for El Niño-caused storms to end in May. Conditions in Indonesia, northern South America and southern Africa are expected to continue drier than usual, it added, giving little hope that new rains will douse forest fires which have resumed in Indonesia. Meanwhile, wet conditions are expected to continue over the coasts of Ecuador and Peru, with forecasts predicting rainfall 'far above normal' in southern Brazil for March through July."These global effects are not all attributable to El Niño; there are other factors," she cautioned. For information see the WMO web site
ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS STIFLE PINNAN INDUSTRIAL ZONE PLANS
The South China Morning Post reported that intensifying pressure to curb greenhouse gas emissions and an international campaign to rescue an endangered bird may derail plans to build a US$9 billion heavy industrial zone on the southwest Taiwanese coast. Early objections proposed in the early 1990s, came from nearby fisheries and from environmentalists worried the project would fatally damage wetlands near the proposed site, but new CO2 emission concerns have since arisen threatening to stifle the project. Quotas for developing nations, notably newly industrialized economies such as South Korea and Taiwan, could be discussed at the next UNFCCC meeting in Buenos Aires. EPA officials aim to secure tacit agreement (as Taiwan is not a UN member it cannot participate) for a commitment to hold carbon dioxide emissions to 2000 levels by 2020. One US-Taiwanese research group told legislators and EPA officials earlier this month that execution of the Pinnan project (which would add 28 million tonnes of carbon dioxide to 1990 emissions figures - up 31 per cent) "would make it impossible for Taiwan to meet even this conservative target". The decision now rests with the 29-member environmental impact assessment review commission, which is considering the second and final phase assessment. Officials confirm that carbon dioxide emissions will be considered in the final assessment, but note that benchmark standards will be determined by an official energy policy conference to be convened in late May to decide Taiwan's response to the UNFCCC.
WHITE HOUSE PROPOSES US ELECTRICITY PLAN
The Clinton administration proposed a $3 billion federal fund to promote conservation and continued assistance to low-income consumers in an increasingly competitive electricity market. The administration proposal would establish a nationwide program of competition, but allow statesespecially those with low electricity costs -- not to participate. The proposal would create a federal revolving fund from which states may receive money so utilities maintain conservation and low-income programs as long as states provide matching funds. While the environmentalists praised creation of a conservation assistance fund, they lost a bitterly fought battle to use the proposal as a tool to help limit emissions of carbon dioxide. EPA Administrator Carol Browner said the agency intends to work with Congress to pursue a carbon dioxide cap-and-trade program separately from the electricity restructuring issue. The EPA's draft proposal stirred strong opposition in Congress and prompted a House subcommittee to investigate whether the agency is trying to circumvent the Constitution's requirement for Senate ratification of treaties. Administration officials told Congress that while they dropped the EPA plan for now, it may resurface as a proposal before the environmental committees of Congress, which the White House believes to be more sympathetic to the global-warming treaty.
MEETING OF THE EU ENVIRONMENT COUNCIL
As part of a heavy climate change agenda, the Council reached common position on a revised mechanism for member states to monitor their CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. The Council agreed conclusions on the Community's Strategy on climate change, which assess the outcome of the Kyoto Conference last December and set out the main priorities for work to be done on emissions trading and other matters before the next Conference of Parties in Buenos Aires in November. The Council also agreed conclusions authorising the Community to sign the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change. On reducing CO2 emissions from passenger cars, the Council concluded that the recent ACEA offer could form the basis for further negotiation and called on the Commission to take this forward and report to the Council in June. The British Deputy Prime Minister Prescott had said he would try to convince European Union (EU) members to stick to the agreement they made to cut the emissions. Some states in the 15-nation bloc reportedly began questioning their share of this burden. Prescott said he would tour EU capitals to discuss demands from some governments for changes to the burden-sharing agreement.
