Dec 032012

By Avery Fellow, Bloomberg Daily Environment Report, 3 December 2012

Developing countries are seeking increased pledges from wealthier countries for climate mitigation and adaptation financing at international climate negotiations in Doha, Qatar, observers of the talks said Nov. 30. The G77, or group of 77 developing countries within the United Nations, proposed at the 18th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-18) that developed countries raise $60 billion a year starting in 2013 for “medium-term” climate assistance as they scale up to offering $100 billion a year by 2020, observers said. (…)

Developed countries initially promised to direct at least 50 percent of pledged funds to climate adaptation, said Alexander Ochs, director of climate and energy at the Worldwatch Institute. (…)

Ochs said he did not expect a global deal on climate finance in Doha. “I do not think in this negotiation round we will see a full agreement on how to bridge the gap between 2012 and 2020,” he said. “I’m hoping that countries fill the current gap … [and] individual countries start putting money on the table for 2012 to 2020. But I do not expect a global deal on the issue.” (…)

You can find the whole article [here].

Dec 082010

Developing efficient, sustainable energy systems based on renewable energy and smart grid technology is not only an environmental necessity: it is a social and economic imperative. We rely on fossil fuels for more than 85 per cent of all energy we use and pay a high price for our dependency, on all fronts. An overhaul of the way we produce, transport, store, and consume energy is underway and an improved energy world is emerging, slowly. Intelligent policies based on concise roadmaps will get us there faster.

cover_ClimateAction_2010People around the world are already suffering from the impacts of climate change. Rising sea levels, melting glaciers, storms, droughts, and floods – these natural processes, artificially intensified by global warming, will affect agriculture, fishing, transportation, and tourism to an ever greater degree. Changing ecosystems and landscapes, biodiversity losses, the surge of tropical diseases, and food and water shortages will lead to economic and welfare losses on an unprecedented scale should climate change remain largely unabated as it is today.

The cost of fossil fuels is unjustifiable

Even if we take climate change, which has been called this century’s greatest challenge, off the table for a moment, transitioning our energy systems is a socioeconomic imperative. For a host of reasons, our reliance on fossil fuels comes at an unjustifiably high cost to our economies. First, the burning of coal and petroleum pollutes our air and water. China, for example, estimates that addressing its pollution and pollution-related health problems swallows up to 10 per cent of its total annual GDP. Imagine if the country could put these huge resources into addressing pressing social needs!

[Please find the full article here. It has been published in UNEP’s Climate Action 2010 book; please find the whole book here.]

Nov 252010
Und jährlich grüßt das Murmeltier. Der nächste Klimagipfel steht an. Jedes Jahr Ende November trifft sich die Welt, um über das Schicksal ihres Planeten zu entscheiden. Die Chairs der unterschiedlichen Arbeitsgruppen legen ihre Vertragsentwürfe vor, im Plenum versichern sich die Staaten ihres guten Willens, die Umweltorganisationen stellen ihre Forderungen, und am Ende der zwei Wochen fliegen die Umweltminister für den finalen Showdown ein und entscheiden: wenig Konkretes.

Doch ganz so einfach ist es nicht. Es geht ja doch vorwärts, wichtige Einigungen sind erzielt worden, nur eben insgesamt viel zu langsam. Um dem Klimawandel tatsächlich Einhalt zu gebieten, da ist sich die Wissenschaft weitgehend einig, darf die globale Erwärmung zwei Grad Celsius in diesem Jahrhundert nicht übersteigen. Für die Industriestaaten heißt das: Reduzierung um bis zu 90 Prozent. Noch immer ist ein Inder für weniger als ein Sechstel der Emissionen eines Durchschnittseuropäers verantwortlich. Doch der Ausstoß steigt in fast allen Ländern weiter an.

[Weiter zu meinem Gastbeitrag in der Wiener Zeitung]

Jun 082010

 Co-author: Shakuntala Makhijani

EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard

 The European Environment Agency (EEA) yesterday released its greenhouse gas inventory for 2008, showing a two-percent fall from 2007 levels across EU-27 countries and an 11.3-percent reduction from 1990 levels. The new data also show that the EU-15 (the 15 only EU members in 1997 when the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated) have reduced emissions by 6.9 percent since 1990, putting those countries on track to meet their Kyoto Protocol commitment of reducing 2008-2012 emissions by an average of 8-percent below 1990 levels. The European Commission points out that the EU-15 emission reduction—a 1.9-percent drop from 2007 to 2008—came as the region’s economy grew 0.6 percent, suggesting that economic growth and emissions cuts can be compatible.

Just last month, the European Commission had announced that emissions covered under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) fell even more rapidly: verified emissions from covered installations were 11.6-percent lower last year than in 2008. EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard cautioned that these reductions are largely due to the economic crisis, as opposed to ambitious actions by covered industry. The crisis has also weakened price signals in the trading scheme and slowed business investment in emissions-reducing innovations.

