Today’s question: is this the worst COP ever?

On Thursday, November 21st, 2013 in Blogs
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Well, that’s not quite a fair question.  Copenhagen, COP15, will, hopefully for all time, represent the low point in the effort to achieve meaningful action to avert disaster, but for in-between COPs, this one is vying for runner-up to Copenhagen.

COP19 Press ConferenceToday is the second to last day of negotiations.  No progress has been made in most areas of negotiation.  The President of the COP, Polish Environment Minister Marcin Korolec (who chairs the meetings and shepherds the process) was fired yesterday by the Prime Minister.  He remains president of COP through to the meeting in Lima, Peru next November (COP20).  Rumour has it he has been off-side in Poland’s desire to launch massive fracking.  And has been replaced in Cabinet with a more frack-friendly minister. It all fits the pro-coal, industry heavy COP atmosphere established by our hosts.

Things are in a serious state of disarray, with delegates reporting episodes of bad faith bargaining, industrialized countries demanding previously agreed upon decisions be re-opened. Canada (with US and New Zealand) bringing in an entirely new proposal to the finance negotiations at 7 am, after negotiating all night.  The issues of bad process, bad faith negotiating are compounded by the obvious – the down-graded commitments at Copenhagen, the face-saving sham called the Copenhagen Accord is not being honoured by industrialized countries.  The effort to buy time for pollution by throwing money at the developing world – what Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama did in Copenhagen – was resisted at the time by the poor nations.  I remember Tuvulu’s head of delegation saying “We will not sell our children’s future for your 30 pieces of silver.”

Well, okay, admittedly, it was more than 30 pieces of silver; it was $100 billion pieces of silver.

It was a pledge of new climate financing to help the developing world reduce emissions and adapt to those climate impacts we can no longer avoid.  It was to start with fast start financing of $10 billion rising to $100 billion/year by 2020.  All the other industrialized countries signed on to this, including Canada. The UN system responded by setting up the modalities to handle and distribute the funds.  The Green Climate Fund is all set up. It sits there empty. Initial contributions were spent quickly and now there is an empty bank.

Certainly it seemed to me the offer (bribe) was that the money would be steadily ramped up until it reached a level of $100 billion/year. Hillary Clinton was careful to say in 2009 in Denmark that the money would be mobilized from public and private sources of funds.  It was not all to be coming from governments.  But still, it is a bit hard to swallow the current line here in Warsaw from the US, Canada and other rich countries:  don’t expect money in the bank til 2020.  Countries are saying, you expect us to believe that suddenly $100 billion will be in the bank in 2020, with nothing there in 2019?

This issue, code named “Finance” is a major sticking point at this COP. NGOs put out buttons, sported now on many lapels: Where’s the Financing?   Actually, the button is the abbreviation: WTF?

The log jam, the sense that the rich countries are gaming this COP to avoid taking on either finance commitments, funding for loss and damage, or, most importantly, deeper emission cut commitments, led to a dramatic and historic walk out yesterday. Although some reports have said developing countries walked out, that’s not the case. But hundreds of NGO observers, civil society representatives from environment groups, development groups labour and indigenous groups walked out.  The walk out included World Wildlife Fund, Friends of the Earth International, Oxfam, Greenpeace, 350.org, and many others.

In the stock-taking plenary later that day, many delegations, including China expressed thanks to civil society for those actions. (it is fascinating to see a country that makes such protests illegal appreciate them here at COP).

The negotiations went on til the wee hours on many areas.  The ADP meeting adjourned early, around 9 pm, but finance went on til the morning.

By all indications, tomorrow (today) Friday, will be a very long day.

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  • Sannie

    Is there any hope??…any somewhat positive progress?

  • youtrytobenice

    As a Pole, I can only thank you for your simplistic, borderline-racist comments about the country.

    Poland gets 90% of its power from coal and much of its heating (through district heating plants). How about instead, you come up with realistic, affordable proposals for a transition to renewables. Bleating on about the evils of coal or gas without specifying alternatives is just childish.

    Finally, the hypocisy of countries such as China, Germany and many others beggars belief. From Poland’s supposedly ‘green’ western neighbours, read the following…

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-15/steag-starts-germany-s-first-coal-fired-power-plant-in-8-years.html

    • Karen

      I respectfully disagree. I see nothing racist nor simplistic in what Ms. May is saying here. To bring up the very general issue of “realistic, affordable proposals” while responding to an article about a specific issue at the climate conference (ie. financing) is actually simplistic. This is not what Ms. May is talking about. You seem to be trying to derail her argument rather than dealing with what she is actually saying.

