Friday, May 11, 2018

GWPF Newsletter: UN Climate Talks Fail To Reach Agreement On Paris Agreement








China Calls For Renegotiation Of Climate Deal

In this newsletter:

1) UN Climate Talks Fail To Reach Agreement On Paris Agreement; China Calls For Renegotiations
BBC News, 10 May 2018 
 
2) Nikki Haley: U.S. Rejects UN Global Pact For The Environment
Fox News, 9 May 2018


 
3) Secret UK Push To Weaken EU Climate Laws
The Guardian, 9 May 2018
 
4) Climate Hawk’s Stunning Fall From Grace Emboldens Climate Skeptics
E&E News, 9 May 2018
 
5) Report: Radical Environmentalism Could Kill Millions Of People In Poor Countries
Tim Pearce, Long Island News, 5 May 2018
 
6) US Shale Producers Battle To Meet Iran Shortfall
Financial Times, 10 May 2018 
 
7) Iran Sanctions Spell The End Of OPEC Output Deal
Reuters, 9 May 2018 


Full details:

1) UN Climate Talks Fail To Reach Agreement On Paris Agreement; China Calls For Renegotiations
BBC News, 10 May 2018 

By Matt McGrath

UN negotiations in Bonn are set to end in stalemate today as delegates have become bogged down in technical arguments about the Paris climate pact.

Poorer nations say they are fed up with foot dragging by richer countries on finance and carbon cutting commitments.

Some countries, led by China are now seeking to renegotiate key aspects of the Paris agreement.

An extra week of talks in September has been scheduled to try and get the process back on track.

The signing of the Paris climate agreement in 2015 was seen as a momentous achievement, but in retrospect doing the deal might have been the easy part.

In the intervening two and a half years, UN delegates have become increasingly stuck as they work through a welter of technical and accounting rules that will make the Paris pact operational in 2020.

Poorer countries have become frustrated by what they see as the cavalier attitude of the rich to the urgency of the problem of rising seas and devastating floods and storms.

"The developed world has to lead," Amjad Abdulla, the lead negotiator for the Maldives told BBC News.

"We have a huge void - the action (by rich countries) on cutting carbon before 2020 we haven't really fulfilled that - and we are already embarking on rules for post 2020, that's unfair."

Follow the money

Climate finance is almost always the root of some of the biggest arguments in this process. Here in Bonn the developing world have pressed hard to get commitments from the richer nations about a timetable for the monies to be delivered into the future.

For many delegates like Amjad Abdulla, this question of trust on finance is critical, not just in dealing with the impacts of climate change but in helping developing countries shoulder the burden of cutting emissions and moving to renewable energy.

"The developing world's commitments are unconditional but there are limitations, you have to face the reality, we are living in a limited world. If your hands are tied up there's no way you can move, you need to unlock and money is the key."

These frustrations have led China to try and renegotiate a fundamental aspect of the Paris deal - the idea that all nations, rich and poor alike, will take on commitments to cut carbon.

"The signals they have been giving here have not been really helpful and have on the contrary been quite negative," said Ulrikka Aarnio, an observer from campaigners, the Climate Action Network.

"There are a number of countries that need finance for mitigation, adaption and for impacts and China is part of that group and may want to support them. It may be a negotiation tactic at this point."

Resistance to change?

The Chinese idea that going "back to the future" might be best for developing countries has also shown itself in a dispute over what seems the relatively trivial issue of a name change. The UN proposed last year to alter the clumsy "UN Framework Convention on Climate Change" to the simpler 'UN Climate Change'.

This proposed new wording has caused upset among some delegates because it drops the word convention from the title.

Signed back in 1992, the Framework Convention divided the world into the rich who were obliged to cut their carbon and the poor who were free to continue using fossil fuels.

"Everything we have undertaken is under the Framework Convention. I don't think we are going to change that, it has to stay - the bedrock is the convention, the foundation is the convention. We are working, we are building on that. Changing that would be a very bad idea."

