Nov 192013
 

Analysis: The new prime minister’s honeymoon is marred by an asylum scandal — and a host of other questionable moves.

Global Post, 19 November 2013

(…) On Sunday, tens of thousands of Australians took to the streets to protest against what they see as government climate change denial.

Alexander Ochs, Director of Climate and Energy at the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute, slammed the announcement last week that Australia would downgrade its emissions reduction targets from 25 percent to just 5 percent below 2000 levels by 2020.“Emissions in Europe and the United States are [already] decreasing,” he told GlobalPost. “The position of the new Australian government is shameless and irresponsible. And it makes no sense — economically, socially, environmentally, politically.”

He said the policy could have dire consequences for other countries, too. “Abandoning that pledge could be a deal wrecker for the international community and any meaningful international agreements,” he says. “The Australian government is also considering cutting commitment to the Green Climate Fund, an international fund to help developing countries cope with the impact of climate change. At the same time, it complains about the environmental refugees that arrive at its shore every day because they no longer see a future in their own countries.”

With severe cuts also in store for Australia’s premier federal scientific research institute, CSIRO, it is unclear how Australia will nurture the talent needed to fight climate change. Ochs says that instead of leading the world in the development of green energy sources, Australia will have to “rely on an economic model from the last century that is dirty, ugly, uneconomic and kills Australians every day.” (…)

Sep 062010
 

While the US Senate has backed off on climate legislation, China is considering launching emissions-trading programmes within five years, write Alexander Ochs and Haibing Ma.

Just when leaders in the United States Senate admitted to abandoning their plan of issuing a federal climate bill by the end ofTianjin_port_cap-and-trade_thumbthis year, top Chinese officials were discussing how to launch carbon-trading programmes under their country’s next (12th) Five-Year Plan (2011-2015). Serving as China’s overarching social and economic guidance, Five-Year Plans consistently lay out the most crucial development strategies for this giant emerging economy. Once included in the plan, carbon trading will be viewed as part of China’s national goals and will be domestically binding. This occurred most recently with the country’s 2010 energy-intensity target, which called for a 20% reduction from 2005 levels and was disaggregated into provincial and local targets, with local officials held accountable for achieving them.

In short, China seems to be accelerating full-throttle toward a low-carbon economy. Chinese policymakers have been eyeing a domestic emission-trading scheme for a while. In August 2009, National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) deputy director Xie Zhenhua announced that China would launch a pilot carbon-trading programme in selected regions and/or sectors — basically the same message now discussed for the Five-Year Plan. On one hand, this reiteration demonstrates that the Chinese government is seriously considering such a market-based mitigation mechanism; on the other hand, the fact that the programme’s status is still in discussion one year later shows that putting cap-and-trade into action might be not be so easy in China either.

[Read our full article on Chinadialogue]

Aug 102010
 

By Haibing Ma and Alexander Ochs

Recently, a China Daily news report caught Uncle Sam’s attention, presumably at an inconvenient time: just when the U.S. Senate finally admitted to abandoning its plan of issuing a federal climate bill by the end of this year, top Chinese officials were discussing how to launch carbon trading programs under their country’s next Five-Year Plan (2011–15). Serving as China’s overarching social and economic guidance, Five-Year Plans consistently lay out the most crucial development strategies for this giant emerging economy. Once included in the plan, carbon trading will be viewed as part of China’s national goals and will be domestically binding. This occurred most recently with the country’s 2010 energy intensity target, which called for a 20 percent reduction from 2005 levels and was disaggregated into provincial and local targets, with local officials held accountable for achieving them. In short, China seems to be accelerating full-throttle toward a low-carbon economy.

Chinese policymakers have been eyeing a domestic emission-trading scheme for a while. Last August, Xie Zhenhua, Deputy Director of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), announced that China will launch a pilot carbon trading program in selected regions and/or sectors—basically the same message conveyed in the recent China Daily story. On one hand, this reiteration demonstrates that the Chinese government is seriously considering such a market-based mitigation mechanism; on the other hand, the fact that the program’s status is still in discussion a year later shows that putting cap-and-trade into action might be not be that easy in China either. [Read more on Worldwatch's ReVolt blog]

Jun 262009
 

cop15_logo_imgHalf a year before the U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen, negotiators are far from agreeing on key components of a global climate deal. As envisioned in the 2007 Bali Climate Action Plan (or “Bali Roadmap”), the summit in December is supposed to deliver a follow-up agreement to the Kyoto Protocol under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which expires at the end of 2012.

Ever since Bali, however, progress in the negotiations has been slow. Only recently have the delegations entered full negotiation mode—which is necessary right now, the most pivotal year since the 1992 UNFCCC. From June 1 to 12, more than 4,600 participants—including government delegates from 183 countries as well as business, industry, environmental organizations and research institutions—met in Bonn, Germany, to discuss key negotiating texts that will serve as the basis for an agreed Copenhagen outcome. The gathering in Germany was the second in a series of five major U.N. negotiating sessions this year leading up to the Copenhagen summit in December (…).

Please find the full article in Grist Magazine here.

