Welcome to December. It is being dubbed a “critical month” for action on climate change. Firstly, there is the latest round of UN Climate talks, this time taking place in Poznan in Poland.
An estimated 9,000 delegates from 185 nations will meet for the next two weeks to try and work at a Post-Kyoto deal by the end of 2009. In essence, the talks mark the halfway point between last year’s meeting in Bali and what is being seen as the all-important meeting in Copenhagen next year.
The world is radically different from a year ago when negotiators met in Bali. While there is a source of optimism because of a forth-coming Obama Presidency, the US will be still be represented by officials of the outgoing Bush administration.
Whilst there has been much press talk of a need to keep the political momentum going at Poznan, the reality is that the talks will probably stall as countries wait to see just what an Obama Presidency will deliver. And that means nothing happening until at least January, but probably the middle of next year.
Lurking over the conference will be the current financial crisis with many people expecting that this will undermine any political action, rather than act as a catalyst for a “Green New Deal”.
As UN negotiators talk in Poland, the European Council will be holding sessions in Brussels aimed at finalising its climate and energy package, which will clarify the scale of the bloc’s eventual unilateral commitments. According to press reports it is likely endorse plans to cut EU emissions by 20% by 2020, or by 30% if there is a new global deal, and to provide 20% of all energy from renewable sources by the same date.”
But ironically the host of the current climate summit, Poland, which is a major coal-mining and coal-using country, is trying to undermine this.
Meanwhile in the UK, the committee set up to advise the Government on global warming, called the Committee for Climate Change, will give its advice on how Britain can achieve its target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.
Even before being released it looks like the Committee will be a series of contradictions. It will endorse clean coal, although we know this is an oxymoron. It has already indicated that it will back the expansion of Heathrow, even though this will just lead to thousands more passenger movements, just at a time when people should be flying less.
The CCS industry is lobbying hard. Jeff Chapman, chief executive of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, said with enough government financial support there could be partial trials by 2015 and full capture in 2020.”We’ve talked the talk, now it’s walk the walk time,” he said.
Yes, Jeff it is time for the government to walk the walk – stop coal, scrap CCS, stop nuclear and have a radical energy future based on a Green New Deal. And it should take that message to Poznan.