Cancun Reports (Rolling Updates)

Dec. 9 - Guardian reports secret proposal for new international treaty – developing countries outraged
(From the Guardian)
“Europe and a group of small island Pacific states have jointly proposed a new international treaty at the UN climate talks in CancúnMexico, to commit developing and developed countries to reducing their climate emissions, according to leaked documents seen by the Guardian and the Times of India.

The move has outraged many developing countries, including China, Brazil and India, who fear that rich countries will use the proposal to lay the foundations to ditch the Kyoto protocol and replace it with a much weaker alternative.”

Dec. 6 – Week one very selective report (a scare, some hope and the inevitable WikiLeak connection)
Week one is over and things in Cancun are definitely getting more newsworthy. The big story of the first week was a statement by Japan that it didn’t support a binding second period without the big emitters coming on board (see below). This was followed by the surprising (but not really surprising) statement by UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, which named Canada and Russia as two of the parties opposing an extension of the Kyoto Protocol. This was surprising because many vetran COP observers hadn’t heard this stated publicly (and certainly not by someone of Figueres’ stature), even if it is consistent with Federal policy historically. The hard line taken by some developed nations led to fears that the entire process might collapse.

Don't forget me!

Fortunately, things seem to have calmed down and current reports (via twitter) from the COP indicate that many countries are still trying to move ahead on laying the groundwork for a binding agreement in Durban (the site of COP 17 next year).
Human rights lawyers and members of international labour movements were disappointed to see protections and affirmations of various issues related to human rights and labour stripped from negotiating texts, and are currently lobbying to have protections re-inserted into the document.
Wikileaks has hit Cancun as well, with claims that the US took inappropriate behind-the-scenes action to push the Copenhagen accord. The US Special Envoy, Todd Stern, denies the use of improper tactics.
Here are some helpful links if you want to find out more (and there is a lot to find out):
1. Guardian’s Ultimate Climate Change Q & A
2. Guardian’s Week 1 Roundup
3. Open Climate Network – convenes independent research institutes based in each of the major economies to provide consistent and peer-reviewed assessments of national climate progress (Canadian data to be provided by the Pembina Institute) – what a great initiative – this was launched by a great panel featuring Lord Nicholas Stern and Canada’s own Claire Demerse (from Pembina).
Dec. 1 – CDM’s Future
I just spoke with a very knowledgeable european carbon analyst. I’m not going to mention his name because I didn’t ask his permission to repeat his comments. He said that he isn’t worried about the future of the CDM. His read of the negotiations is that, while some aspects of Kyoto might be in trouble, the CDM, which is self-financing and generally working “well” isn’t on the chopping block. Whether that means it gets converted into some other form that doesn’t fall under Kyoto or international negotiators find an extension option is up for discussion.
It is important to realize that everyone at the negotiations has an agenda, so the comments should be viewed from the perspective that the speaker makes his livelihood off of the carbon markets, but I think they are an interesting starting point for discussion.
Dec. 1  - Japan Throws down the Gauntlet

Japan is Ready to Rumble

Hello from Cancun.

The big news so far at the conference is Japan’s announcement on Monday Nov. 29, 2010 that it does not support an extension of the original Kyoto Protocol if all major emitters aren’t covered. The Japanese Government instead wants a global agreement on climate change.

The Kyoto Protocol’s original commitment period, which set out the first round of greenhouse gas reduction targets extends from 2008-2012 only. Copenhagen was an attempt to find an agreement for a new commitment period to commence after 2012. When that collapsed, it led to worries about the future of emissions markets that have been created to trade in Kyoto “Flexibility Mechanisms”  (read carbon credits) such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). People started asking how the UN could be supervising the CDM when the commitment period had expired.

Many observers hope that Cancun will be the site of some kind of temporary measure to keep the Flexibility Mechanisms alive. That’s why Japan’s statement on Monday, and previous press reports that it is willing to isolate itself rather than extending the Kyoto Protocol without the participation of all major emitters (the US and China among the most serious) raised such a stir.

Bloomberg notes that the price difference between credits under the CDM and those under the European Union’s ETS has increased.

Credit Spread Widening

Credits for 2012 that were created under the UN Clean Development Mechanism, set up after the Kyoto accord, traded at 4.25 euros ($5.56) less than those in the European Union’s cap- and-trade program as of Nov. 30. That compares with a 2.39 euro discount at the start of the year.