May 032009
 

On April 24, 2009 at Hotel Jalta in Prague, Czech Republic, I joined a panel of prominent speakers including Henry Derwent (IETA), Nasrine Amzour (UK DEFRA), and Norio Suzuki (Mitsubishi) to talk about “Climate change: Implementing a coordinated response in Central Europe and around the globe.” In my presentation, I discussed the potential, outlook and obstacles of linking the EU Emissions Trading Scheme with other emissions trading systems, not only under the Kyoto Protocol but also with regards to new, quickly emerging markets including Australia and Japan.

Paying special attention to recent legislative developments in the United States, I shed light on the differences between EU and US approaches to allocating allowances, domestic and international offsets, as well as provisions for credits from Reduced Deforestation (RED). “In both the EU and the US, we tend to forget that employing a specific approach to these key issues today does not only have immediate consequences there – but it will enhance or reduce our ability to harmonize and ultimately link both systems.”

Apr 052009
 

On April 3, 2009 I joined Nigel Purvis, the former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for oceans, environment and science and current President of Climate Advisers, at and American Law Institute and American Bar Association conference on “Climate and the Law” in Washington DC . In my presentation on “International Climate Negotiations: The Road to Copenhagen and beyond”, I outlined key elements of a global climate deal and a roadmap for what results have to be reached by the UN conference in Copenhagen in December, and what details of the global climate deal could be negotiated in 2010 and 2011.

In particular, I discussed potential avenues for solution regarding four most contentious issues: Contractual matters (most importantly, the question of whether agreement should take the form of a new protocol or an amendment to the Framework Convention), criteria and outlook for reaching comparable action amongst industrialized countries, the ambition of developing countries’ NAMAs versus the level of funding from industrialized countries, as well as the subject of the future financing architecture and governance.

[Please check back; presentation will be online soon]

Apr 022009
 

from CCAP Newsletter 

On March 18, 2009, Alexander Ochs, CCAP’s director of international policy, discussed “Views on Carbon Offsetting in the United States” at Point Carbon’s Carbon Market Insights Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.“International offsets like the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and domestic offsets will likely play an important role in any future U.S. cap and trade program,” Ochs told delegates from around the world. “However, it is important to understand that offsets are only one mechanism that U.S. lawmakers are currently considering in their effort to contain the cost of a federal carbon market. There is also a certain contradiction in the debate between lowering the cost of mitigating emissions on the one hand, and not wanting to send money oversees to make our competitors’ economies more efficient.”Ochs agreed with co-panelist Peter Zapfel from the European Commission that the CDM alone is not sufficient for reducing rapidly growing greenhouse gas emissions in the developing world. “Major emitters like the developing countries China and Mexico must contribute more to the solution than simply offsetting reduction commitments made elsewhere — and they are willing to do so,” Ochs said. “Sectoral commitments for energy-intense industries are the next important step on the staircase to a full integration of these countries into the global carbon market.”

You can find my presentation here: ochs-futureofoffsetsinus_carbonmarketinsights2009.pdf

Mar 302009
 

By Mathew Carr, March 19 2009 (Bloomberg) — Mexico will likely propose emissions-trading programs for its oil and electricity industries when it completes a climate-protection plan next month, the Washington-based Center for Clean Air Policy said.

Emissions trading may start in Mexico in 2011 and expand to cement and metals, Alexander Ochs, director of international policy at the center, said yesterday on the sidelines of the Carbon Market Insights conference in Copenhagen.

“They have committed political leadership that understands emerging countries have to make a contribution to a global climate pact,” Ochs said. “They want to demonstrate they are progressive.” The center, an emissions-trading think tank, is advising Mexico and China in their climate plans, he said.  Full article: Bloomberg_Mex

Jul 292008
 

Die amerikanischen Bundesstaaten schreiten in der Klimapolitik voran und werden so zum Wegbereiter einer neuen U.S.-Regierung.

Es war der erste Schritt der neuen Regierung von internationaler Bedeutung: Kurz nach seiner Amtseinführung 2001 ließ Präsident George W. Bush seine Sicherheitsberaterin Condoleezza Rice das Kyoto-Protokoll wortwörtlich für „tot“ erklären. Unilateral, ohne jede Unterredung mit den Führern anderer Staaten, revidierte er damit die Position seines Vorgängers Bill Clinton. Auch von seinem Wahlversprechen, verbindliche Höchstmengen für den Kohlendioxidausstoß von Kraftwerken festzulegen, wollte der neue Mann im Oval Office nun nichts mehr wissen. Seitdem wartet die Weltgemeinschaft vergebens auf die Demonstration amerikanischer Führungsstärke in der Klimapolitik. Anfangs erhob Bush gar Zweifel an den wissenschaftlichen Grundlagen zum Klimawandel. Dann stellte er ein nationales Klimaprogramm vor, deren groß angekündigte Ziele bei näherem Hinsehen wenig mehr als business as usual entsprachen. Auf internationaler Ebene glänzte Bush ebenfalls mit vollmundiger Rhetorik, muss sich aber vor allem für eines verantworten: sein weitgehendes Nichtstun. HEINRICH BÖLL STIFTUNG