Monday, November 20, 2006

Climate talks a tricky business- The Final Deal at Nairobi, and unearthing all the Jargon (From The BBC)

"That's the question you're not allowed to ask," the delegate wryly ticked me off as we chatted in the Nairobi sunshine.
It was the question I had been asking all the way through the UN climate talks - what is any of this actually doing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
You would think it would be the one question on everybody's lips at conferences designed to formulate the definitive international response to climate change.
The reality is that climate change has become an incredibly complex issue.
Clearly there is no appetite in any government for doing things the straightforward way - mandating clean energy, banning coal-fired electricity generation, clearing city centres of cars, forcing builders to adopt stringent energy efficiency standards.
All this, we are told, will "damage competitiveness".
Yvo de Boer, the new executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, summed it up thus: "From looking at climate change policies as a cost factor for development, countries are starting to see them as opportunities to enhance economic growth in a sustainable way.
"The further development of carbon markets can help mobilise the necessary financial resources needed for a global response to climate change, and give us a future agreement that is focused on incentives to act."
Read these words in a positive way, and you visualise a mobilisation of business might to cool the Earth while making a profit - but turn the thought around, and what you have is the acknowledgment that making money, not reducing emissions, is the priority for governments and their advisers.
You certainly have an explanation for why the majority of the debates and conclusions here avoid any mention of reducing emissions.
'Climate tourists'
All the jargon and complexities were too much for Sharon Looremetta, a Maasai woman who works for the charity Practical Action.
"The question is, whose problems are we addressing?" she asked rhetorically.
"Fine, we can have Western countries coming, but some came here with their own agenda, to protect themselves and their economies; others came here as climate tourists who wanted to see Africa, take snaps of the wildlife, the poor, dying African children and women."
Her speech brought a standing ovation from delegates.
It also brought a tart response from the leader of the European Union delegation, Finnish Environment Minister Jan-Erik Enestam, who declared: "We have proved we are not 'climate tourists', but are serious about taking action on climate change."
Busting the jargon
So let us look behind the jargon of COPs and COP/MOPs and SBSTAs and Ad-hoc Working Groups and Joint Implementation and Base Years - believe me, I could go on - and look at what the Nairobi talks actually agreed.
The headline outcomes include:
a less than firm commitment to begin negotiations on further Kyoto Protocol emissions cuts in 2008, and no target date for concluding them - despite an acknowledgement that emissions need to fall by about 50% in the near future
a decision that the protocol has been reviewed at this meeting, as its original wording demanded - many of us must have missed the review when we blinked
a commitment to have a full review in two years' time
an extension of work on technology transfer to the developing world, but only for a single year, which brought condemnation from the Chinese delegation
agreement that Belarus can enter the Kyoto Protocol's trading mechanisms in a way which could allow it to make money without reducing emissions; this decision will have to be ratified
a decision that carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects should not yet be eligible for money from the Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism
agreement that the Adaptation Fund, a pot of money to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change, should be primarily under the control of developing nations
Away from the main negotiations, a number of other initiatives were announced, the most striking being a UN fund to build capacity among African governments, enabling them better to bid for clean technology projects and protect against climate impacts.
Up the command chain
The weak commitments angered the cabal of environment and development agencies, who variously described the outcomes as "frighteningly timid", "lacking in leadership" and "a failure of political will".
Governments are generally represented at these gatherings by environment ministers - relatively small hitters on the political stage. Environmental groups have bemoaned this for a long time, and believe it could partially account for the low manifestations of political will.
But the Stern Review had clearly caught the attention of many delegations, and Hans Verolme, director of global climate change at the environmental group WWF, believes that might help to bring in some political big hitters.
"I think heads of government will get involved," he said.
"Chancellor Merkel has indicated she will take [climate change] forward in the G8, and I would expect heads of state to maybe come to the next [UN] climate summit in Bali and say. 'Let's get on with this, let's take some real action'."
Mid-term report
The biggest hitter of all is, of course, US President George W Bush.
His disdain for the Kyoto process is the single biggest obstacle to achieving a new round of global emissions targets.
After the Republican Party's mauling in the US mid-term elections, how might the treatment of climate change in Washington change? Enough to turn the vague schedule into a firm timetable?
Not according to Jonathan Pershing, director of the Climate, Energy and Pollution Programme at the World Resources Institute in Washington DC.
He sees no chance of a sudden conversion, but believes the Democrat majority in Congress will initiate moves to prepare for international re-engagement should the next president prove to be less iconoclastic on climate issues.
"We've changed all the [Congress] committees' heads, and they have significant influence in the policy debate," he said.
"The new head of the environment committee, Senator Boxer from California, says that we managed to change the shape of the defence policy with Mr Rumsfeld leaving, so perhaps we can have an equally large effect in the near term on climate policy."
So in two years, perhaps, negotiations on another round of emissions cuts beyond the existing Kyoto Protocol targets may begin.
Let us invent a hypothetical target which governments might adopt, of cutting emissions by, say, 5% from 2006 levels by some future date.
At current rates, emissions will have risen by nearly half that amount by the time they even start talking.
That is a measure of the disconnect, acknowledged by many, including Britain's environment secretary, between the scientific imperative and the political process. It is also the reason why the forbidden question needs to be asked again and again and again.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

