COPcast: news from COP17

Submitted by JimmySprout on Wed, 2011-12-07 08:18

With the second week of COP17 in full swing, here is our newscast on the latest and most important stories, side-line news, events and more...

what will the outcomes post-kyoto hold?what will the outcomes post-kyoto hold?

A new way forward? Kyoto lives on?

The Kyoto Protocol comes to an end in 2012 and a resolution on the second-commitment period is now no longer a question of if but how.

With intense debates over GHG (greenhouse gas) emission policies taking centre-stage this week at COP17, the outcomes and details of a legally-binding treaty are still very much a deliberated topic. Opinions are varied and some nations remain unhappy with certain targets and agreements.

However, it is not all doom and gloom, and there is good news within the realms of treaty discussions. China, the world's worst emitter, publically announced late last week that it would take on a new set of legally-binding emission target frameworks, a huge commitment on their part considering China was one of several countries that did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

"China is laying its cards on the table. And that is what makes us hopeful that we are moving in the right direction" said Nkoana-Mashabane, president of COP17. This is very encouraging as China has a lot of 'pull-power' globally and may quite drastically alter the course that other nations will take. China's pledge has moved the focus to the USA, another major emitter, which refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol unless China also signed. The move by China may also encourage a change of direction for Canada, Russia and Japan, presently refusing to sign on for a second commitment period.

will developing countries recieve financial aid by COP18 next year?will developing countries recieve financial aid by COP18 next year?

Green Climate Fund

In reality, developing countries are yet to feel the real benefits of the Green Climate Fund. The delay in delivering the $100 billion dollars first pledged in the run up the Copenhagen is not only causing anxiety and frustration for many countries, but stalling the developments and adaptation projects so many of these nations so desperately need.

Recent talks to bring these delays to an end brought about an option that would decide on a so-called ‘work programme’ on sources of finance, with a clear deadline set for COP18 next year. This would drive countries who pledged money to commit to focus on delivery of the funds by the Conference of the Parties next year. This is also vitally important as it would free up other agenda of the negotiations which are currently blocked or pending because of monetary uncertainties.

the failing of brazil's forest code?the failing of brazil's forest code?

Forests Forever

Forests are some of our earth's most valuable resources and essential for our global eco-system and water-system. Toward the end of last week, forests once again became the topic of hot debate.

As always, politics around tropical forests took centre-stage as opponents to the forest safeguard notions began vigorous new talks. In a hard-won victory last year in Cancun, developing countries achieved agreement on a series of safeguards that were essential in cutting emissions from forest loss and the protection of biodiversity and the rights of indigenous peoples. But toward the end of last week the original opponents to strong safeguards (including Brazil) restarted the battle, arguing that they should not have to supply information about the enforcement and application of safeguards in their countries. In essence, they are shying away to revealing if they’ve broken the rules.

Brazil is at risk of losing its previous reputation as a relatively robust defender of tropical forests. Local plans are going forward to deconstruct their national laws for protecting the Amazon with the new Forest Code which would legalise agribusinesses to cut down much larger areas – risking a rapid increase in forest loss and carbon emissions.

sir branson's newest venture ranks the world's aircraft biofuel marketsir branson's newest venture ranks the world's aircraft biofuel market

Branson’s Carbon War Room

A familiar celebrity face at COP events and others like it, Sir Richard Branson has been very involved with recent environmental movements and sustainability projects. In a bid to stimulate a new market, Branson’s Carbon War Room (CWR) project yesterday launched a website ranking renewable jet fuel producers to guide international aviation players on global biofuel companies.

"One of the most important ways to reduce carbon output from airlines all over the world is to have viable renewable alternatives to jet fuel" said Branson yesterday. Accounting for over 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, aviation is seen as a significant greenhouse gas emitter. According to the International Civil Aviation Organisation, biofuels are one of the most viable ways to reduce the sector’s carbon footprint.

Unfortunately the website will hold little benefit for South African carriers as renewable jet fuel is not yet available in SA and many other countries where it remains too expensive.

protestors demand a greener future in durban this weekendprotestors demand a greener future in durban this weekend

Global Action Day

On Sunday thousands of activists and hundreds of civic groups from around the world marched in Durban during a Global Action Day. The aim was to voice that civil society does have a say in climate change and that governments should take their needs and opinions seriously. More than 6 500 people walked, sang and danced to create awareness of our changing planet and to urge UN delegates and world leaders to create a new, forceful treaty from this year's COP.

At the end of the march, which wound its way through downtown Durban, a petition was handed to the South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. The petition read, in part: “We are deeply concerned by the threats posed to the peoples of Africa by climate change. African leaders must uphold their commitment to ‘One Africa, One position and One Voice for climate justice."

Many protestors carried banners and flags while others wore clothing branded with slogans and images. The march was peaceful but full of meaning and positive passion for change.