By DR Benny Peiser, Canada Free Press, 22 May 2015 India has told a high-level energy meeting here that it will not be fair to expect it to move away from coal to meet energy requirements of millions of Indians, underscoring that coal will continue to remain the “mainstay” of its energy needs for the “foreseeable future.”—Press Trust of India, 22 May 2015 Just as in all other countries, including the developed world, coal will continue to remain the mainstay of our energy related needs for the foreseeable future. In all fairness, it would not be correct to say or to expect India to move away from coal when we are at the cusp of our developmental journey.—Indian Energy Minister Piyush Goyal, Press Trust of India, 22 May 2015
By Mariama Vendramini, Environmental Finance, 20 May 2015 2015 is set to be a decisive year for forests and initiatives that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). Loss of forests and land use change is responsible for approximately 20% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but has been poorly covered by mandatory carbon reduction schemes. The Kyoto Protocol only considers reforestation as valid, disregarding many other forestry activities such as improved forest management (IFM) and avoided deforestation. Even its support of reforestation was via restrictive methodologies that inhibited it from properly taking off as a sector. The combination of the Warsaw Pact for REDD+ Action and the expected Paris Agreement in December will be a game changer for forestry. The former set REDD+ as an official tool to mitigate climate change, while the latter will, hopefully, reach a binding agreement that will drive widespread emissions reductions.
The Jakarta Post, 20 May 2015 International aid agency Oxfam is urging rich countries to follow German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s call on climate finance for developing nations, which she made in Berlin on Tuesday. Oxfam climate change policy advisor Jan Kowalzig said it was refreshing to see Chancellor Merkel understanding how climate finance was key to securing success at the Paris Conference of the Parties in December. “More rich countries must now follow her call to table a credible plan that ramps up climate support for developing nations, boosting the current US$35 billion a year to an annual $100 billion by 2020," he said in a release on Tuesday. Kowalzig further said, however, that meeting the $100 billion target by 2020 would just be fulfilling a five-year-old promise.
By Kate Connolly, The Guardian, 21 May 2015 Claude Martin, the author of a report on the precarious health of tropical forests and a former head of the WWF, said the world ignored the plight of forests at its peril, calling them “vital to the future of humanity” and stressing that governments needed “a wake-up call”. “Tropical rainforests have disappeared from the political radar, having been at the centre of the environmental debate in the 80s and 90s,” Martin said at the launch in Berlin of On the Edge, which was commissioned by the global thinktank Club of Rome. “We need renewed political will to trigger a global conscience about this issue. “Governments are too focused on other environmental issues, as if the forest problems had gone away, when in fact they’re getting worse every day.”
By David Hill, The Guardian, 19 May 2015 What would you say to Premier Li if you could talk to him for a minute or two, particularly if you were currently involved in fighting, or struggling in some way against, a Chinese-backed project? I put that question to various people across Latin America. Monica Lopez Baltodano, from Nicaragua, says she would raise one particular project with Li: the increasingly infamous plan to build a canal across the country which involves cutting right through Lake Cocibolca, which she calls the “biggest and most important reserve of drinking water in all of Central America.” “Chinese businessmen, together with our ambitious and unwise leaders, are proposing to build the canal that would cross the lake for more than 100 kms,” says Lopez Baltodano, from the Popol Na Foundation. “The canal will generate profits, but will cause irreversible humanitarian damage. What will be lost forever is the only source of fresh water for everyone in our region..."
By Kirsten Grieshaber, Associated Press, 19 May 2015 German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande confirmed their commitment to fighting global warning Tuesday, gathering with others in Berlin to prepare for this year's U.N. Climate Change Conference. Merkel and Hollande said in a joint statement that both countries "are firmly decided to take all efforts to reach an ambitious, comprehensive and binding U.N. climate agreement by the end of this year in Paris." The preparatory talks in Berlin involve 35 countries. The Paris summit in December aims to curb climate change and rising global temperatures, which scientists say are largely driven by carbon emissions. The European two leaders said they "are committed to the goal of limiting global temperature increases at least to below 2°C compared with pre-industrial levels."
