Energy and Global Warming News for November 20: Climate negotiating positions of top emitters

FACTBOX-Climate negotiating positions of top emitters

Russia toughened on Wednesday its goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, saying it would target a 25 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2020 compared with a 10-15 percent pledge previously.

Following are the negotiating positions of the top greenhouse gas emitters before a U.N. meeting in Copenhagen in December due to agree a new global climate deal.

1) CHINA (annual emissions of greenhouse gases: 6.8 billion tonnes, 5.5 tonnes per capita)

* Emissions – President Hu Jintao promised that China would cut its carbon dioxide emissions per dollar of economic output by a “notable margin” by 2020 compared with 2005.. The “carbon intensity” goal is the first measurable curb on national emissions in China. Hu reiterated a promise that China would try to raise the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to 15 percent by 2020.

* Demands – China wants developed nations to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 and to promise far more aid and green technology.

2) UNITED STATES (6.4 billion tonnes, 21.2 tonnes per capita)

* Emissions – President Barack Obama wants to cut U.S. emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020, a 17 percent cut from 2005 levels, and to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

* Obama says he wants an accord in Copenhagen that covers all the issues and that has “immediate operational effect.”.

Legislation to cut emissions by 20 percent from 2005 levels had been approved by a Senate Committee but people few think it can become law before the Copenhagen talks.

* Finance – The United States says a “dramatic increase” is needed in funds to help developing nations.

* Demands – “We cannot meet this challenge unless all the largest emitters of greenhouse gas pollution act together,” Obama said.

3) EUROPEAN UNION (5.03 billion tonnes, 10.2 tonnes per capita)

* Emissions – EU leaders agreed in December 2008 to cut emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and by 30 percent if other developed nations follow suit.

* Finance – EU leaders have agreed that developing nations will need about 100 billion euros ($147 billion) a year by 2020 to help them curb emissions and adapt to changes such as floods or heatwaves. As an advance payment, they suggest 5-7 billion a year between 2010 and 2012.

* Demands – The EU wants developing nations to curb the rise of their emissions by 15 to 30 percent below a trajectory of “business as usual” by 2020.

5) INDIA (1.4 billion tonnes, 1.2 tonnes per capita)

* Emissions – India is prepared to quantify the amount of greenhouse gas emissions it could cut with domestic actions, but will not accept internationally binding targets, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said.. India has said its per capita emissions will never rise to match those of developed nations.

* Demands – Like China, India wants rich nations to cut emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020. But Ramesh signalled room to compromise: “It’s a negotiation. We’ve given a number of 40 percent but one has to be realistic.”

6) JAPAN (1.4 billion tonnes, 11.0 tonnes per capita)

* Emissions – Cut Japan’s emissions by 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 if Copenhagen agrees an ambitious deal.

* Finance – Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told the UN that Tokyo would also step up aid.

7) SOUTH KOREA (142 million tonnes, 2.9 tonnes per capita)

* Emissions – Cut emissions by 30 percent below “business as usual” levels by 2020, which is equivalent to a 4 percent cut from 2005 levels.

8) BRAZIL (111 million tonnes, 0.6 tonnes per capita)

* Emissions – Will cut its emissions by between 36.1 percent and 38.9 percent from projected 2020 levels, representing a 20 percent cut below 2005 levels.

9) INDONESIA (100 million tonnes, 0.4 tonnes per capita)

* Emissions – Aims to cut emissions by 26 percent by 2020 below “business as usual” levels.

Taking CO2 from deforestation into account, Indonesia is the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Waxman schedules hearing on derivatives legislation

The House Energy and Commerce Committee next month will hold a hearing to examine how the proposed financial reform bill will affect energy markets, the panel announced yesterday.

Last month, the House Agriculture Committee passed H.R. 3795, which would expand federal regulatory authority over currently unregulated over-the-counter derivatives markets, which include energy commodities such as natural gas, electricity and oil. The bill would require clearing for standard derivatives, a limit as to how many contracts or positions one participant could own, additional data requirements and an increase in the margins participants need to post for trades. The House intends to take up the financial reform later next month.

End-users, such as utilities and natural gas suppliers, have protested loudly over the increased margin requirements. They say the additional financial burden will tie up needed capital for investment and will increase costs to consumers. H.R. 3795 does allow for some exemptions for end-users (E&E Daily, Oct. 22).

But the committee said there could still be “unintended impacts” and plans to hold a hearing on Dec. 2 to examine the issue.

“I am concerned that H.R. 3795 was not developed with adequate regard to how the nation’s energy markets actually function,” Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “We need to hear from stakeholders about this legislation in order to ensure that Congress avoids making any grave mistakes.”

Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said energy markets are already regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and additional commodities regulations would disrupt the markets.

“The derivatives legislation that has been under consideration in the House needs to be fixed in order to prevent it from interfering with our nation’s electricity and natural gas markets,” Markey said.

The Senate Agriculture Committee heard similar complaints from end-users at a hearing earlier this week (E&E Daily, Nov. 19).

Companies to probe ‘symbiotic’ link between algae, coal-fired power plants

An algae-based biofuels startup and an industrial gas company announced a partnership yesterday aimed at developing a symbiotic relationship between coal-fired power plants and algae biofuel production.

Florida-based Algenol Biofuels and Germany’s Linde Group plan to develop cost-efficient technologies to capture, store, transport and supply CO2 for photobioreactors — troughs filled with CO2-saturated water and algae — whose photosynthesis would yield oxygen that could be used in oxy-fuel coal-combustion power stations.

“We see a symbiotic possibility between coal-fired power plants and the photosynthetic thing,” Algenol CEO Paul Woods said.

There are dozens of startups and researchers investigating the possibility of growing algae near power plants and using CO2 emissions as a feedstock. But Algenol and Linde want to take that a step further, placing the photobioreactors at oxy-fuel combustion plants.

Industrialized Nations Unveil Plans to Rein in Emissions

With less than three weeks remaining before negotiators gather in Copenhagen to hammer out a global response to climate change, a rapid-fire succession of countries are unveiling national plans that serve as opening bids for reining in heat-trapping emissions.

“The list of what is on the table is rather long,” said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the sponsor of the meeting, which runs from Dec. 7 to 18 in Copenhagen.

But, speaking at the United Nations headquarters on Thursday, he seized on the latest pledges to take aim at the United States, which has not yet played its hand.

“We now have offers of targets from all industrialized countries except the United States,” Mr. de Boer said. He emphasized that he was looking to the United States for “a numerical midterm target and commitment to financial support.”

“This is essential, and I believe this can be done,” he said.

Greenpeace says Europe smart power grid affordable

Revving up European power transmission networks to transport 90 percent of renewable energy by the year 2050 could be achieved at affordable sums, pressure group Greenpeace said in a study published on Friday.

European policymakers dream of getting away from fossil fuels but even if these were replaced with wind or solar generation systems, sceptics say the bloc’s decades-old grid systems would effectively hamper shipping the volatile power.

Greenpeace said the cost of strenghtening cross-border lines and building new interconnections to create so-called smart or supergrids would be small if it was spread over 40 years and split between hundreds of million of Europeans.

“All together, the proposal would cost around 209 billion euros ($310.9 billion),” it said in a press release issued to accompany the report’s unveiling in Berlin.

“This would increase the costs of every kilowatt hour by 0.15 cents over 40 years which means for a European household less than five euros a year or 40 cents a month,” it said.

Apart from the cost of preparing grids for new tasks to better manage erratic supplies, there is also concern that over reliance on wind or solar could leave consumers short of power when the wind does not blow or the sun does not shine.

Peak Oil Files: Why Is Saudi Aramco Building Supercomputers?

Saudi Aramco pumps about 10 million barrels of oil a day, about four times as much as Exxon Mobil Corp. How much oil Aramco, the national oil company of Saudi Arabia, can pump has an enormous impact on oil prices – and therefore the global economy.

So, what to make then of Aramco’s recent interest in supercomputers?

The biannual list of the world’s 500 fastest computers was released on Tuesday and Aramco had two new entries at No. 119 and No. 134. Both are Dell clusters, running Intel processors and both are very, very fast.

The oil industry uses Concorde-jet speed computing to aid it understanding underground reservoirs and to look for new sources of oil and gas. Aramco used another computer cluster to build a “full field model” of the Safaniya oilfield in 2008.

Clearly, Aramco is taking a sophisticated approach to understanding its remaining oil resources. And peak oilers will likely argue that Aramco’s interest in teraflops is a sign that it needs all the help it can get to ensure oil keep flowing out of its once mighty fields. After all, why bother throwing so much muscle into understanding the reservoir if there were no worries about its future performance.

Senate duo forms pact on climate

Senate Democratic leaders are resting their hopes for bipartisan climate change legislation on the unlikely partnership of Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

The revelation this fall that the two lawmakers shared a strong bond and a commitment to work together on one of the biggest policy issues facing Congress shocked many of their Senate colleagues.

They do not serve on any of the same committees, which is where many Senate friendships begin.

They are ideological opposites who took very public, antagonist roles in the past two presidential contests.

