Archive for the ‘Orator letters’ Category

Obama Keystone decision sends Canada to export to Asia

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Canada will seek to export its controversial tars sands crude to Asia, Prime Minister Stephen Harper indicated Thursday to US President Barack Obama.

Obama announced Thursday that the Transcanada company’s Keystone XL pipeline would not be given the greenlight but did not rule out that the company could not apply again in the future. Instead Obama squarely placed the blame for his decision on the Congressional republicans for forcing an “arbitrary timeline” for the decision when an alternative pipeline route was still in the process of being agreed.

Harper “reiterated to the President that Canada will continue to work to diversify its energy exports,” according to a readout of the telephone conversation sent to New Orator by his press secretary Andrew MacDougall later on thursday afternoon.

Asked whether this would mean Canada would seek to export its Alberta tar sands crude to Asia, notably China and South Korea who have both invested in the tar sands, MacDougall replied via e-mail: ”Asia is an area of focus in that regard.”

Harper expressed his regret to Obama over the decision, stressing the ”significant contribution” the pipeline would make to jobs and economic growth in both the US and Canada.

Obama’s Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporter during Wednesday’s press briefing the President had opposed the original pipeline route that Nebraska’s Republican gocvernor had also refused to give a permit due to concerns the pipeline could leak and contaminate the Ogallala aquifer.

As an alternative route is still to be decided and agreed, Carney quipped to reporters: ”You don’t grant a permit for a pipeline with a significant portion of it missing.”

In his statement, Obama stressed his Administration remained committed to ”American-made energy that creates jobs and reduces our dependence on oil.”

Domestic oil and natural gas production has increased under Obama’s presidency, he claimed in his statement, ”while imports of foreign oil are down,” he said.

”In the months ahead, we will continue to look for new ways to partner with the oil and gas industry to increase our energy security,” continued Obama.

Commenting on the 20,000 jobs Trascanada claimed the pipeline would create, Carney suggested that if Congressional Republicans mobilized behind the American Jobs Act, hundreds of thousands of jobs would be created through returning to work teachers as well as construction jobs in excess of the Keystone XL pipeline due to infrastructure spending.

Canada’s ‘meaningful’ climate action brought under scrutiny by report

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

Canada will likely miss its 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reductions target by almost a third according to latest analysis by Canadian environmental think-tank the Pembina Institute.

At the recent Durban UN climate change conference, Federal Environment Minister Peter Kent referred to Canada’s ‘meaningful action’ on climate change and the government’s targets to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 as the government sought to negotiate a global climate agreement that included all major emitters.

However, Pembina’s report ‘Responsible Action’ indicates that their projected shortfall in Alberta’s provincial target would actually reduce Canada’s mitigation ambitions to 12 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, assuming the government is successful in reducing its emissions elsewhere.

Kent has frequently underlined Canada’s commitment to the Copenhagen Accord, and declared in his recent Ministerial declaration speech in Durban that “Kyoto is in the past.” On Monday, Kent announced Canada would withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol whose targets of reducing emissions 6 percent below 1990 levels by 2012 it abandoned reaching in 2007.

Under the 2009 Copenhagen Accord, world leaders agreed to limit the increase in average global temperatures to no more than 2 degrees Celsius in order to prevent serious climate change, a target that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states would require global emissions to stabilize at 450 parts per million by volume before being reduced by at least 50 percent by 2050.

Pembina’s projected emissions shortfall for Alberta would likely mean Canada’s emissions would be almost 13 percent above 1990 levels in 2020.

Quebec flies in face of Canada to launch its cap and trade

Friday, December 16th, 2011

While Canada may have announced it wants to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol, the French-speaking province of Quebec announced its cap and trade scheme to combat its own greenhouse gas emissions.

Where Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions are some 25 percent above 1990 levels when its Kyoto target should be 6 percent below 1990 levels by 2012, Quebec`s actual emissions are 2.5 percent below 1990 levels, all the more remarkable as the province has approximately 95 percent hydro-electricity power-generation which means that fuel switching to cleaner sources of fuel is not an option.

Instead so-called ‘final mile’ emissions reductions, the ones that are hard to achieve, have been implemented.

