The United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP 18) has been taking place in Doha, Qatar, for a week now (please see my previous blog). Much hope, albeit no optimism, is being pinned on these events, as scientists warned recently that the planet is heading for catastrophic levels of warming, of as much as 4-6 degrees C. They say emissions must peak by 2020 to have a chance of holding warming to no more than 2 degrees C. This is a highlight of events that caught my attention each day during COP 18, based on what I've been reading in the IISD reports of each day’s events.
Day 2: For me, one important message from day two came from Agnes Otzelberger, CARE International, who called for “a knowledge-brokering process that translates information to target audiences with different abilities to process information, noting the need for presenting climate data in innovative ways for illiterate populations.” I think this is important because I believe more people would contribute more to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases if they understood the science better. There is a need to make more use of simple, eye-catching, fun and effective methods, such as visual aids, animation and short films, to explain global warming and climate change in a more accessible way so that the message will reach everyone.
Day 3: There was a session on renewable energy, featuring a discussion on the Renewable Energy Readiness Report, presented by the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries clean energy network. The “RE Readiness Report for GCC Countries” found a need to develop strategic plans and reports on research and movements toward sustainable development in each GCC country. Arthur Runge-Metzeger, for the European Commission, informed participants that globally, a total of US$250 million was invested in renewable energy, which is an increase from US$120 million three years ago. He noted the increasing renewable energy deployment in the EU through a number of strategies including feed-in tariffs and called for a “turning point” at COP 18, specifically on technology cooperation.
However, for me one of the highlights of day 3 was a session entitled ‘Supporting Climate Policies through Social Media - Opportunities and Limits.’ The event examined the role, challenges and potential of social media in climate change negotiations. One of the panellists, Iain Keith, from the Avaaz Foundation, highlighted two main roles of social media: supplementing the lack of attention to climate change by the mainstream media, and allowing people to directly influence the climate change negotiations by building a critical mass of support. Another panellist pointed out how it can be difficult to report what is being discussed in the sessions of COP 18 via twitter, in 140 characters, which might result in misinformation on occasions. Keith said campaigns should engage people with humour, issues that speak to people and issues of the moment, noting that messages should be “catchy, sticky and easily transportable.”
Day 4 of COP 18: a number of youth events took place on “Youth Day” with many reflecting on the world they are going to inherit if progress continues at a “snail’s pace” and wondering if their protest to “thank delegates for their progress” was premature. My highlight for day 4, which was reported in the IISD reporting services website was the rhetorical question asked by one youth delegate, i.e. “How old will I be when we finally get an agreement?” reflecting on the continuing slow progress in discussions. “A sense of urgency is seriously missing from these negotiations,” he added.
Day 5: A session entitled ‘Measuring and Tracking Climate Progress’ was presented by the World Resources Institute (WRI). Taryn Fransen, WRI panellist, listed four questions central to policy assessment: Is the policy significant? Can we be confident it will deliver? What does it add up to in terms of progress on an overall emissions trajectory? What more can be done? Let’s hope policy-makers have been asking these as they draw up policies of any sort already.
Day 6: A session entitled ‘Global Update on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and Regional Project Perspectives’ which was presented by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) caught my attention, because I’ve been noticing quite a lot of literature on the technology for CCS among the literature we receive for abstracting here at CAB Abstracts lately (selection below). The session moderator, Barry Jones, from the Global CCS Institute, briefed participants on the global status of CCS and stressed that CCS is an important element in tackling climate change, describing his organization’s work. He pointed out that CCS is applicable to a wide range of industries and said that certain sectors need to scale up their use of CCS technologies. With regard to barriers to the realization of the benefits of CCS, including the time and economic costs of storage site selections, he called on governments to pass regulation to enhance CCS deployment and lower costs. Khalid Abuleif, Chief Negotiator for Climate Agreements, Saudi Arabia, highlighted a carbon management roadmap, focusing on stationary capture, mobile vehicles, enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and CCS in saline aquifers. He outlined key areas in which Saudi Arabia led the international community, which includes the call for an IPCC report on CCS and the inclusion of CCS under the CDM.
Day 7: Sunday, 02 December 2012. Although no main event took place, a side event today introduced and discussed the new Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA) model, to be launched in 2013. CARIAA is a US$ 70 million programme, initiated by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and Canada’s International Development Research Center (IDRC), which will run from 2012 to 2019, and might actually help the population in poorer parts of Africa and Asia to become more resilient to climate change. It aims to increase the resilience of vulnerable populations and their livelihoods in climate change “hot spots” in Africa and Asia, including densely populated river basins, large deltas, and semi-arid regions. The experience and lessons learned through DFID’s and IDRC’s previous joint climate change effort, i.e. the Climate Change Adaptation in Africa program (2006-2012), have provided insight and guidance for CARIAA’s mission.
Link to IISD Reporting Services.
Link to the Carbon Capture and Storage Institute web page.
Illustration by Belle Mellor, for the Economist.
- A dark art: field notes on carbon capture and storage policy negotiations at COP17. Günel, G.; School of Business and Management, Queen Mary, University of London, London, UK, Ephemera, 2012, 12, 1/2, pp 33-41.
- Potential impact of CO2 leakage from carbon capture and storage systems on field bean (Vicia faba). Al-Traboulsi, M.; Sjögersten, S.; Colls, J.; Steven, M.; Black, C.; Wiley-Blackwell, Copenhagen, Denmark, Physiologia Plantarum, 2012, 146, 3, pp 261-271, 45 ref.
- Combined hydrothermal carbonization and gasification of biomass with carbon capture. Erlach, B.; Harder, B.; Tsatsaronis, G.; Elsevier Ltd, Oxford, UK, Energy (Oxford), 2012, 45, 1, pp 329-338, 44 ref.
- Efficiency of policy instruments for CCS deployment. Finon, D.; Taylor & Francis, Abingdon, UK, Climate Policy, 2012, 12, 2, pp 237-254, 45 ref.