EDF Talks Global Climate

Two New Polls on Global Warming

Two new polls released today have some good news for the fight against climate change.

First, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll:

A solid majority of Americans support the idea of a global treaty that would require the United States to reduce significantly greenhouse gas emissions.

The poll found that:

  • 55 percent endorse a binding accord to limit greenhouse gases
  • Two-thirds (66 percent) of young people ages 18 to 29 support an accord

USA Today says the results should provide some encouragement for President Obama as he gets ready for his trip to Copenhagen.

A separate Associated Press-Stanford University poll finds that most Americans think fighting climate change will be good for our economy.

  • 40 percent say U.S. action to slow global warming will create jobs
  • 46 percent say it would boost the economy.
  • Less than one third say it will hurt the economy or result in fewer jobs

AP calls it:

A sign the public is showing more faith in President Barack Obama’s economic arguments for limiting heat-trapping gases than in Republican claims that the actions would kill jobs.

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Out in the Cold for Global Warming

Thousands of climate advocates from around the world flocked to Copenhagen over the weekend to attend the second week of the UN’s international summit on climate change.

They got a chilly reception.

EDF President Fred Krupp and Media Director Tony Kreindler brave the long lines to get into the conference center for the UN’s climate change

EDF President Fred Krupp and Media Director Tony Kreindler brave the long lines to get into the conference center for the UN’s climate change conference

The summit was so overbooked that the UN and/or Danish security couldn’t handle registration (each side was blaming the other for the confusion).  The problem, according to the UN, is that the number of people who registered is more than three times the number permitted in the conference center.

Conference participants – including half-a-dozen EDF staff – were stuck outside in the cold and snow flurries for six hours or more; some registered observers never got in at all.

Our compassionate co-workers brought us food, hot tea, and warm socks from inside the conference center, and passed them to us over the security gates and through the crowd.  Fortunately our stubbornness paid off,  and most of us eventually got inside.

On a positive note, we did get to talk with other stranded environmental leaders like Frances Beinecke of NRDC, and make new friends in the crowd of those stuck out in the cold — a crowd that included print reporters and crews for BBC, CNN and Australian TV.

The situation didn’t sit so well with reporters. Check out these stories from Time magazine, the Wall Street Journal and Science News.

In spite of the difficulties, we’re glad the fight against climate change has become so popular.  We’re even more pleased to be thawing out inside the conference center, and to be getting back to work toward a productive outcome.

But by the end of the week, we may be looking back at today fondly, because at least we got inside the conference center.  Starting tomorrow, the UN will begin imposing its own “declining cap” on NGO observers. As the heads of state arrive, available slots will decline from tens of thousands today, to seven thousand tomorrow, to 90 on Friday.   Stay tuned; we’ll let you know how it goes.

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EDF in the News: Today’s Copenhagen Roundup

EDF’s presence at Copenhagen is getting a lot of media attention. Check out some of the stories that quote our experts:

The Financial Times writes about carbon trading, and talks to EDF’s Jennifer Haverkamp about ways to fund cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Jennifer says:

Any treaty must be adequately financed, and since the the bulk of climate finance will flow through the private sector, it’s crucial that carbon markets work.

When the climate talks hit a snag because of objections from the African delegation, the New York Times talked to EDF’s Gus Silva-Chavez:

On the one hand, people expected it. But they didn’t expect it to be such a red line. You’re shutting down the negotiations two days before the ministers start their jobs. This is going to anger a lot of developed countries.

Later, when developing countries ended their boycott of the climate talks, Gus spoke again — this time to the Associated Press.

And EDF’s Steve Schwartzman talked to the San Diego Union Tribune about deforestation, the growing “subnational” movement, and the efforts of the governors of the nine Amazon states to fight climate change. As Steve points out:

Once you start looking at the forest as an asset, deforestation becomes a liability.

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Dueling Op-Eds on Copenhagen

Let’s start with the good news first: Environmental Defense Fund president Fred Krupp wrote an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal outlining the need for the Copenhagen talks to make progress toward an effective verification and compliance system in a final agreement.

Fred says:

The road to a serious global agreement goes through the U.S. Congress… The task, then, for U.S. negotiators and their counterparts, is to focus on establishing the fundamental building blocks for an effective treaty that can be finalized in 2010.

He then lists those building blocks as:

  • Inclusiveness
  • Financing
  • Verifiability and compliance

Read the whole piece for insight into each point.

Now the bad news: Sarah Palin wrote an op-ed in today’s Washington Post that purports to be about Copenhagen, but really just rehashes “climate-gate.” The piece tries to paint global warming as purely political issue and dismisses the underlying science. Read at your own risk. Media Matters has posted a thorough fact-check of the piece.

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Copenhagen Controversy: “Danish Text” Stirs the Pot

Climate delegates in Copenhagen are buzzing about a leaked proposal from the Danish contingent.

The document, now being referred to as the Danish text, is a draft for a political agreement on climate change. It was leaked to the Guardian newspaper, which says it was written by delegates for a handful of developed countries including Denmark, the United Kingdom and the U.S.

Developing countries are reportedly furious because the text calls for them to take far more action to reduce global warming emissions than the Kyoto protocal did.  According to the Guardian, developing nations say the text is biased against them, and they object to its being created without their input.

But others, including delegates for Environmental Defense Fund, point out that any draft document is only a starting point for negotiations.

According to EDF’s climate specialist Gus Silva-Chavez:

It is far better to start with a strong proposal in the first few days then to start negotiations on something that has already been watered down. The leaked document clearly shows ambition, although there are clearly areas that are vague or need improvement, like the parts about compliance. It reflects a clear desire from the Danes to reduce global emissions as soon as possible, and with efforts from both developed and developing countries.

A counter proposal from the BASIC countries is expected to be announced today or tomorrow.  That could help quell fears, reported in the Guardian, that the Danish text will be ramrodded through the treaty negotiations.

Gus will continue watching the situation, and we’ll post updates as it unfolds.

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2000’s Were Warmest Decade on Record

The past decade was the warmest on record, according to a new analysis unveiled today at the international climate change summit in Copenhagen.

The World Meteorological Association held a news conference in Copenhagen to announce a provisional summary of their study.

They found that the overall global warming trend is continuing and shows no signs of stopping. The data shows our current decade is likely to be the warmest in the past 150 years, and:

  • The decade of the 2000s (2000–2009) was warmer than the decade spanning the 1990s (1990–1999), which in turn was warmer than the 1980s (1980–1989)

Among their other findings:

  • 2009 is likely to rank as the fifth warmest year worldwide since we started keeping records in 1850.
  • Large parts of southern Asia and central Africa are likely to have the warmest year on record.
  • Above-normal temperatures were recorded in most parts of the continents this year.
  • Only North America (United States and Canada) experienced conditions that were cooler than average.
  • This year, Arctic sea ice extent during the melt season ranked the third lowest, after the lowest and second-lowest records set in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

The final figures will be published in March 2010.

The New York Times has a good article on the subject if you want to read more.

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