It all started so nicely. The hope for change that Barack Obama had raised among American voters was felt by citizens worldwide, including those yearning for a change in US environmental policy. After all, Obama had made global warming and energy policy important cornerstones of his campaign. Once in the White House, the newly elected President explained that “few challenges facing America – and the world – are more urgent than combating climate change” and that his “presidency will mark a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change.” Repeatedly he stressed that “the nation that wins this competition [for new energy technologies] will be the nation that leads the global economy.”
What’s left, as we approach mid-term elections in Obama’s first administration, is a very mixed bag. There have been important successes, including over $60 billion that were earmarked for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009; the first tightening of Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency standards in three decades; and the federal Environmental Protection Agency ‘s “Endangerment Finding” that recognizes, as a follow-up of the Supreme Court ruling Massachusetts et al. vs. EPA, that the agency has the right to regulate greenhouse gases as air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. To the great disappointment of the environmentalists, however, comprehensive climate and energy legislation, including a market-based system with mandatory economy-wide emission targets as well as strong incentives for the employment of energy efficiency measures and renewable energy technologies, has not been passed.
The situation that has unfolded over the last 1 ½ years is almost absurd. A White House and all involved secretaries and agencies support strong climate policy; a majority of the public wants effective climate action; a thorough climate and energy bill finally passed the House; and then there is also majority support for climate legislation in the Senate – albeit this majority is not filibuster-proof. The Senate’s leadership was unable to get 60+ votes. And here the story ends for now. A minority of 40+ Senators puts a hold on domestic legislation and shuts a historic window of opportunity.
[This article appered in Bridges vol. 27, October 2010. Read the rest of the article here: http://www.ostina.org/content/view/5229/1390/]
Half a year before the U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen, negotiators are far from agreeing on key components of a global climate deal. As envisioned in the 2007 Bali Climate Action Plan (or “Bali Roadmap”), the summit in December is supposed to deliver a follow-up agreement to the Kyoto Protocol under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which expires at the end of 2012.
Ever since Bali, however, progress in the negotiations has been slow. Only recently have the delegations entered full negotiation mode—which is necessary right now, the most pivotal year since the 1992 UNFCCC. From June 1 to 12, more than 4,600 participants—including government delegates from 183 countries as well as business, industry, environmental organizations and research institutions—met in Bonn, Germany, to discuss key negotiating texts that will serve as the basis for an agreed Copenhagen outcome. The gathering in Germany was the second in a series of five major U.N. negotiating sessions this year leading up to the Copenhagen summit in December (…).
Please find the full article in Grist Magazine here.
from CCAP Newsletter
On March 18, 2009, Alexander Ochs, CCAP’s director of international policy, discussed “Views on Carbon Offsetting in the United States” at Point Carbon’s Carbon Market Insights Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.“International offsets like the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and domestic offsets will likely play an important role in any future U.S. cap and trade program,” Ochs told delegates from around the world. “However, it is important to understand that offsets are only one mechanism that U.S. lawmakers are currently considering in their effort to contain the cost of a federal carbon market. There is also a certain contradiction in the debate between lowering the cost of mitigating emissions on the one hand, and not wanting to send money oversees to make our competitors’ economies more efficient.”Ochs agreed with co-panelist Peter Zapfel from the European Commission that the CDM alone is not sufficient for reducing rapidly growing greenhouse gas emissions in the developing world. “Major emitters like the developing countries China and Mexico must contribute more to the solution than simply offsetting reduction commitments made elsewhere — and they are willing to do so,” Ochs said. “Sectoral commitments for energy-intense industries are the next important step on the staircase to a full integration of these countries into the global carbon market.”
You can find my presentation here: ochs-futureofoffsetsinus_carbonmarketinsights2009.pdf
By Mathew Carr, March 19 2009 (Bloomberg) — Mexico will likely propose emissions-trading programs for its oil and electricity industries when it completes a climate-protection plan next month, the Washington-based Center for Clean Air Policy said.