      • youtrytobenice

        Let me spell it out for you. Poland is still surfacing from 60 years of genocide, mass destruction and appalling communist economic mismanagement. We have little scope for hydro (unlike Canada), no nuclear (unlike Canada), and have to rely on our old pal Russia for supplies of oil&gas. Per capita GDP is less than 1/2 of Canada’s.
        If you understand this context, you can understand why we don’t appreciate the sort of preaching and/or bullying we’re being subjected to around coal and domestic gas. To be lectured by someone representing 1/308 of the Canadian vote is….oh, God, never mind…

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003161716277 Chris Aikman

          Erh, doesn’t the wind blow and the sun shine in Poland? They supply up to 60% of the electricity in Germany on good days.

          • youtrytobenice

            If only that figure was anywhere near true. The two main sources of power in Germany are coal and nuclear. More coal and gas plants are being built to back up the renewables, as the nuclear is phased out. See..

            http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-15/steag-starts-germany-s-first-coal-fired-power-plant-in-8-years.html

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_Germany

            etc etc etc

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003161716277 Chris Aikman

            Canada certainly can’t claim to hold have a superior position here. But the amazing thing about sustainable energy is that it’s distributed uniformly over the world’s surface, and the energy is free; we pay only for the harvesting equipment. Perhaps it’s those aspects which make sustainable energy so threatening to those with wealth and power.

          • Cris Paunescu

            You know, you “greens” will never admit to real facts:
            First, solar energy is a joke in today’s environment. It’s not sustainable in any way, think clouds, night… Wind – well, while a bit better than solar, it’s not reliable in any way. The question that all of you refuse to answer is “What do we do when the wind doesn’t blow?”
            Here in Ontario, on the hottest day of the year (the largest electricity demand if you didn’t get the point) wind produced 1% (that is ONE PERCENT) of the required electricity. We had to fire up the old coal plants to cover…

            The only emmission free electricity today, sustainable and safe, is nuclear, regardless of what idiots have to say.

            Oh, and speaking of wealth and power, do you think the wind/solar energy doesn’t make a profit? Are you that naive?

          • meurig

            Cris, there are plenty of reports out there describing in detail “what to do when the wind doesn’t blow”. If you haven’t read them that isn’t the fault of the Green movement. But here’s the simple answer:

            Firstly forget 1950s concepts of baseload, because we have to configure our grid differently.

            Now we start with the variables (solar and wind), and then we use dispatchables (hydro, syngas, to some extent small-scale biomass) to fill the gap between supply and demand.

            And we approach this (both the ultimate renewables-only grid and the transition needed to get there) as a soluble engineering challenge – because that is what it is – instead of succumbing to defeatism.

            Oh, and btw, have you offered your back yard to NWMO as a site for their high-level nuke waste? I’m sure they’d be glad to hear from someone who thinks the product they work with is “sustainable and safe”. It’s taken them years of propaganda work and inducements to get the leaders of some potential “host communities” to take on that belief.

          • Cris Paunescu

            You know, it’s really funny to listen to this kind of arguments.
            Just so you know, in Canada, about 75% of elctricity comes from nuclear and hydro. Biomass is inexistent, I challenge you to prove otherwise.

            The old reliable coal/gas plant is the one that is placed on standby, do some research. And those plants, as they are in business to make money, will not agree to standby for a long time while rent and salaries and pensions and medical benefits and maintenance and safety and all still have to go on.
            In Ontario, wind produced about 4% of our electricity. It was easy to cover up for this smal amount. Imagine what would happen if wind actually gets to 40%.

            But that’s not something to worry about. Germany, with it’s most aggressive green program in Europe, only managed to produce about 5% of it’s electricity from wind and solar. That while tens of thousands of families had their power supply cut because they can’t afford it. Nice going.

            Nuclear waste – I’m not the one to decide where it should go. I’m pretty sure there are minds brighter than mine or yours to deal with that. You just have to admit that – as proven world wide – it is still the cleanest and safest form of generation other than hydro. Solar and wind included.

          • meurig

            Thanks for the patronising lecture, Cris. But at least you got a statistic right for a change – yes about 60% of Canada’s electricity comes from hydro, and about 15% from nuclear (nearly all of it in one province, and highly unlikely to extend to others). If we had good interconnections between provinces across the country, that 60% from hydro would make it extremely easy to integrate a substantial proportion of variable renewables like wind and solar. I wouldn’t go as high as 40%, but studies in several jurisdictions worldwide have shown that 30% wind (incidentally just about where Denmark stands at present) can be integrated without major difficulties. (Denmark is heading for 50%, which it can achieve largely because it has a solid trading arrangement with hydro-based Norway and Sweden.)

