Friday, November 27, 2009

China: it's your turn!

After the US had pledged to reduce GHG emissions by 17% in the view of breaking the impasse of the coming negotiations, yesterday China announced that it will reduce the CO2 emission per GDP by 40% to 45% in 2020 compared with the emission intensity in 2005.
See: Xinhuanet news agency: "China will not swerve from emission cut target: official"

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

CCS: so far, too far!

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is the only currently available technology that allows deep cut in CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. However at the present there are only five fully integrated commercial-scale CCS projects in operation.
1. Sleipner (Norway) for CO2 from natural gas
2. Snøhvit (Norway) for CO2 from natural gas
3. In Salah (Algeria) for CO2 from natural gas
4. Rangely (North America) for CO2 from natural gas
5. Weyburn-Midale (North America) for CO2 from a coal-based synfuels plant

According to IEA Roadmap (2009) the implementation of 100 CCS projects globally by 2020 and 3400 by 2050 is required, in order to reduce annual CO2 emissions to half of 2005 levels by 2050 (so called Blue Map Scenario target). This would allow to capture over 10 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions in 2050, although the investment associated will be significant: from 2010 to 2050 is estimated to be around USD 5 tn, representing an average value of USD 125 bn invested per year from 2010 to 2050.
Even if the benefits of reducing emissions through CCS are not yet enough to stimulate its deployment, some governments are already tackling the demonstration funding gap.

- AUD 2 bn (USD 1.65 bn) for funding large-scale CCS demonstrations in Australia
- AUD 100 m a year for three years for the development of the Global CCS Institute
- CAD 1.3 bn (USD 1.2 bn) financial support for R&D, mapping and demonstration project support
- the Province of Alberta has assigned CAD 2 bn (USD 1.8 bn) to support CCS deployment
European Union:
- the revenue from the auctioning of 300 m credits within ETS to support CCS and renewable energy
- allocated EUR 1.05 bn from economic recovery energy programme for the support of 7 CCS projects
- JPY 10.8 bn (USD 116 m) for study on largescale CCS demonstration since fiscal year 2008
- announced the allocation of NOK 1.2 bn (USD 205 m) for CCS projects
- funding for up to 4 CCS projects
- The Economic Recovery Act includes USD 3.4 bn in funding for clean coal and CCS development
- USD 1.0 bn allocated for developing and testing new ways to produce energy from coal
- USD 1.52 bn will fund industrial CO2 capture projects, including a small allocation for the beneficial reuse of CO2
- USD 800 m will augment funds for the Clean Coal Power Initiative with a focus on carbon capture

For more information see: IEA (2009). “Technology Roadmap Carbon capture and storage.” International Energy Agency, October 2009.

International Climate Policy and Carbon Markets, November 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

The changing mood of the negotiations

Less than two weeks before the U.N. COP-15, statements on possible outcome are following one another.
Last week Obama and the Chinese President Hu Jintao admitted that in Copenhagen there will be only a political deal, not the expected legally binding agreement.
Surprisingly, today a senior administration official of the White House announced that the
United States will propose an emissions reduction target in Copenhagen. This probably will be the reduction target of 17% from 2005 levels by 2020, included in the Kerry-Boxer Bill, that still needs to be approved by the US Parliament.
In addition, few days ago the European Commission President Barroso said that Russia promised an emission reduction target by 25 % from the level in 1990 by 2020, more than the 10-15% announced during the last talks.
So, it seems that something is happening at the political level. The United States and the Russia, two of the major emitter countries will probably come in Copenhagen with some numbers on the table.
Despite the low mood in the last talks in Barcelona, these seem to be good signals for a possible agreement in Cophnagen.
Now it's up to China and India propose something concrete.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Waiting for COP 16?

What happened yesterday during the Asia Pacific summit in Singapore of US President Barack Obama does not surprise, especially considering last negotiations in Barcelona!

