Copenhagen: China and India torpedoed the talks


Ramesh: priorities right

Probably because they’re both more interested in raising millions of their own populations out of a miserable life of poverty rather than flushing trillions of dollars down the toilet on pointless efforts to “tackle climate change”, which, as any fule kno, will change nothing about the climate.

India has confirmed it worked with China and other emerging nations to ensure there were no legally binding targets from the Copenhagen climate talks.

Facing parliament for the first time since the UN talks last weekend in the Danish capital, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said India had “come out quite well in Copenhagen”.

He listed what he said were a series of accomplishments, including the thwarting of moves to impose binding targets for global reductions in carbon emissions – something India has always rejected.

“We can be satisfied that we were able to get our way on this issue,” declared Mr Ramesh, who has consistently said India would be one of the countries hardest hit by climate change.

Well done. At least some countries have got their priorities right.

Read it here.

Copenhagen: Rudd's same old story on ETS


Did it happen?

It’s as if the disaster that was Copenhagen never happened. Kevin Rudd has vowed to press on with the ETS exactly as before, same targets, same timetable, despite the fact that Copenhagen achieved virtually nothing. Finally speaking publicly for the first time since his return from No-Hopenhagen, the rhetoric is unchanged:

KEVIN Rudd has ruled out any change in the government’s emission-reduction targets as business exploits the uncertainty following the Copenhagen conference to press for a review of Labor’s climate change strategy.

The Prime Minister declared there was no way the government would agree to a target for cuts in excess of 25 per cent, as the Greens had been urging.

“Australia will do no more and no less than the rest of the world,” he said.

Mr Rudd said the government would stick to its target of reducing emissions by a minimum of 5 per cent by 2020, with the possibility of the target being increased to between 15 and 25 per cent depending upon what action other nations take.

He blamed opposition from developing countries for the failure of the Copenhagen talks to reach a comprehensive agreement, although he declined to specifically criticise the Chinese.

He said the final deal at Copenhagen had, for the first time, set a target of reducing world temperatures by 2C, which all nations said they would aim to achieve, with an agreed system of national and international monitoring. (source)

Not only that, but AGL has labelled the administration of the other plank of the emissions reduction plan, the renewable energy target, a “fraud”:

AGL threatened not to invest in alternative energy forms until the Government addressed a collapse in the price of certificates designed to encourage investment.

The threat highlights the risks hanging over $30 billion of expected investment needed to reach a target of obtaining 20 per cent of power from renewable sources by 2020.

The managing director of AGL, Michael Fraser, said the Government’s approach was a fraud that threatened the industry’s ability to meet the target.

To encourage investment, energy companies receive renewable energy certificates in return for building green power stations. But the value of these certificates has almost halved, from near $60 to about $30 since the Government began issuing them to consumers who install solar hot water systems and other products that do not generate power.

Because of the price fall, Mr Fraser said, plans to build the $800 million Macarthur wind farm in Victoria were under enormous pressure. The project is expected to create 500 jobs during construction and Mr Fraser said up to seven other wind farms being considered were also under threat.

The only new wind farms AGL would definitely build were those required under contracts to supply power to desalination plants for the Victorian and South Australian governments.

”Beyond that, you simply won’t see us invest until this issue gets resolved,” Mr Fraser said. (source)

Ouch. And the Copenhagen blame game is really in full swing, especially in The Guardian, under the headline “How do I know China wrecked the Copenhagen deal? I was in the room”:

Copenhagen was a disaster. That much is agreed. But the truth about what actually happened is in danger of being lost amid the spin and inevitable mutual recriminations. The truth is this: China wrecked the talks, intentionally humiliated Barack Obama, and insisted on an awful “deal” so western leaders would walk away carrying the blame. How do I know this? Because I was in the room and saw it happen.

China’s strategy was simple: block the open negotiations for two weeks, and then ensure that the closed-door deal made it look as if the west had failed the world’s poor once again. And sure enough, the aid agencies, civil society movements and environmental groups all took the bait. The failure was “the inevitable result of rich countries refusing adequately and fairly to shoulder their overwhelming responsibility”, said Christian Aid. “Rich countries have bullied developing nations,” fumed Friends of the Earth International.

