Harald Winkler to serve on High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices

At this year’s spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and the G20 Hamburg Summit in July, finance ministers will gather to discuss, among other pressing matters, climate change. Carbon pricing is expected to take up some of the discussion time, particularly at the G20 Summit. Thankfully, an in-depth report on carbon pricing will be available – one with notable contributions by UCT’s Professor Harald Winkler. The Commission Winkler, the director of the Energy Research Centre, was… Read moreHarald Winkler to serve on High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices

What might the Paris Agreement mean for South Africa?

What are the implications for South Africa of the Paris Agreement on climate change? Here is my initial take, following an earlier assessment of the contents of the Agreement The Paris Agreement is characterised by much broader participation than the Kyoto Protocol. Much more will be required for South Africa, together with all other countries, in terms of regularly communicating contributions. These contributions will be ‘nationally determined’, but subject to strong international review at the individual and collective level. This… Read moreWhat might the Paris Agreement mean for South Africa?

Paris Agreement: after climbing a great hill, many more to climb

Late on Saturday 12 December, a new Climate Agreement was adopted in Paris. Here is my take on the key elements. Be warned, it is a longish read – but then climate is a complex, super-wicked problem. And solving it is not easy. The key points are in bold … As Nelson Mandela said on his long walk to freedom: “I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to… Read moreParis Agreement: after climbing a great hill, many more to climb

Geneva was quick – but how deep will Paris go?

Climate negotiators almost pride themselves on talks going beyond the deadline. So when the most recent round finished its main task, to agree elements of a draft negotiating text, on Day 3 of six, there was confusion. In a mild panic attack, the collective unconscious said “What do we do now?” Various reasons may have contributed to fast work. The new Co-Chairs (from the US and Algeria) cracked the whip, with a refreshingly business-like style. The G77& China, chaired this… Read moreGeneva was quick – but how deep will Paris go?

How low can you go? Climate talks in Lima

Climate negotiations in Lima[1] last week decided on national contributions – with light information and very weak scrutiny. It did put together the elements of a deal in Paris, though differences on detail remain large. But with lack of adequate long-term finance, and a refusal to balance support of adaptation and mitigation, Lima did not make reaching in a deal in Paris easier. INDCs: Intended nationally determined contributions A major outcome expected from Lima was to specify “contributions” by countries… Read moreHow low can you go? Climate talks in Lima

Backwards Australians on carbon pricing

Source: AFP

Tony Abbot has fulfilled his campaign promised and repealed Australia’s carbon pricing mechanism (CPM). What his Coalition Party has misnamed a ‘carbon tax’  and made a political football. The cost to the climate will be paid by future generations, including Australians. It takes a huge step backward for Australia doing its fair share. A sad day for the climate. The ‘carbon tax’ was in fact a very well-designed emissions trading scheme, which in its first phase had fixed prices. New… Read moreBackwards Australians on carbon pricing

Of INDCs, elements and plumbing

The UNFCCC climate negotiations in Bonn focused in the big picture on national contributions, the 2015 agreement and rather fuzzily on pre-2020 ambition. The is the work in the Ad hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP), and lest one forgets, there are two standing Subsidiary Bodies keeping on building the ‘plumbing’ of the Convention on many detailed issues. The future of the climate regime attracts attention, but the devil– and sometimes perhaps also the solution… Read moreOf INDCs, elements and plumbing

When Loss and Damage is as good as it gets (reflections on Warsaw)

You know you’re in trouble when – the Warsaw international mechanism on “loss and damage” is as good as it gets. The climate negotiations the ended last week in the Polish capital launched a mechanism. Loss and Damage (L&D) is what happens when you can no longer adapt to impacts. The damages of typhoon Haiyan were a striking reminder how extreme events can lead to irreparable losses. And in the final hours, well beyond finishing time, negotiators did agree a… Read moreWhen Loss and Damage is as good as it gets (reflections on Warsaw)

US best-we-can plan not good enough to change the climate

The US President’s Climate Action Plan is the first time in a long while that the US has been proactive on climate change. It is certainly not enough, as in the US contributing a fair share of the cuts needed to actually address climate change. Yet as a refreshing change from decades of inaction it has led many observers to welcome the move. Perhaps too many of us have internalized the domestic constraints in the US, so much that we are inclined… Read moreUS best-we-can plan not good enough to change the climate

Australia’s -0.5% commitment

Australia made one of the few major moves in Doha – well, if you consider 5% or 0.5% “major”. Numbers aside, joining the EU with a commitment (QELRO in climate-speak) for the next period was a welcome move. That the reduction is 0.5% below 1990 levels, is what raised some queries nonetheless (for a funny take on -0.5%, watch this video by climate activists).. And that it is with existing land use rules and carrying over units. The -0.5% is… Read moreAustralia’s -0.5% commitment