The slow progress here means that an extra session of talks has now been added to the calendar been for September to try and make progress before ministers gather in Poland for the crucial Conference of the Parties in Katowice in December.
 

2) Nikki Haley: U.S. Rejects UN Global Pact For The Environment
Fox News, 9 May 2018


A proposal for bringing international environmental law under one legally binding treaty at the United Nations will be up for a preliminary vote later this week at the U.N. General Assembly. The United States U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley tells Fox News in a statement that the U.S. won’t support the measure.



The Global Pact for the environment has the backing of French President Emmanuel Macron and the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, and is being sponsored by France at the world body. It seeks to consolidate what it calls the “fragmented nature of environmental law,” and “codify” it, and make it accessible to all citizens.

In a statement to Fox News, Haley said that, “When international bodies attempt to force America into vague environmental commitments, it’s a sure sign that American citizens and businesses will get stuck paying a large bill without getting large benefits. The proposed global compact is not in our interests, and we oppose it.”

First launched in Paris just weeks after President Trump took the U.S. out of the Paris agreement on climate change, the pact was drawn up by a group of 80 legal experts from 40 countries. At the opening event Macron was joined by the former Republican Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger, who offered his support to it, telling Agence France-Presse that the issue was not a political one. In September, Macron set out the goals of Global Pact at the United Nations. He said the framework would “establish rights, but also duties for mankind.”

Macron urged quick adoption in his speech, “I very strongly believe that the world is ready for this and that it’s our responsibility.” Guterres also gave his support to the pact at the meeting.

Marc Morano, publisher of Climate Depot, and author of the new book, “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change,” charged that, “This new global environmental pact will have more teeth and cover more aspects of human civilization than the U.N.-Paris climate pact. This new environmental pact is looking to be the U.N. Paris agreement on steroids because they are making it binding, and it appears even wider in scope.”

One United Nations diplomat told Fox News that, “the unknowing and uncertainty is what makes us so nervous, because you just never know where this can go and it could open up a Pandora’s Box.”

That Pandora’s Box, critics fear, includes fears over national sovereignty and new regulations and costs on businesses.

Full post
 

3) Secret UK Push To Weaken EU Climate Laws
The Guardian, 9 May 2018


A secret UK push to weaken key EU climate laws before Brexit risks scotching the bloc’s Paris commitments, MEPs say.

The EU has committed to a 20% cut in its energy use by 2020 to be achieved by two directives, covering energy efficiency and buildings.

But leaked documents seen by the Guardian show that Britain is pushing for its 2014-2020 timeline to be stretched backwards four years to count “early actions” taken that comply with the efficiency directive.

Any “excess energy savings” during the law’s writ would then be forwarded to the post-2020 period. MEPs have branded the plan “incomprehensible”.

Benedek Jávor, the vice chair of the European parliament’s environment committee, told the Guardian: “The UK’s proposal to widen ‘flexibilities’ is completely mad and undermines the principle of additionality, as well as the overall ambition of the energy efficiency directive.”

“This approach would risk failure in our efforts to reach even moderately ambitious overall targets, while the higher – and beneficial targets – that we need to strive for could become lost altogether.”

Full story
 

4) Climate Hawk’s Stunning Fall From Grace Emboldens Climate Skeptics
E&E News, 9 May 2018




Former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) (right) at a 2016 press conference with former Vice President Al Gore and other state attorneys general. New York attorney general

Ex-New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) was at the vanguard of the climate movement, heading legal and political fights against Trump administration attempts to weaken environmental regulations.

Schneiderman is also a pugnacious and media-savvy figure whose abrupt and stunning political fall this week after cringe-worthy sexual abuse allegations is an undeniable blow to climate hawks across the country. It may force them to reshuffle their tactics and, to a lesser extent, their priorities.

