Monday, December 13, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Klimaforum: Bio-intensive, Animal-integrated, Perennial-based, Organic Regional Food Systems as the Climate's Saving Grace
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Going off word of mouth directions, we were looking for a 7-11 in Puertos Morelos. The only 7-11 we had so far encountered was one off the highway which seemed to be the center of exchange for ADO buses from the airport to the taxis and local route bus lines. After asking some shop owners in downtown Puertos Morelos, it turned out that was the only 7-11 in town. 20 pesos and a 5 minute cab ride later, we were waiting on the side of the 7-11 in front of a Klimaforum sign for some to-be known vehicle to pick us up.
About 30 minutes later our ride arrived – a dusty silver astrovan blasting conscious hip-hop from the states, and out came three people heading back to wherever. We got in with two Spanish speakers and a woman named Justine from an NGO in Brooklyn who was documenting the spread of industrial agriculture in the developing world. I was intrigued and excited for what was to come.
2.5 km from an ecopark boasting caves, ziplines, and crystal clear pools of natural springs was El Rey, which is a polo club. Ironically, the Klimaforum was hosted in the latter. We registered our names and emails, paid 10 pesos for the shuttle and began to explore the modest and seemingly quiet counter-UN event. On the gate entrance was the schedule for the day. It was about to be lunch and after that we decided to hear a presentation about how organic farming is, and should be, the saving grace for climate change mitigation as well as adaptation.
The feeling of the event was worlds away from the COP. The entire event was open air, side-events or workshops held in party tents on a large turf field, open-air café and stage that doubled as blogger’s post with wifi up until 5:00pm. The energy slower friendlier, and more communal; every one ate the same 40 peso ($3.50 USD) meal of rice, kidney beans, roast potatoes with veggi-sausage, and cilantro lime shredded carrots. English and Spanish mingled in the air and people of all walks, including young children, talked and ate together or ran around the field.
Simone and I walked around the inner perimeter of the field listening to the sounds of birds and we checked out the Meshwork:
The Meshwork is an interactive diagram that places important epicenters of change needed to prevent the destructive forces of climate change. Next to those epicenters were cards that described specific actions needed to see those changes. The idea then is that the connections made can be taken home with you by registering at the website www.2020climatesolutions.org which will connect you to similar people in your local area.
All in all it was quiet, calm and free spirited. Though not dull, there were many vibrant people who were looking for alternative roots to enacting changes, ones were they had more of a voice. Ironically though, it didn’t have a format all that different to the COP. There were some more spiritual activities like drum circles and dances for the earth, but the bulk of the experience was simultaneous hour and a half presentations.
I had later learned that the alternative forum experienced a rift as those from the Klimaforum received government funding for their event, those wanting a process completely exterior to the state formed the People’s Dialogue, though equally as elusive to find, but apparently more radical.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Questions from the Cornell community answered...
Q: I'm teaching a course next semester on "The Politics of Slow Moving Crises" on the difficulties political systems have in interpreting and responding to risks with long time horizons, like climate change. I'd be particularly curious in learning more about how participants at climate change negotiations evaluate the politics of addressing climate change, and if they view states' responses to climate change negatively, then what do they see as the alternative avenues to coordinating responses?
A: I can give an overview of how several developing countries are approaching REDD from attending the side event titled, "Souther Civil Society, Local Community and Indigenous Peoples Perspectives on REDD". Simone Lovera of the Global Forest Coalition and Friends of the Earth International advocates heavily against REDD for the reasons that governments that enact REDD are also involved with pre-existing conflicts of interest such as mining, logging, and biofuel concessions. Valuation of the forests, in her argument, comes from the indigenous's understanding and intimate connection with forest benefits, i.e. it s non market. She argued that there are several pre-existing frameworks that should be strengthened instead of ignored, pointing primarily to the UN Convention on Biodiversity and the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights. Other countries represented in the panel are less skeptical about REDD due to their involvement of indigenous peoples and small communities. Cited examples were a pilot project in Tanzania, a very successful, full-integration of indigenous rights in Paraguay with CAPI. Examples from Cameroon and Indonesia felt that much more work needed to be done to ensure indigenous rights as well as deforestation rather than just reduced emissions.