Indeed, the compromise agreed to only a political deal, not a full legal treaty, in Copenhagen was only "an honest admission of what had become obvious over the past several weeks" , as defined by Rajendra K. Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

However, this position has forced Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who will host the Copenhagen conference, to flight to Singapore and laid out a two-step process; this would imply in Copenhagen only the reaching of a political agreement on attacking climate change as a prelude to a later legally binding accord. Today 40 countries environment ministers are attending a pre-summit talks in Copenhagen; thus, it remains to be seen whether all of them are ready to accept postponing a final agreement.

Could be the December 2010 the right date? Would be in the COP 16 in Mexico the right chance for achieving a real and concrete agreement? Too early to have an answer or someone already knows the answer?

See also:
The New York Times - Obama Hobbled in Fight Against Global Warming , November 15, 2009
Financial Times - Obama rules out Copenhagen treaty, November 15, 2009
Euractive - Asian leaders kill hopes for Copenhagen climate deal, November 15, 2009
Los Angeles Times - Learn the trick. Idea takes hold for 2-step climate pact, November 15, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Key aspects of the Kerry-Boxer Bill

- Scope of Coverage
  • Gases covered: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride, and nitrogen trifluoride (the same identified by the Waxman-Markey).
  • Entities covered: large stationary sources emitting greater than 25,000 tons per year of GHGs, producers and importers of petroleum fuels, distributors of natural gas, producers of hydrofluorocarbon gases, and other specified large sources.
  • Approximately 85% of national greenhouse gas emissions are covered under the cap.
- Targets
  • 20% reduction target from 2005 levels in 2020 (higher than the 17% reduction proposed in the Waxman-Markey bill).
  • 3% reduction from 2005 levels in 2012; 42% reduction in 2030; and an 83% reduction in 2050 (the same as Waxman-Markey)
- Distribution of Allowances
  • Allowances are allocated to electricity and natural gas local distribution companies and to states for home heating oil and propane users expressly for the purposes of benefiting residential, commercial and industrial consumers.
  • Free allocation of allowance value is also provided to refineries and to energy-intensive, trade-exposed industries to prevent “carbon leakage”.
  • It calls for initially auctioning 10% of allowances annually (increasing to 25% by 2040) specifically for the purpose of making sure the bill does not add to the budget deficit.
- Cost Containment: it provides for a two-year rolling compliance period, unlimited banking of unused allowances, and limited borrowing.

- Offsets
  • allows for the use of 2 billion tons of qualified offsets annually: three quarters allowable from domestic sources (1.5 billion) and one-quarter (500 million) from international sources.
  • If domestic supplies of offsets prove inadequate, an additional 750 million tons from international sources can be used to reach the total of 2 billion tons annually.
- Price Collar: in order to preserve market stability the reserve auction price is set at $28 (in 2005 constant dollars), this would increase each year by a certain percentage (5% through 2017 and 7% thereafter) over the previous year’s reserve auction price plus inflation.

- Cap-and-trade: the bill envisages as the Waxman-Markey a GHG cap-and-trade system under which the government would put limits on the amount of carbon pollution from stationary sources; thus, companies would need an annual permit for every ton of carbon pollution they release into the atmosphere. It includes a 6-year moratorium (2012 through 2017) on states imposing their own GHG cap-and-trade programs.

For more information see:
"The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S. 1733)- Kerry-Boxer Bill"
Pew Center (2009) "At a Glance. Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act Passed by Committee on November 5, 2009"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

World Energy Outlook 2009

Today in London the IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka and Chief Economist Fatih Birol presented the World Energy Outlook 2009 (WEO 2009).
Excutive summary
Press release
Conference presentation

Friday, November 6, 2009

Barcelona failure?

A G77-China consultation on Shared vision
Today the Barcelona Talks concluded their work. The aim of the day was to reduce the number of non-papers in order to have a single document for each contact groups. However only the group on "enhanced action" obtained some results, replacing the non-paper n. 48 with the n. 54.
During the two closing plenaries, parties reiterated their negotiating positions. Developing countries expressed frustration about the lack of progress and underlined that in Copenhagen the outcome should include a strong agreement on ambitious targets. They asked to developed countries to commit in a fair, effective and legally binding agreement. However, among industrialized countries, the United States expressed their optimism: during this week parties engaged in serious discussion about the framework of the future agreement and clarified their positions. The last plenary ended at 9.00 pm.
It is quite difficult to describe the atmosphere of this last day. In the corridors there were delegates restless and very busy...the general mood was low and discouraged.
The bulk of the work must be done in this month, before the COP-15...are you ready to play your part?

