You Will Be Eaten By a Bear

If yer one of them huntin’ folks up there in Wyoming or Montana – y’know, Republican, an’ thinkin’ climate change is a myth – best listen up.

You will be eaten by a bear.
A grizzly bear.
A six-foot-tall, 600-pound grizzly bear.

The bears are hungry.

See, grizzlies up in Yellowstone eat the nuts of whitebark pine cones. Trouble is, there aren’t as many whitebark pines. That’s because of the beetles. There’s been a huge beetle infestation of the Yellowstone whitebark pine – 70% of the trees have been decimated. And that’s because the ground’s not freezing as much to keep the beetles at bay. And that’s because of global warming.

“Every year is now a bad year for whitebark pine,” said Louisa Wilcox with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We can expect more conflicts and we are getting it.”

The bears are comin’ down the mountain an’ eatin’ livestock.

“Right now every god-dang dead cow down in this country’s got grizzlies on them,” said Mark Bruscino, a bear specialist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in Cody. “We’ve already had a couple of reports of bears on the gut piles of hunter-killed elk. Road-killed deer have bears on them.” (Quotes via the Associated Press.)

An’ when they ain’t got no roadkill to eat, they’ll go with human carpaccio. Two people done gone an’ been killed by grizzlies so far this year, the most in a century. But those ain’t related to no whitebark pines. Ain’t the time of year yet. But it will be soon, as autumn arrives. So watch out, folks. Global warming could kill you sooner than you think.

Read more at the AP [H/T John Emerson]

Oceans’ Chemistry Changing Rapidly

The fish might need these one day.

Not too long ago we reported that the oceans are farting out a lot of methane. Today’s special Earth Day report confirms that the chemical makeup of the world’s oceans is changing – fast – because of  increased CO2 absorption from the atmosphere.

The pH of the oceans is declining, i.e. our seas are growing more acidic. In fact, since the Industrial Revolution to today, the rate of increasing acidity is greater than at any time in the last 800,000 years. And that’s really bad news for coral, and for photosynthesis.

The full story in the AP is located below the fold, since the story comes to me over Yahoo!’s network, and it destroys links after a certain time.

Continue reading “Oceans’ Chemistry Changing Rapidly”

Global Warming = More Volcano Eruptions?

Y’know, we don’t particularly want to be apocalypse extremists here on WHEN HISTORY ATTACKS!, but the hits just keep on coming. See, over at The Daily Galaxy, a rather anxiety-inducing formula has just been proposed by researchers at the University of Leeds and Iceland-Vatnajökull (where Iceland’s largest ice cap is located).

Okay. So we know that large ice masses are very heavy and weigh down the Earth. For example, Greenland’s ice sheet has depressed the center of that vast island so much that it’s pretty close to sea level. Well, the same thing happens in places like Iceland, which – as we know all too well – have a lot of volcanoes. Glacial ice presses down upon the Earth’s crust, which presses upon the mantle and the magma chambers within. Scientists now think that if the ice melts, there will be less pressure keeping down the magma, and – boom – you might see more ol’ smokeys fouling up airlines across the globe. To begin with. Hey, at least we might have some spectacular sunsets for those Four Horses to ride through. Check out the details here.

The Dangers of Overeating

When you eat too much, too quickly, you fart. And what comes out of your ass is methane, aka a greenhouse gas. What’s true for the human and the cow is also true for the Earth: the planet has eaten too much crap, and now it’s farting – SBDs. The other day we reported that the Siberian permafrost is melting, with the effect of leaching gargantuan amounts of methane into the atmosphere.

Now, according to the New York Times, the undersea permafrost is “already sending surprising amounts of methane into the atmosphere.” Scientists at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks (you know, the university of the state that produced Sarah Palin, another kind of gaseous windbag – the kind that denies global warming) have been studying the seabed to the west of the Bering Strait, and it confirms there’s a whole hella lot of methane rising up into the atmosphere.

