Author Archives: Sharyn Stein

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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EPA Declares Greenhouse Gas Pollution a Health Hazard

The Environmental Protection Agency officially announced today that greenhouse gases are a danger to human health.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson made the announcement at a news conference this afternoon. The statement finalizes an initial "endangerment finding" made last April, and sets the stage for U.S. action at home as officials from across the world gather in Copenhagen to forge an international solution to global warming.

The EPA news release and video from the news conference are now up on agency's web site.

Environmental Defense Fund president Fred Krupp praised the decision, saying:

The danger of global warming pollution is clear and present, the solutions are at hand, and the time for action is now. It’s time for Congress to finish its work on U.S. legislation to cap and reduce the 19 million tons of heat-trapping pollution we emit every day. American leadership on climate change will strengthen our security, wean us off of foreign oil, and ensure that America wins the race to clean energy innovation in the global market place.

You can read more about the issue in EDF’s full statement.

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Recommended Reading: Good Op-Ed About Copenhagen

If you're following the Copenhagen climate talks and you're looking for some interesting reading, we recommend Paul Krugman's latest op-ed in the New York Times, "An Affordable Truth". In Krugman's words:

If things go well in Copenhagen, the usual suspects will go wild. We’ll hear cries … that climate-change policies will destroy jobs and growth.  The truth, however, is that cutting greenhouse gas emissions is affordable as well as essential.

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New Date for Obama's Copenhagen Trip

The White House just announced an updated schedule for President Obama's trip to the international climate change talks in Copenhagen.

The President will now go to Copenhagen on December 18th. That means he'll be there for the final day of negotiations – and will have a chance to ensure the talks make progress toward an effective treaty that can be negotiated and adopted after Senate action on a bill to cap U.S. carbon pollution.

AP says the President is:

.. hoping to capitalize on steps by India and China and build a more meaningful political accord.

The Chicago Tribune's The Swamp, meanwhile, says the White House decision:

… immediately raises expectations anew for some type of climate agreement to result from the talks.

Here's the official White House statement in full.

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