Am I a

Today I met Jeremy Osborn, a member o team.
The first question coming to my mind when I start talking to him was 350 CO2 only or CO2e? Actually, it refers to 350 ppm CO2e, as he described “the most ambitious target ever”.
And, it is very, very ambitious indeed! Especially, if we take into account that the current CO2concentration is approximately 390 ppm while CO2e is almost 430 ppm. The 350 ppm CO2e has not been metioned by any countries while the 350 ppm CO2 has been strongly supported during the Barcelona UNFCCC talks by many developing countries, in particular AOSIS (Alliance of small islands states) and LDC (Least Developed Countries).

When? “As soon as possible.”
So, we need negative emissions in order to achieve this target…isn’t? How? Focusing in particular on agriculture, forest and ocean. Improving land use, reducing deforestation and improve soil conservation will allow natural ecosystem to absorb CO2 and to take some of the excess carbon out of the atmosphere…is this feasible? Jeremy cited a recent work of NASA’s Jim Hasen on this regard.

It’s interesting to have an opinion from a so “deep” observer of the negotiations. Thus, I took the opportunity to ask him some inside information.
Copenhagen? No a legally binding agreement is expected.
The worst and the best negotiator party?
The worst are United States because they don’t want to take the risk of setting a binding target domestically and internationally, and the bill takes too much time to become law. On the other hand, there is a positive turmoil at regional level such as RGGI, WCI, California Assembly Bill 32, CCX ect.
The best are with no doubts LDC (Least Developed Countries) which are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and want an immediate action in order to reduce dangerous potential effects (mitigation) and increase the adaptive capacity (adaptation).
Next step for the No actions planned for the following moths, with the exception of working hard for building support for the campaign in Copenhagen…

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Just a tracking day

Today didn't seem to be very interesting from a negotiating standpoint, especially for us, "only" observers. There was just one open session concerning "political consequences", in which the debate between developed and developing countries didn't progress substantially. Parties' discussion focused almost on proper words: may or shall?
So we have been looking for "close" information in the corridors.
Rumors regarding the future legal outcome said that in Copenhagen there will not be a legally binding agreement but only a political decision. This, for someone, will be a good outcome because at least offers a starting point setting the architecture to build on the new agreement. De Boer underlined that there would be one overarching COP decision with a number of annexes on reduction targets comparing to reference scenario for Developing Countries, individual financial contribution for "fast starting", and possibly a cost sharing agreement. Moreover there could be a provisional second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, at least until a new legal instrument will take place. But there are diverging views especially regarding the Kyoto Protocol track and the content of the operational decisions. So the final decision was postponed...until?
Rumors said also that on adaptation the discussion continued slowly on prioritization of support and which actions by all parties should be defined in the text. Divergence on risk management and a mechanism to address loss and damage still remained.
Finally, a big rumors-issue concerned finance: discussions were focusing on governance of new fund, the role of existing funds and proposal on coordination of institutions.
Just to refresh your mind, the African Group block made on the AWG-KP negotiations last Tuesday, produced satisfied results: a new time allocation that gives more importance to numbers has been set!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Side events

Models&Results, Results&Models. During the first two presentations in the side event Comparison of model analyses on mitigation efforts among developed countries it has been emphasized:
- The importance of comparability as a key variable for the post-Kyoto architecture
- The need of indicators in order to assist countries in (i) knowing each other circumstances and (ii) making decisions on comparability.
After, a comparison of 8 multi-region and multi-sector energy-engineering model stressed that mitigation potential and costs vary widely depending on different settings of: socio economic assumptions, services demands assumptions, future energy price, discount rate and mitigation options rate of technology.
Preliminary results showed a wide range on emissions reduction potential for the countries analysed. This left the Parties in the room in a confused state asking: what this so huge range of results would suggest to policymakers?
Even if during the third and fourth presentations some interesting findings emerged:
- Japan has the lowest mitigation potential while Mexico the highest
- mitigation potential increases over time
- greater potentials exist in electricity sector than in transportation
- depending on the applied cost concept total societal mitigation costs might be rather low
…the atmosphere continued to be puzzled… how these results, based on different assumptions, can be useful during the negotiation process? Not a clear answer emerged.

