Friday, December 11, 2009

COP15: A Draft Proposal, A Walk-Out, Detainment

Michael-Zamiit-Cutajar On the fourth day of the COP15 conference, it entered what we might call its melodramatic phase, with various parties wanting to make points as strongly as possible. If you follow anything day-to-day – like, say, the health care bill – you know that up can become down very quickly and then back to up just as quickly. (Soap operas, speaking of melodrama, rest on this principle, but even they have a basis, however tenuous, in real life.)

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Most importantly, the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action, the negotiators charged with producing a final document, has released a draft agreement indicating some key goals. The Washington Post has the details:

The Cutajar draft [Michael Zammit Cutajar is chairman of the group] stipulates that the world should seek to keep global temperatures from rising beyond a ceiling of either 2.7 or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels. It offers several possible targets developed countries could use for cutting their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, compared to 1990 levels: by a range of 25 to 40 percent; by 30 percent; by 40 percent; or by 45 percent. The draft also says that major developing countries should cut their carbon output by between 15 and 30 percent in the same period, compared to business as usual.

This is, so to speak, the end of the beginning:

Now a whole new round of lobbying will begin: the conference's Danish host may unveil their own revised proposal Saturday.

Revised, no doubt, because of the item just below this one. And the story mentions a group of island nations that has issued its own document. Read the whole story for more.

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Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aping, the negotiator for the G77, a collection of 134 developing nations, walked out of the conference:

‘Things are not going well,’ he said after walking out from an hour-long negotiation. ‘It’s very problematic that there’s a different agenda running alongside the official UN process,’ Di-Aping told Politiken newspaper.

When asked to elaborate on those comments, he said:
’Your prime minister has chosen to protect the rich countries, and that’s not ok,’ referring to Denmark’s Lars L√łkke Rasmussen.

This likely refers to the leaked Danish document that Di-Aping thinks too heavily favors developed nations. He’s stuck around anyway, so we’re not sure why he chose this moment to leave. Will he return? Tune in tomorrow.

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Protesters get a taste of Danish hospitality:

Danish police last night raided a climate campaigners' accommodation centre in Copenhagen, detaining 200 activists and seizing items including paint bombs and shields which they claimed could be used for acts of civil disobedience.

Now, note that the government provided this space to advocates, so the police knew exactly where to find them. Hint to advocates: don’t accept gifts from a host government.

Here’s what’s coming:

Activists estimate that between 30,000-40,000 protesters may arrive over the next couple of weeks. Hundreds of small-scale actions are planned, and three large-scale peaceful protests are also due to take place on Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday.

Police have said that although they will facilitate peaceful protest, they fear that an international extremist network may come to Copenhagen to join the peaceful protests then break away to commit acts of violence.

That “international extremist network” can cover a lot of ground if you want to cover it – and police can certainly take a expansionist tack. If Denmark wanted to host this conference, and it did, wiser to take a light hand with the attendees – all the attendees.

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Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is at COP15:

“Carbon pollution is putting our world and our way of life in peril,” Ken Salazar warned in his keynote address. “The places we love; the resources on which we rely; the peoples of the world who are most vulnerable, are all at risk if we do not act.”

Well, almost anybody at the conference could have said that. Salazar has a special brief though. Since wind and solar energy benefit from huge tracts of land, Interior has a role in allocating that land and ensuring a balance is found between energy needs and, um, human needs.

“These renewable energy resources hold great economic promise; by one estimate, if the US fully pursues its potential for wind energy on land and offshore, wind can generate as much as 20% of our electricity by 2030 and create a quarter-million jobs in the process,” he explains. “It's a win-win: good for the environment, great for the economy.”

Not bad, though it sounds a bit DOE-ish to us. Here’s a little more:

During his trip to Copenhagen, Salazar toured the Middelgrunden wind farm and announced that his department’s Minerals Management Service will establish a new regional office next year to support renewable energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf off the Atlantic seaboard.

Hmmm! Maybe Salazar did speak on land use issues and it wasn’t reported, but we would expect that Interior wouldn’t lead with all the ways it can fill up the land and sea with stuff. Maybe it is just the nature of the beast – this is the place to tout what Salazar is touting – as we generally have no beef with Interior.

Michael Zammit-Cutajar. He’s Maltese, for the record – we were curious about his last name.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

...if the US fully pursues its potential for wind energy on land and offshore, wind can generate as much as 20% of our electricity by 2030

This is the thing I keep coming back to. By my ciphering, 20% is one-fifth of our needs. So where do we go for the other 80%? Hydro? Solar? Do without (i.e., conservation)? Those might be fine for a third-world agrarian economy, or maybe a minor player on the world stage, but it isn't going to power the economy of a developed, technologically advanced, populous, geographically expansive country.

It seems to me we've left four-fifths of the problem unsolved. The only emissions-free way I can see of meeting the rest of the demand is nuclear. Filling in the huge gap that is left by "renewable energy" not being able to carry the vast bulk of the load is the elephant in the living room that no one outside of the nuclear business seems to want to admit to seeing.

Anonymous said...

If they could tell which if two numbers -- say, 20% or 100% -- was larger than the other, they'd be engineers, not bureaucrats.

DocForesight said...

Does the Interior Secretary engage in basic arithmetic before making these pronouncements? Wind has a capacity factor of 25%, so you need to quadruple the number of units to even begin equalizing the average nuclear power plant at 90+%.

Look at the land-use footprint Mr. Secretary. And the HVDC tranmission lines easements. And the cost of energy storage for when the wind doesn't blow.

You want to open the OCS for wind but not for drilling oil? How does that square with appropriate use of resources? Good grief - and you moan about CO2 while you jet to the next conference.

Anonymous said...

"...the world should seek to keep global temperatures from rising beyond a ceiling of either 2.7 or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels."

Unbelieveable!! These people think they have their hands on a global thermostat they can just control with taxes and emissions restrictions!! One good year of solar activity or volcanic eruptions can swing the earth's temperature either up or down, which country has responsibility over those factors?

Why doesn't anyone care that the Martian temperature is rising too?