KYOTO PROTOCOL OPENS FOR SIGNATURE
Three months after it was adopted, the Kyoto Protocol officially opened for signature at UN headquarters. The Protocol was signed by Argentina, Switzerland, Maldives, Samoa, and Antigua and Barbuda. The Protocol will enter into force 90 days after it has been ratified by at least 55 Parties to the Convention; these Parties must include developed countries representing at least 55% of this group's total 1990 carbon dioxide emissions. "Today marks the start of the climate change regime's post-Kyoto phase," says Michael Zammit Cutajar, FCCC Executive Secretary. "We can look forward to the Protocol's entry into force very early in the next century and to a first review of its contents soon thereafter. The first benchmark will be in 2005, when Parties must demonstrate progress in meeting the emissions targets that have already been agreed and start work on defining targets for the following period. He said a worldwide agreement on global warming will be meaningless if congressional Republicans make good on a threat to block U.S. ratification, the pact's top administrator said Monday. Environmental Media Services (EMS) hosted a Washington Press Breakfast with AGBM Chair Raul Estrada, where he said the emissions trading that the U.S. pushed to be a permanent feature of last year's global warming treaty may phase out after eight years. The practice will eventually discourage the involvement of developing nations, which worry that emissions trades would perpetuate pollution by industrial countries. "We want to make sure we're not creating a new crop for nations to sell," he added. For more information see: FCCC Press Release; the United Nations or EMS
IEA TASK XV/25 WORKSHOP
The IEA Task XV/25 Workshop, "Effects of the Kyoto Protocol on forestry and bioenergy projects for mitigation of net carbon emissions," was held from 9 - 13 March 1998 in Rotorua, New Zealand. This workshop focused on the consequences of the protocol for forestry and bioenergy projects aimed at reducing carbon emissions or enhancing carbon sinks. Of particular interest at the workshop was the issue of "baselines" (both in terms of reference land uses and reference energy systems), needed as a benchmark to derive the net carbon benefits of forestry, bioenergy or other land-use related projects. A number of speakers made presentations, including one who summed up the feeling of the Kyoto conference with the expression "for now, let's allow the minimum amount of sinks possible." He said many delegates saw sinks as a "cop-out." For others, they involved the "fear of the unknown". There was also a lot of ignorance, for example in the confusion of sinks and reservoirs. Another speaker detailed some of the confusions and perversities evident in the existing protocol. He mentioned, for example, that if 'harvesting' is to distinguished from 'deforestation' then the minimum or maximum time-interval between periods of forest cover should be clearly specified. Allowing Land Use Change and Forestry (LUCF) sinks to be excluded from the 1990 baseline and LUCF sources to be included would result in great distortions for those countries that possess both. If the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) allows, say, the US to gain credits from tree planting in Costa Rica, what happens when those sinks become a steady-state reservoir, or worse a source? For more information see: Program Announcement; Summary or the Joanneum Research web site
BOLIVIA CLIMATE CHANGE PROJECT FINALIZED
Participants say the the Noel Kempff Climate Action Project will become an example of how forest protection projects can be used to lessen greenhouse gas emissions under the FCCC. As part of the project, the Bolivian government has added 2.1 million acres of tropical forest land to the Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, essentially doubling its size. By investing in the protection of this area, three U.S. corporations, American Electric Power, BP America and PacifiCorp, and the Bolivian government will receive carbon offset credits. These credits could have significant market value, should a trading system develop as a result of Kyoto Protocol. Deforestation is the source of approximately 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to The Nature Conservancy. When forests are cut down or burned, carbon is released in the form of carbon dioxide, the principle contributor to global warming or climate change. By protecting threatened forests, investors thereby are preventing the release of greenhouse gases. In return, they earn offset credits, banking on the belief that the international community will approve an emission offset trading system. For more information try the The Nature Conservancy
SUNCOR ENERGY AND NIAGARA MOHAWK MAKE INTERNATIONAL GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSION REDUCTION TRADE
Suncor Energy Inc. and Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation, of Syracuse, N.Y., announced a ground-breaking greenhouse gas emissions trade. The two companies hoped the agreement, which has a potential value of $10 million CDN, will be a first step towards the creation of a global market and an international trading system for reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide CO(2). The agreement has won praise from both the Canadian and U.S. governments as a demonstration of a market-based approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Suncor Energy agreed to make an initial purchase of 100,000 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emission reductions from Niagara Mohawk with an option to buy up to an additional 10 million tonnes of reductions over a 10-year period. The agreement is designed to help Suncor Energy achieve its voluntary emission reduction targets, while providing Niagara Mohawk with additional funding for new projects that will further reduce global concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Under the terms of the agreement, a minimum of 70% of the net proceeds from the sale will be re-invested in such new projects, creating additional environmental benefits from the trade. For information see: Niagara-Mohawk-Suncor Energy Press Release.