By Markus Wacket, Reuters, 18 May 2015 Germany plans to force coal-fired power plant operators to reduce their CO2 emissions by 2020 by less than previously planned, according to an economy ministry document seen by Reuters on Monday, bowing to opposition from within the industry. Thousands of coal workers marched in Berlin last month to protest against plans to slap a levy on the oldest and most polluting power plants, which unions say could put 100,000 jobs at risk. The levy is aimed at forcing coal operators to slash their emissions and stop Germany from falling short of its target to cut greenhouse gases by 40 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. But RWE, the country's largest power producer, warned the measure would lead to the immediate closure of its lignite-fired power plants.
By Irene Quaile, Deutsche Welle, 20 May 2015 The United Nations Climate Secretariat UNFCCC - based in Bonn, Germany - is working around the clock to prepare for the key Paris meeting and ensure that governments put firm pledges on the table. The next round of preparatory talks will take place in Bonn early in June. But climate change has become an issue on the agenda of other key international meetings. This week, Germany's Chancellor Merkel hosted the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin. The annual round of informal talks was launched in 2010, after the failed climate summit in Copenhagen the year prior. Among the representatives of 35 countries attending were the president and foreign minister of France, which will host the key talks at the end of the year. Paris is also currently staging a Climate Week, which will include a high-level business summit to mark the "200 days" to Paris talks.
By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 22 May 2015 First it was there. Then it was gone. The long-awaited announcement of Brazil’s new climate target came and went with a sleight of hand that caused an uproar among environmentalists this week. But rather than signalling a shift in policy, as some had feared, the sudden appearance and disappearance of the country’s CO2 reduction goals appears to have more to do with diplomatic mistakes, realpolitik priorities and the greater importance of the US than China, the Guardian has learned. The plan to set a ceiling on carbon dioxide emissions first appeared in the draft of a joint climate statement from Brazil and China ahead of a meeting between Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff and Chinese premier Li Keqiang. That text included the much-anticipated goal: “Brazil has announced its intention to establish an upper limit to its emissions by 2030.” But these sentences had been dropped when the final version was posted...
By Tara PatelJavier Blas, Bloomberg, 21 May 2015 Europe’s largest oil companies are banding together to forge a joint strategy on climate-change policy, alarmed they’ll be ignored as the world works toward a historic deal limiting greenhouse gases. Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Total SA, BP Plc, Statoil ASA and Eni SpA are among oil companies that plan to start a new industry body, or think tank, to develop common positions on the issues, according to people with knowledge of the matter. So far the largest U.S. companies -- Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. -- have decided not to participate, the people said, asking not be named before a public announcement expected as early as next month. Efforts to reduce fossil-fuel investments and spur renewables such as solar and wind power have gathered pace in the past two years with oil companies sitting largely outside the debate.
By Megan Darby, RTCC, 22 May 2015 Very few fossil fuel executives today openly reject the basic science of man-made climate change. US coal giant Peabody’s recent attack on “flawed models” was an exception. Indeed, at this week’s Business and Climate Summit in Paris bosses of Statoil, Glencore and Total are joining calls for an effective global emissions-cutting deal. Saudi Arabia’s oil minister is present, talking up his country’s renewable energy plans. But their responses to warnings coal, oil and gas assets could be “stranded” by climate action tell a different story. “We are going to produce oil and gas for a long time and I see no scenarios where that is not the case,” says Statoil’s Eldar Saetre, in a typical statement. There is not a single coal, oil or gas company that has a business plan in line with the internationally agreed 2C warming limit. The emissions from burning their products, as things stand, will blow the carbon budget.
By Catriona Moss, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 18 May 2015 Keeping carbon stored in trees. That’s one major way of tackling climate change. Natural regeneration, replanting, native tree plantations, commercial plantations and agro forestry systems have all be used as part of reforestation efforts. But a new study has found we can do better by ensuring that communities and ecosystems surrounding and within the forests are also more resilient to climate change. And it’s all in the planning. The study by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) warns reforestation that ignores the adaptation benefits of replanted forests, using a variety of different practices and tree species, could make local communities and ecosystems more vulnerable to the future impacts of climate change, thereby undermining their effectiveness.
By Laura Deal, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 21 May 2015 Orangutan populations in the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo have suffered decades of population decline due to habitat loss. In Borneo alone, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that more than 50 percent of the population has been lost in the last 60 years. This loss has drawn attention to the role played by logging and the oil palm industry in the rapid loss of lowland forests—which are the orangutan’s primary habitat. With nearly half of Indonesian Borneo’s remaining forest earmarked for development, conservation groups and environmental activists have called for strong protection of lowland forests to protect the species from Kalimantan’s palm oil and population booms. However, a new study suggests that with climate change, these noble convictions may be misplaced.
