US China Joint Statement on energy cooperation

Check out the full text of the U.S. China Joint Statement at CBS

The joint statement issued tonight from beijing has a remarkable number of agreements in it.  But I only want to discuss the implications of the climate and energy agreements.  (Well, first, I want to note that the Yuan isn’t budging yet, but a few barbs seem to have flown over recent US protectionism)

If we are to take this statement at its word, it suggests that the US is backing off its Bush era strategy of pitting US opposition to Kyoto  on the failure to include binding targets for China.  The nod to the Bali Action Plan, UNFCCC and even quoting the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” suggest that Obama is willing to play ball in a game where Annex I distinctions still rule.  The distinction is spelled out even more clearly in the terms “emission reduction targets of developed countries and nationally appropriate mitigation actions of developing countries”.

I am still skeptical that Obama’s concession/posturing will mean anything for the outcome of Copenhagen, or that it could possible endure the US domestic ratification process if it ever made it that far.  The statement stalls well short of promising that the emission reductions will be deep or putting a $$ on the adaptation and developing country assistance.  But the change in tone and lack of offense from Obama for US climate positions makes a convincing show that the President thinks the issue deserves some sacrifices.

Here is the excerpt directly speaking to climate change negotiations: Continue reading

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Copenhagen posturing

Obama-meets-with-UN-SecretaryThe last round of negotiations prior to the Copenhagen Summit in Barcelona fizzled to a message of decreased expectations.  This has set the table for rapid political posturing from the US.  On Tuesday the Wall Street Journal quoted several key Senators, including climate bill sponsor Sen. Kerry, with various statements postponing the possibility of US domestic climate legislation until next year.  Thursday the Washington Post broke a story that the Obama administration is feeling out the possibility for interim agreements in lieu of a formal treaty in December.  This morning the first official news of President’s Asia trip is of an agreement with Japan that both countries will commit to decreasing GHG emissions by 80% by 2050 with global reductions of 50% by mid century.  With China and India on schedule for later in the trip it is probable that climate will come up again, although balance of trade and Yuan/$ exchange is likely to dominate the conversation (for more on expected China content check out Robert Borosage on Huff Post).

It seems to this writer that Obama is guarding his international reputation more than setting a clear signal that the US is ready to engage in international climate agreements.  Continue reading

“Water is the new carbon”

Increasingly climate change scientists and policy makers are recognizing that water resources and availability will be the largest resource to be impacted by climate change. In a recent webcast published by the UN, several world water experts gather to discuss the difficulties ahead regarding water.

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"Water is the New Carbon"

These experts make a call to policy-makers to bring the focus back to water. There will be an estimated 30% decrease in water resource availability in years to come, according to Colin Chartres, the Director General of CGIAR’s International Water Management Institute. Decisions must be made regarding mitigation and adaptation mechanisms for the water sector. Colin Chartres suggests that climate mitigation is all about greenhouse gases, while adaptation is all about water.

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A Crisis of Democracy

AlGore_03 This past Saturday, I packed into a small Unitarian church with 500 other people to catch a glimpse of former Vice President Al Gore. He came to Harvard Square to discuss his new book, Our Choice, which is a follow-up to  An Inconvenient Truth. With only one short month before Copenhagen, I  jumped at the opportunity to see the Nobel Prize and Oscar winning former Vice President and the de facto leader of the current environmental movement give a speech on the politics of climate change.

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The U.S. and China on Climate Change: Who Has the Better Hand?

us-china

Source: ipkitten.blogspot.com

As President Obama gears up to make his first presidential trip to China later this month, environmental groups and other research organizations are becoming increasingly more vocal regarding the need for greater cooperation between China and the United States on the issue of climate change.

Three prominent American organizations, the Asia Society, the Center for American Progress, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (N.R.D.C.) all agree that the two countries should make climate change a top priority. In their opinion, China and the U.S. should focus on two aspects of climate change mitigation: the use of carbon capture technology and the creation of a market for carbon.

These organizations lay a solid foundation for why China and the U.S. need to pay more attention to climate change, and they also make a strong case for why the two countries should work together on the issue. However, the question remains: will the two countries tackle climate change during President Obama’s upcoming visit and come to some sort of agreement before heading into Copenhagen, or will the issue take a back seat to other topics as is often the case during these “head of state” meetings? Continue reading

Africa Makes a Stand

Africa Protest

Source: Newsdaily.com

African nations boycotted the UN climate talks in Barcelona, Spain because they accused the rich nations of having inadequate promises to combat climate change.  Although these nations agreed to resume work on the UN climate talks, this has showed that African nations are united and are willing to stand their ground—protecting their citizens, where these nations are most likely to be hit the hardest by climate change with water and food shortages, floods, droughts, and rising sea levels. Continue reading

Looking ahead to Copenhagen, seeing REDD

Here at ecociety we are paying close attention to developments in the run up to COP 15. One of the most important areas of negotiation involves the issue of deforestation. The UN established the Program on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing countries (REDD) to encourage developing nations to reduce deforestation through economic incentives. As with many aspects of climate change policy, deforestation is intimately linked with issues of equity and development. The bottom line question is who will pay for it and how much? Continue reading