Emissions trading may start in Mexico in 2011 and expand to cement and metals, Alexander Ochs, director of international policy at the center, said yesterday on the sidelines of the Carbon Market Insights conference in Copenhagen.
“They have committed political leadership that understands emerging countries have to make a contribution to a global climate pact,” Ochs said. “They want to demonstrate they are progressive.” The center, an emissions-trading think tank, is advising Mexico and China in their climate plans, he said. Full article: Bloomberg_Mex
On March 25, at a workshop in Santiago, Chile, I presented our research teams’ results on Mexico and Brazil as part of CCAP’s Developing Country Project. We held the workshop at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the
• Nationally appropriate mitigation actions, a key feature of the Bali Roadmap;
• Analysis of GHG mitigation options in Brazil’s forestry sector;
• The GHG and other implications of expanding the production of biofuels, both ethanol and biodiesel, in Brazil; and
• Lessons learned from a first attempt to propose sectoral goals for GHG emissions in Mexico’s cement and oil refining industries.The participants expressed a strong interest in seeing this work continue and for the project to expand into other countries, such as
Presentation given at ECLAC, Santiago, Chile on March 25, 2009
INTRODUCTION TO WORKSHOP
– Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP)
– Assisting Developing Country Climate Negotiators through Analysis & Dialogue
– Workshop overview: GHG Mitigation Opportunities in Brazil and Mexico
NAMAS AND THE GLOBAL DEAL ON CLIMATE CHANGE
– Overarching goals and status quo
– Overview of International Climate Negotiations
– Developing countries are already doing more than many believe
– International Policy Context
– NAMA Requirements
– How financing could work
– Technology Finance
– Technology Finance Assistance to Encourage Stronger Actions
– Sources for Technology Finance
– South Africa & South Korea
– Sectoral Approach
– NAMAs and Sectoral
Die wissenschaftliche Beweislage zum Klimawandel ist erdrückend. Erste Auswirkungen sind weltweit spürbar. Dass der Mensch die Hauptschuld an der Klimaveränderung trägt, steht dabei außer Frage. Die Verbrennung fossiler Energien, die Abholzung großer Waldgebiete sowie bestimmte landwirtschaftliche und industrielle Verfahren setzen Emissionen frei, die den natürlichen Treibhauseffekt der Erde immer weiter verstärken. Gelingt es nicht, die großen Volkswirtschaften zu reformieren – und dazu ist in den Worten des Bundesumweltministers nicht weniger nötig als eine „dritte industrielle Revolution“ – drohen im besten Fall unwirtlichere Lebensbedingungen, im schlimmsten eine Katastrophe kaum mehr kontrollierbaren Ausmaßes. Für die Problembekämpfung wird neben den Großemittenten des Nordens das Verhalten einiger zentraler Akteure der südlichen Erdhalbkugel maßgeblich sein: Bekommen China, Indien und Mexiko ihre explosionsartig steigenden Emissionen in den Griff? Wird der Waldschutz in Brasilien und Indonesien seinen notwendigen Beitrag zum globalen Klimaschutz leisten? Können Südafrika und Südkorea ihre fast vollständig auf fossilen Trägern basierende Energiegewinnung reformieren? Und wird die Blockademacht Australien künftig den ihr angemessenen Verantwortungsteil leisten? Die Bundesrepublik hat sich in den letzten Jahren als Lokomotive der internationalen Klimadiplomatie etabliert. Ein klimapolitischer Dialog Deutschlands mit wirtschaftlich und politisch aufstrebenden Staaten des Südens wäre einer Fortsetzung dieser Führungsrolle in einem immer wichtiger werdenden Politikfeld und damit der Profilbildung als Weltordnungspolitik mitgestaltende Mittelmacht äußerst dienlich. Im Erfolgsfall – wenn es also gelingt, neue Nord-Süd-Koalitionen im Klimabereich zu schmieden – könnte ein lang ersehnter Durchbruch in der globalen Klimagovernance gelingen.