By David Adam
December 9, 2008
Support for renewable energy technology to fight global warming is weakening in the face of worldwide economic problems and the true scale of the carbon reductions required, a survey published today has suggested.
Figures presented at the UN climate talks in Poznan, Poland, show that climate experts have less faith in alternative energy than they did 12 months ago.
The survey shows less support for wind energy, solar power, biofuels, biomass and hydrogen energy as technologies with "high potential" to reduce carbon levels in the atmosphere over the next 25 years.
There was also less support for carbon capture and storage, new nuclear build, small-scale hydropower and natural gas stations as viable ways to hit targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Eric Whan of Globescan, which carried out the survey of "climate decision makers", said: "As the climate crisis deepens they could be becoming less optimistic that individual technologies may be able to solve the problem."
The survey, supported by groups including the World Bank, the United Nations Environment Programme and the Pew Centre for Global Climate Change, questioned 1,000 senior figures across governments, pressure groups and companies in 115 countries over the last few weeks.
Almost three-quarters of the experts agreed in the survey that "equitable economic growth and development and significant progress in combating climate change can be achieved at the same time".
Asked to rate the likely success of low-carbon technologies in the mid-term, they showed less confidence than a similar survey 12 months ago. Support for offshore wind farms, the bedrock for ambitious UK renewable energy plans, was down to 61%, from 65% last year. Solar electricity generation was rated as having high-potential by 66% of respondents, down from 74%. Support for hydrogen power was 32%, down from 36% in 2007.
The respondents also warned that a deep recession would make a new global deal on climate harder to achieve. Some 44% agreed that the current economic crisis will significantly delay or compromise the "achievement of effective climate change agreements".
Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN climate secretariat, said the Poznan talks were edging towards an agreement on how rich countries could pay to help developing nations adapt to the effects of climate change. "On adaptation I would say the glass is two-thirds full," he said.
But he said this week's talks were unlikely to agree a long-term goal for overall carbon reductions by 2050.
The Poznan negotiations aim to set the stage for a new global treaty of climate change to succeed the Kyoto protocol to be agreed in Copenhagen at a meeting this time next year.
De Boer said: "We're at a very important moment in time, and at a very important moment of political stock taking."
UN climate chief downbeat about a complete deal for 2009
Agence France Presse
December 9, 2008
"We won't see a fully elaborated, long-term agreement in Copenhagen in 2009. It won't be feasible," de Boer told a press conference here.
According to the so-called Bali Roadmap, endorsed by the 192-member UNFCCC conference in Indonesia last year, the new accord should be completed in Copenhagen in December 2009.
"What we need to achieve in Copenhagen is clarity on the key political issues, so that everything after Copenhagen is about settling the details rather than negotiating the fundamentals," he said.
Rich countries acknowledge their historical role in pushing up global temperatures.
"And it's clear that you politically also need some form of engagement by major developing countries. What form that commitment will take, what shape it will have and how it will be stated, is not clear to me at the moment".
1) HERE, IN THIS VENUE, WE HAVE THE EMOTIONAL 'CRYING DUTCHMAN'.
3) AND, FINALLY, AS CONCERNS EU FOOD SAFETY & TRADE POLICY, WE HAVE HAD THE 'INSULTED' DUTCHMAN. See: Tony Van der haegen, EU View of Precautionary Principle in Food Safety, Presentation at American Branch of the International Law Association (Oct. 23-24, 2003) at: http://eurunion.org/eu/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2285&Itemid=151 ].
"He wasn't just wiping his eyes, he was in floods of tears," said one observer.
Mr. de Boer's breakdown came after nearly a fortnight of squabbling over proposals to cut carbon emissions.
America's representatives had also been jeered for insisting on firmer commitments from developing countries --despite President Bush's refusal to sign up to the previous targets laid down in the Kyoto Protocol in 2001.
"With that, Mr Chairman, let me say to you we will go forward and join consensus."
By then, members of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change - the organisation of which de Boer is executive secretary - should have agreed on a comprehensive plan involving wealthy and developing nations.
But Prime Minister Gordon Brown sounded a note of caution. "The Bali road map agreed today is just the first step," he said. "Now begins the hardest work."
The deal will come as a relief to Mr de Boer, who is known in the Netherlands for his passionate advocacy on the subject.