The Climate Show #11: a trillion tonnes of trouble

Glenn says he thinks this show’s “a cracker” (but he always says that), and despite the lack of a special star guest — though with the help of assorted luminaries from the Climate Futures Forum (David’s Karoly and Frame, Robert Gifford and Erik Conway –) we cover a huge range of issues, from Jim Hansen’s upcoming visit to NZ, the climate talks in Bangkok and Arctic ice, to why we need to think about our carbon budget, and why a trillion tonnes of the stuff might be a tad too much. John Cook joins us to discuss why there really is a scientific consensus on the reality of climate change and its causes, and in the solutions section we look at new developments in battery technology.

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How not to negotiate #1

targetNew Zealand’s commitment to piffling and highly conditional emissions targets appears to have been weakened even further by chief negotiator Adrian Macey’s admission in an interview with Point Carbon that if the conditions aren’t met:

“…we reserve the right to drop (our target) below 10 per cent.”

As Geoff Key of Greenpeace notes, this is like holding the world to ransom with a pop gun:

Point Carbon asked Ambassador Macey about why New Zealand hasn’t made a unilateral pledge. For comparison, the European Union has pledged to reduce emissions to 20% below 1990 levels no matter what the rest of the world does and has written this into law. In reply Adrian Macey said, possibly without realising the irony of the statement, “We didn’t think there was any point in setting a low-ambition figure.”

Meanwhile, the rest of the world thinks that’s exactly what we’ve got. I can only hope that John Key was paying attention at the UN climate conference last week and will return home ready to take firmer action.

But I’m not holding my breath.

Postcard from Bangkok

This is a guest blog from Oxfam NZ’s executive director Barry Coates, in Bangkok for the latest round of negotiations in the run-up to Copenhagen. Barry sets the scene:

Tcktcktck. The clock counts down to the deadline for climate change negotiations. Not to achieve an agreement is unthinkable. It was good last week to hear the speeches of heads of state at the UN meeting in New York saying how committed they are to a deal. But the key question is how. It is not easy to negotiate a hugely important global deal amongst 192 countries. And especially since climate science demands that there be a dramatic transformation of economic activity worldwide.

That’s the scene setting for UN negotiations on climate change that started yesterday in Bangkok. There are 15 days of negotiations before the Copenhagen conference and hundreds of pages of densely typed documents. The challenge? Distill it all down to about 30 pages, agree on some of the key issues and avoid a massive greenwash.

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