Earlier this year, the European Commission began arguing that the Union should commit to deeper cuts than a 20-percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2020, calling instead for a 30-percent decrease. It released figures showing that, largely due to the economic crisis, the annual costs for cutting emissions will be lower than originally estimated by 2020. In 2008, the EU estimated that €70 billion per year would be necessary to meet the 20-percent target, but this cost estimate has now fallen to just €48 billion. For a 30-percent target during the same timeframe, the new projected annual cost is €81 billion—only €11 billion more than what EU countries have already accepted under the 20-percent target.

[Please read the rest of the blog on ReVolt]

Dec 092009

austria-flagLange Zeit sah es so aus, als ob die Klima-Karawane aus Regierungsdelegationen, Interessenvertretern und Umweltschützern nur auf der Stelle tritt. Beim letzten großen Zusammenkommen auf höchster Ebene im vergangenen Dezember wie auch bei den unzähligen Vorbereitungstreffen ging es so zaghaft voran, dass viele den UN-Klimagipfel schon abgeschrieben hatten.

Doch dann überschlugen sich in den vergangenen Wochen die Ereignisse: Die USA, China, Brasilien, Indonesien und Südafrika legten nationale Ziele vor, die teilweise deutlich über dem lagen, was man noch vor kurzem für möglich hielt. Am vergangenen Wochenende dann der nächste Hoffnungsschimmer, der Kopenhagen doch noch zum “Hope’nhagen” machen könnte: US-Präsident Barack Obama kündigte an, dass er am letzten Verhandlungstag, dem 18. Dezember, in die dänische Hauptstadt kommen will, um dem Treffen womöglich zum Durchbruch zu verhelfen. Obama zeigt damit klar, wie hoch die Klimapolitik inzwischen auch auf der amerikanischen politischen Agenda steht.

Hier geht’s weiter zu meinem Op-Ed in der Wiener Zeitung.

Nov 042009
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

As a former Minister of the Environment turned Chancellor, Angela Merkel had already proven those wrong who surmised that environment positions are a dead end to high-rising political aspirations; now she became only the second German politician (after Konrad Adenauer, the first head of a German government after the Second World War, in 1957) who received the honor to address the U.S. Congress; and as a widely respected leader on environmental issues who is, at the same time, the leader of a conservative party, she would be well positioned to appeal to cautious Republicans when talking about climate change and energy reformation—at least I had hoped so in a recent interview with Reuters.

Angela Merkel in her speech on Capitol Hill yesterday, just weeks after her reelection for a second term (this time as a leader of a center-right coalition) was moved by the honor and the standing ovations she received from U.S. lawmakers even before she had started her speech. Following up on her promises, she spent a good portion of her talk on climate change, urging Congress and the Obama administration to take bold steps to address the issue, in her view one of the “great tests” of the 21st century. “We all know we have no time to lose,” she said.

Read the rest of the story on Dateline: Copenhagen.

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.

Jun 112009

On 8 June 2009 at the UNFCCC negotiations in Bonn, my friend Heleen de Connick asked me to jump in for another colleague as respondent on an ECN panel  on “Confluence or convolution of mechanisms, technology and finance: how can streams meet in Copenhagen?”. In my response to Stefan Bakker’s presentation on “The Future CDM”, I pointed out, among other things, that:

– CDM projects in developing countries and Annex I action alone will not be enough to halve global emissions by 2050 and reach a global peak of emissions before 2020 – both important thresholds to keep a worldwide temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius, as science suggests
– sectoral approaches in rapidly developing countries are an innovative step forward fitting into the concept of low-carbon development strategies including three types of Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs): unilateral action, conditional action and participation in the carbon market (crediting)
– CDMs should not be abandonned but continue to play a role in sectors not covered by sectoral approaches and in least developing countries
– the CDM can be improved; one particularly valuable suggestion is to go from project-based approval to a positive list of actions (or programmatic CDM) in order to speed up the process and make it more transparent

You can find an On-Demand webcast of the side event here

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]

Mar 242009
GHG Mitigation Opportunities in Brazil and Mexico
ECLAC, Santiago, Chile
March 25, 2009

Presentation given at ECLAC, Santiago, Chile on March 25, 2009


– Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP)
– Assisting Developing Country Climate Negotiators through Analysis & Dialogue
– Workshop overview: GHG Mitigation Opportunities in Brazil and Mexico

– Overarching goals and status quo
– Emissions
– Overview of International Climate Negotiations
– Developing countries are already doing more than many believe
– International Policy Context
– NAMA Requirements
– How financing could work
– Technology Finance
– Technology Finance Assistance to Encourage Stronger Actions
– Sources for Technology Finance
– China
– Mexico
– South Africa & South Korea
– Chile
– Brazil
– Sectoral Approach
– NAMAs and Sectoral
– Conclusions

[Please find presentation here on ECLAC website]

