Other big world climate stories: Japan seeks new CO2 cuts; Draft plan for Global Green Climate Fund handed to UN
China’s efforts to curb its greenhouse gas emissions are poised to take another major step forward, according to reports from the state-backed Xinhua news agency detailing plans to set binding regional caps on energy consumption.
Quoting Jiang Bing, head of the planning department of the National Energy Administration, the news agency reported that the proposals for energy quotas would be released in the near future, although it added that the plans would need approval from China’s State Council.
Jiang also signalled that the quotas would only apply to energy derived from fossil fuels with hydro, wind and solar power exempted from the caps.
The Chinese government has previously said it will impose a cap on energy consumption as part of its latest five-year plan, which has set a series of targets designed to enhance energy efficiency and cut the carbon intensity of the country’s economy by 17 per cent by 2020. The plan is seen as essential to meeting China’s stated goal of cutting its carbon intensity by between 40 per cent and 45 per cent by 2020.
The proposed energy consumption quotas are the latest in a series of mooted green policy announcements from Beijing designed to curb emissions and accelerate investment in clean technologies.
Global temperature rise could exceed “safe” levels of two degrees Celsius in some parts of the world in many of our lifetimes if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, two research papers published in the journal Nature warned.
“Certain levels of climate change are very likely within the lifetimes of many people living now … unless emissions of greenhouse gases are substantially reduced in the coming decades,” said a study on Sunday by academics at the English universities of Reading and Oxford, the UK’s Met Office Hadley Center and the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
Large parts of Eurasia, North Africa and Canada could potentially experience individual five-year average temperatures that exceed the 2 degree Celsius threshold by 2030 — a timescale that is not so distant,” the paper said.
Two years ago, industrialized nations set a 2 degree Celsius warming as the maximum limit to avoid dangerous climate changes including more floods, droughts and rising seas, while some experts said a 1.5 degree limit would be safer.
It is widely agreed among scientists that global pledges so far for curbing greenhouse gas emissions are not strong enough to prevent “dangerous” climate change.
Next month, nations will meet for the next U.N. climate summit in Durban, South Africa, where a binding pact to reduce emissions looks unlikely to be delivered.
Instead, a global deal might not emerge until 2014 or 2015.
The study found that most of the world’s land surface is very likely to experience five-year average temperatures that exceed 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels by 2060.
The group of politicians, diplomats and economists working on plans for a new Green Climate Fund capable of investing up to $100bn a year in climate-related projects by 2020 has completed its draft proposals, according to Reuters reports.
The news agency said that the draft document was finalised at a meeting of the UN-appointed committee in South Africa last week, paving the way for the plan to be presented at next month’s crucial climate
Christiana Figueres, head of the UN climate change secretariat, confirmed that the draft plan had been completed, telling Reuters via email that the group had put forward a draft proposal for how the Green Climate Fund would work, and recommendations on “transitional arrangements” that would allow it to be launched as early as 2013.
“The submissions … include a strong signal to engage the private sector and a solid basis to develop country-driven operations through direct access to funds,” she added.
The structure of the proposed fund is likely to prove one of the main points of contention at the Durban summit next month.
Countries agreed at last year’s summit in Cancun that up to $100bn a year should be provided to poorer nations from 2020 to help them cut emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Corporate executives and prominent political figures today at a United Nations-backed meeting called for investment in emerging sectors that support sustainable development to reinvigorate the flagging global economy and address the deepening rift between rich and poor.
Amid growing protests over financial and economic uncertainty across the world, more than 500 leading executives met at the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative Global Roundtable (UNEP FI) summit in Washington to discuss possible solutions.
Among those calling for change include former United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Ireland’s former President Mary Robinson, as well as decision-makers in the investment, banking and insurance sectors. The meeting also heard from the United States Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson.
Recommendations included the implementation of policies that can mobilize investment by the banking and investment sectors into emerging industries associated with sustainability – including the clean energy sector, renewable energy, green buildings and retrofitting, clean vehicles and fuels.
The European Union should rethink its plan to restrict use of emission credits from the world’s biggest greenhouse-gas offsetting program, said a former United Nations’ chief climate official.
“The last thing we need at the moment is a sense that Europe is reneging on its commitment” to emissions trading, said Yvo de Boer, former head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, who is now a climate change and sustainability adviser to KPMG LLP, the consulting company. The EU instead should allow use of credits from projects in emerging nations that provide renewable power to poor people with no current access to electricity.
De Boer was speaking in London after Clean Development Mechanism offsets dropped to a record 6.69 euros ($9.28) a metric ton on Oct. 20. A record number of emission-reduction projects are seeking registration by the end of next year, boosting supply because of a deadline imposed by the EU, whose factories and power stations are the main buyers of credits.
From 2013 the EU will accept only new offset projects based in least-developed countries. Additionally, the import of credits generated by reducing industrial gas hydrofluorocarbon-23 and of those tied to some nitrous-oxide projects will be banned as of May 2013.
Japan plans to propose next month in South Africa that while negotiating an agreement on a future climate framework, all major polluters make emission cuts to meet their pledged goals, a foreign ministry official said on Friday.
U.N.-led climate talks failed to meet a 2009 deadline to agree a new pact to start after the Kyoto Protocol’s first period ends in 2012. A major conference in Durban is under pressure to launch a process to negotiate a new treaty.
“In the Durban meeting, we’re calling for clarified steps to agree on a future climate framework,” said Takehiro Kano, director at the ministry’s climate change division.
Japan, the world’s fifth-biggest emitter, plans to propose that countries agree on guidelines to monitor and verify that they are doing what they have pledged to compile biennial reports, he added. Countries agreed to the reports at last year’s climate conference in Cancun, Mexico.