But as shocked, saddened and disgusted as climate activists are about Schneiderman, they are convinced that reinforcements are readily available and that the movement to defend environmental laws from legal and legislative attacks remains strong, even in the absence of a fallen leader.

“It should not have a significant impact,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D), another top environmentalist. “He was a leader, he was very energetic, and the New York attorney general’s office was fully engaged and I expect that that will continue. … Other [Democratic] AGs are also working these issues. If there’s any slack at all, one of us will pick it up — or all of us will collectively.”

Despite those fighting words, Schneiderman’s political foes are gleeful about — and feeling emboldened by — his demise.

In a statement yesterday, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who is chairwoman of the Republican Attorneys General Association, called Schneiderman “a disturbed monster” and a “sick man,” and suggested he ought to be prosecuted, or at least “held accountable,” for his alleged acts of violence against former girlfriends.

“A lot of climate skeptics are smiling at his downfall because he was an out-of-control, really wacky guy who held a lot of power,” said Marc Morano, who runs the blog Climate Depot.

Morano and his allies have been especially disdainful of the legal attempts Schneiderman led to hold Exxon Mobil Corp. and other oil companies accountable for global warming, calling him “the ultimate shakedown artist.”

“Let’s take a moment to pause and take a look at the strategy of blaming energy companies for bad weather,” Morano said. He added that Schneiderman’s resignation and quick disappearance from the public scene will force climate activists to reconsider their approach.

“He was the lightning rod,” he said. “He was the instigator. It definitely limits the movement when you take out the lead guy.”

Full story

5) Report: Radical Environmentalism Could Kill Millions Of People In Poor Countries
Tim Pearce, Long Island News, 5 May 2018

NEW YORK – The grim irony of the pursuit of “green” energy is that it may be placing millions of people in poor countries at risk of living much shorter, unhealthier lives due to air pollution, according to a new report from The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF).



Climate change has become an international issue, and environmental activists have painted the situation as increasingly dire. In order to escape the world changing effects of climate change and avert catastrophe, humanity must break its dependence on fossil fuels.

“To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need to keep the world’s remaining fossil fuels in the ground,” Greenpeace’s website explains about the group’s “Keep It In The Ground” campaign. “That means moving away from coal, oil, and natural gas, and towards a renewable energy future.”

The aim, unfeasible as it is, would actually cause more deaths from pollution as countries in the beginning stages of development are left stuck, unable to progress through the stages of the “energy ladder” that lead to less carbon emissions and a higher standard of living, according to the GWPF report released Friday.

The energy ladder refers to a series of steps and evolution that countries have to go through in order to reach high stages of development. The ladder starts with burning the worst polluting substances and moves to increasingly cleaner energy types such as natural gas and electricity.

Developing countries use the resources immediately available to generate power for things such as cooking and staying warm. That power is produced mainly through burning biomass such as crop residue, dung and wood and solid fuels such as coal. Burning these fuels is the leading driver of indoor air pollution, by far the largest source of negative health effects from pollution.

“Although there is still great uncertainty about how accurate the figures are, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 4.3 million people die annually because of indoor air pollution, especially in developing countries,” Mikko Paunio, the report’s author, writes.

Burning biomass is also one of the worst sources of ambient, or outdoor, air pollution. Its effects are highly visible in places such as South Asia where 90 percent of ambient air pollution is due to biomass burned in homes. The WHO estimates another 2.2 million deaths are caused by ambient air pollution, according to the report.

“Around six million deaths globally are attributable to domestic combustion of solid (bio)fuels. However, despite these appalling statistics, the development community has focused its efforts on mitigating global warming instead,” Paunio writes. “The effect of this headlong rush to ‘save the climate’ has horrifying implications for human health.”

Instead of using apocalyptic rhetoric to vilify fossil fuels such as natural gas and low-emission coal plants, environmentalists and green energy activists would cut carbon emissions much more by letting developing countries clime the “energy ladder.”

