Report from Day 2 of Copenhagen Summit
The first-day was just for warming up. Picking up my delegate's badge, finding my bearings in the huge complex where the summit takes place and figuring out the value of the Danish currency, i.e. learning the hard way everything is expensive.
Today, on the second day, I could focus on more substantial things. Thanks to an acquaintance from my days in Brussels, I snuck into the daily meeting of the International Climate Action Network, a jam-packed room where all Environmental NGOs converge daily at 2PM to share information on the latest developments in different areas of the negotiations, such as mitigation, adaptation, financing, deforestation issues, etc.
This is also the meeting, where the NGOs decide on a daily basis which country or group of countries will get the "Fossil of the Day" award, basically a naming and shaming of countries that obstruct the negotiations or advocate for counterproductive policies. Today, the Fossil award was announced in true Oscar style. And the winner is ... UKRAINE!
Ukraine was singled out for having the single worst carbon emissions reduction target in the world: a -20% reduction from 1990 levels… which actually means a 75% increase from current levels! Richly deserved in my opinion.
What about the record of the Harper government in Copenhagen so far? Fully in line with expectations, Canadian negotiators have done little to help this milestone conference achieve an outcome that would help avoid a dangerous level of global warming. In today's Fossil of the Day ceremony, Canada got an honourable mention as part of the Umbrella Group, a group composed of Australia, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, the US and Canada. This group had proposed that Carbon Capture and Storage projects should qualify as international offsets under the Clean Development Mechanism. Dirty Coal as a way forward for Clean Technology? I don't think so. Another oxymoron to be added to the list of "green tar sands" and "clean nuclear energy".
I finished the day by attending an event on the feasibility of a low-carbon economy for China, organised by the American environmental NGO the Natural Resources Defence Council. One presentation explored the potential of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) for reducing China's emissions. The presenter of NRDC, Jingjing Qian, defeated in my view her own argument in favour of this technology. In one of her slides, she pointed out that the cost of CCS would be about $30 to $50 per tonne of CO2 captured. Moreover, the infrastructure to enable CCS could be very capital-intensive, given that some of the deep saline aquifers where all this CO2 should be stored, are often quite a distance from the source of the emissions. However, the final blow for the future of CCS must be the high energy penalty for implementing such a technology: For example, coal-fired power plants would, according to her figures, need to burn 16 to 31% more coal to make this a reality.
It is well after 10PM, time to find some food and bike home! Tomorrow, the other Sierra Club member attending this conference, Emily, will report on the latest developments. Watch this space!