December In Copenhagen

Published: Monday 30 November 2009

-- US climate bill clears one hurdle
Unlikely to pass before Copenhagen

Down to Earth UNDER pressure to not show up empty-handed at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen (December 6-18), US President Barack Obama has been pushing a climate bill. His efforts ran aground on November 3 when Republican senators refused to debate the draft bill, saying it would impose a financial burden on industry. Democrat senator Nancy Boxer, a bill sponsor, ignored the Republican boycott and passed the bill on the basis of Democrat votes alone. The bill still faces a rough ride as most Republicans and some Democrats remain opposed. Analysts say a final vote is unlikely until 2010. The bill aims to reduce the countrys greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent over 2005 levels by 2020. The cuts are less than what climate scientists say are needed to avert a temperature rise of 2oC and less ambitious than what developing nations are asking of industrialized countries.

Lets seal a political deal
EU changes its stand

fearing that a comprehensive climate deal may not be reached at Copenhagen in December, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasm-ussen told a parliamentarians forum on October 24 that world leaders, instead, could make binding political commitments.

His words were interpreted as creating room for a treaty based on national pledges, rather than internationally-negotiated targets. So far, EU nations had refrained from endorsing this position.

Rasmussen has one ally in his bid for a political deal Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin. On November 2, he flew to Moscow and announced Putins support. The Russian leader echoed Rasmussens call for all countries to be included in a new climate deal and said the Copenhagen talks should lead to a binding political document. The leaders though stayed silent on the subjects of emission reduction targets and the commitments they expect from rapidly developing countries such as India and China. Putin simply said the deal must be signed by the biggest pollutersthat is, the major economies of the world.

In the current round of negotiations, Russia has a substantial interest in regulations around forestry its Siberian forests offer huge opportunities for carbon sequestration. In Moscow, Putin said he hoped these opportunities would be accounted for in a new climate deal. Environmental scientist Bill Hare at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany is sceptical. Russ-ias forest records are full of inaccuracies, he said, which means sequestration data would remain iffy without external verification.

Nepal cabinet to meet at Everest base
Ahead of Copenhagen

Two weeks after Maldives cabinet conferred under-water to highlight the impact of global warming, Nepals cabinet said it would meet at Namche Bazaar, the base camp of Mount Everest, in early December to draw worlds attention to the problem of rapidly melting Himalayan glaciers. The cabinet members would be flown the base camp at an altitude of 5,300 metres by helicopter. Nepals greenhouse gas emissions are among the worlds lowest.

CPI(M) warns against policy shift
Aligns with G77+China

Down to Earth The cpi(m) central committee passed a resolution in early November saying it wont accept any change in Indias original position on climate change unless the Parliament ratifies it. It also warned against compromises on the historical responsibility of rich nations in tackling the crisis. The resolution aligns cpi (m) with the G77 and China group as it states any deviation from the spirit of Kyoto protocol will compromise Indias relationship with rest of the developing world. It critiques Indias national action plan on climate change for being silent on redistributing energy access between the rich and the poor within the country though it prescribes equity in global negotiations.

World marks climate action day Green groups, scientists and students organized over 5,000 events across 180 countries to mark the international day of climate action on October 24. The aim was to build pressure on politicians to act on climate change. Number 350 was at the centre of the events. The number is significant as the atmosphere can safely hold 350 parts per million (ppm) CO2; its current level is 390 ppm.

Fired for climate A belief in climate change is similar to religious belief, and entitled to the same legal protections, said a ruling by UKs employment appeal tribunal. The tribunal was hearing a case filed by Tim Nicholson who claimed he was wrongfully fired from Grainger PLC, UKs biggest estate agency, because the company chief executive disagreed with his views on climate change.

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