check the site out


Dear folks,

Political update:
(photograph right: Joining a Demo in Nairobi and meeting the president of the Conference, last Friday)
Well, things have ground down to an impasse. The Article 9 issue, on the review of the Kyoto Protocol, has now been kicked to the COP President, who is forming a ‘friends of the Chair’ group, and the issue will get sorted out at ministerial level, or not.
The day started off well, building on the momentum created last night with the adoption of the AWG text on future commitments for Annex I countries. The UK, Germany and others within Europe started floating a proposal which would get this process done by 2009, and which wasn’t half bad.
But soon, because of the informal nature of these talks, and with ministers just arriving, it broke down into a bit of chaos and loss of momentum…which is where we stand at present.
There are many who think there is still a deal to be had. The ‘problems’, on the extremes, are Canada and Japan one one side; and some combination of India, China, and of course the Saudis. There are indications that China and/or India may move in the end but that remains to be seen.
Today’s formal sessions were mostly consumed with speechifying, which if you’re interested, are no doubt reproduced in either webcast or print form or both on the UNFCCC web site.
Finally, attached please find a report from Red who took advantage of the lull in adaptation activites to dig into the status of the Special Climate Change Fund. His report is attached.
Hopefully something will happen tomorrow.

Media update from Mhairi

Raindrops keep falling on my head... no really enough already...especially as UN Guards won't allow you to "borrow" their umbrellas to traverse through the UN building and out into the torrent outside so one can stay dry heaven forbid.
Kofi appeared today and boy did we know it as barricade after barricade was erected around the compound and many more men in shades appeared, who talked to themselves alot. Even with that we were well attended at the CAN international press briefing and not a pair of shades in sight.
Steve was spectacular alongside IPCC head Pachuari, IEA Head Claude Mandile, UNEP head Achim Steiner and German Env. Minister Gabriel in the side event on the World Energy Outlook and not a nuke question in sight. Since Gabriel blasted the nuclear content of the WEO, Steve didn’t have much to add.
Media today: - CTV
CTV News
CBC News
Radio Canada
Reuters x 2
La Presse
Radio Canada RDI
Radio Canada "The Noon phone -in show"
Radio Canada Radio Toronto
CBC News World
Bless Rona Ambrose and her inability to see the world as it really is, and indeed bless Steven Guilbeault for helping the media understand how unable she is.
BBC Radio 4
BBC World News Africa
So as they say here in Nairobi - la la salama twa nani kashu
Solar Generation Update from Agnes
Today was our now already 'traditional' Ministers event, where the SolarGeneration youth ask for a special commitment from all the Ministers. This year we asked the ministers to show their commitment to keep Global Warming below 2 degrees, by moving their flag from 5 degrees
on a thermometer to below the 2 degree line (it's a bit hard to imagine, but pictures will be available on ftp tomorrow!). Although we were only with a small SG and GP team and we had to buy all our props in the supermarket, the result looked quite impressive and we managed to get 24 ministers to participate and thereby showing their commitment!
Mhairi even noticed the UK delegate moving the UK flag to below the 2 degree line (when nobody was watching!), after we left it standing at the booth at 6 o'clock. There was a lot of media interest and a list with names of the participating ministers and heads of delegations as well as a media overview will be sent out tomorrow.
A list of countries that participated is below:
Dominican Republic
Marshall Islands
The Netherlands
Steve Sawyer

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

new developments...