Scientists in Germany and Scandinavia have been working this problem too, with similar conclusions. While some scientists say the release of undersea methane is “negligible,” the seabed west of the Bering Strait is farting nearly eight million tons of methane annually. The total output from the oceans is likely to be in the range of 550 million tons of methane into the atmosphere. While scientists don’t know yet whether this is an increase (because the issue simply hasn’t been studied with any regularity) it is relatively simple to put 2+2 together and get a whole lot of stinky air filling our home and trapping the sun’s heat.

Now that’s some Silent But Deadly. Excuse me for sending my loud fart ripping through this space, but maybe this will light a flame to clear the air. Read more at the New York Times.

~ David Schneider

Hello there. The permafrost is melting.

A worker for Fyodor Shidlovsky's National Alliance returns to base in June 2008 with mammoth tusks in Sakha republic in Siberia. (Fyodor Shidlovsky archives)

Hi guys. Whether or not you believe all this claptrap about global climate change, there’s a little fact we ought to bring to your attention: the Siberian permafrost is melting and woolly mammoth bones are surfacing – so many that Russian scientists are doing a splendid side trade in woolly mammoth tusks. In fact, they used to go for as much as $700 per kilogram; however these finds so endangered the market for African ivory that African ivory merchants made a huge sell-off of their wares to gut the woolly mammoth-tusk trade to about $220 a kilo.

The Los Angeles Times, which had its own news staff gutted by the financial crisis, has done a brilliant job at getting us this story. (We here at “WHEN HISTORY ATTACKS!” had almost written off the L.A. Times as a true functioning news organization.) And in this story, they’re telling us several things. First, the global financial meltdown has caused such frantic competition across the world, that a whole lot of people are forced into side trades (including Russian scientists and, by corollary, journalists). Second, these side jobs often have the negative effect of pressuring illegal economies – like the African ivory trade, which is banned worldwide with just a couple of exceptions. They will have to slaughter more elephants to make their living, and that means both legitimate, honest journalists and elephants are increasingly becoming very endangered species.

This is all embedded – but unstated – in the Los Angeles Times article, as well as the minor fact that the melting of the permafrost is an extremely bad thing. Trapped in the frozen ground is the world’s biggest reservoir of methane, which is a greenhouse gas. Its release virtually guarantees an acceleration in global climate change. So if you still have any doubts about global warming, come back to us in a couple of years and tell us “You were right.”

P.S. WOOLLY MAMMOTH tusk scavengers v.s. the African ivory trade is analogous to recycling vs. consumption of dwindling resources. The very issue of conservation itself is scalable from paleontology to global warming. Which is kind of a neat trick, if it weren’t all so deadly serious.

This Doesn’t Look Productive

MARIANNE LAVELLE & M.B. PELL write for Politico

The next round of the battle over climate change policy on Capitol Hill will involve more than the usual suspects — way more.

Watch soup makers face off against steel companies. Witness the folks who pump gas from the ground fight back against those who dig up rock. And watch the venture capitalists who have money riding on new technology try to gain advantage in a game that so far has been deftly controlled by the old machine.

An analysis of the latest federal records by the Center for Public Integrity shows that the overall number of businesses and groups lobbying on climate legislation has essentially held steady at about 1,160, thanks in part to a variety of interests that have left the fray. But a close look at the 140 or so interests that jumped into the debate for the first time in the third quarter shows a marked trend: Companies and organizations that feel they’ve been overlooked are fighting for a place at the table.

The amount of money involved quite likely rose as well. Although amounts spent on lobbying by issue are not disclosed, if the groups involved spent just 10 percent of their lobbying budgets on climate issues, they shelled out $30.5 million in the third quarter — up nearly 13 percent over the previous quarter.

Of course, the framework for climate change legislation developed by a trio of senators — Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry, South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham and Connecticut independent Joe Lieberman — already makes clear that the climate debate will expand into new realms. Incentives for nuclear power construction and more offshore oil and gas production are key proposals they’ve floated for gaining Republican and moderate Democratic votes for a climate change package. But beyond what are sure to be high-profile battles over those issues, the lobbying records also reveal that a host of smaller battles are brewing — sure to greatly complicate the already immense challenge of writing a successful bill. It’s one of the reasons that — despite the pledge by President Barack Obama and other world leaders to exhibit “strong political will” on climate — it most likely will be months before the Senate moves on a measure to curb fossil fuel emissions.

read more at Politico

Bad Air

Les Blumenthal writes for McClatchy

WASHINGTON — A 562-foot smokestack that spewed a plume of arsenic, lead and other heavy metals over 1,000 square miles of Washington state’s Puget Sound for nearly a century remains a fitting symbol of the largest environmental bankruptcy in U.S. history.