            Germany’s figures for 2011 were wind 8%, pv 3%, biomass 8%, hydro 3%. Up-to-date figures will show significant increases on that for all except hydro. Power generation from both coal and gas is declining (and nuclear is being rapidly phased out) – see for example the Poeyry report cited at http://www.renewablesinternational.net/no-additional-coal-plants-in-germany/150/537/62691/

            Oh, and biomass power may be nonexistent (beyond a few pilot plants) in Canada at present, but all things are nonexistent until be bring them into being, and there is plenty of international expertise which can help us do that. And you may have noticed that we have rather a lot of trees – and we only use about half a tree when we fell it for lumber or pulping or whatever. We also have rather a lot of agricultural residue over here in the prairies. Biomass is an essential element in the Danish energy revolution – they too were starting from nothing, and have become international experts. It would be nice to see Canada taking a similarly entrepreneurial attitude some time….

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003161716277 Chris Aikman

            The thing that aways amazes me about these arguments is how the trolls insist it can’t be done, while other countries have already done it.

          • meurig

            As for nuclear, if you support that overhyped technology as “clean and safe” then you have to know what to do with the waste. Otherwise you are caught in self-contradiction.

          • meurig

            Misleading reporting. The only coal-fired stations being built in Germany were started over 5 years ago, definite plans for others have been abandoned, and there are currently plans to mothball gas-fired stations because renewables have brought the wholesale price down so low that they cannot compete.
            And your first sentence is untrue and set to become progressively more untrue as time goes on.
            http://energytransition.de/2013/11/germany-to-shut-down-12-power-plants/
            http://www.wind-works.org/cms/index.php?id=39&tx_ttnewstt_news=2259&cHash=3991f443a7d9f79482d8c8d4816c0a32

          • youtrytobenice

            I quoted Bloomberg and Wikipedia. You respond with quotes from single-issue, high-bias doozies. The Heinrich Boll Foundation? LOL!

          • joe lanteigne

            The technology is here. These conferences are doing what ever they can to pressure govt. and Corps to commit to action. They . .1%..still havent figured out how to remain forever wealthy while pursuing renewable energy. please hurry.

          • Cris Paunescu

            You have absolutely no clue what this conference is about, although May has done a good job explaining it. Let me help you:

            This whole thing is about “Loss and Damage Compensation”. It’s about the creation of a 100 BILLION/YEAR fund, supplied by the “developed nations”, to be administered by the “green cult” – probably led by people like Gore and Suzuki – and to be distributed to poor countries affected by “climate change”.
            It has nothing to do with reducing GHG or pollution.

            For the 1% and their wealth, you might want to look around. Green energy producers are making billions upon billions in profits. Who do you think is running Samsung, the ones you call “99 percenters”.
            China is making a killing with their rare earth metals. Germany – if they don’t change anything – will pay about 1 TRILLION in subsidies over the next 20 years. Talk about money…

          • meurig

            Yeah, you quoted from a journalist working on a tight schedule with probably no energy research background and certainly minimal technical understanding. I quoted from people who have actually done the research, found out that actual up-to-date numbers and know what they are talking about..

          • Cris Paunescu

            Is it misleading that they just started a new coal fired plant? I mean, it’s working as we speak, how is that misleading?

          • meurig

            The reality is that they have cancelled nearly all of the coal-fired plant which had been ordered before the energiewende took off. And probably will not order any more, ever, because coal consumption is steadily declining. (The couple of plants which actually were built were replacements for plants which had come to the end of their life.) And this is happening while also coming off nuclear. Because shifting to renewables works. Especially if (i) you have a decent energy efficiency programme in place, (ii) you empower the people to take control of their own power generation.

          • Cris Paunescu

            The reality, again, is that they will build 9 more coal burning plants over the next two years. You may accept that or not. One of us will be wrong by the end of 2015.

            And as I posted before, only 5% of Germany’s electricity is now generated by wind and solar, at an incredible cost, not to mention the number of people hurt in the process.

          • meurig

            and the number is just as untrue this time as it was when you posted it before.

          • Cris Paunescu

            In Ontario in 2003 (when liberals came to power) coal was responsible for about 25% of electricity.
            This week, our “amazing” Premier McWynnety met with the biggest crook this planet has seen – Mr. Al Gore – to celebrate the end of coal in Ontario, taking credit for the liberal green policies. You may have heard of the GEA.
            What McWynnety and Gore forgot to mention somehow is that today wind and solar are responsible for just about 4% of electricity. Do you know, or can you guess, what the remaining 21% was supplied by?