Dear folks,

Check out the new developments from Nairobi, straight from the solargeneration desk:

(photo: albert/ solargens with lubay-lubay dancers)

Things have moved quickly here in the last few hours.

1. The Article 3.9 decision on future work on emissions reductions has been agreed by the AWG. The detailed decision is available on the UNFCCC website and we will be analysing it in detail in the coming days, but the first cut is that although it is not what we wanted, it can help us get to where we need to go.
2. The Article 9 decision on the review of the Kyoto Protocol is stuck...stuck because the EU can't get its act together to clearly state its intentions about the second commitment period...we worked hard on governments and ministers today, but the decision about this issue will be resolved by Ministers over the coming several days, if at all.
3. The Adaptation Fund decision was adopted as well. It's not completed, but several very substantial important steps have been taken towards creating a fair and effective decision on the disbursement of the money generated by the CDM for adaptation.
4. Most of the other decisions have been completed as well, with HCFC-22 in the CDM and CCS in the CDM having been punted in one way or another to future meetings.
We will be working hard on ministers over the next two days to get a good resolution on the Article 9 decision in such a way that it leads to a negotiating mandate at COP/MOP 3 next year. Time will tell.
In the meantime, updates from Mhairi and Su Hang from Solar Generation China below.


From Mhairi
So just as the sun comes out - it pours and I mean POURS with rain (please bear in mind I'm Scottish and it's the sun that amazes me, not the amount of water that falls from the sky!!) - the tent threatened many times to collapse under the weight of the rain and the wind really wrenched hard at the windows but we survived another day in Nairobi.
The people have really arrived in town, bringing with them the media attention - Rona Ambrose held a nervous press conference with Canadian media with Steven Guilbeault at the back quietly taking notes then doing interviews. The BBC have returned from taking their "background shots" and discovered that even in the good ol' United Nations the internet is not reliable and a simple phone call takes days of preparation and planning.
Natalia led the press briefing this morning - we've noticed that although the journos turn up for 9.30am, the questions are not forthcoming in plenary but when offered 1-2-1's afterwards, we're inundated. Great and definitely reflective in the media coverage.
Australia and Canada have given us bountiful gifts in their utterly outrageous comments and statements regarding the Convention and the Protocol - thanks for that although I reckon at the end of the day we'd rather they didn't! Catherine and Bill have done many an interview, some of which I sent round yesterday.
The two headliners we're working with are as follows:
1. This is the LAST COP we can NOT have a mandate
2. Look beyond the words of your position and consider their true meaningand the outcomes it would produce.
Update from Su Hang, Solar Generation China
1st Day in COP/MOP as SolarGen member!
It is my first time for attending the COP12 and COP/MOP2. Waked up about 5 o’clock in the morning and cannot fell asleep again, maybe I was too excited or maybe just not adapted to the time difference.
It is also my first time to be aboard. Everything is new and wonderful.
I felt a little lost when I was in the morning briefing, but soon I
learned how to do it as a volunteer in today’s photo activity. Golam,
Laura and me made a prop with Mission Possible: Save the Climate Theme.
We cut a hole on the paper, so the Delegates can put in their own head
behind the prop, instead the head of the man or the woman on the paper.
When this was done, we were looking for the delegates of Parties all
over the meeting place, invited them to take pictures and printed all
their pictures and stick them on the cardboard. Besides, Ann and me had
a short meeting with Wangari Maahai, the lady who won the Nobel Peace
Prize, we are waiting outside the her office, we were waiting and
waiting and waiting and finally we got a chance to meet her after a lots
of interviews of her. We gave our Solar Generation’s lanyard to her, and
explained our work and hope. She is kind to us and interested in our
work too.
I am really lucky to be here and I like what I am doing here. Although
we are doing small things, we are trying our best to change people’s
mind to promote renewable energy, for a better future of youth.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Straight From Nairobi!