However, it also tells a cautionary tale of how a company that’s intent on shedding its environmental liabilities could manipulate the nation’s bankruptcy system.

In this instance, Grupo Mexico, S.A. de C.V., tried and failed, according to lawyers and regulators who are close to the case. It took a federal judge, however, to block what some bankruptcy lawyers call a “candy heist” that could have left taxpayers responsible for cleaning up 80 polluted sites in 19 states, a job that initially was estimated to cost $6.5 billion.

The smokestack in Ruston, Wash., once the world’s biggest, has been demolished, as has the copper smelter that fed it. The smelter was owned by Asarco, a century-old mining, smelting and refining company based in Tucson, Ariz., that once was listed on the Fortune 500. Grupo Mexico bought Asarco in 1999.

In court documents, Grupo Mexico has denied that it maneuvered Asarco into bankruptcy in an attempt to evade its environmental responsibilities. Grupo Mexico refused to comment for this story.

“Grupo Mexico tried to use a bankruptcy court to avoid Asarco’s cleanup responsibilities, and they almost got away with it,” charged Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.

Asarco officially emerged from bankruptcy earlier this month, and Grupo Mexico has paid $1.8 billion in cleanup costs. In addition to claims filed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, 15 states — including Washington, Oklahoma, Missouri, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — and various Indian tribes and private parties had filed environmental claims against Asarco.

State and federal regulators say they’re more than satisfied.

read more at McClatchy

Obama Day in Copenhagen?

Suzanne Goldenberg writes for the Guardian,

Barack Obama is poised to arrive in Copenhagen tomorrow with additional pledges of cash for poor countries which will suffer the most from global warming, a day after America’s promise to support a $100bn a year climate fund.

Obama’s arrival has been the most anticipated event of the 10-day summit, which has lurched between optimism and rank despair. He will seek to make a decisive impact, building on the announcement today by Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, who said for the first time that America would support a $100bn global climate change fund from 2020. But she will be a tough act to follow, as the statement was seen by delegates as a gamechanger.

Obama is expected to add an extra boost of momentum by beefing up America’s share in a $10bn a year fast-track aid package. That aims to cushion poor countries from the impact of climate change and promote rainforest preservation starting next year. He is also expected to outline little-known provisions in the climate bill passed by the House of Representatives that would direct some $4bn a year from the auction of emission allowances to a fund to help developing countries adapt to climate change and deploy clean technology.

He is also expected to call more forcefully on the Senate to pass climate change law, critical to the eventual success of Copenhagen. “I’ve got a sense that she set the table, and he is going to deliver the knock-out punch,” said Earl Blumenauer, part of the delegation of Democratic congressmen to the talks.

Clinton gave no specifics on how America would raise its share of the $100bn fund, and she made her offer contingent on overcoming an atmosphere of mistrust to reach a deal at Copenhagen. “It is no secret that we have lost precious time in these past days,” she said. “In the time we have left here, it can no longer be about us versus them — this group of nations pitted against that group. We all face the same challenge together.”

read more at the Guardian

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi Calls For Compromise

John Vidal writes for the Guardian.

The head of the African group of nations at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen has proposed a finance deal where rich countries would pay for schemes to help poor states adapt to climate change and develop their economies using clean technology.

The proposal, from the Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi, of $50bn (£44bn) a year for poor countries by 2015 and $100bn (£89bn) by 2020, is far less than many developing nations had been calling for, but is roughly in line with a proposal in June by the UK prime minister, Gordon Brown, and an offer agreed by the EU in October.

Control over the funds would lie with the countries receiving the money. The G77 group of 130 countries, backed by the least developed countries and small island states, has long proposed that $400bn (£356bn) a year, or 1% of rich countries’ GDP, would be the appropriate figure.

Meles also proposed that 50% of the fund created should be allocated to vulnerable and poor countries as well as “regions such as Africa and small island states”.

