COP Gossip-Sneak Peek at Week 2
OMG you will not believe what’s happening at COP this week. Let me give you a sneak preview…0
Some of the big issues at the negotiations right now are:
-Kyoto Protocol 2nd Commitment Period
-Carbon Capture and Storage
-Green Climate Fund
The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (affectionately known as KP) expires in 2012. KP is great because it is legally-binding (it’s downsides are that it does not include the United States, and Canada has also backed out of its commitments). A second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol is needed during which countries will agree on an additional treaty that includes the United States, Canada and other major emitters. This additional treaty must come into force ASAP due to the fact that KP doesn’t cover all the global emissions.
The proposal was to have a second commitment period for 5 years, and agree to have completed negotiations on a complementary period by 2015 so that it wan come into effect in 2018. However, the European Union came out in support of an eight year second commitment period instead of 5 years with a new treaty post-2020. WE CAN’T WAIT THAT LONG. Now the EU is pressuring South Africa to support this, saying otherwise they will not commit and the negotiations will fall apart. It seems like South Africa will bend to the pressure even though this is against the interests of the Africa continent.
Market mechanisms are ways that countries or corporations can get permission to pollute within their borders by reducing emissions in a different country. A significant amount of profit has been generated through the mechanisms however marginal emissions reductions have occurred and the most people are excluded from the wealth generated. Japan has proposed a new bilateral off-set credit mechanism (meaning trading between two countries outside of the UNFCCC framework and oversight). This is not good because their is potential for the double counting of emissions reductions (aka getting permission to pollute by buying credits for a project in a country, then selling that credit again). This is a scheme where fossil fuel corporations will get richer while Africa burns, the Arctic melts and coastlines flood.
Further, the whole point of market mechanisms was to allow countries to meet their KP targets through investing in sustainable development in the Global South. With the unknown future of the Kyoto Protocol, its funny that countries are spending so much time negotiating on get-rich schemes for their friends in the fossil fuel industry instead of actually working to achieve the needed emissions reductions targets.
Carbon Capture and Storage
In Cancun the decision was made to include Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) provided that some issues such as safety and liability are resolved. Carbon Capture and Storage is big in Canada which is not too surprising given our governments current oil addiction. Canada is financing the transfer of Carbon Capture and Storage technology, along with clean coal (yes, that is a total oxymoron-coal is never clean!), to developing countries. The fossil fuel industry is totally loving this. Oil companies could make millions of dollars by selling CDM credits in addition to the huge profits from the sale of oil and the large fossil fuel subsidies they already get. CCS justifies the ongoing expansion of coal plants. It does not contribute to sustainable development in developing countries because no additional power generation is achieved. Countries need to shift their priorities away from market-schemes and inadequate technological fixes towards justice based solutions and drastically cutting emissions at their source.
Other big issues to keep watching this week are the Green Climate Fund, forests, a soil carbon market and the ambition of countries’ emission reduction commitments. Stay posted for more COP gossip.