          • Kevin Ronald Lohse

            On bad days, 500,000 Germans are disconnected from electrical power because they can’t afford the sky-high bills of the Energiwende. Pay more attention to Fritz Fahrenvolt, who actually tried to make German renewables work.

          • Doreen Gaydoon

            but that which you write, is an incredible lie. Germany gets 8% of its energy from wind and solar….. on good days. 28% nuke, 55% coal, balance natural gas. Chris, you should end your life now. You get in the way, and use more than your fair share of resources you effing racist pig

        • Cris Paunescu

          My friend, these people will not understand. Not because they are stupid (although some are, just like in every other aspect of life) but because they have bought in some idea and they are incapable of giving it up, admitting they are wrong.
          People like this have no idea what it means to live in a country like yours or mine (Romania in my case).
          The move by the Polish government to fire the idiot environment minister was an excellent one – he should have known the country’s interests come first. Something else that May or Mulcair will never understand.
          But they support groups like Greenpeace or Sierra Club.

  • Cris Paunescu

    I couldn’t help it… May says:

    “And has been replaced in Cabinet with a more frack-friendly minister. It
    all fits the pro-coal, industry heavy COP atmosphere established by our
    hosts.”

    Isn’t fracking about natural gas – which is competing to replace the coal industry?

    • http://wwwacadia1755.blogspot.com/ wilbert Robichaud

      Her Knowledge is Unprecedented!

    • meurig

      and is also responsible for substantial GHG emissions – including substantially raised methane leaks at the well compared to conventional gas.
      Clearly you just couldn’t help missing the point…

      • Cris Paunescu

        Poland is indeed heavy on coal burning power generation. They don’t have any other resources as you would know if you knew anything about that part of the world.
        There is no way on this Earth that Poland would be able to get more green energy other than getting the country bankrupt.

        “Frack-friendly minister” means they are trying to switch from coal to natural gas which is less polluting. They should be applauded.

        • meurig

          I have no idea of your credentials, Cris, but you clearly haven’t kept in touch with the current state of the renewables market. Wind cheaper than either coal or gas in all reasonable locations in Europe. Solar in Germany down to a wholesale price of about 13 cents (Canadian) per kWh, and set to drop further rapidly. (Yes, the retail price is significantly higher, but that’s largely because of the sweetheart deals that Merkel was prepared to do with heavy industry so that the burden falls on the smaller customers.) Biomass and hydro comparable with fossil fuel prices.

          Meanwhile, you think nuclear (about 20 cents Canadian per kWh in the 2009 AECL bid in Ontario, similar price in the Rusatom bid in Turkey) is a credible answer. Either there is something wrong with your logic or you are prepared to believe the numbers put out by – how shall I put this? – a notoriously overoptimistic industry.

          And you clearly have decided to disregard the research from Colorado and Utah showing rates of methane leakage which make the climate impact of fracked gas worse even than coal over a 30-year timespan (though admittedly better over a longer timespan as the methane decays to CO2). There’s a good summary of the situation, with the relevant references, in a 1-page article in Nature (vol 493, p12, 2013:Jan:03)

          Now, I could go into quite a lot more detail on this, but it would be a waste of my time. What would be much much more useful, Cris, would be for you to put forward a credible plan (and no, massive nuclear expansion isn’t credible) for avoiding a breach of the 2 deg C average global surface temperature rise after which irreversible climate chaos is probably unstoppable. If you have no such plan, all your volatile criticisms of sustainable energy paths are just hot air.

          • Bri

            Awesome post and rebuttal. My question is something I never see discussed in the arena of Climate Change. How do we eliminate fossil fuels? We live and breath them. Everything… Thats everything in our lives is touched by this fowl industry, Our economy is even based on the petrol dollar. The clothes we wear, the computers we use, the furniture in our home and the materials which are used to construct them, the fuel that runs my chainsaw that cuts the wood that heats my home… Virtually everything is in some way, no matter how direct or indirect, associated with the fossil fuel industry. How do we make such massive change? It is a paradigm shift of immense proportions.My solution would be to chop away at the source… Industry itself.

            The Lobby Act in Canada needs severe amending. Corporate lobbyists or otherwise should not be able to pay their way to votes in their favor. Period. Have an equal say along with the citizenry, NGOs, government and other concerned individuals and organizations, but pay for votes… Never.

            Tax and fine the corporations much heavier and use those tax dollars to fund research into alternative renewable energy sources… Whatever they may be.

            We must insist that Omnibus Bills be outlawed. Bills must be tabled individually in open forum for discussion, with proper parliamentary process.

            Reform the Senate do not eliminate it. Equal representation and limited terms. This body has a purpose and while it does not currently function in that vein… It most certainly could again.

