Key Stories in the Round-up Below: China Airline Operates First Biofuels Flight; Opposition in Australia Tries to Stop Carbon Trading Program
The United Nations climate change negotiations set to take place in Durban at the end of November are going to be difficult, President Jacob Zuma warned on Monday.
“We go to Durban with no illusion at all that it will be a walk in the park,” he told delegates at a meeting….
On what South Africa, which is hosting the giant event, expected from COP17, he said outcomes should be “balanced, fair, and credible, and one that preserves and strengthens the multilateral rules-based response to climate change”.
Further, they should be informed by the principles that had formed the basis of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations.
“These principles include multilateralism, environmental integrity, fairness … and the honouring of all international commitments and undertakings made in the climate change process.”
The Cancun Agreements had also to be “operationalised”, including the establishment of key mechanisms and institutional arrangements agreed to at COP16 in Cancun.
“The Green Climate Fund represents a centre piece for a broader set of outcomes for Durban. Developing countries demand a prompt start for the fund through its early and initial capitalisation.”
Twenty-six nations are expected to lodge a formal protest on Wednesday against a European Union law to make airlines pay for carbon emissions — adding to transatlantic tension on an issue that has triggered a tit-for-tat bill in the U.S. Congress.
Under EU legislation, from January 1 all flights to or from Europe will have to buy carbon permits to help offset their emissions under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS) — the 27 member bloc’s prime tool for trying to curb the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.
Last week, in the U.S. Congress, where environmental issues have become a flashpoint between Republicans and President Barack Obama’s Democrats, the lower house passed a bill making it illegal for airlines to comply with the EU’s law.
On Wednesday this week, a council meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO.L in Montreal, Canada is also expected to take up the airlines’ cause.
EU lawyers have said any decision by the ICAO council would not be legally binding, but could be a step towards a formal dispute procedure, in which the president of ICAO would mediate.
A copy of an ICAO council working paper seen by Reuters said the law, unilaterally passed by the EU, posed “major challenges and risks for aircraft operators”.
Diplomats have this week continued to stake out their positions ahead of the upcoming international climate change summit in Durban, South Africa next month.
Speaking to reporters following a preparatory meeting for the two week UN summit, NJ Mxakato-Diseko, South Africa’s ambassador-at-large for the conference, urged negotiators not to talk up the chances of a legally-binding agreement being reached.
The hosts remain optimistic that significant progress can be made on a number of fronts, with sources predicting agreements could be reached on climate financing, emissions reporting, and carbon trading.
However, there is a general consensus that a formal treaty will not be finalised and fears are mounting the talks will remain deadlocked on the crucial issue of whether to extend or replace the Kyoto Protocol.
Head of the UN climate change secretariat Christiana Figueres also warned this week that governments may struggle to make progress on commitments made last year to introduce mechanisms to provide up to $100bn a year of funding for climate-related projects from 2020.
“This is not the best time to be talking about finance, because all developed countries are in a financial crisis,” she told reporters, adding that governments needed to realise that the bulk of the new funding would not have to be released until later in the decade.
“The financial needs of climate, both for adaptation and for mitigation, are not short-term needs – they are long-term needs, and they need to be seen in that respect,” she said. “The financial crisis is a financial crisis that we have now, but that is not a long-term crisis for the next 20, 30 years.”
Australia’s main opposition party vowed on Monday to repeal a carbon pricing scheme expected to become law next month as a key plank for polls due by 2013, threatening to prolong uncertainty in energy investments.
“We will absolutely deliver on our mandate. So the first thing we’ll do is we’ll seek a mandate for repeal,” Greg Hunt, opposition climate change minister, said in an interview.
Labor Party Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who lags the opposition Liberal Party in opinion polls, has staked her minority government’s future on sweeping economic reform such as taxes on mining and carbon.
But voters have been concerned over industry fears the plan to tax carbon emissions will lead to higher costs and job losses, prompting Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott to announce a “blood oath” to repeal the scheme should his party and partners win the next election.
The government on Monday labeled the repeal pledge absurd, underscoring the divisive nature of plans to fight climate change by pricing carbon emissions in Australia, the United States and elsewhere.
Air China (CA) conducted the latest biofuel demonstration flight Friday, operating a Boeing 747-400 with Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines partially powered by jatropha-based fuel.
The 2-hr. flight to/from Beijing (PEK) was the first biofuel flight operated in China. It was conducted in conjunction with Boeing and Pratt, and follows a growing number of biofuel flights operated worldwide (ATW Daily News, April 26).
PetroChina worked with Honeywell’s UOP to source and refine the fuel derived from jatropha grown in China. China National Aviation Fuel blended the biofuel with traditional jet fuel; the ratio was 50:50.
China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) and Boeing also announced an agreement “for further study of regional biofuel development,” Boeing said, adding, “The study results will help support future efforts to establish a sustainable aviation biofuels industry in China, and also form the foundation for an announced renewable energy agreement between the US Trade and Development Agency and the NEA.”
CA and Boeing said they are making plans for an international biofuel flight between the US and China, although “no specific timetable” has been revealed.
Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals are reviewing the hefty price paid to renewable energy producers who sell power to the grid under the feed-in tariff program.
Energy Minister Chris Bentley on Monday confirmed a long-expected look at FIT program will be led by deputy minister Fareed Amin in conjunction with the Ontario Power Authority.
“It has been enormously successful — 4,500 megawatts already contracted. Put another way, that’s 1.2 million homes,” Bentley said in an interview.
“We want to continue with a very strong, clean, green energy economy. We want it to be at the right price. This review will give us good information to make it sustainable over the long term.”
Amin’s review, which will be completed early in the new year, does not affect existing contracts with thousands of farmers and energy firms producing electricity through wind, solar, hydro and bio-mass generation.
With rates of to 80 cents per kilowatt hour paid for electricity produced by the sun — when nuclear-generated power costs about 4 cents — the FIT program was much debated during the Oct. 6 provincial election.