In addition, he suggested that a group of high level financial experts investigate and report back within six months on possible “innovative” ways to raise the money. IMF special drawing rights, as proposed by the G77 and financier George Soros, a carbon tax, a possible “Tobin tax” on all financial transactions and even taxes on flights and shipping would all be assessed. His proposal is likely to have been largely agreed by rich countries following intense talks in the last 24 hours between Meles, Gordon Brown and other world leaders.

Meles admitted that many Africans would not be happy: “I know my proposal will disappoint those Africans who … have asked for full compensation … for damage done to our development prospects. My proposal dramatically scales back our expectation of the level of funding in return for more reliable funding and a seat at the table in the management of such fund.”

“Because we stand to lose more than others we have to be flexible,” he said, adding that there was a danger that no deal would be done. “That is not an idle threat but a solemn promise by Africa that we will strive for a fair and just deal,” he said.

read more at the Guardian

Almost Presidents Push Copenhagen

GLENN THRUSH writes for Politico,

COPENHAGEN — Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is tired of the world telling the Senate what to do — so he spent his brief stopover Wednesday at the U.N. climate conference telling the world what it can do for the Senate.

In a speech that was part climate-change pep rally, part lecture on America’s legislative political dynamics, Kerry argued that he needs a strong political settlement at COP-15 to jolt the Senate into action on its moribund cap-and-trade bill.

“Some of my colleagues in Washington … remain reluctant to grapple with a climate crisis mostly measured in future dangers, when they’re confronted every day with the present pain of hardworking people in a tough economic time,” the Foreign Relations Committee chairman said, referring to coal- and factory-state Democrats who view carbon caps as job-killers.

To pass a bill, we must be able to assure a senator from Ohio that steelworkers in his state won’t lose their jobs to India and China because those countries are not participating in a way that is measurable, reportable and verifiable,” he added.

“Every American — indeed, I think all citizens — need to know that no country will claim an unfair advantage.”

Despite the challenges, the veteran climate change advocate is still sticking with a relatively optimistic timeline, saying he thinks the Senate can pass a bill next year similar to the one rammed through the House —possibly as early as June,  a month or two after the deadline former Vice President Al Gore proposed in Copenhagen earlier in the week.

Kerry’s desire to drive a hard bargain with China and India is in line with the stance of the U.S. delegation and its lead negotiator, Todd Stern.

While developing nations focus on President Barack Obama’s relatively modest emissions-cut pledge, Stern’s team has pushed for greater international verification of greenhouse gas output in China and India — two of America’s largest commercial and industrial competitors.

read more at Politico

President Obama Comes to Copenhagen Friday

Jim Tankersley in Copenhagen, with Christi Parsons in Washington write for the Los Angeles Times,

President Obama will not arrive at the Copenhagen climate summit until Friday, its final day, but he worked the phones Monday to push world leaders to cut a deal on a new global-warming agreement.

“The president’s been very engaged on this issue,” Todd Stern, Obama’s special climate envoy, told reporters at the summit Monday.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs confirmed the calls to reporters in Washington and said Obama would stay engaged all week. “When the president picks up the phone and calls world leaders, I would define that as personally involved,” Gibbs said.

Stern said negotiators also are spurred by the simple fact that Obama and 110-odd other heads of state are set to arrive later this week. It’s a major departure from the last several climate conferences, including the Kyoto meeting in 1997, which yielded the first global treaty to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Those meetings were dominated by ambassadors and environmental ministers.

read more at the Los Angeles Times

Tree Hugging the New Oil?

ELISABETH ROSENTHAL writes for the New York Times,

COPENHAGEN — Negotiators have all but completed a sweeping deal that would compensate countries for preserving forests, and in some cases, other natural landscapes like peat soils, swamps and fields that play a crucial role in curbing climate change.

Environmental groups have long advocated such a compensation program because forests are efficient absorbers of carbon dioxide, the primary heat-trapping gas linked to global warming. Rain forest destruction, which releases the carbon dioxide stored in trees, is estimated to account for 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally.

