Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Problematic quotas and Climate-Gate

CI Head of Delegation at COP15, Rasmus Kjeldahl updates on Tuesday's proceedings in Copenhagen.

The size of the full strength CI delegation has meant information, rumours and ideas are now coming thick and fast. This has led to a slightly chaotic morning meeting and has clearly displayed the need to lay down a slightly tighter framework for our work in order to get the full benefit.

We are now fully immersed in the COP15 (the official name for the Copenhagen talks) universe, where it is key to quickly get on top of the abbreviations, lingo and insider jargon. This familiarity has bred some impatience and the CI delegation is keen to raise the CI profile at the conference venue and, in particular, have our positions presented to the negotiating delegations. We therefore decided to prepare a letter to the negotiating delegations about our consumer demands. The letter will be sent by Thursday, and I’ll report back on it later in the week.

Many consumer-relevant issues depend directly on the negotiations. For instance the introduction of tradable emissions quotas means that many consumers’ voluntary efforts to reduce the electricity consumption or buy climate-friendly power have no effect since it just leads to falling quota prices. As a result it becomes cheaper for industry to pollute. This probably never was the intention and we therefore need a system where consumers’ voluntary contributions directly reduce the total amount of emissions. Find out more about this in our position paper on consumer voluntary action on climate change.

All things considered there is cause to be sceptical about the quota systems as long as there is no political will to set ceilings at a level that puts real pressure on industry to reduce emissions. In the long term it is also unacceptable that the most energy-consuming industries get the quotas for free – it is exactly by increasing their costs that the consumption of their products could be reduced.

Among today’s events was a meeting under the auspices of the IPCC (Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change), to deal with the so-called Climate-Gate: emails hacked from scientists who apparently seek to suppress and edit data not supporting the theories behind global warming. The chair of the panel R.K. Pachauri made it convincingly clear that these emails were not evidence that data had been hidden or edited and that besides it was a very open process with hundreds of nominated scientists whose work was commented on by other experts and approved by governments. The IPCC had not been asked to make their own investigation of the matter, but saw it as a matter for the police. No doubt it was a publicity stunt carefully designed to poison the negotiations at COP15.

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