Other key stories below: Canada’s Climate Stance Likely to Cause Controversy; South African Industries Question Climate Change Plan
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed that the forthcoming United Nations conference on climate change in Durban, South Africa, should produce agreement on limiting emissions of greenhouse gases, and launch the green climate fund for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries.
“In Durban, I expect governments to find a way forward for the Kyoto Protocol so we can make a broader comprehensive climate agreement possible,” said Mr. Ban in remarks prepared for delivery to an event on climate change organized by the mission of the United Kingdom to the UN.
Mr. Ban urged governments to launch the Green Climate Fund, which was established last year in Cancun, Mexico. “But it must not be an empty shell – a fund in name only. Governments must provide the $100 billion that was pledged. This would be a welcome concrete outcome at Durban.”
The expansion of New Zealand’s carbon trading scheme, the only national market outside Europe, will be slowed to minimise costs to the economy if the ruling National-led government is returned to power in elections at the end of the month.
The centre-right party said it will adopt recommendations of a review released mid-September, which will see the energy, transport and industrial sectors get until 2015, two years later than planned, before they pay the full cost of emissions of NZ$25 ($20.25) a tonne of carbon.
“This approach slows the cost impacts on households and businesses but continues the progress needed to drive investment in renewable energy, clean technologies and forestry,” said Climate Change minister Nick Smith.
Canada expects to face international pressure at upcoming climate change talks over its refusal to sign on for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, Environment Minister Peter Kent says.
Canada has already declared that it will not renew its Kyoto commitment “however acute the international pressure,” Kent said during a speech hosted by the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto on Tuesday.
The speech preceded this year’s United Nations climate change talks, known as COP 17, which begin Nov. 28.
“We will only support climate change agreements that are signed and ratified by all major emitters,” Kent said, making reference to the fact that developing nations had minimal obligations to reduce emissions under Kyoto and the U.S. had signed but not ratified the agreement.
The Kyoto Protocol was formally adopted in 1997, came into force in 2005, and set firm targets for 37 industrialized nations, including Canada, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are linked to global climate change. It was signed but not ratified by the U.S.
EU finance ministers on Tuesday signed off on about 7 billion euros ($9.6 billion) in short-term funding to help developing countries adapt to climate change and curb emissions — even as they met to grapple with Europe’s debt crisis.
Draft conclusions seen by Reuters showed EU member states had mobilised an estimated 4.68 billion euros in 2010 and 2.34 billion euros so far this year, as part of a commitment to provide 7.2 billion.
“Considering the economic and fiscal challenges we are faced with, this demonstrates our strong commitment to deliver on the Cancun (climate summit) agreement and to the G20 (Group of 20 industrialised nations) commitment to fight climate change,” the document said.
Non-governmental organisations said it provided a glimmer of hope that environmental issues had not been knocked off the agenda by European debt, but they also voiced concern the funds had been reallocated from elsewhere and were not new money.
South Africa’s Chamber of Mines and petrochemicals group Sasol on Tuesday expressed reservations about the country’s main climate policy paper, with industry-specific reduction targets a key concern.
Released in October, the cabinet-backed climate change plan wants limits placed on carbon emissions for top polluters, who could face penalties if they do not conform to new regulations
“Our primary concern is centered around the introduction of fixed numbers for the PPD (peak-plateau-decline), which fundamentally changes the way in which climate change policy will be implemented nationally, and is also likely to negatively impact the international negotiations,” Sasol said in a presentation.
South Africa, which hosts global climate change talks in November/December, wants to cut CO2 emissions by 34 percent over the next decade but has little room to make fast changes with major employers among top polluters and its cash-strapped power sector almost fully reliant on coal.
China’s aviation watchdog on Tuesday urged the European Union to drop a plan that would require global airlines to buy carbon emission permits, while Chinese aviation industry reportedly plan to sue the EU over the unpopular scheme.
“We hope the EU will avoid this unilateral move, solve international aviation emissions issues on the basis of mutual respect and consensus, and promote the sustainable development of the industry,” an official with China’s Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) said on condition of anonymity.
The CAAC welcomes and supports a resolution adopted by the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) regarding the issue, the official said.
The ICAO resolution, adopted at a meeting in Montreal last week, opposes the EU plan to force non-EU airlines to take part in the bloc’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
According to the EU plan, as of January 2012, airlines flying to or from the bloc will have to buy permits from the ETS for 15 percent of the carbon emissions they generate during the entire flight, with large fines for noncompliance.
Russia recognizes that concrete steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions need to be agreed at climate talks in South Africa next month before a globally binding climate deal can emerge by 2015, EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said on Thursday.
Negotiators from around the world are due to meet in Durban at the end of this month to try to work on a new deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
Expectations are low that a binding deal will emerge, as rifts between countries have stifled progress.
A group of small island states accused countries such as Russia and Japan on Thursday of trying to delay a new international agreement until 2018 or 2020.
“Russia shares our view that we should go for a roadmap and have timetables in it,” Hedegaard told reporters.
The “roadmap” would include a set of standardized actions toward a global deal, perhaps similar to a proposal by Australia and Norway last month, Hedegaard said.