We are getting on our way....

Agnes writes:
Just a short update from a still very rainy Nairobi ...
Hopefully, next year's conference is in Bali!

The SolarGen students have set up their (already very popular!) exhibition stand that is well attended and gives them an excellent opportunity to have informal talks with all the delegates that come by. Of course the delegates are attracted by our lanyards, this year carrying our message: Mission Possible: Save the Climate. It is already becoming a collectors item.
Today the Solar Gen and the African youth had a chance to present their work at the climate change Kiosk, an initiative set up by the UNFCCC to get people engaged in the conference through the web. They gave a great presentation. The whole presentations is podcasted on their website so YOU can also look at it!
The web address is:

More later!

Yes.... we do seem to be getting them together for a worthwhile change.....

From Mhairi:

The rain greeted us once again today, along with some great articles in the morning’s papers – large photos of the Kenyan Environment Minister and the head of the UN with a rather large write up of our press briefing the day before – although being referred to as “Mr Dunlop” in one was a tad worrying.
We had another great turnout at this morning’s briefing - local TV, NTV, KBC, Reuters, Point Carbon, AP, AFP, AFPTV, CNN, and another dozen or so.
Tomorrow's briefing should be interesting with the first returns from the U.S. elections and our comments coming in just before the U.S. delegation Are expected to give their press briefing.
Interviews were many (full list tomorrow but ranges from Colombian radio
to Swedish Broadcast Radio and Radio France International to Radio
Mediterranean International)…and AFP television.
Steady media interest in the Brazilian impacts report too.

For more direct coverage on this, please visit the following links as well...
Also, you can follow the stories of our students and comment on their stories at our weblog: (copy and paste this link)

(Photo:Walk Against Warming, Saturday 4 November, 2006, Sydney crowd scene. Huge crowds of around 50,000 voters joined the Walk Against Warming in Sydney and Melbourne, pressing the Howard government to take urgent action against climate change. © Greenpeace/Michael Amendolia)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Well it’s been a long time and lots of stuff has been happening. Yesterday, on day two of the COP12 and COP/MOP2 I met the US delegation, which was without it’s ‘head’ and headed by the ‘alternate head’ Dr. Harlan L. Watson.
The meeting included the US youth groups like sustainUS and others. We tried to ask the delegates about the federal governments about their priorities for this COP, their views on deforestation, on technology transfer as mandated by the KYOTO protocol, on youth participation at the COP, on adaptation, as well as their ideas for post 2012 (which is when the first commitment period of the KYOTO protocol ends). And we got three answers:
1. The US will not ratify the KYOTO
2. The US is spending far more than any other government on environmental issues, so point 1.
3. The US started over 100 projects involving the private sector (corporate?) in different parts of the world, so point 1 (again!)
4. The US cannot allow technology transfer to developing nations or in Dr. Harlan’s words “ countries where there is no rule of law, where the government is incapable of protecting its citizens.”
And the most important thing is that the US cannot be asked to meet the kind of commitments in the KYOTO protocol as long as countries like India and China are not able to reduce their emissions. All said and done the logic of the Americans is irrefutable! Maybe we should all find a planet and get President Bush and his cronies to go live there… and that planet should be full of fossil fuels, ideal for fossils like these….

Check Out The Solargen In Nairobi!!

check out:

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

the answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind...

The COP/MOP2 has begun!

Here's the Nairobi itenary at last...

Nov 3-5
COY: Conference of the Youth
(African Youth Summit on Climate Change)

In this Summit youth from Africa and beyond will come together to develop capacity on campaigning against climate change.
Youth participation in such key decision making processes is vital and in this regard we have organised this meeting just before the COP in order to build the youths capacity in the fields of environmental conservation matters in line with sustainable development. The conference will prepare the youth for the Cop, but will also be a platform to exchange experience on campaigning against Climate Change.