This is one of the paper presented during the side event: Clapp Christa, Katia Karousakis, Barbara Buchner and Jean Chateau (2009)."National and Sectoral GHG Mitigation Potential: a comparison across models." OECD/IEA, November 2009.
Global needs local. During the side events Local Government Climate Roadmap ICLEI (Local Governments for sustainability), the Barcelona Provincial Council and other local institutions supported the idea that without a strong involvement of the local government planet cannot be saved.
In particular the Barcelona Provincial Council illustrated its project to address a local sustainable pathways. At this purpose they plan to allocate 3000 mln euros in renewables and efficiency energy following three goals:
- reducing GHG emissions of 200,000 tons of CO2 per year;
- financing projects with 500 mln euros, shared in 350 in Photovoltaic installations and 150 in energy efficiency activities;
- creating permanent jobs.


Wednesday afternoon. Half of the week available to negotiators is over.
Our initial enthusiasm gave way to the awareness that time is running but the negotiation process not.
This morning the informal groups on AWG-KP restarted their work. Two informal sessions were opened to the observers:
- on "other issues" parties tried to reduce the number of square brackets in the negotiating text focusing on emission trading and project mechanisms. In particular they discussed the options for a standardized, multi-project baselines under CDM. Despite the efforts of the Chair the text remained the same.
- the same thing happened in the contact group on "potential consequences" where after a discussion concerning understanding and implementation, parties didn't agree on relevant text changes.
However in the daily program we noted al lot of closed sessions. Probably the hard work is taking place there, hoping that the position taked yesterday by developing countries will imply concrete outcomes.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Too good to be true

During a side event this afternoon in Barcelona IIASA (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis) analyzed mitigation potentials, pledges and costs of Annex I countries in the view of the crisis using economic projections of the World Energy Outlook 2009 (WEO, 2009) of the International Energy Agency. In particular, comparing these to the projections of WEO 2008 they emphasized:
- Lower energy use
- Lower GDP level
- Lower baseline Annex I GHG emissions (baseline GHG emissions projected in 2020 will be lower of 2005 emissions)
- Lower marginal abatement cost (in order to reduce GHG emission of 25% by 2020 the marginal abatement cost will be 50 euro/tCO2e)
- Lower total abatement costs (it will be possible to achieve 23% emissions reduction by 2020 comparing to 1990 for Annex I with no costs)
- Lower investments (the largest investment demand will occur in the domestic sector while investment in power sector will be lower in the mitigation scenario comparing to the baseline).
So, the highly criticized conclusion was: "emission caps that are developed for 2020 based on pre-crisis perspective might not induce any need of further mitigation measures in a post-crisis world".
After that, the second step was an update of the IIASA’s GAINS (Greenhouse Gas and Air Pollution Interactions and Synergies) model with the projections of the WEO 2009. In particular, two scenarios have been considered in analyzing Annex I parties pledges for the post-2012 climate treaty: a conservative and an optimistic.
As a whole, thanks to crisis with appropriate economic trading mechanisms the pledges would involve no net costs to Annex I countries. Even for the optimistic case, the analysis suggests that the implied measures would lead to cost savings compared to the baseline projection as reduced energy costs from energy savings would outweigh the costs for implementing the measures, indeed.
In addition, because of the large amount of “hot air” it is unlikely that a significant carbon market would emerge, especially in the conservative case while in the optimistic the carbon market will continue even if the price of carbon will be very low (less than 10 euro/tCO2e in 2020).
For more information see:
Notes: IIASA provides free access to an interactive GAINS GHG mitigation efforts calculator that allows online-comparison of mitigation efforts across Annex I Parties at

No news, good news?