Q: I hope that the delegation can give us a better idea how economically feasible geologic carbon sequestration will be in the future given the view of the conference presentations and attendees on some alternatives to encourage or force atmospheric CO2 reductions (like carbon tax, cap and trade, and legislative regulation of CO2 emissions).
A: From IEA sponsored side event I learned of an in depth report of the techno-economic aspects of CCS refer to IEA GHG Report 2008/2009 by Foster Wheeler Italy.
In dedicated CCS facilities energy efficiency goes down, capital costs increase, and the cost of electricity increase compared to Biomass CCS. In current carbon markets there is no clear language of how biomass CCS or CCS in general will fit in. It is unclear and currently being debated if CCS at all can be included in CDMs. CCS was however acknowledged in the IPCC GHG Guidelines (2006) Chapter 5.3 as being a reportable negative emission. The technical potential of Biomass CCS is 10 Gt in the power sector (33% of global electricity demand) and 5 Gt in biofuel sector (31% of global fuel demand), more realistic estimates tally out to 3 Gt. With the caveat that biomass supply is the largest limiting factor.
Q:I’m also interested in what they have to say about and risk analysis for geologic carbon sequestration for the supply of uncontaminated water. It is my impression that international concern about potable water supplies is growing, perhaps almost to the level of concerns about energy shortages. Is that a correct impression and what group or region is driving that change? I have worked on water resources for years. In the last decade it seemed that there was not all that much interest in water. What has changed now and why? Is population growth the driver or is it water needs associated with energy development (including water to grow ethanol) ? What do people see as the solution?
A: By 2050 65% of CCS projects will occur in developing countries and 45% of the projects will be associated with coal burning plants (the rest occurring in the sectors of nuclear, natural gas, and biofules primarily). I asked about the possible threat to potable water, especially considering the high occurrence of these projects in developing countries. A panelest from the IEA (International Energy Agency) acknowledged that there has been no official analysis and conceded that there may negative impacts on water, but there has been no quantification done yet. Other panelists remarked that CCS used in exhausted oil fields or into saline aquifers do not impact drinking water. A panelist from Chevron mentioned that in the US there is legislation to make sure that all steps in CCS are controlled. A panelist from Canada further clarified earlier points by saying that ground water is generally found 300 - 500ft below the surface and that these wells were at about 6,000ft below. An informed audience member told me later that no water is used in compressing CO2, however no one mentioned issues during drilling etc.
Population pressure and water was not discussed
Simone Lovera from the Global Forest Coalition (GFC) and Friends of the Earth International gave a very impassioned argument as to why REDD programs are often in direct conflict with the goal of reducing deforestation. The GFC is a group of 50 NGOs and Indigenous Peoples Organization which followall of the major intergovernmental forest negotiations, but they specifically address the underlying causes of deforestation. The causes she identified were: 1) Demand for wood. Governments are increasing demand by subsidizing wood fuel as a move away from coal. 2) Demand for land. Bioenergy programs promote expansion of land use, she argues to the point where if we derived all of our fuel from biomass there would be no unmanaged forest remaining, and further that bioenergy is promoted under REDD.
3) Conflict over land tenure. Ownership rights vs indigenous territories have plagued state-indigenous relations for centuries. 4) Industrialization, urbanizationm infrastructure. Institutions like the World Bank should not be promoting on the one hand reducing deforestation and on the other development of “under-utilized” land. 5) Poor central planning lack of political will, inadequate capacity. 6) Economic poverty, no alternative livelihood. 7) Climate change. 8) Neoliberal economic policies, unsustainable consumption and poverty.
There are however, uplifting cases of non-REDD forest conservation. These are based off of a non-market appreciation of forest ecosystem services such as clean and abundant water, food, and shelter. Those living in the forest consider themselves custodians of mother earth.
The panelists who described success had differing views. In 2009, Tanzania began "pro-poor" REDD pilot project . Norway has invested $75 million USD into an MRV program as well as 7 NGO projects, further the UN is investing $4.2 million USD. In Tanzania REDD can work because the villages and communities own the forest and therefore the money from emissions reductions will reach them. The locals welcome the opportunity for more income, to move away from slash and burn agriculture, and to funnel new monies towards schools and clinics.