This meeting shall also see the launch of the African Youth Initiative against Climate Change.
More info:

SolarGen involvement: As SolarGen we will participate during the whole conference and we will give a presentation on the 5th about how SolarGen is campaigning locally, nationally and internationally for a clean energy future.

For more information on the African Youth Involvement see:

Nov 7th (Tuesday)

Climate Talk Series @ climate kiosk
The UNFCCC has been really excited about having some young voices at their climate talk series this year.

That is why the youth have been given 2 slots at the Climate Kiosk:
1. Africa Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC) Tuesday, 07 November at 16:00 h 2. Greenpeace and other Conference of Youth organisers showcasing
youth action both at local and global levels

Tuesday, 07 November at 16:30
Adience: Delegates, Media and the wider public (people can watch the videos on the UNFCCC website) Message: Youth is already working on the solutions, so should the delegates!

Nov 10th (Friday) 15:15-16:45: SustainUS side event: Description: Generation Kyoto: youth-led climate action from the local to the global
Youth will present their successes and ongoing efforts to mitigate climate change and to promote climate justice; they will showcase youth-led actions on campuses, in communities and at the legislative levels, and will discuss the future challenges and potentials of the Youth climate movement. SG has been asked to get engaged in this side event.

Nov 11th (Saturday)
We will prepare banners in Nairobi and take part in other activities with other groups!

Nov 12th (Sunday) Excursion:
Visit to National Park!!!!!!

Nov 13th and Nov 14th (Monday and Tuesday)
Mission Impossible Photo event - stick-your-head-through-thing Delegates saving the climate! Delegates can stick their head through a prop with the Mission Possible: Save the Climate Theme. So in stead of Tom, they can put in their own head.

Audience: Delegates and MediaMessage: Save the climate, it is still possible!

Nov 15th (Wednesday)

We have not yet come up with the exact idea, so we will invite the SG delegates to brainstorm on this at the conference!
Audience: Ministers and delegates

Nov 16th (Thursday)
We have managed to secure a side event for presenting the African Impacts video and the SG work! The African Impacts video is the follow up on the SolarGen Hotspot video we produced last year. The video covers climate impacts in Togo, Uganda and Kenya, as told by the local youth. 11:15-12:45: GPI side event 6 -Room Gigiri 2

Description: Climate change impacts in Africa - presented by the youth of Africa and beyond Throughout Africa young people documented the devastating impacts of climate change. United with youth from all over the world they present this excellent documentary and demand a clean energy future. Organised by Ecowatch, KCYP, Mt Kenya Youth Initiative, YVE, CSIR, Greenpeace, ACTS and others We are looking into the possibility of having a discussion panel with people from ‘the field’ supporting our video. Audience: Delegates and MediaMessage: Africa is already heavily impacted by Climate Change, the youth is calling for action!

In addition to the planned events, SolarGen delegates will:

Spend time observing the plenary meetings
Network with other youth groups and organise improvised activities
Visit a university in Nairobi to present the SolarGen project and invite Kenyan students to our activities.


This year's theme of the climate talk series at the Climate Change Kiosk’s is “Time for Action” focusing on climate action for developing countries The talks will provide a forum for a global audience to listen to the voices coming out of the Nairobi UN climate change conference.

What is the climate talk series?
During the days listed below, two hour periods will be set aside at the secretariat’s Climate Change Kiosk for presentations under the broad theme Time for Action. examples of local, municipal and regional climate action in developing countries. The presentations, focusing on positive outcomes and forward movement demonstrating wins in the climate change process, will be based on the following daily topical issues :

• Adaptation
• Technology transfer
• CDM opportunities
• Climate change initiatives at local and regional level
• Education and outreach - with focus on Youth and climate change

The presentations are targeted at the wider climate change global audience, unable to attend COP12/COP/MOP2 in Kenya. Presenters who are effective public speakers will be asked to give a short talk of 15 minutes on work or projects that demonstrate positive climate action taken by a group of individuals, a business, a community, a city, etc.
The web cast of the talk will be posted on our web site under the link “At the Kiosk".

