Tuesday, December 8: After breezing through registration — avoiding the epic lines of Day One — I entered the Bella Center housing the convention. The first item of business to attend was the daily Fossil of the Day presentation, put on by Avaaz.org and the International Climate Action Network. After some lovely live bass viol music, the young presenters, garbed in gleefully formal attire, took the stage. They sang the Fossil of the Day anthem to the Jurassic Park theme, then announced the winners to raucous boos. Although the ceremony itself was goofy, the awards were picked in all seriousness by the iCAN members to highlight the worst decisions made or the most indefensible positions taken by national delegations in the last 24 hours.
The Ukraine swept the awards, sharing second place with other nations but winning the first and third place awards outright. Ukraine’s bronze came for refusing to say where the 300 million worth of emissions credits it sold Japan went. It won first place for trumpeting its emissions reduction target of a 20% reduction from 1990 levels, which sounds good, except that it represents a 75% increase from current levels. After the economic collapse of the Soviet Union, pollution from the former union nations and eastern bloc countries declined precipitously, which makes the Kyoto Protocol benchmark of 1990 highly misleading for those states. This allows nations like Russia, the world’s third-largest greenhouse gas emitter, to have a huge bank of emissions credits to sell to other nations under the terms of the Kyoto Protocol. The conundrum of whether to count the emissions drop from 1990 as “real” reductions or not is known in climate negotiator parlance as the “hot air” problem.
The second-place award went to the Umbrella Group of industrialized non-EU nations, namely Canada, Iceland, Japan, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Norway, Russian Federation, Ukraine, United States and Australia. At today’s Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) plenary, the Umbrella Group proposed that carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects should qualify for Clean Development Mechanism financing — a program designed to help developing nations transition to a sustainable economy through reduced deforestation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy projects. Qualifying CCS for this international financing would subsidize coal and oil industries doing the capture programs in developing countries.