UN Human Development Report: Less Than a Decade to Change Course

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 29 Nov 2007 19:49:00 GMT

Presaging next week’s Climate Change Conference in Bali, the United Nations has released its 2007-2008 Human Development Report, a call to action on climate change using stark moral language.
Climate change is the defining human development issue of our generation. All development is ultimately about expanding human potential and enlarging human freedom. It is about people developing the capabilities thatempower them to make choices and to lead lives that they value. Climate change threatens to erode human freedoms and limit choice. It calls into question the Enlightenment principle that human progress will make the future look better than the past. . .

Our starting point is that the battle against climate change can—and must—be won. The world lacks neither the financial resources nor the technological capabilities to act. If we fail to prevent climate change it will be because we were unable to foster the political will to cooperate.

Such an outcome would represent not just a failure of political imagination and leadership, but a moral failure on a scale unparalleled in history. During the 20th Century failures of political leadership led to two world wars. Millions of people paid a high price for what were avoidable catastrophes. Dangerous climate change is the avoidable catastrophe of the 21st Century and beyond. Future generations will pass a harsh judgement on a generation that looked at the evidence on climate change, understood the consequences and then continued on a path that consigned millions of the world’s most vulnerable people to poverty and exposed future generations to the risk of ecological disaster.

The New York Times coverage: U.N. Warns of Climate-Related Setbacks.

International climate change negotiations, focusing on restoring United States leadership

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 13 Nov 2007 19:30:00 GMT

Sen. Kerry presiding.

Witnesses Panel 1
  • Paula J. Dobriansky, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs, Department of State
  • Dan Reifsnyder
Panel 2
  • Timothy Wirth, President, United Nations Foundation
  • Dr. Richard Sandor, Chairman and CEO, Chicago Climate Exchange
  • Dr. Jonathan Pershing, Director, Climate, Energy, and Pollution Program, World Resources Institute

2:40 Kerry The 95-0 vote against the Kyoto treaty was not meant as a rejection of action on climate change.

2:45 Lugar It is critical that the international dialogue on climate change move beyond the disputes of the Kyoto protocols.

2:48 Dobriansky Climate change is a serious problem and humans are contributing to it. We are committed to doing our part. At Bali we will work to launch a new phase in climate diplomacy. The US is committed to concluding this effort by 2009. I recently met with key heads in Bogor, Indonesia. There are four key factors: mitigation, adaptation, finance, and technology. We enter the Bali meeting with an open mind. Our deliberations will be guided by two considerations: environmentally effective and economically sustainable.

. . .

3:46 Reifsnyder The threat of sanctions and tariffs is not popular.

On the Road to U.N.-Bali Climate Change: Creating Global Consensus on a Sustainable Model of an Avioided Deforestation

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 01 Nov 2007 12:30:00 GMT

As the Kyoto Protocol will expire in 2012, world leaders will gather in Bali in December, 2007 to discuss future alternative solutions tackling climate change issues.

The United States has agreed to join this group of world leaders as an active participant in the Bali summit and is willing to work with other countries to establish initiatives.

Indonesia, as the host country together with Forestry- 11 (countries with the largest tropical rainforests) is committed to preserving its environment as long as such efforts do not negatively impact its economy.

Global Nexus Institute, an Indonesian based think tank with offices in Jakarta and Washington DC invites you to join us in a discussion on these issues.

  • What happened with the Kyoto Treaty and what should we expect from Bali?
  • What is the US position on this issue?
  • Is Sustainable Development using Avoided Deforestation the answer to the climate change challenge?
  • What will it take to implement it?
  • Who is going to finance it?
  • How do we determine the baseline and monitoring system?

WELCOMING REMARKS His Excellency Sudjadnan Parnohadiningrat, Indonesian Ambassador to the United States

  • Gerhard Dieterle – Forestry Advisor, World Bank
  • Steven Ruddell – Director of Forest Investnment & Sustainibility, Forecon Inc.
  • Dr. Neil Franklin – Sustainability Director, APRIL Asia
  • Annie Petsonk – International Counsel, Environmental Defense
  • Harlan Watson – U.S. Department of State
  • Christianto Wibisono – President, Global Nexus Institute
  • Paul Miller, Partner, Miller/Wenhold Capitol Strategies

Holeman Lounge at the National Press Club 529 14th Street NW, Washington DC 20045

After Kyoto, Eyes on Bali: Global Climate Change and American Leadership

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 29 Oct 2007 17:00:00 GMT

Senator John Kerry will speak to the Council on Foreign Relations on Monday. His address, “After Kyoto, Eyes on Bali: Global Climate Change and American Leadership,” will focus on the security risks of global climate change and the way forward as the United States approaches the next round of global climate change talks in Bali in December. Sen. Kerry and Sen. Boxer are leading the Senate delegation to this next round of international discussions.

