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