By Sara Kroopf, EDF, 21 May 2015 In the Mississippi River Delta, there is a voluntary program that incentivizes landowners and farmers to restore wetlands on their property, since there is proof that restoring wetlands can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help buffer coastal populations from storm surges. In California, there is a carbon protocol currently under review that would incentivize wetland restoration to sequester carbon, protect against floods, and improve habitat... The California Air Resources Board is in the final stages of approval for a protocol that would allow rice farmers to generate carbon credits by reducing methane emissions while sustaining production and providing critical wetland habitat for migratory birds. When approved, this will be the first crop-based protocol, setting the stage for other agricultural protocols in the near future.
By Mark Hume, The Globe and Mail, 22 May 2015 After saying for weeks that the amount of farmland being lost to carbon sequestration projects in B.C. is not a significant problem, the provincial government has written to the head of a foreign company suggesting that it indeed is an issue of concern. British-based multinational Reckitt Benckiser has been buying farmland and replanting trees to sequester carbon, thereby taking the land out of agricultural production. But in a letter, the government has told the company it must get approval from the Agricultural Land Commission if it wants to register a covenant in B.C. that would allow it to trade carbon credits. The covenant would force the land to be protected from future logging for 100 years. Farmers and ranchers in the Cariboo suggest that means the land would be out of agricultural production for that long. But a company representative said in an e-mail Thursday that it is not trading in carbon credits...
By Allen Young, Sacramento Business Journal, 21 May 2015 The California Air Resources Board held its second quarterly carbon auction related to its cap-and-trade program Thursday, and the eleventh auction since the program began in late 2012. The governments of California and Quebec jointly held the auction, which relinquished about 77 million carbon credits for private buyers. Each credit is worth 1 metric ton of allowable carbon dioxide. Total revenue from Thursday’s auction will be released June 17, said Air Resources Board spokesman David Clegern. The last auction, held in February, yielded approximately $630 million for the state of California. That revenue is split, with half of the money going to utility companies to offset costs for electricity users and the other half funding high-speed rail and other projects related to clean air, water conservation, building efficiency or infrastructure.
Tribal Tribune, 21 May 2015 The Colville Business Council approved two resolutions read off from the Management and Budget Committee Chair Billy Nicholson in Special Session that promise the sell of potential carbon offset credits to British Petroleum in a 100-year contract, today, May 21. The first resolution approves a limited waiver of sovereign immunity that enables the Colville Tribes to apply to list potential carbon credits with the California Air Resources Board through California’s Cap-and-Trade Program. The second approves an agreement with BP to sale any listed credits with the international company. Both Jack Ferguson, Keller District, and Nancy Johnson, Nespelem District, voted against the resolutions that both passed 6-2.
By Vong Sokheng and Charles Parkinson, Phnom Penh Post, 22 May 2015 The UN should be seen and not heard, at least when it comes to Cambodia’s controversial draft NGO law, Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong said yesterday. Taking public issue with comments about the legislation for the second time in as many days, Namhong strongly criticised four UN agencies for statements made on the subject, after calling their heads to a meeting at his office yesterday morning. “There are no words allowing you to comment or criticise the royal government about the draft law, which is not under your mandate,” Namhong said. “The draft law has nothing to do with human rights, with children, with the Cambodian population or women.”
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By Tara PatelStefan Nicola, Bloomberg, 22 May 2015 Energy companies are facing increased scrutiny over their carbon emissions as pension funds worth billions grow anxious about the risks posed by climate change. Philippe Desfosses, chief executive officer of ERAFP, a pension fund for French civil servants, warned of the risks posed by rising sea levels and warming temperatures at a business and climate conference in Paris that finishes Friday. “There is a legal risk that is coming,” Desfosses said. “If there is a carbon risk for a business, how can CEOs of pension funds justify that they don’t give a damn and won’t mitigate it?” Business leaders met over three days to work out common positions on environmental policies that will feed into a United Nations effort to reach a global treaty on climate change later this year. Their decisions on issues such as the production and use of coal, the most polluting fossil fuel, could lead some investors to shun their shares.