Council on Foreign Relations 58 East 68th Street New York, NY 10021

The Future in Our Hands: Addressing the Leadership Challenge of Climate Change

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 24 Sep 2007 04:00:00 GMT

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced that he will convene an informal high-level event in New York on the margins of the General Assembly on 24 September to promote discussion on possible ways to move the international community toward negotiations on new global agreement on climate change at the upcoming United Nations climate change conference in Bali in December.

The Secretary-General hopes that world leaders will send a powerful political signal to the negotiations in Bali that “business as usual” will not do and that they are ready to work jointly with others towards a comprehensive multilateral framework for action on climate change for the period after 2012.

The Secretary-General informed Permanent Representatives and Permanent Observers to the United Nations of the event, which will be informal and will seek to reaffirm the importance of addressing climate change in a global forum and provide an opportunity to involve all countries in the multilateral process. The high-level event would not seek to engage Governments in negotiations on the outcomes in Bali nor seek a negotiated outcome.

The Secretary-General has repeatedly stated that climate change is a major global challenge and he intends to take a leadership role in helping the international community address the problem. As the only global forum, the United Nations is uniquely positioned to forge a common approach to combating climate change. He has stated that all countries are experiencing it, all countries are becoming more conscious of the need to address this issue and the time for action is now.

Earlier this year, the Secretary-General appointed three Special Envoys to assist him with consultations with Governments on how he might facilitate progress in the multilateral climate change negotiations within the UN, as well as their views on a possible high-level event later this year. The Special Envoys are: H.E. Mrs. Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and former Chair of the World Commission of Environment and Development, H.E. Mr. Han Seung-soo, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea and former President of the 56th session of the UN General Assembly; and H.E. Mr. Ricardo Lagos Escobar, former President of Chile.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is among the leaders who plan to attend.

9:00 am – 9:45 am: Opening Plenary Meeting Opening by the Secretary-General, with the participation of the President of the 62nd session of the General Assembly and the Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Morning session 10:00 am – 1:00 pm: Thematic Plenaries (taking place in parallel)
  • Thematic Plenary I — Adaptation “The challenge of adaptation — from vulnerability to resilience”
  • Thematic Plenary II — Mitigation “Reducing emissions and stabilizing the climate — safeguarding our common future”
  • Thematic Plenary III — Technology “Innovating a climate-friendly world— the role of technology and its dissemination”
  • Thematic Plenary IV — Financing “Financing the response to climate change — investing in tomorrow”

Afternoon session 1:15 pm – 2:45 pm: Side Event for Leaders “Global voices on climate change” Hosted by Kenya, Indonesia, Poland and Denmark

3:00 pm – 5:00 pm: Thematic Plenaries Continued from the morning sessions

Closing 5:30 pm – 6:15 pm: Closing Closing and presentation of Chair’s Summary by the Secretary-General

What Does the Stern Review Mean for the UN Climate Change Meeting in Bali? 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 21 Sep 2007 14:00:00 GMT

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) invites you to a Congressional briefing with Sir Nicholas Stern a year after the release of the landmark “Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change.” The Stern Review represented a key milestone in our understanding of the urgent need to take action and the associated costs of tackling climate change. The headline message that the cost of action would be far less than the cost of inaction was a catalyst for many governments to increase their efforts in the fight against global warming.

In the run up to the next UN meeting on climate change in Bali (December 2007), there are a number of complementary processes taking place, including the UN Secretary-General’s meeting in New York on September 24 and the US Meeting of Major Economies on Energy Security and Climate Change in Washington on September 27-28. How will the findings of the Stern Review affect these meetings? Will the policy recommendations recommended by the Review be considered as part of the final deal?

Sir Nicholas Stern will speak about these issues, which will be followed by a Q&A session with the audience.

Briefing speaker:

The Stern Review was commissioned by Gordon Brown, formerly Chancellor of the Exchequer and now the British Prime Minister. The Stern Review’s principal conclusion was that tackling climate change is a pro-growth strategy. It found that the earlier effective action is taken, the less costly it will be. The Stern Review surprised many policymakers in terms of describing the relatively small cost of action versus the significant costs of inaction, i.e. stabilizing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will cost about one per cent of annual global output by 2050. If no action is taken, climate change will reduce global consumption per head by between five and 20 percent. In addition, markets for low-carbon energy products are likely to be worth at least $505 billion per year by 2050.

This briefing is open to the public and no reservations are required. For more information, please contact Fred Beck at [email protected] or 202.662.1892.

Club of Madrid Proposal for a Post-Kyoto Framework

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 11 Sep 2007 19:05:00 GMT

Yesterday the Club of Madrid, the organization of 66 democratic former heads of stated, unveiled a proposal for the international climate change framework to be developed at the Conferences of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bali this December. Glenn Hurwitz covers the proposal at Grist.