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Hey all!
Today we had a presentation at the 680 Hotel by Agnes de Rooij, our international coordinator! The youth at the conference were very impressed by the kind of work we’ve been doing (internationally!!) and also by my debrief on solargen India. Also presentations by Jake Torrie (SG Canada) and Laura Canoit (SG France) were well received.
Steve Sawyer, our international campaigner (if you don’t know who he is please check out the Rainbow Warrior Centenary Website at http://www.Greenpeace. Org ) presented on Preventing Dangerous Climate Change, and this is what he had to say: “ The contribution of Africa to global climate change is negligible however the impacts it is likely to suffer are colossal.” According to him for this COP/MOP these will be the most important issues:

Art 3.9 negotiations
Art 9 review – Annex B
Review of ‘developing’ nations for those countries in Annexe 2 which actually qualify to join Annexe 1– e.g. Singapore, South Korea, etc
(sorry about the techno-greek but tha’s how it is… I’ll probably post more English in a later post! Ha ha.)
On the issues that the US continually is bantering Steve says, “China has about four times the pop of the US but the US produces one and a half times the GHG’s that china does. How fair is that?” (* note I’m not actually reporting what was said but kind of modifying it on the fly for better representation. The ideas remain intact; the words do not!)
Dr. Nyamaso, ED, Kenya Initiative for Development, spoke on climate change and youth from an African perspective.

Velma Mwendwa, YEN- Kenya – ah well what do I say, this lady actually says that DDT is a solution to combating malaria… don’t know if I should laugh or cry! After all the work that has been done in the rest of the world we find educated people here unconsciously are doing propaganda work for corporate criminals! However the far more important thing she spoke about is the concept of DIY photovoltaics. It was an interesting idea and maybe we could come up with ideas to develop such a campaign in India (Akshay, Salil?). apart from obvious benefits these kits could provide employment!


Arrived at Nairobi today around 7:50 local time. After spending some time at the airport wandering about for sometime in major confusion, accompanied by severe head scratching I finally got into a cab and managed to check into the hotel. This town reminds me of all those American Teen Flicks… almost like some mad time travel thingy is running through my head what with Orhan Pamuk’s The Black Book as the only source of solace in a long and boring wait to get here, which however seems like it was worth it! Anyways back to the present scene… I am sitting after a ‘hard’ day of attending the Conference of Youth, accompanied by breaks every so often because my sleep robbed self lapses into the arms of that tempting mistress, trying to type out what will seem like a coherent report of what happened.

After taking a long shower I finally managed to leave for the conference venue, which is quite nearby, in another hotel called the 680 Hotel. And the first thing to greet me even before had completed registering myself for the event was the visage of this great bear like thing rushing towards me at break neck speed, shrieking my name with great affection, almost like some bollywood movie gone awry! Luckily just as I was planning to jump down into the lobby I managed to recognize our very own, Harshini. She is here as a youth delegate from the Sri Lanka.

Anyways I finally made it to the conference hall having been introduced to some other delegates and the like. Finally after one session, we went for lunch, which proved to be quite sumptuous, was accompanied by awesome dessert. Then we went in for the session on the African Resolution, followed by the formation of working groups for the AYICC. So there was lots of brainstorming and we managed to get a basic idea about the things we are planning to do for launching the AYICC. (Note to Solgen India – We should sit down and talk about this session sometime. Very, very important.) Soon after this we broke up and headed off for dinner, most of the people went off to some restaurant with the COY guys while we went back to the Country Lodge hotel.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Solar Generation takes off to Nairobi!

Golam Shaifullah, an old timer with the campaign, is leaving off for Nairobi tonight as a part of the international Greenpeace youth team that will be voicing concerns over climate change to the world leaders as they meet again to discuss the Kyoto Protocol.

The event, known as the COP/MOP 2, will bring in eminent politicians,diplomats, experts,scientists to discuss the course of the Kyoto Treaty.
The Kyoto Treaty, the only existing legal framework aimed to address climate change, was ratified last year 2005. However, countries like the U.S have continued to shy awayfrom it despite public protests.
We will be regularly updating. Do come back! Help save the CLIMATE!

We are hoping that Golam will influence our indian delegates into strengthening the Treaty.
any one interested in a direct reportage from Nairobi is welcome.
You may reach Golam at