After the beautiful welcome evening organized yesterday by the host country in the National Art Museum of Catalonia, this morning we were very hopeful to see the negotiations proceed.

Jugglers at the evening reception

Morning bell. The day begun with a dark message: no meetings for the AWG-KP were scheduled during the day because the developing countries' frustration in no real progress on the numbers by developed the contact group on further Annex I commitments was "suspended until further notice". While the AWG-LCA sessions took place even without progress and with developing countries claiming for a concrete step in the negotiation process.
South Africa said "I'm really frustrated", underlining that developed countries haven't the willingness to touch the main issues.
Side events. No satisfied with informal-morning groups (actually they weren't) we spend our time in siding-events. There were a lot of events organized by institutions, organizations and research institutes. We chose to follow:
- Transport Research Foundation (TRF) "Putting land transport on the Copenhagen Agenda" in which were presented data on impact of transport emissions and explored the possible amendments to the negotiating text in order to include this key sector.
- UNFCCC "LEG/LDC update on NAPA" where Least Developed Countries Expert Group analyzed and discussed the status of NAPAs.
- OECD "Financing for enhanced climate change action" that explored key issues relevant to the post-Kyoto financial architectures: public vs. private investments, South-North vs. South-South financial flows, Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). Relevant in this event, a delegate focused on the need of address financial debate through an economic perspective instead of a distributional issues.
- European Community "From concept to practice - the place of sectoral approaches in the international post-2012 architecture" in which the Centre for Clean Air Policy and the International Emissions Trading Association explained their views on sectoral approaches to implement NAMAs in developing countries as well as the trade impacts of this solution.
- IIASA "Mitigation potentials, a pledges and cost of Annex I countries in view of economic crisis" where something spicy happened! (have a look to next Alice post)
Now we are attending the Pew center's side event on the U.S. negotiating position.
All these events were very interesting and stimulating even if we felt the absence of delegates and parties. We hope they were hiding in closed sessions working on something concrete.

At the moment we don't have any news on this this a good news?

Monday, November 2, 2009

A light starter in Barcelona

The plenary session

It is our first day in Barcelona and we have been welcomed at the entrance of the Convention Centre by 350ppm-people! They were trying, all the day and in different ways, to push the Delegates and Parties' attention to this "quite" ambitious target.
During the Welcoming Ceremony, Spanish dignitaries opened the session remarking the need of a global and comprehensive agreement, such goal has been also emphasized by all the involved Parties.
Again, as in Bangkok, the huge discrepancy between new agreement or Kyoto amendment held over:
1. developing countries remarked that developed countries attempt to "kill the Kyoto Protocol" and make it no credible anymore;
2. developed countries, represented by Europe, asked for a new global ambitious agreement in Copenhagen, with 2°C target, involving all world nations.
In addition, Europe underlined an agreement which will cover all sectors counting also aviation and maritime transport with a 10% and 20% reduction comparing to 2005 levels by 2020 respectively.
During the same session, two positive news have create a hopeful atmosphere:
- Kazakhstan set its emissions target at 15% comparing to 1990 level by 2020;
- Iraq ratified the Kyoto Protocol.
Following the Bangkok organization structure, the delegates continued the informal groups of AWG-KP and AWG-LCA on major topics.
In particular, during the contact group on Annex I Parties' emission reductions, the chair welcomed the very stringent target chosen by some developed countries as Scotland and Norway. Those countries proposed a high reduction goal around 40% comparing to 1990 by 2020.
While, in the contact group on enhanced action on the provision of financial resources and investment Europe confirmed the position taken in its Blueprint for the Copenhagen deal where it highlighted the need of scaling up financial resources to developing countries for an amount of € 100 billion per year by 2020 (for more information on this regard see also

So far, the mood is good, negotiators look optimistic...let's see what will happen tomorrow.