            Stop deregulating industry. Thats like putting the fox in charge of the hen house. Enough said there.

            Use the ministries responsibly and allow them to create mandates that don’t cause a conflict of interest. How is it possible for a ministry to be responsible for promotion of industry and protection of the environment at the same time? An impossible situation now faced by ministries such as the DFO and MOE.

            Allow scientists and others to express their concerns openly… Consider them with integrity.. not lip service.

            The extraction and consumption of fossil fuels is killing the planet… That is certain. Living without them at this point is not possible… That is certain. Can the massive change needed be made? That is uncertain as so many of the voting public are either ignorant or indifferent to the situation. Call me devils advocate or a pessimist, I’m good with either, but I don’t see much hope short of a civil uprising to bring change in this country. If anyone thinks they can cheer me feel free to try.

          • meurig

            I share your pessimism but while there is even a remote chance of salvaging things we have to try. The obstacle to success is vested interests and lack of public vision, not technical (or even financial) viability. If we can start to make very substantial cuts in emissions now, we probably still have enough time to deal with all the things you raise in your first paragraph, Bri. Yes, we have to dismantle a whole system of dependency, but we can only do it one piece at a time.

          • Greg Robinson

            Before we can make any progress with the environmental issues we must build mechanisms into Canadian Political Process which will allow us to remove Leadership, such as that of Stephen Harper, when it is so obviously driving the Canadian social and political situation severely in reverse. Such individuals must be made accountable for their intent and for their actions. The Canadian Public must have a part in this process. Once Canadian Political Leadership has been elected into office, they turn their back on the wishes of the electorate which placed them into their official capacity. This must be addressed and changed so that the Canadian Electorate is able to monitor the intent and the actions of Canadian Leadership, and to control the efforts of this Leadership.

          • Doreen Gaydoon

            What you write here, is false. The prices you quote, are subsidized by 60%. I take it you have no understanding of the german energy market. Coal plants going up to replace nukes, as parity wind and solar has past the tipping point, and efficiency has dropped by nearly half. If you had just the slightest knowledge of wind or solar generation, you would see that above 10%, diminishing returns is a characteristic taking on asymptotic shape, downward. Co gen is perhaps best for you. Just step inside the chamber. You must be good for a few btus.

  • meurig

    When trolls try to take over the comments section it’s a sign that you’re achieving something, Elizabeth. (And it makes it a little more interesting this time to have european trolls instead of the standard north american species.) Keep up the good work!

    • Cris Paunescu

      I guess I am one of the – just two – europeans you call “trolls”. Well, I’ve been living in Ontario for 25 years now, I fully embraced the country’s culture and customs and I am very, very interested in this country’s benefit.

      I am also very upset at what people like Elizabeth May or Thomas Mulcair are doing (under the environmental mask) to score political points. Damaging this country is not what “the loyal opposition” should be doing.

      Please, I asked May directly and I ask you now, explain how this country benefits from her presence at the COP meetings.

      • meurig

        I cannot and would not wish to speak for Thomas Mulcair, who has no credible policy to deal with climate change. Elizabeth May, however, does, and she recognises the urgency of the situation. She has been in Warsaw to fight for our children and future generations at a time when massive corporations and the politicians in their sphere of influence are prepared to sacrifice them for a quick profit. At this time, loyalty to the people and the land means strong, loud and public opposition to a callous and grossly immoral government.

    • Doreen Gaydoon

      Meurig, you definitely are biting some serious pillow.

  • Paul Hogan

    It was a pledge of new climate financing to help the developing world reduce emissions and adapt to those climate impacts we can no longer avoid. So when was it exactly when climate/weather impacts were avoidable?

  • Ted Miller

    It is obvious that this is all about promoting global socialism by taking money from the rich and giving to the poor. The idea that bureaucrats can control the climate is ridiculous. Just look at the $ 600 million Obama spent on a disfunctional website Healthcare.gov. If you can’t do simple things with so much money, how in the world are you going to reduce global warmng ?

  • Tunderbar

    You mean the Copenhagen COP where the United Nations IPCC chairperson demanded 3% of global GDP (approx. $1 trillion) to somehow stop the weather from changing? You know, when the climategate emails detailed the flimsy and fraudulent state of climate “science”. Where climate activist/scientists were exposed to have actively conspired to manage and control the peer reviewed literature to further their climate “cause”? And now that we know that most chapter authors of the IPCC climate bible have direct relationships with extremist eco-organizations like WWF, the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, why would we take the IPCC/WWF/Greenpeace’s word on what the science says. This massive costly global wealth-transfer scam is over. The gig is up.

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