In Paraguay, the organization CAPI was instrumental in involving indigenous cultures into the REDD negotiations which started in 2008. By keeping indigenous interests at the forefront through the whole process, the entire rights of these peoples have been incorporated for the first time in the UN-REDD Programme. More information can be found at www.capi.org.py/pueblos_indigenas.html (in spanish).
Indonesia and Cameroon/Congo Basin have not seen such similar success, mostly due to ambiguous legal language, nebulous land tenure, and absent local voices at process meetings. Major challenges have been 1) Political framework. There is disharmony between policy and forest protection due mining, plantations, etc. 2) Fulfillment of rights. The forest and its peoples are inseparable, there have been no real strides to make right on this. 3) Financing and $ flows. Political corruption has made this a critical issue. 4) Technical aspects such as MRV. Giogio Budi of the Indonesian Civil Society on REDD showed a slide that illustrates the inherent conflift REDD and true deforestation by biofuels per se:
This panel discussion was presented by several UN organizations and surveyed several places where the UN is working to improve the capacity to deal with preparedness for climate change related challenges at the nation level.
Maria of UN-HABITAT spoke of urban measures for adaptation and mitigation in the Philipines, where a 1 m sea level rise will affect 80% of the municipalities.
Julia Jules of CD4CDM (Capacity Development for Clean Development Mechanisms) in Peru spoke at length at how Peru was doing everything imaginable to be carbon finance friendly. This mostly dealt with government and finance level organization and of course capacity development, which would be building Peru’s ability to accept these CDM funds by insuring financeable projects, as well as having all of their ducks in line in the way of eligibility, money distribution, money sourcing, etc. This paid off for them though, through partnerships with Scotia Bank, Banco Continental, and Banco de Credito Peru has welcomed $11 billion in new investments. This money will fund 45 new CDM projects. Peru is also heavily promoting their CDM efforts and have been noted in May 2008 as “country of the month” by CDM Highlights magazine and is currently 6th best host country for CDM investments by Point Carbon magazine. As of now, in 2010, there are 147 CDM projects in the energy sector totaling in 25,783 tons of CO2 per year reduced and in 2011 there will be 152 projects estimated to reduce emissions by 250,000 tons of CO2. More information can be found at fonamperu.com
Peter Holmgren of UN-REDD spoke of current REDD projects going on in Tanzania. He indicated the largest barrier to implementing REDD on a large scale were the transaction costs of training personnel to learn new technologies and to carry out the actual inventories of emissions in forests. This is also known as MRV, which stands for Monitoring, Recordkeeping, and Verification. MRV is currently the largest barrier for any terrestrial carbon management project looking to get funding from REDD and CDMs. The issue lies in the imperative to accurately measure emissions and sequestrations over huge areas of land with heterogeneous management, structure (topographically as well as in the vegetation), and soil, and then to track those measurements over time. To quote Holmgren “Forest MRV, without it, we can’t do anything”.
In order for participating, or interested countries to receive the compensation generated by REDD programs, the countries need to build their capacity to do MRV in order to submit a report. Not only capacity of states limited, but on the international level, Holmgren told us, there are not enough experts and implementers.
Tanzania represented an interesting case study where the FAO, UNDP, and UNEP have been working extensively with the Tanzanian National Forestry Program through longstanding work with the Forestry and Beekeeping Commission. This helps with capacity building, but the Brazilian Space Institute has been very instrumental by providing training workers to use remotely sensed data, like satellite images, as well as some technology transfer. In summary, REDD has much to offer, but also many demands. Costs need to be brought down, remote sensing needs to become available at the local level, training and training support is essential for the states to sustainably carry out REDD requirements as these projects can last up to a century or more. Holmgren also called for more Global South-to-Global South government collaboration as well as Global North-to-Global-North academic collaboration.
I asked the panel about how they felt food security and food sovereignty fit into capacity building, in the scope of the projects they reported on, my question went unanswered. It was clear to me that these UN efforts are tailored towards building capacity to generate CDM derived incomes for states, not necessarily building capacity of the people of those countries to adapt to the challenges that climate change presents.