"UMBRELLA GROUP" MEETING ON EMISSIONS TRADING IN WASHINGTON
The United States hosted a meeting on trading with the ``umbrella'' group countries to cut costs of complying with the global warming treaty by up to 75 percent compared with having no trading system. Only the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Russia have joined the ``umbrella'' group of countries in favor of the idea of trading credits being part of the treaty. But Japan, Ukraine, Norway and Iceland also participated in the meeting of the group. The US could reportedly cut 60 to 75 percent of its projected costs if eastern European Warsaw Pact countries join the trading system. With economic changes after the collapse of communism in Russia and eastern Europe, industrial emissions have dropped in those countries, making them the most readily available source of emissions credits for the United States and other countries to buy. The EU, which did not participate, says the plan of shifting emissions reductions to other countries will produce big loopholes that would undermine the treaty.
CLINTON ECONOMIST TESTIFIES BEFORE CONGRESS ON COSTS OF GLOBAL WARMING MEASURES
Janet Yellen, head of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, A White House economist predicted household energy costs would increase a "modest" $70 to $100 a year and energy prices would rise by an average of 3 percent to 5 percent under the Kyoto Protocol. If the nation implements the global warming agreement crafted in Kyoto, Japan. She acknowledged "uncertainties" in the administration's estimate but she said the conclusion was that the cost of the Kyoto agreement "will be modest under the conditions we have identified." Ms. Yellen and Stuart Eizenstat, an undersecretary of state who negotiated the treaty, emphasized that one key to holding down costs will be emissions trading, which would allow U.S. industries to offset some of the costs of cutting their emissions of carbon dioxide and five other gases. The estimate, presented at a House Commerce subcommittee hearing, was greeted with skepticism from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers. Under hostile questioning by Rep. Dingell and Republicans on the panel, Mr. Eizenstat indicated that the matter of when and whether President Clinton signs the treaty could depend on whether the U.S. can negotiate favorable rules for an emissions-trading program in November, when the next round of negotiations begins in Buenos Aires. Nations participating in the treaty must sign it by March 1999.
ICELAND ANNOUNCES IT WILL NOT SIGN PROTOCOL WITHOUT EXEMPTION
Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs, Halldor Asgrimsson, declared at the Nordic Council Conference on the Environment, held in Gothenburg, Sweden last week, that Iceland would not and could not sign the Kyoto Protocol unless Iceland will get exemptions from the Protocol for all increases in emissions of greenhouse gases from industrial processes. Iceland received an allowance for 10 percent increase for the period 1990-2010. Iceland also successfully promoted a "small economies" clause, i.e. special attention should be given to small economies problems with adapting to the Kyoto Protocol. What this means in practice, according to Foreign Minister Asgrimsson, is that building of an aluminum smelter in the U.S. will mean an emissions increase by some 0.007 percent. If such a smelter is built in Iceland, it will mean an increase by some 12-13 percent. The Icelandic governments has expressed its desire to build many aluminum smelters and oil refineries. According to one sources, the months prior, during and after the Kyoto Conference, witnesses a minor revolution in Iceland. Never before have the Icelanders perceived the threat of global change in as an acute manner as the threat of climate change because the media, politicians and others emphasized that climate change may change ocean currents and conditions for fish stocks.
CANADA FUNDS $150 MILLION STRATEGY
Canada proposed to spend $150 million over three years to develop a national strategy on cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. The money - $50 million a year - will include the cost of creating and staffing a climate change secretariat to co-ordinate the activity of each federal department, and to work with the provinces. Ottawa promised to consult closely with provinces to figure out how Canada will meet its commitment to cut greenhouse gas levels over the next 12 years to 6 per cent below 1990 levels. The budget contained no major tax incentives or credits to encourage industries to invest in less polluting technology or innovative devices that cut greenhouse gases.