Kerry, a Massachusetts liberal, challenged President George W. Bush with an anti-war campaign in 2004 and strongly backed President Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign.

Graham, a South Carolina Republican who served as a prosecutor in former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial, was an enthusiastic Bush supporter in 2004 and served as Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) close confidant during last year’s presidential election.

Kerry is tall and somber-looking with a deep voice. Graham is shorter, softer-spoken and possesses a Southern drawl.

But none of that stopped the two men from teaming up last month on an op-ed that announced their plans to work together on a comprehensive climate change bill and a declaration that their partnership could net 60 votes in the Senate.

10 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for November 20: Climate negotiating positions of top emitters

  1. Bob Wallace says:

    Here’s how I would rank them…

    1. UNITED STATES (21.2 tonnes per capita, 6.4 billion tonnes)

    2. JAPAN (11.0 tonnes per capita, 1.4 billion tonnes)

    3. EUROPEAN UNION (10.2 tonnes per capita, 5.03 billion tonnes)

    4. CHINA (5.5 tonnes per capita, 6.8 billion tonnes)

    5. SOUTH KOREA (2.9 tonnes per capita, 142 million tonnes)

    6. INDIA (1.2 tonnes per capita, 1.4 billion tonnes)

    7. BRAZIL (0.6 tonnes per capita, 111 million tonnes)

  2. Sidharth says:

    This is an excellent piece of information stating as to who is how much required to look at the figures ?

    You cannot build castles in Air…

    We are already under the ill-influence of glaciers melting and the day is not far when we would have to repent…

    so, it’s high time to wake up for everyone involved in making life difficult for our predecessors…

  3. David Lewis says:

    Reuters reported earlier this year that according to Russian official figures submitted to the UN Climate Change Secretariat in Bonn, their 2007 emissions were 33.94% lower than those of 1990. Remember that Russia had all these state sponsored high emitting highly inefficient heavy industries then, and far less of them after Communism imploded.

    I read this Russian promise to go to 25% less than 1990 by 2020 as a promise by Russia to only expand their emissions by 13% or so from those of today.

    (1990=100, today=66, 1990 minus 25%=75, 75 is 13% or so greater than 66). At some point, there have to be better sources than “Russian official figures”.

    One analysis of EU cuts under Kyoto is that they basically exported the emissions they supposedly cut to China as the Chinese successfully competed in heavy industries, while not changing all that much in most other areas. So, since the carbon intensity of the global economy has been increasing after a long period of decline, this commitment from China might mean something more than if we heard it from a Western government anxious to do less than it otherwise might have to. One analyst of Hu Jintao I heard said he’s been talking like this for years.

    Everyone in the world is acutely aware that the US Senate is dithering. All these positions would change for the better if the Senate was more enthusiastic.

  4. paulm says:

    Britain’s all time precipitation record…
    Cumbria, which yesterday suffered the worst downpour in British history, with 314mm – more than a foot of rain – falling in 24 hours.

  5. p says:

    Climate Change affects Thanksgiving. Pumpkin harvest was also pitiful in the Northwest with disappointing size for Halloween.Supermarkets had to import from out of state…

    Heavy Rain Could Mean No Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving

  6. paulm says:

    The creeping effect of SLR.
    Before people know it their property value will be negative.
    Seems like the US mid Atlantic coast is the canary in the coal mine for North American SLR and Climate Change.

    Tidal Flood an Early Week Threat to the East Coast

  7. paulm says:

    If shipping were to clean up their act…commodity and product costs would go right up. (Including oil, a vicious circle)!

    To solve CO2 emissions with current technology we’re probably looking at near zero global trade. That means no cheap gadgets from China.

    How 16 ships create as much pollution as all the cars in the world

    Ships are as big a contributor to global warming as aircraft – but have had much less attention from environmentalists.

    Both international shipping and aviation are exempt from the Kyoto Protocol rules on cutting carbon emissions. But green pressure is having its effect on airlines. Ahead of next month’s Copenhagen climate talks, airlines have promised to cut emissions by 50 per cent by 2050.

    But shipping companies are keeping their heads down.

    …super-ships are rogues on the high seas, operating under pollution standards long since banished on land; warming the planet and killing its inhabitants. Santa’s sleigh, they are not.

  8. Leif says:

    A supper tanker travels 33 feet, yes, that is feet, per gallon of fuel. Roughly 175 gallons per mile.
    On the other hand ships are a very efficent mode of moving goods.

  9. JoAnn Blake says:

    Did you that there is no 13th avenue in San Francisco, but there is a 12th and 14th? The street that would be is 13th was named “Funston.”