The agreement for the program, if signed as expected, may turn out to be the most significant achievement to come out of the Copenhagen climate talks, providing a system through which countries can be paid for conserving disappearing natural assets based on their contribution to reducing emissions.

A final draft of the agreement for the compensation program, called Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD, is to be given on Wednesday to ministers of the nearly 200 countries represented here to hammer out a framework for a global climate treaty. Negotiators and other participants said that though some details remained to be worked out, all major points of disagreement — how to address the rights of indigenous people living on forest land and what is defined as forest, for example — had been resolved through compromise.

A final agreement on the program may not be announced until the end of the week, when President Obama and other world leaders arrive — in part because there has been so little progress on other issues at the climate summit meeting, sponsored by the United Nations.

“It is likely to be the most concrete thing that comes out of Copenhagen — and it is a very big thing,” said Fred Krupp, head of the Environmental Defense Fund.

For poorer countries, the payments will provide a much-needed new income stream. For richer nations, the lure of the program is not cash but carbon credits that can be used to cancel out, in part, their industrial emissions under a carbon trading system, like the cap-and-trade plan currently under consideration by Congress.

Forests “have become a pot of money or a get out of jail free card,” said Peg Putt, a consultant to the Wilderness Society. “Either way, there’s the prospect of financial benefit now, as opposed to just being told, ‘Do the right thing,’ like it was two years ago.”

read more at the New York Times

Nigeria Sees Red in Copenhagen

JEROME CARTILLIER writes for the Mail & Guardian Online,

Africa’s frustration at the United Nations climate summit boiled over on Monday as delegates walked out of key talks and continental giant Nigeria warned the negotiations were now on red alert.

Sources at the marathon talks said Africa led a five-hour boycott of working groups, with the backing of the Group of 77 developing nations, and only returned after securing guarantees that the summit would not sideline talks about the future of the Kyoto Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol ties rich countries — but not developing countries — that have ratified it to legally binding emissions curbs.

It also has an important mechanism enabling the transfer of clean-energy technology to poorer nations.

Yet it does not include the United States, which says the Protocol is unfair as the binding targets do not apply to developing giants that are already huge emitters of greenhouse gases.

Algeria, speaking at a press briefing on behalf of the 53-member African Union, demanded that there should be a special plenary session devoted to Kyoto.

“Otherwise we are going to lose everything,” Algeria’s chief negotiator Kemal Djemouia told reporters.

Asked about the state of negotiations, Nigeria’s pointman rang the alarm bell.

“It is ‘climate code red’ right now, we are in code red right now, we stand at the crossroads of either hope for Africa or hope dashed in ‘Hopenhagen’,” Victor Ayodeji Fodeke told Agence France-Presse.

read more at the Mail & Guardian Online

African Nations Teeter from Boycott

Andrew Ward and Ed Crooks write for the Financial Times,

Talks have resumed at the Copenhagen climate conference amid escalating tensions between rich countries and the developing world over how a deal should be structured.

African nations had earlier on Monday led a boycott of a key working group bringing negotiations to a halt. The delegates returned later saying that they had won some concessions.

The temporary halt in the talks came just four days before world leaders are supposed to converge on the Danish capital to complete a deal, and underlined that developing countries remain at loggerheads with the US, Europe and their allies over how to share the burden of fighting global warming.

Much of the tension is focused on whether to keep alive the Kyoto protocol – the existing international climate agreement struck in 1997 – as part of a new deal or replace it with an entirely new treaty.

Developing countries, including China, India and Brazil, want to keep the Kyoto process because it commits developed countries to legally binding emissions cuts without making the same requirements of poorer nations.

But developed countries, led by the US, want a new framework that binds China and other emerging economies to targets.

African leaders on Monday accused Denmark, which is chairing the conference, of trying to sideline the Kyoto protocol from negotiations and said they would not take part in the morning’s talks as a result. Other developing countries backed their stance, leading to the suspension.

“The Kyoto protocol is of paramount importance to us,” said Mama Konate, chief delegate for the African nation of Mali. “We can never accept the killing of the Kyoto protocol.”

read more at Financial Times

Carbon Has a Posse?