US SENATORS SLAM KYOTO CLIMATE AGREEMENT
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday vowed not to ratify the Kyoto Global Climate Change Agreement unless developing nations accept similar pollution reduction goals. Senators also warned the Clinton administration not to try to sidestep congressional approval. They pointed to provisions in the 1999 budget plan that flag greenhouse gas reduction plans, including tax breaks on the purchase of electric cars, home solar panels and use of alternate energy sources. Stuart Eizenstat, undersecretary of state for economic, business and agricultural affairs, told the committee Clinton plans to sign the accord, but will not send it to the Senate for ratification unless he is sure it has enough support.
The previous day, the 1998 Economic Report of the President, submitted to Congress devoted a chapter to the use of emissions permit trading as a cost-effective means of attaining environmental goals. The report said there could be a "leakage effect" of emissions to emerging economies and failure to involve developing countries in an international agreement could lead to a more rapid rate of increase in emissions in those countries than would occur without any agreement. The economists said emissions could be shifted to developing countries if prices for coal and oil drop because of slack demand from rich countries, thereby making the polluting fossil fuels more attractive to poorer countries if they are not also obligated to reduce their emissions. The EPA later this year will propose an emissions trading program for smog-forming emissions of nitrogen oxides.
JAPAN'S MITI TO SET EMISSIONS GUIDELINES FOR GREENHOUSE GASES
The Ministry of International Trade and Industry said it will draw up specific guidelines on emissions of three greenhouse gases and request that industries make maximum efforts to curb their emissions of those gases. The move comes in response to an interim report put forward earlier in the day by a subcommittee of the Chemical Product Council, an advisory body to the minister for international trade and industry. The three gases -- sulfur hexafluoride, hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons -- are among those which were made subject to quantified emission limitations in Kyoto. The council's report acknowledges that demands for SF6, HFCs and PFCs will inevitably increase in coming years, but recommends that industries create their own measures to curb emissions. SF6 and PFCs are used in the process of manufacturing semiconductors, while HFCs are used for refrigeration. MITI's guideline calls for minimizing gas leakage, establishing recycling systems and developing substitute products. The ministry said it will request industry plans outlining specific emission-reducing measures by mid April for further deliberations at the council.
|5 - 6 February
"CLIMATE AFTER KYOTO: IMPLICATIONS FOR ENERGY"
This meeting was held in London, UK by the Royal Institute of International Affairs and attended by several hundred leading government, industrial, and non-governmental participants. Many speakers noted that the complexity of the Kyoto climate accord and many issues it left unresolved mean it could be years before the Kyoto Protocol comes into force. And while the world's first treaty limiting greenhouse gas emissions remains a mere piece of paper, developing countries crucial to the war against global warming will continue to refuse to sign up to its provisions, scientists, economists and lawyers said. Two months after the pact was signed, some experts could not agree on the meaning of some provisions. Others blamed political leaders who played a large role in the final stages of Kyoto for creating what they called a confusing, inconsistent and sometimes incoherent accord. They said the pact already contained so much flexibility and imprecision that its implementation would not survive more political meddling. A US oil company executive noted his enthusiasm about the potential about some of the measures but there are so many unknowns. One NGO participant said there is too much uncertainty and too much room for change in the Kyoto Protocol to decide what it is countries have committed to. For more information see: the Royal Institute for International Affairs
CLINTON DETAILS PLAN TO CURB U.S. EMISSIONS
President Clinton announced a five-year, $6.3 billion package of tax incentives and research to spur development of ultra fuel-efficient automobiles and other energy-saving technologies. Clinton said the program will show that the US can curb heat-trapping greenhouse gases by conserving energy while preserving economic growth.The program would give tax credits of $3,000 to $4,000 to buyers of the next generation of fuel-efficient cars to boost development of the vehicles. The package includes $3.6 billion worth of tax credits and $2.7 billion in additional spending over five years, beginning in 1999, on research related to the prevention of climatic change. The package also would encourage more efficient home energy use and the installation of solar power. Starting in 2000, a tax credit of $3,000 would apply to vehicles that get double the current mileage for their class. The credit would be expanded to $4000 by 2004 for vehicles getting three times current models.