In January, Quebec will commence a transitory pilot-phase to its cap and trade scheme under the California-led Western Climate Initiative scheduled to be rolled-out in full in 2013.

In the initial phases of the scheme, industries producing 25,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year will be included in the scheme and, as of 2015 and similar to the original proposals of the Waxman-Markey legislation defeated in the US, fuel distributors for transportation and buildings that emit over 25,000 tonnes or more of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions will also be included.

Emissions allowances will be ‘grandfathered’ or provided free in the first instance and will then be capped by 1 percent and then 2 percent until 2015.

Companies emitting more than their allowances must invest either into clean technology or buy emissions credits.

Liberal Prime Minister Jean Charest has committed to reducing Quebec’s provincial greenhouse gas emissions by 6 percent below 1990 levels by 2012, in keeping with Canada’s Kyoto Protocol target that Stephen Harper’s Conservative government abandoned in 2007.

Under the mango tree – Durban climate talks branch out but still bear no fruit

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

If the so-called Indaba text is the mango tree to provide an abundance of fleshy, ripe fruits, then it has still a long way to branch out at the UN climate talks in Durban.

Reaction to the South African Presidency’s Bigger Picture text was mixed. While a Japanese delegate member said the bigger picture might require ‘higher definition,’ Democratic Republic of Congo negotiator Tosi Mpanu Mpanu called the text a ‘small improvement,’ he stated that it required clarity in order to provide greater ambition under the Kyoto Protocol and not put further pressure on least developed countries to undertake any mitigating action.

Mpanu Mpanu eloquently said that to have any mangoes required the Indaba text to provide the mango tree.

The Indonesian delegation described the text as ‘so-so, but we hope for better.’

Indeed the ability of the Indaba text to cross-fertilize many issues without alienating anyone party is critical to the success of the 17th UN climate conference, known as COP 17. The revised text has now included the Kyoto Protocol but at the expense of the 2007 Bali Action Plan while deferring any commitment to steeper mitigation targets.

Paragraph 3 of the new Indaba text included greater reference to agreements both at Copenhagen and the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Action previously established under the Bali Action Plan, the latter would be phased-out at the end of next year’s COP 18 to be held in Qatar.

The text now includes Kyoto members in the development of a Protocol or ‘’another legal instrument’’ that would be applicable to ‘’all Parties under the UN Framework Convention.’’

However, this would make no distinction between developed and developing countries and obligations under the concept of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities or historic responsibilities, Friends of the Earth Policy Analyst Kate Horner told Platts.

A member of the Mexican delegation countered this argument to say that the text did not need to include all references while Brazil’s chief negotiator Ambassador Luiz Alberto Figueiredo praised the progress over the first Indaba text for being more ambitious, its references to Kyoto. ‘In principle, it seems to be what we want,’ he told New Orator.

However, of general concern is the lack of ambition on mitigation action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that could now be deferred until after 2014 as the text calls for all commitments to be informed by the forthcoming 2014 IPCC 5th Assessment Report, as well as the 2013-2015 review of the subsidiary bodies.

While the Indaba text has branched out to touch more issues and appeal to more parties’ positions, its success will inform the 132-page Long-Term Co-operative Action which in turn informs the Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol and subsequently trickle down to Kyoto issues such as Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF).

Yet while the text may have branched out, the world waits to see any action on climate change through any open and televised plenaries where the nation’s big emitters justify their positions to the world, rather than through a system of closed meetings.

If Durban produces any mangoes, they may be the firm, unripe variety that leaves the world in a climate pickle. That outcome will likely be discovered late into the night.

Developed countries drive wedge through major developing countries

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

India’s chief negotiator Mr Mauskar indicated Friday a process of ‘divide and rule’ was being forced through the so-called BASIC countries of Brazil, South Africa, India and China.

European Union Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard told a press conference that Brazil and South Africa were now prepared to accept a legally-binding agreement.

India’s chief negotiator said that BASIC countries would stick together and that India had not ruled out agreeing to a legally-binding agreement, he said.

The EU released a Common Statement Friday following a press call Thursday demonstrating support for their roadmap leading to a 2015 legally binding agreement from both the Least Developed Countries (LDC) and the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS).

The EU, OASIS and LDC common statement called for an operational Green Climate Fund and increased mitigation commitments.