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

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

Green Technology as a Public Good?

At the last week’s conference on “Climate Change: Technology Development and Transfer,” Indian PM Singh proclaimed that green climate technologies should be considered global public goods (GPG). Although Singh’s statement failed to grab headlines in the Western press it a remarkable and important idea that will surely receive increasing scrutiny. Continue reading

A City’s Quest for a “Green Boulevard”

flying bus

Just yesterday I was looking through the Green American Fall newsletter, and read an article about Hasselt, Belgium (4th largest city in Belgium) reclaiming its streets from traffic nightmare roads.  In the mid-1990s this city was very similar to many US cities, with a massive suburban sprawl and urban businesses experiencing great deterioration.  There was an increase in traffic congestion, thus a plan to ease this by building another road around the city (already two known as “ring roads”).  By the advice of a green consulting group, the then mayor of Hasselt—Steve Stevaert—halted construction of the new road (saving billions of dollars) and decided to turn half of the inner ring road into a pedestrian friendly thoroughfare by being car-free.  This is now known as the Green Boulevard.  Additionally, he created a more accessible bus system by increasing the number of busses (40 total) and letting residents ride them for free. Continue reading

Green Politics

green_politics_cover

Green Politics by Anil Agarwal, Sunita Narain and Anju Sharma is perhaps one of those few books which talks about the stance of developing countries when it comes to global environmental negotiations. The developing countries have always come across as skeptics when it comes to global environmental negotiations and their reasons can be fairly justified. This book highlights the southern perspective of such negotiations and clearly shows how these environmental negotiations which are supposed to be based on the principle of good governance—equality, justice and democracy have often turned out to be business transactions where the rich crush the interests of the poor. Continue reading

“There is no difference between India and China”

zenhua_rameshThe New Delhi Accord, reached today, between India and China aligns the two traditional rivals in a unified stance on climate change negotiations.  This move in the lead up to Copenhagen will have meaningful impacts on the type of agreement that can possibly be accomplished there.  The accord insists that neither China nor India will accept any binding restrictions on emissions.  It holds firm to the Annex I and non-Annex I distinctions in the Kyoto protocol and reaffirmed at Bali.  The South is uniting and the North may not have much in the way of recourse.