All very predictable, but the complete opposite of the truth. (source)

Setting things up nicely for even less progress in 2010.

Copenhagen: more blame and recrimination


Blame game

I suppose it was inevitable that after the disastrous Copenhagen summit, the key players would start shifting blame around to absolve themselves from any responsibility. Such a joy to behold:

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has accused a handful of countries of holding the UN climate summit to ransom as bitter recriminations swirled over the outcome of the negotiations.

While China’s Premier Wen Jiabao insisted his government had played an “important and constructive” role, Britain said the meeting had lurched into farce and pointed the finger of blame at Beijing.

And the summit host, Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, rapped the lower-level negotiators for failing to make headway in nearly two weeks of talks and then leaving their masters with too much to do at the climax.

Brown said lessons must be learned.

“Never again should we face the deadlock that threatened to pull down those talks. Never again should we let a global deal to move towards a greener future be held to ransom by only a handful of countries,” he said.

While Brown refrained from naming countries, his climate change minister Ed Miliband said China had led a group of countries that “hijacked” the negotiations which had at times presented “a farcical picture to the public”.

Copenhagen has certainly provided plenty of entertainment! Long may it continue.

Read it here.

Rudd's ETS quandary


A bit like the ETS

Thanks to the weak-as-water outcome from Copenhagen, the ETS is sunk. Kevin Rudd’s desire to arrive at Copenhagen with a trophy has scuppered any possible chance of the two errors in four words “Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme”. Just think about it for a minute. If Rudd had not been so stubborn and vain, and agreed to wait until after Copenhagen to try to pass the ETS, Malcolm Turnbull would still be leader of the Opposition (god help us), and there would have been bipartisan support for it. Rudd may have been able to get it through after Copenhagen with Turnbull onside.

But now? No chance. With Tony Abbott at the helm, the Coalition wouldn’t pass it in a billion years, and the only option for the government is to accede to the wishes of the Greens, who are now arguing for 25% – 40% cuts by 2020:

The federal government should start negotiating with the Australian Greens if it wants parliament to pass its plan to tackle climate change, party leader Bob Brown says.

Despite the Copenhagen summit’s failure to deliver strong cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, Labor maintains it will re-introduce legislation setting up its carbon pollution reduction scheme (CPRS), or emissions trading scheme, to the lower house in February.

The Greens want to see Labor’s ETS include a 25 to 40 per cent target, which Senator Brown said would help the government fulfil its international obligation.

“They have to now move to targets that would keep global warming below two degrees, and that is where the Greens have been aiming,” he said. (source)

What international obligation is that, Bob? Remember, Copenhagen resulted in no international obligations – just a wish list, that the US and China have probably already forgotten about. As Terry McCrann says, 40% is really 60% per capita by the time you get to 2020, which would send Australia’s economy back to the Dark Ages, which is what we must assume the Greens want for the Australian people. Because people are very low on the Greens’ list of priorities.

It would be suicidal for Rudd to climb into bed with the Greens on this, so he’ll just have to get used to it: the ETS is sunk.

UPDATE: Not surprisingly, Penny Wong has already ruled out any deal with the Greens:

“The reality is that the Greens have taken a position, in relation to targets, that the Government was not able to negotiate on,” Senator Wong said.

“They indicated they did not wish to have a negotiation unless the Government was prepared to put targets of 25 to 40 per cent on the table. That is not the Government’s policy, that is not the Government’s position.

“We don’t believe that is a responsible way forward.” (source)

Where's Ruddy?


Dead ringer

You would have thought that Kevin Rudd, after the “triumph” of Copenhagen, would be bursting to bore the Australian public rigid about the amazing, “historic,” “unprecedented,” [insert fifteen more adjectives here] deal struck and how it’s now full steam ahead for an ETS in February because the rest of the world is committed to doing the same… hang on, that’s not quite right. Unsurprisingly, Kevin has holed up in Kirribilli because his spin-meisters haven’t yet worked out the script. Tony Abbott makes hay:

“You were the one who built Copenhagen up. You were the one who was a friend of the chair. You were the one who was the co-author of the rejected documents. You need to explain yourself.