The brief summary: An international framework with a global target of 60% below 1990 levels by 2050; developed countries should be at 30% below by 2020 and rapidly developing countries should lower their energy intensity by 30% by 2020 and follow emissions targets thenceforth. A carbon price should be set by a globally linked cap-and-trade system with auctioned credits or preferably by universal carbon taxes. $20 billion should be spent annually on energy R&D and an annual fund of $50 billion should go to developing countries for adaptation, avoided deforestation, and clean energy development and deployment—the latter including renewable energy and energy efficiency. IP barriers to clean energy technologies should be dropped.

The full recommendations are past the break.

1. Bali: In addition to setting a timetable for negotiating a comprehensive post-2012 agreement, the Parties should agree in Bali on four pathways for negotiation that address mitigation, adaptation, technology, and finance. Initial draft articles should be presented to the Conference of the Parties in 2008 as a first step towards concluding a new and comprehensive agreement in 2009.

2. UNFCCC: Given the scale of response required, and in order to avoid the most adverse impacts of climate change, there should be a comprehensive post-2012 agreement under the auspices of the UNFCCC. Targeted agreements – for example, on industrial sectors, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and technology cooperation – should be encouraged and incorporated within a new comprehensive agreement.

3. Targets and timetables: All countries should commit to reduce collectively global emissions by at least 60% below the 1990 level by 2050. Developed countries should take the lead in emissions reduction by adopting effective targets and timetables. As a first step, this could include a commitment to reduce their collective emissions by 30% by 2020. Rapidly industrializing countries should commit to reduce their energy intensity by 30% by 2020 (an average of 4% per year) and agree to emissions reduction targets afterwards. Other developing countries should commit to an energy intensity target differentiated by their responsibilities and capabilities. The international community should develop a monitoring and review system and clear criteria for determining when and how various categories of countries should assume stronger climate commitments.

4. Renewable energy and energy efficiency: Long-term policies, as well as measurable and verifiable targets, should be adopted by all countries to increase substantially the use of renewable energy and to promote greater efficiency in energy production and use. In addition, global standards for end-use efficiency should be developed and adopted.

5. Avoided deforestation: To reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide cost-effectively, a full range of interventions to create and maintain biological sinks of carbon should be included in a post-2012 climate change regime in order to capture the many co-benefits of sustainable livelihoods, land management, forestry, and biodiversity conservation.

6. Carbon pricing: In order to deliver the greatest climate benefits efficiently and effectively, a carbon price should be set through carbon taxes or trading. The preferable mechanism is a system of harmonized, universal carbon taxes. For a cap-and-trade system, well functioning and financially linked carbon markets need to be developed across the globe, incorporating various national and regional cap-and-trade programs. Emissions allowances should be auctioned, thus raising resources that can be allocated by national governments for other purposes, such as clean energy development and adaptation.

7. Adaptation: A post-2012 climate agreement should address both mitigation and adaptation. Adaptation should be seen as part of sustainable development and strategies to alleviate poverty. It should include vulnerability assessments, enhancing resilience to climate impacts, access to information and best practices, building human and institutional capacity, and making public and private investments in developing countries less susceptible to climate change. A substantial package of financial support, including public and private funds, should be established (see Recommendation 11). Centers for Adaptation in Agriculture should be established, particularly by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research in Africa.

8. Energy R&D: Recent declines in investments for energy research and development should be reversed. Research, development and demonstration of more efficient and less costly energy technologies, such as advanced solar thermal technologies, as well as carbon capture and storage, should be a high priority. Aggregate public expenditures should be increased to US$20 billion per year.

9. Clean energy deployment: In order to tackle climate change at the requisite scale, clean energy technologies should be made available and utilized by all countries. All developing countries, especially rapidly industrializing countries, should have access to clean energy technologies on preferential terms. The barriers that hamper the dissemination of such technologies in developing countries, such as intellectual property rights and competitive rules, should be overcome. In order to encourage collaboration on a “clean technology revolution,” the formation of a “Consultative Group on Clean Energy Research” should be considered as part of a global climate agreement. Innovation targets to bring new technologies to market, as well as incentives for meeting them, should also be considered.

10. Sustainable development financing: The Clean Development Mechanism should be reformed in order to deliver its full potential during the 2008-2012 commitment period, and in the post-2012 regime an additional market mechanism should support sectoral approaches capable of transforming whole sectors of rapidly industrializing countries at a speed commensurate with the challenge of taking emissions reductions to global scale.

11. Funding: Finance is a critical element of any strategy to address climate change effectively. A climate fund of additional resources, starting at US$10 billion and growing to US$50 billion per year, should be established to support climate change activities in developing countries (adaptation, avoided deforestation, and clean energy development and deployment) and should include both public and private resources. It should have an innovative structure and governance that is transparent and inclusive. In addition, existing mechanisms, such as the Global Environment Facility and the Multilateral Development Banks, should be strengthened and their resources enhanced to continue their important work in demonstrating new approaches, building human and institutional capacity, and leveraging private finance.

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