Feb 022009

Source: CCAP newsletter 

At the 2nd Annual Carbon Markets North America Conference in Miami from Jan. 15-16, CCAP International Policy Director Alexander Ochs discussed the outcomes of the recent UN Climate Conference in Poznan, coupled with implications for global carbon markets and prospects of international and U.S. climate policy. “While disappointing to many, it is important to see the results of Poznan in the right light,” Ochs said. “Among experts, expectations had never been high. This COP was a stop-over on the way from the seminal 2007 Bali meeting to the 2009 conference in Copenhagen – the much-anticipated summit that will have to deliver the basic architecture for a post-2012 climate deal.” Poznan delivered an operational work-plan for a precursor to Copenhagen. Ochs outlined some of the necessary components of a future global climate agreement between the United States, Europe and major emerging economies. “We will need the architectural basics of the deal in Copenhagen, including industrialized countries’ emissions targets,” Ochs said. “The years 2010 and 2011 can then be used to reach agreement on details of a deal between them and the developing countries. If the U.S. moves quickly at home, it will be able to join the EU in its leadership position internationally — and that is what the world is really waiting for.” (Source: CCAP Jan 2009 Newsletter)

Jul 282008

Alexander Ochs & Detlef F. Sprinz

Prominent and committed supporters of friendly transatlantic relations have identified climate change as the most important global problem in this century. To counteract major impacts of climate change requires cooperation among the major emitters of so-called greenhouse gases or agreement on compensation for impacts. Since 2001, the U.S. has abandoned the international treaty architecture of the Kyoto Protocol which is presumed to be a first step in the direction of limiting global climate change. Since much of the rest of the world – but not all – countries have subscribed to the architecture of the Kyoto Protocol, a major rift has arisen between Europe and the U.S. with the former being a fervent defender of the architecture and the latter designating it as unworkable and against its interests. In this article, we will investigate the history of transatlantic climate policy and relations, the major items of contention, as well as options for a rapprochement on global climate change.

2008 Book Chapter in Hegemony Constrained: Evasion, Modification, and Resistance to American Foreign Policy, edited by D. B. Bobrow

2005 Ridgway Center Working Paper

Jul 112008

Climate change and the secure supply of energy are among the biggest challenges of the twenty-first century. The problem is immense: While global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are currently rising faster than at any given time before, they will have to be halved by the middle of this century in order to prevent the most dangerous effects of global warming. And while energy-related emissions are already responsible for the largest share of GHG emissions, global energy demand is estimated to rise by 50 percent or more between now and 2030. The key problem we are facing is that our economic system, as it has developed since the second industrial revolution, is fundamentally built on the consumption of fossil fuels. If we do not succeed in altering the ways we produce and use energy, we risk running into a catastrophe open-eyed. AICGS Policy Report #34

Mar 202008

I delivered this presentation on 12 March 2008 at the German Embassy, Washington DC, on invitation of Egon Kochanke, Minister and Head of the Economic Department. The talkcovered a wide array of issues. I started with outlining the twin challenges of climate change and energy security. To compare the costs of non-action versus those of action, I then outlined and compared two scenarios, a three degree Celsius warmer world and one that has seen a third industrial revolution to prevent scenario one. I decline these scenarios along key dimensions of the challenge: the ecological problem and consequences for humanity; ethical and security dimensions; the political problem; as well as the economic dimension and the technological challenge.

I.a., my discussion included a climate policy snap shot, a focus on transatlantic disunity, a focus on power shifts in international (climate) relations, the question whether there is a new transatlantic climate looming, and an outlook of the challenges for future climate and energy policy in the search of a post-Kyoto framework.  Please find the presentation here.

Mar 082008

Europa ist auf der Suche nach einem klimapolitischen Kompass für die nächsten Jahre.

Vom 6. bis 17. November 2006 fanden in der kenianischen Hauptstadt parallel die zwölfte Konferenz der 189 Vertragsstaaten der Klimarahmenkonvention und das zweite Treffen der 168 Mitgliedsländer des Kyoto-Protokolls statt. Die Verhandlungen wurden mit dem erneuten Hinweis eröffnet, dass es sich beim Klimawandel um die wohl größte globale Herausforderung in der Geschichte der Menschheit handelt. Die Konferenzergebnisse nehmen sich demgegenüber eher mager aus. Deutschland und Europa wollen die internationale Klimapolitik weiter anführen. Was sind die großen Herausforderungen?

SWP Diskussionspapier, Januar 2007

Nov 092007

Climate change has been one of the most contentious issues in the transatlantic relationship. The persistent divide escalated when President Bush abandoned the Kyoto Protocol in early 2001. Since then, the EU has emerged as the most fervent leader of this UN-sponsored treaty while the United States has remained the only major developed country, aside from Australia, to oppose it. Why is that? In light of their many similarities, the sources of the rift between Americans and Europeans are puzzling. With The Failures of American and European Climate Policy, Loren Cass provides the most extensive and well-researched comparative study of United States and European Union atmospheric protection to date. In addition to the EU itself, he focuses on Germany and the United Kingdom, its two most- outspoken members on this issue. The book is precisely and eloquently written. It is a valuable contribution to existing literature on the domestic adoption (or rejection) of international norms. Above all, the book is destined to become essential reading for students of these four political actors, all of which will remain crucial for confronting this century’s most pressing global challenge.

BOOK REVIEW, GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS, November 2007, Vol. 7, No. 4, Pages 149-151