“Having come back from Copenhagen, instead of explaning the outcome to the Australian people, he is in hiding in Kirribilli House. Now I say to Mr Rudd do the right thing by the Australian people, come out of hiding, don’t closet yourself in Kirribilli House, don’t send out Penny Wong and Kate Lundy and all these other millions to explain the disappointing outcome of Copenhagen – do it yourself.

“I think the public are reacting against the way the government is conducting this debate in these sweeping, moral terms, I mean in the end the debate over how we respond to climate change should be based on fact not faith.

“This is not a theological question, it’s a practical question and I think Mr Rudd risks triggering a very serious backlash from public if he keeps running around like Torquemada – trying to have climate change heretics burnt at the stake.”

Brilliant stuff. More of the same, please.

Read it here (and listen too!)

Post-Copenhagen civil disobedience starts already…


Smash the State

Let’s hope this isn’t a sign of things to come. The first protest in response to the outcome of Copenhagen:

Environmentalists have chained themselves to a coal train and rail tracks in Newcastle in protest against the outcome of Copenhagen’s climate talks.

The 25 activists marched onto the tracks at the Kooragang coal export terminal about 9am (AEDT) on Sunday, stopping a train and occupying a bridge.

The action, organised by the environmental group Rising Tide, aims to shut down coal exports from Newcastle, the world’s busiest coal terminal.

Spokesman for the group Steve Phillips said the protest is an act of desperation after the UN climate talks in Copenhagen failed to produce a just, effective and legally binding treaty.

“The US, Australia and other wealthy countries wrecked the talks,” Mr Phillips told AAP.

“People are tired of seeing our leaders fail to address to problem of climate change – we want to undertake bold and long-lasting action.”

For some reason, some people, believing themselves to be on a crusade to save the planet, think that democracy just isn’t good enough. Throw away the key.

Read it here.

Copenhagen: the recriminations begin


Backstabbing begins

The back-stabbing kicks off with our own Penny Wong blaming “radical nations” for refusing to back the Obama deal:

Australia’s Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, has criticised the critics.

“There are a few radical nations, a few radical states seeking to block action on climate change internationally, seeking to derail this process,” she said.

Many said the deal fell far short of UN ambitions, but Senator Wong welcomed the outcome of the talks. [That's cognitive dissonance for you - Ed]

“Of course there is a lot to do,” she said.

“Of course we would have wanted more, but this is a significant step and what is important now is pressing on.”

Pressing on? How about switching off? I am so over Copenhagen… roll on Christmas.

Read it here.

Copenhagen: the aftermath


The aftermath

The general reaction has been “a lot of hot air”, which just about sums it up:

GLOBAL leaders went to Copenhagen to save the world but used the final hours to desperately try and save face.

A “frustrated” Prime Minister Kevin Rudd last night joined US President Barack Obama in putting the most positive spin on the outcome of the conference, but the final “deal” was condemned across the political spectrum.

Poor countries and green groups were outraged by the three-page “political statement” brokered by Mr Obama – and four other national leaders – in the dying hours.

Mr Obama called the outline of the agreement – yet to be endorsed by most other countries last night – a “meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough”, but admitted “this progress is not enough”. (source)

Rightly, Tony Abbott lays into Kevin Rudd’s self-serving agenda on the ETS:

The Opposition Leader, who argues Australia should delay a domestic carbon emissions trading scheme (ETS) until a substantive agreement has been struck at a global level, said: ”Copenhagen, it seems, has been a very Kevin Rudd kind of agreement. There’s been a lot of words but not many deeds come out of it.”

Mr Abbott said the draft accord was more ”good intentions”, but said it was better than no agreement at all on climate change.

He said Mr Rudd had been wrong to rush the Government’s climate change policy through Parliament. It was shot down in the Senate.

”I hope that he’ll now entirely reconsider his climate change policy,” he said.

Mr Abbott attacked Mr Rudd’s belief he may have been able to influence the outcome of an agreement struck at Copenhagen. ”I think that it was always a great conceit to think that Australia could save the world on its own,’‘ he said.