Jim Tankersley writes for the Los Angeles Times,

Reporting from Copenhagen – International negotiators are quietly making progress here on steps to reduce “stealth” pollutants that contribute to climate change, including soot, refrigerants and methane gas, which together account for nearly as much greenhouse gas pollution as carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide, of course, is the poster gas for global warming. Disagreements over how to reduce its emission from cars, factories and power plants have dominated the Copenhagen climate talks so far.

But carbon dioxide accounts for only half the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. And while top leaders postured and negotiated over a host of issues related to carbon emissions in the first week of the summit here, behind the scenes diplomats have worked toward compromises on a few simple strategies to reduce the other pollutants that cause global warming.

Those sources include so-called black carbon, soot from incompletely burned fossil fuels and biomass, including that produced by ships and cooking stoves that collects in the atmosphere and on ice and prevents sunlight from being reflected back into space; hydrofluorocarbon chemicals, known as HFCs, used in refrigerators and air conditioners worldwide; and methane, which emanates from coal mines and landfills.

Many scientists and environmentalists say reducing the “forgotten 50%” of pollutants will be faster, easier and substantially cheaper than cutting carbon dioxide, and could buy the world time in its climate clock race.

“We can eliminate — not just cut — one of the six greenhouse gases this week,” said Durwood Zaelke, a longtime environmental lawyer who is president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. “This can buy us more than a decade of delay” against the worst effects of climate change, he said.

read more at the Los Angeles Times

Africa Unites?

John Vidal, Jonathan Watts and Suzanne Goldenberg write for the Guardian,

The Copenhagen climate talks hit trouble tonight as a number of African countries indicated their leaders would refuse to take part in the final summit unless significant progress was made in the next three days.

The showdown between rich and poor countries came as ministers began arriving in Copenhagen to take over negotiations. However, negotiators failed to reach agreement in key areas such as emission cuts, long-term finance and when poor countries should start to reduce emissions.

More than 110 heads of state, mainly from developing countries, are due to begin arriving on Thursday for an intense 24 hours of final negotiations.

Delegates hope for a deal on Friday that will ensure temperatures do not rise by more than 2C, and that hundreds of billions of pounds is pledged to help poor countries adapt to climate change. But tonight it appeared that many did not want to risk being pressured into signing an agreement they believe would be against their national interests.

“The industrialised countries want to hammer out a large part of the deal on the last day, when the heads of state arrive,” one senior African negotiator told the Guardian on the condition of anonymity. “It’s a ploy to slip through provisions that are not amenable to developing country efforts. It’s playing dirty.”

One added: “It is as serious a situation as it ever has been. It is more than probable many heads of state will not come if the negotiations are not complete. Why should a head of state come to sign an agreement that is basically a non-agreement?”

High level Chinese and Indian representatives indicated they would be in Copenhagen, but they made clear they wanted key points agreed before they arrive. They also appear desperate to avoid a situation where western leaders jet in and steamroller the main points on the last day of the conference.

read more at the Guardian

Draft Text Released

Richard Black writes for the BBC,

Rich countries are being asked to raise their pledges on tackling climate change under a draft text of a possible final deal at the Copenhagen summit.

Documents prepared by the summit’s chairmen call on developed nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25-45% from 1990 levels by 2020.

Analyses suggest that current pledges add up to about 18%.

The document leaves open the exact target for limiting temperature rise, amid disputes between various blocs.

Small island states and poorer nations of Africa and Latin America have called for the document to endorse the target of keeping the temperature rise since pre-industrial times below 1.5C (2.7F).

This is below the figure of 2C (3.6F), which was endorsed by the G8 and major developing economies in July, and implies the need for drastic emission cuts.

An analysis by the UK Met Office, released at this meeting, showed that meeting 1.5C would be “almost impossible” to meet without implementing measures to take carbon dioxide out of the air.

The temperature figures are listed as alternatives in the draft documents.

Work in progress

The texts are a long way short of constituting a final outcome document, as they leave open some of the most difficult points of the negotiations so far, including the legal form of any new agreement.

read more at the BBC

The Trillion Dollar Bicker

LISA LERER writes for Politico,

COPENHAGEN — Reaching an international agreement to curb the dangerous impacts of global warming largely depends on the two key players at the U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen  — China and the United States.

