Emissions reduction pledges fall dramatically short

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 05 August 2010

Rich nations’ emissions reductions pledges fall dramatically short of what is required to limit global warming to two degrees centigrade, a group of 43 small islands said on Tuesday at U.N. climate talks.

Tuvalu Island is one of a grouping of 43 of the smallest and most vulnerable countries

This week’s 185-nation conference in Bonn is the penultimate step before the next U.N. climate conference in December. Parties are trying to make progress on shaping a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

However, rifts continue between poorer nations and wealthy countries over who should contribute the most to cutting emissions.

Currently, aggregate emissions pledges from developed countries represent a reduction of 12 to 18 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, Al Binger, representing the Alliance of Small Island Nations, said at the talks.

But the atmosphere could only see a 1 to 7 percent reduction by 2020 if rich nations exploit “imperfections” in the protocol, he said.

Such imperfections derive from accounting rules in the protocol covering land use and forestry which some green groups claim give industrialised nations too much flexibility.

There is also the issue of whether surplus sovereign emissions rights accumulated under Kyoto, known as assigned amount units (AAUs), can be carried over for use in the protocol’s next commitment period.

Under the Protocol, nations that are comfortably below their greenhouse gas emissions targets can sell excess AAUs to countries struggling to meet their own targets.

Eastern European countries in particular have billions of dollars worth left over after their economies collapsed in the wake of communism.

“If we don’t find consensus on the set of rules we could end up doing creative accounting and emissions will continue to increase,” Binger told Reuters on the sidelines of the talks.

The alliance is calling for a 45 percent emissions reduction in greenhouse gases by developed nations by 2020 to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

The European Union’s climate representative Artur Runge- Metzger said four options are being considered for changing forestry rules this week, but stressed that one needs to be decided upon before emissions targets can be set.

By Nina Chestney
Source: Reuters Africa

Temporary reprieve for Amazon deforestation

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 30 June 2010

A Brazilian parliament special committee has delayed a vote on a proposal which would dramatically increase the areas of the Amazon that could be legally cleared.

Amazon Rainforest

The Special Committee on Forest Law Changes is now scheduled to vote on the proposal – which would cut back forest preservation requirements on private land and reduce Federal controls on deforestation – until next week.

Discussions today were not expected to result in any significant changes to the report before the Special Committee.

Pundits quip that the timing of the vote will be influenced by the Brazilian team’s prospects in the football World Cup.

Scientists, WWF and other environmental, community and indigenous organisations have been warning that the proposed changes being advocated by the so-called “ruralist bloc” – supported by landowners and agribusiness – could see Brazil returning to the high deforestation rates that once horrified the world.

Conservative calculations also estimate that the deforestation unleashed by the changes will be several times the emissions reductions promised by Brazil – and which were to be mainly delivered by further reductions in deforestation.

The cutbacks in forest cover requirements for stream and river banks and steep and vulnerable land will also make Brazil more vulnerable to extreme weather related floods and land slips, WWF has warned.

Source: WWF