Spotlight Cancún: Negative Carbon and the Green Power Fund

Graciela Chichilnisky, Guest Blogger
Another in a series from the Triple Crisis Blog and the Real Climate Economics Blog on the Cancún Climate Summit.

The Kyoto Challenge

Most people know that the United Nations Kyoto Protocol limits global carbon emissions. It is the only international agreement we have for resolving potentially catastrophic climate change. But few people know how it works. Few people are aware that the Kyoto Protocol has already funded US$50 Billion in clean technology projects in developing nations through its Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Since the Protocol became international law in 2005, this funding took place in a short period of five years, and continues growing. During this five year period, the carbon market of the Kyoto Protocol grew from zero to US$165 billion in annual trades, and the projects funded by the CDM achieved a real impact. These projects have decreased carbon emissions by the equivalent of 40% of EU emissions.[1]

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Spotlight Cancún: Key Issues in the Cancún Climate Conference

Martin Khor
Another in a series from the Triple Crisis Blog and the Real Climate Economics Blog on the Cancún Climate Summit.

Triple Crisis Blogger Martin Khor published the following South Centre policy brief on what to expect from the Cancún climate negotiations on issues like the global climate regulatory regime, proposed obligations for developing countries, and others.

Key Issues in the Cancún Climate Conference

A year after the chaotic Copenhagen summit, the 2010 UNFCCC climate conference begins in Cancún.  Expectations are low this time around, especially compared to the eve of Copenhagen.

That’s probably both good and bad.  The conference last year had been so hyped up before hand, with so much hopes linked to it, that the lack of a binding agreement at the end of it and the last-day battle over process and text made it a near-disaster.

Few expect this year’s meeting in the seaside resort of Cancún to produce anything significant in commitments either to cut Greenhouse Gas emissions or to provide funds to developing countries. Thus if Cancún ends with few significant decisions, it won’t be taken as a catastrophe.  It will however be seen as the multilateral system not being able to meet up to the challenge.  And that system will be asked to try harder, next year.

Spotlight Cancún: Climate Realism

Eban Goodstein, Guest Blogger
Another in a series from the Triple Crisis Blog and the Real Climate Economics Blog on the Cancún Climate Summit.

The elections earlier this month saw the breaching of the 2016 deadline set by NASA’s Jim Hansen for global CO2 stabilization, and also moved us well beyond IPCC Chair Rajendra Pauchuari’s statement that action beyond 2012 “will be too late”. So where does this leave us? For what are we now, officially, too late?

Until this year, one could envision, just barely, a “politics as usual” scenario that set us on track to stabilizing C02 concentrations at 450 ppm.  The 450 goal would, according to the IPCC’s best guess, have held global temperatures to 2.1 degrees C above pre-industrial levels—a further 1.5 degrees C warming this century. Getting there would have required US policy that initiated cuts in 2012, and delivered 80% reductions by 2050. These would have had to have been coupled with Chinese and Indian commitments to stabilize emissions by 2025, and then start down their own aggressive emission reduction pathways.

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Spotlight Cancún: Making the Economic Case for Tackling Climate Change

Kevin Gallagher and Frank Ackerman

Triple Crisis bloggers Kevin Gallagher and Frank Ackerman published the following opinion article in the Guardian on the economic case for tackling climate change and why it has the potential to persuade US policymakers to take action.

Cancún and the new economics of climate change

The failure of US climate legislation, following last year’s disappointing negotiations at Copenhagen, casts a pall over the round of climate talks in Cancún this week. And the global recession and budget-cutting crisis makes this seem like the worst time for new climate initiatives. Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of delaying action: the laws of physics don’t need 60 votes in the US Senate to continue making the world’s climate less and less liveable.

There are two battles over climate change. The legitimacy of climate science has been challenged in the media, but repeated reviews have found only scattered typographical errors in IPCC reports and other assessments. Last year’s theft of emails from climate scientists revealed the shocking news that leading researchers can be rude and competitive – but not much else. While science-deniers remain prominent in US politics, most of the world has moved on.

What the debate has moved on to, though, is concern about the costs of climate policies. Bjorn Lomborg, the poster child of climate scepticism, is no longer attacking the science; instead, he now claims that the damages from climate change would be small, while the costs of doing anything about it would be enormous. The new Lomborg (“Scepticism 2.0”) relies heavily on a few conservative economists, notably Richard Tol and William Nordhaus, to suggest that we can’t afford real climate solutions.

Read the full article at the Guardian.

Spotlight Cancún: The Curtain Rises for Climate Negotiations

Miquel Muñoz

The UN Climate Change Conference started today and will be meeting for the next two weeks in the resort city of Cancún, México. The Spotlight Cancún series, a joint series by Triple Crisis and the Real Climate Economics blog, which this post begins, will invite experts to analyze different aspects of the climate change negotiations, and how these, in turn affect the bigger picture of finance, development and the environment. We welcome Miquel Muñoz as a regular contributor to Triple Crisis to begin the discussion.

The Cancún conference runs through December 10 and comprises: six official UNFCCC meetings (COP 16, COP/MOP 6, AWG-LCA 13, AWG-KP 15, SBSTA 33 and SBI 33); side conferences such as the Global Business Day, Agriculture and Rural Development Day, Oceans Day, Development and Climate Days, and Forest Day; hundreds of official and unofficial side events; and all the social and cultural activities that traditionally accompany such meetings, such as the climate village. Cancún, like previous UN Climate Change Conferences, is more than just a negotiation; it’s the yearly gathering of the climate change community.

Over the next two weeks, we may or may not hear about Cancún in the news. Distractions such as sabre-rattling half a world away and leaks of US diplomatic cables will keep the two greatest greenhouse gas emitters, the US and China, the UN Secretary-General, foreign ministries from all over the world, the international press and others occupied. But even without these distractions, the truth is that expectations for any agreement happening in Cancún were already low. So low, in fact, that some analysts have even posted a pre-mortem of the meeting.

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Climate Negotiations: Clouds over Cancún?

Miquel Muñoz, Guest Blogger

In the last weeks, two hurricanes have threatened Cancún. Hurricane Paula veered east, hurricane Richard southwest, both sparing the resort city and venue for the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP 16). If this post was about the last COP in Copenhagen, the headlines would be unmistakable: “Hurricane Threatens Climate Negotiations.” For Cancún, conversely, a better analogy can be found in Copenhagen’s winter weather: grey and overcast. This would fittingly describe the level of expectations for Cancún.

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International Climate Change Lottery: a financing mechanism that could actually be agreed in Cancún.

Miquel Muñoz, Guest Blogger

It is increasingly evident that a comprehensive climate change agreement is unlikely at the next climate change meeting (COP 16) in Cancún, Mexico, on December 2010. Finance – that is how much money will be provided, where will it come from, how will it be used, and who will hold the strings of the purse – is one of the main obstacles to agreement, compounded by deep distrust between developing and developed countries. While a comprehensive deal is unlikely, there are financing instruments that could conceivably be agreed upon in Cancún; for example, an International Climate Change Lottery.

The idea of an international goal-driven lottery has been regularly raised since the 1970’s. A good starting point is work by Addison and Chowdhury in 2003 analyzing the prospects of harnessing the world lottery market (worth US$126 billion and generating US$62bn in gross profits) for the purposes of development.

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