But so far, the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters seem more interested in taunting than talking.

“I don’t want to say the gentleman is ignorant,” Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei told reporters Friday, referring to top U.S. negotiator Todd Stern. “But I think he lacked common sense or he’s extremely irresponsible.”

The minister’s zinger was prompted by comments Stern made at his first press conference here on Wednesday, when he blasted the Chinese for not doing enough to curb their carbon emissions. Stern vowed that the United States would help some developing countries pay for cutting greenhouse gases  — but not China.

“I don’t envision public funds — certainly not from the United States — going to China,” Stern said. “That’s just life and the real world.”

read more at Politico

Amazon Opt Out?

John Vidal in Copenhagen writes for The Gaurdian,

The US president, Barack Obama, made his first public intervention in the Copenhagen climate summitNorway and Brazil which would protect the world’s rainforests today by backing a plan put forward by with funding from rich countries that cannot meet their commitments to cut emissions domestically.

Speaking after he accepted the Nobel peace prize in Oslo, Norway, Obama said: “I am very impressed with the model that has been built between Norway and Brazil that allows for effective monitoring and ensures that we are making progress in avoiding deforestation of the Amazon.

“It’s probably the most cost-effective way for us to address the issue of climate change – having an effective set of mechanisms in place to avoid further deforestation and hopefully to plant new trees.”

The president is not due at the conference for another week but his intervention comes at a critical time in the summit where negotiations on deforestation are moving rapidly.

The scheme is seen as attractive because pilot studies have shown it to be effective and has the backing of Prince Charles’s Rainforest Project.

Countries are more or less unanimously behind finding a way to reduce deforestation, which accounts for 16% of world greenhouse gas emissions, but are encountering sticking points which require the intervention of heads of state.

At least 20 different plans for Reduced deforestation and degradation (Redd) plans have been put forward by many different countries, but talks are in the balance over the rights and safeguards for people who live in or depend on the forests; how the money can be prevented from falling prey to corruption; how to measure and verify claims of protection and the future of existing forest industries.

read more at The Gaurdian

Day 5: Danish Text May Have Bigger Circle

TIM GRIEVE & LISA LERER write for Politico,

BREAKING, from AFP: “EU officials scrambled through the night to secure six billion euros in pledges Friday to help the developing world tackle climate change and provide a boost to UN climate talks in Copenhagen.

“The first day of a European summit broke up late Thursday with the Swedish EU presidency still short of its goal but confident that more money could be squeezed out of the 27 assembled heads of state and government.

“The leaders are determined to underline the EU’s leadership role in fighting climate change and set the tone for the on-going global warming talks in Copenhagen, where money is a hot topic.
“’We are still working on putting together what European countries on a voluntary basis are able to put on the table,’ Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told reporters at a late-night press conference.

Happy Friday, and welcome back to the Copenhagen Connection.

THE MINDMELD: Delegates, White House officials and NGOs are atwitter over reports and rumors that China and India not only saw but signed off on a copy of the now-infamous Danish draft before it leaked to press.

If true, the reports would signal a deeper rift than many anticipated in the G-77 — which could change years of developed vs. developing world drama. Already, talk of a break is high because of strict demands from the small island states.

A divide would be good for the United States and Europe, which want to bag a win at the talks — and don’t want the G-77 following through on threats to blow up the talks with a walk-out.

It would also be a positive signal for U.S. negotiators, who hope to break up the developing-nation block as a way of weakening its demands for more money and stricter emissions cuts.

Smart delegates are also keeping close watch on South Africa — does it stay with African nations or break off with the emerging economies?

And all eyes are on Brussels — Copenhagen is closely watching the year-end E.U. meeting. Officials are supposed to come out with some final decisions on short-term finance and emissions — key points that could have a huge impact on the conference. E.U. negotiations have been talking about going to 30 percent to boost the international talks, but Poland and Italy are skeptical. Watch closely to see who wins that fight.

Also: Watch closely to see what impact, if any, Kerry/Graham/Lieberman’s new framework has on the debate. U.S. negotiators will use the framework to show that they are ready to take action. But the outline has a goal that’s bound to disappoint many in Copenhagen.

read more at Politico