”The Australian voice should be heard in the world but I think it’s wrong for people like Mr Rudd to imagine that they can be much more than the mouse that roared.” (source)

And the Greens, clearly deranged, want Australia to commit to even deeper cuts, despite Copenhagen achieving nothing on a global scale:

The Greens have demanded that Kevin Rudd commits Australia to a 40 per cent cut in emissions by 2020 despite the failure of the Copenhagen summit to set emissions targets.

A deal struck by world leaders at the climate change summit in Copenhagen includes a global warming limit of two degrees well short of demands from island nations.

Greens leader Bob Brown says the emissions trading bills rejected by the Senate earlier this year allow warming of four degrees. [Actually, Bob, they allow whatever warming or cooling the planet feels like, because nothing Australia does will make any difference to the climate - Ed]

Senator Brown says Mr Rudd should now negotiate with the Greens so his Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is reset to keep warming at no more than 1.5 degrees. (source)

Australia’s 1.5% of global emissions determines the fate of the planet. Truly insane! Just think what a 40% emissions cut by 2020 would do to – it would be the end of our economy – oh, hang on, that’s what the Greens want, isn’t it?

At least Piers Ackerman delivers some climate sense:

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who sought to attain some semblance of world statesmanship as a “friend of the chair” appointed by host, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, again demonstrated his lack of diplomatic negotiating skills as conferees failed to agree to a meaningful conclusion.

Fortunately, Rudd’s attempts to scare Australians into supporting an untested emissions trading system in advance of the failed conference were derailed by a new and reinvigorated Opposition, under Tony Abbott, at the eleventh hour.

Had Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to go along with the Labor Party succeeded, Australia would now be suffering under a new tax scheme that would have ensured the collapse of industries fundamental to the economy.

The collapse at Copenhagen into a weak, almost meaningless morass of platitudes and “legally non-binding” (how’s that for humbug?) agreement with no firm limits on emissions provided real-time proof of the inability of the United Nations to organise, let alone operate, anything.That Australia sent more than 100 people to Copenhagen to participate in this gabfest only to return with a piece of paper that reads like a drunk’s New Year’s resolution is an absolute disgrace. What’s more, the whole show will be repeated in Bonn in six months in another exercise of futility, fatuity and duplicity. (source)

Phew, sanity at last.

Copenhagen: summit ends without formal agreement


Finally over

It ends with a whimper, not a bang, as UN negotiators chose merely to “take note” of a US deal, as they were unable to secure the necessary agreement to formally adopt it. From The Washington Post:

The move came after a plan was dropped that would have paid developing countries to preserve their tropical forests in order to avert the release of greenhouse gases through deforestation.

That decision gutted one of the talks’ most meaningful outcomes, striking a blow to a coalition of poor countries and environmentalists that hoped to address a phenomenon that accounts for roughly 15 percent of the world’s annual carbon output. The program is known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, or REDD.

Negotiators had struggled throughout the early morning to overcome the objections of countries such as Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba and Sudan, who rejected the deal President Obama helped secure late Friday. They said the process of achieving the accord was undemocratic, and it failed to meaningfully address climate change.

That deal provided for monitoring domestic emission cuts but set no overall global target for cutting greenhouse gases and no deadline for reaching a formal international treaty.

The deal fell far short of even some low expectations for the summit, and left a comprehensive global battle plan for fighting climate change potentially years away. Although the agreement included some major players– China, India, Brazil and South Africa — it was not universally agreed upon by the 193 nations attending the summit, which some leaders left early Friday in apparent frustration. (source)

That’s it, I guess. There will be acres of comment in the media tomorrow, but it’s bed time here in Australia now!

Copenhagen: Obama threatens China with "eco-spying"


Whatever next!

Ouch:

The final accord is widely seen to have acquiesced to Chinese demands by agreeing that emissions can be measured domestically, as long as the results are reported to the rest of the world.

However, speaking later, Mr Obama gave a veiled warning that satellite technology could be used for what is likely to be termed “eco-spying” to ensure countries honoured their commitments.

“We can actually monitor what takes place through satellite imagery and so forth, so I think we are going to have a pretty good idea of what people are doing,” he said. He added that the deal could be successful if “there is a sense of moral obligation and information sharing so that people can see who’s serious and who’s not”.

Can’t imagine the Chinese will be too happy about that, BHO…

Read it here.

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