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May 17, 2009 / Mridul

Economic Crisis A Hurdle In Climate Change Treaty Negotiations

Lack of credit supply in world markets, high unemployment rates and plummeting economic growth rates are keeping nations from taking bold measures to protect the environment, noted the Swedish environment minister Andreas Carlgren.

Countries around the world are worried that financially intensive schemes to protect environment could take away the much needed financial resources from the core and growth driving sectors of their economies. Putting restrictions on manufacturing and public utilities could not only slow down any economic recovery but also put extra burden on the common people who are already facing problems of reduced incomes and lost jobs. 

European Union has been the most aggressive in setting ambitious renewable energy and emission reduction goals but some of its own members are in poor economic state to commit to any kind of emission targets. Poland has made it clear that it will not give up its right to use indigenous coal reserves in order to power its economic growth. Read more…

May 7, 2009 / Mridul

India: US Should Aim At Reducing Carbon Emissions By 40%

India’s climate change envoy Shyam Saran has said that his country would like the United States to set ‘high-end’ emission reduction goals. Leading the Indian delegation into a gathering of largest polluting nations in Washington, Saran said that United States should aim to emissions targets between 25 to 40 percent.

In comparison, President Obama has called for a 14 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 while the European Union has set a 20 percent reduction target. China and India, world’s largest and third largest polluters respectively, have set no reduction targets and are not expected to agree to even lower targets at the Copenhagen meeting to discuss the next climate treaty.

Calls for the United States to recognize its historical responsibility and take bold actions to reduce its carbon emissions have risen significantly in recent times. Countries around the world have realized that President Obama intends to go the extra mile as far as environmental and climate change reforms are concerned and they various governments are pressing the Obama administration to transform his promises into real actions.

Secondly, there have been calls, especially by the EU, that India and China agree to some kind of emission reduction. It has proposed that advanced developing countries should agree to implement less stricter targets than the developed countries but they must exhibit the intent to act on the issue of rising carbon emissions from their industries. Read more…

May 2, 2009 / Mridul

How About a Global Carbon Labelling Law?

The Copenhagen round of talks aimed at building a consensus about the features of the next climate treaty is scheduled to take place this December however, there seem to be no signs of consensus over how the world should proceed to reduce its carbon emissions. Which tool would be most effective? Clean Development Mechanism, a global carbon tax or maybe a global carbon labelling law?

Clean Development Mechanism has been tried, tested and, well, has been branded somewhat ineffective by not only the people outside the system but the people who are actually a part of it, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Bureaucratic delays, procedural wrongdoings in approval of projects and failure to make any difference at the grass-root level are some of the well known problems with this scheme.

The European Union has proposed that the CDM be replaced by a global carbon tax. United States saw a national carbon tax bill introduced in the Congress. The bill calls for levying an ‘carbon equivalency fee’ on imported products, in addition to the nationwide carbon tax in order to neutralize the losses incurred by domestic manufacturers. China has opposed this move saying that the developed countries are in part responsible for the emissions as they are the end users. Read more…

March 25, 2009 / Mridul

China Tries to Censor EIA Report of Proposed Oil Refinery in Environmentally Sensitive Area

Hongkong-Nansha

proposed oil refinery project north of Hong Kong has ran into trouble after acquisitions that the government kept the administration in Hong Kong out of the discussion about the potential negative environmental impacts of the project. The episode highlights the weak EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) regulations in China.

The proposed $5 billion refinery-cum-storage facility, which is to be build in the Nansha district of the Guangdong province, would be one of the largest in Asia and is a collaborative project of Sinopec and the Kuwait Oil Company. According to media reports, the EIA report has not been made public and there has been no public discussion and scrutiny of the project (and the proposed alternatives) and its environmental impacts.

It is understood that the authorities have also directed website managers across China to block any attempts to discuss the environmental impacts of the project on the Internet. Following is the translation of the message sent to various Chinese news websitesRead more…

March 23, 2009 / Mridul

China Opposes US Plans to Levy Carbon Tax on Imported Goods

co2-emissions

With fears of being pressurized to agree to mandatory emissions cuts under the new climate treaty, China has up the ante and is looking to hit back at the developed countries by holding them accountable for a size-able portion of its carbon emissions. According to a recent study, 15 to 25 percent of China’s carbon emissions originate from manufacturing of goods exported to developed countries.

The Director of China’s Climate Change department, Gao Li,  has said that since the western countries are these final users of the carbon intensive products they should share the responsibility for the same with the Chinese government. Mr. Li also said that sharing equal responsibility was essential to reach any fair agreement over reducing the carbon emissions.

These statements came almost a week after a carbon tax bill was introduced in the US Congresswhich called for levying an ‘carbon equivalency fee’ on imported products, in addition to the nationwide carbon tax in order to neutralize the losses incurred by domestic manufacturers. The bill, if passed, would also allow the US government to withhold revenue generated from the equivalence fee till the time the producer nation agrees to a domestic carbon tax of its own.  Read more…

March 18, 2009 / Mridul

US to Have a National Climate Registry; Will India & China Follow?

Environment Protection Agency has announced that the US government would maintain a registry of all carbon emissions produced from some 13,000 high polluting industries. Companies emitting more than 25,000 metric tonnes of carbon emissions yearly will be required to report to this registry.

The plan to have a climate registry has been doing the rounds since 2007 and although a Climate Registry exists covering various American, Canadian and Mexican states, this would be much broader and mandatory in nature. Terming the decision as ‘critical step towards protection of health and environment’, the  that emissions data is essential in order to tackle the problem of climate change. The registry would require the companies to report their methane emissions also, another major greenhouse gas. 

United States is not bound by any international treaty to maintain a national climate registry unlike the Annex 1 countries under the Kyoto Protocol. Under the Kyoto Protocol, the developed nations (which ratified the treaty) were mandated to create and maintain an annual climate registry so as to monitor any increase or decrease in the carbon emissions and to determine, on the basis of tonnes of emissions, the number of emission allowances and carbon credits the countries (or the companies) are entitled to. The United States is a signatory to the treaty but has not ratified the same. Read more…