Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bali: UN Climate Conference outcome

It was an 11th hour nail biting, final pulling together after berating the Americans for their attempts to sabotage any agreement, which resulted in .. a compromise.

World governments agreed a negotiating framework to decide a new global climate policy by 2009 on 13th December 2007 for the post-2012 period.

The Bali road-map commits all developed countries to quantified greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and says "deep cuts" will be needed. Developing countries will commit to "appropriate mitigation actions".

Disappointingly, upon the insistence of the US, the road-map suggests no concrete emission reduction targets. But a footnote makes reference to documents from the IPCC which say reductions of up to 40 per cent by 2020 are needed to head off dangerous climate change. Greenpeace lamented the lack of references to "crucial cuts" and the "relegation of science to a footnote".

On the positive, general approval was voiced for consensuses reached on tackling emissions from deforestation, on enhancing technology development and transfer, and on stimulating financial flows to fund all climate change-related action.

However, the next two years of talks promise to be difficult. Somewhat unsurprisingly, US officials saying that they had "serious concerns" about the Bali deal. White House spokesman Dana Perino said climate negotiators "must give sufficient emphasis to the important and appropriate role that the larger emitting developing countries should play" - a clear reference to India and China. This may complicate, and indeed hinder the process - a polite way of saying it is anticipated that the US will continue to be obstructive.

[Participation in the Kyoto Protocol, where dark green indicates countries that have signed and ratified the treaty and yellow indicates states that have signed and hope to ratify the treaty. Australia's new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has promised to sign and ratify it - so should be coloured green also.The United States has signed the treaty but continues to refuse to ratify it.]

Technology transfer deal: a clear mandate
In a separate agreement in Bali, parties to the Kyoto protocol agreed to be fully guided by the IPCC's recommendations in setting a second round of commitments by 2009 (which suggests those 40% GHG reductions by 2020 will be implemented in due course - a matter of watch that space). It is intended for the two tracks - the Bali road-map and Kyoto - eventually to merge. A review of the protocol, which will focus also on how to enhance carbon markets, was also launched.

One deal was reached that can be considered the most significant milestone yet on the road towards a new global climate agreement for the post-2012 period. Agreement was reached on a text setting out how the industrialised world should transfer technology to developing countries. The text must still be rubber-stamped by ministers, but no problems are foreseen since it has been agreed by officials representing all parties.

The deal should create a new entity dedicated to technology transfer under the Global Environment Facility (GEF), a fund that supports environmental projects in developing countries. It is not clear whether funding will come from elsewhere within the GEF or from outside.

An expert group will analyse current and potential funding sources for a wish list of developing country technology transfer-related demands, with a view to filling gaps and developing new financing tools if necessary. It must report back by 2010.
Performance indicators for technology transfer will be developed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Power Down: London's Carbon Neutral Night of Music

Now here's a thing - a carbon neutral music night, and not a carbon offset in sight. Instead, only natural acoustics, candlelight and organic booze (unrefrigerated of course - but that's not a problem as it's so cold outside anyway). Sounds delightful, rather romantic and, well, rather unusual.

But wait - is that a negative factor? I don't think so. Infact, it's all been rather well thought through - and such is it's success that it's now onto it's third outing. There's a serious message behind it all. Power Down strives to make fundamental changes in the way events are organised and run, without using off-setting services. Instead energy conservation and efficiency are the name of the game. When you enter into a space that is lit by candlelight and listen to music without the usual array of stage amplification, whilst supping Buddles organic beer that is thankfully cold due to being stored outside, it does make you stop and pause for thought. It can be done - and Power Down is doing it with the lightest of carbon footprint. No acoustic guitars here, thank you very much (how very last century they are).

Even the candles are made from recycled materials. Second hand vegetable oil from a local fish and chip shop has been mixed with unused wax from redundant candles to make new candles. No worries, the fishy smell has long gone (and anyway Islington chippies tend to be rather pucker affairs).

So, go along and have your preconceptions challenged - Power Down aims to bring a large array of genres to an open minded audience, from Hip-Hop, to Jazz, to Pop, to yes, Folk. There is no reason why all of these different art forms, as dependent on electricity and modern computing as they seem, cannot be stripped bare to their acoustic core. Present a musician with this task, and let's see the result. Who knows what it will sound like. Hopefully it will be intimate, intense and enlightening from the lack of barriers between the audience and the artist, air being the only remaining medium.

When: Saturday, 15th December
Where: the Islington Arts Factory, 2 Parkhurst Rd, Holloway, N7 0SF

Oh, and there will be mistletoe. With lots of dark corners, who knows what the night may bring....


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Climate Change March

'Tis the season of goodwill and festive cheer - and there was much of that to bouy our hardcore lineup of protestors marching from Millbank outside the Houses of Parliament up to Grosvenor Square. So what that it rained? Ach, but why didn't I think to wear wellies?

Soggy feet aside, rousing speeches were given by Michael Meacher, Phil Thornhill, Caroline Lucas and more. All head nodding stuff - yes, we need to cut emmissions, this government needs to support microgeneration, introduce feed-in-tariffs (and if they don't the Tories will), give teeth to the Climate Change Bill. What is needed is action, not just aspiration. Yes, we cheered.

The best speaker, however, was left to the last. By which time any meaningful connection with my feet had been lost. But suddenly it didn't matter. George Monbiot took to the podium and gave a compelling thought-piece on capitalism and the need for individual action. Politically, little is taking shape, he says. The Bali talks promise little more than a tinkering at the edges - and I tend to agree with him. Where goverments fail, the movement for change must come from below, from grass-roots community and individual action. Monbiot proffers a different vision of how we need to live, in a world where we need to live with less.

Each time I hear him speak is somewhat akin to soaking up a compelling read, and each time I am left hungry for the next chapter. So much has evolved in the past year alone that it is said Monbiot is to revise his book Heat. This is also a man who is not afraid to let his own thoughts evolve as his own knowledge grows. If his spoken word is anything to go by, it promises to be one of the most significant books of our time.

  • Global Climate Campaign

  • Campaign Against Climate Change

    [top three photos by Andrew Steele, bottom photo from Marmaduke Dando - with thanks]
  • Friday, December 07, 2007