Full post
 

6) US Shale Producers Battle To Meet Iran Shortfall
Financial Times, 10 May 2018 

Ed Crooks

As President Donald Trump’s decision to reinstate sanctions on Iran sends oil prices higher, consumers and the administration might hope that US producers could come to the rescue with increased production.

But logistical constraints, in particular insufficient pipeline capacity at the heart of the US shale boom in west Texas, are limiting how quickly American companies will be able to replace any lost Iranian crude exports taken off the global oil market.

The difficulties being experienced in shale country help explain why the US has talked to large oil producers abroad about ways to increase supply and offset any impact from its exit from the Iran nuclear deal. The talks were revealed by Steven Mnuchin, Treasury secretary, hours after Mr Trump’s announcement on Tuesday.

Oil produced in the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico, the white-hot centre of the shale boom, is becoming trapped with no easy route to a refinery or an export terminal.

The hectic pace of drilling and the productivity gains have boosted output from the Permian Basin by 60 per cent in the past two years, to 3.2m barrels a day. The problem is that the pace of the boom is straining the ability of the region to keep up, with workers, with equipment and with pipelines.

“There is a huge capacity issue,” says John Zanner of RBN Energy, a research firm. “For all intents and purposes, pipelines are full.”

The favourable economics for shale producers created by higher prices and lower costs mean that US oil output is already rising fast, and is expected to average about 1.4m barrels a day more in 2018 than in 2017.

And in the US oil industry’s recovery since May 2016, the Permian Basin has seen the strongest rebound in activity, with the number of active oil rigs tripling in the past two years. It now has 55 per cent of the oil rigs running in the country.

But expanding production any faster will have to wait for new pipelines that are not coming online until the end of next year.

Inadequate transport capacity in the region is reflected in the soaring discount for oil in Midland, west Texas, compared with US benchmark crude. That discount hit $13 a barrel this week, meaning that while the easier-to-trade West Texas Intermediate was selling for about $70 a barrel, oil in Midland was just $57 a barrel.

Full story (subscription required)
 

7) Iran Sanctions Spell The End Of OPEC Output Deal
Reuters, 9 May 2018 

John Kemp

LONDON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear agreement with Iran marks the end of the current output agreement between OPEC and its allies.

OPEC is likely to insist the current agreement remains in effect, at least for now, but the prospective removal of several hundred thousand barrels per day of Iranian exports from the market will require a major adjustment.

Saudi Arabia has already promised to “mitigate” the impact of any potential supply shortages, in conjunction with other suppliers and consumer countries, in a statement released immediately after the sanctions decision.

The kingdom is customarily coy about how it might respond but the prospective removal of Iranian crude from the market will send oil prices sharply higher unless other producers step up to fill the gap.

As a practical matter, only Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Russia and the United States have the ability to raise production and exports in the short term.
Saudi Arabia and its close allies Abu Dhabi and Kuwait hold almost all the spare capacity that could respond quickly to a reduction in Iranian exports.

U.S. shale producers could also increase their output but it would take time and their light crude is not a good substitute for heavier Iranian oil.

Russian firms may also hold spare capacity and could certainly increase output over a 12-month horizon. Their crude is a close equivalent to Iranian grades.

The United States and Saudi Arabia appear to have reached a high-level political understanding in which the United States will intensify pressure on Iran in exchange for Saudi Arabia agreeing to help avoid a spike in oil prices.

The existence of an understanding was confirmed by the U.S. Treasury Secretary who told reporters on Tuesday that “we have had conversations with various parties ... that would be willing to increase oil supply”.

In retrospect, the president’s tweet on April 20 blaming OPEC for high oil prices can be seen as part of the negotiating process to reach an understanding with Saudi Arabia.

In effect, the United States agreed to implement tough sanctions, and Saudi Arabia agreed to limit the impact on oil prices.

Full post


The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at www.thegwpf.com.

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