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India’s Minister of State for Environment and Forests Shri Jairam Ramesh chaired a impassioned Saturday panel on "Equitable access to Carbon Space: A Paradigm for Agreement," promoting a 'shared vision' for negotiations based upon equitable 'carbon space' for developing countries

An enthusiastic crowd spilled out into the corridors to continue discussion after the expert panelists indicated keen interest in a few of the inspired ideas floated during the Q&A, all seemingly 'pie-in-the-sky' suggestions -- like advancing a shift from gold to a global carbon standard or replacing traditional finances with effort based systems as bargaining chips.

Later that evening, expectations ran high at the World Climate Summit, hosted by Carbon War Room co-founder and eco-gladiator Sir Richard Branson, who presented the first ever Gigaton Consumer Discretion Award to one of the  Global 1000 climate conscious companies.

Raising a buzz poolside today that if big news does breaks from Cancun, it just might come from a highly unexpected source.


Carbon Space?  The Carbon Club By Ludo / Performance Images /

"The main question is how do we embed in the negotiating process an approach to this global goal, a framework which will provide an equitable access to sustainable development," said Ramesh.  "This access is so important because now the international community has a global goalpost of 2 degree Celsius."

The panel featured reports and opinions by T. Jayaraman of Mumbai's Tata Institute of Social Science; Martin Khor from Geneva's EDd South Centre; and Harold Winkler of ERC & University of Cape Town, South America.

In essence, the discussion focused on the rights of LDCs to a fair share of the remaining ‘carbon space’ -- both atmospheric and developmental -- noted in all the official negations -- to pursue and achieve sustainable development. The failure of COP negations to incorporate a carbon-based paradigm into the negotiating framework was presented as a direct by-product of the distancing of academic findings from the mainstream negotiating process.

"When we talk about carbon budgets, we are NOT talking about the right to pollute," said Ramesh. "What we are saying is that there are huge countries that have the imperative of sustaining a high rate of economic growth and while these countries take on commitments as part of the international negotiation framework, these agreements should not impede equitable access to the means of development."

The budget approach: A framework for a global transformation toward a low-carbon economy

The carbon budget, mentioned in the Kyoto Protocol and advocated by the Potsdam Institute, is viewed by BASIC countries and other LDCs as a win-win in that it outlines an equitable manner of burden sharing and equitable access to carbon space, which is based upon scientific certainties.

Combining findings from climate science and economics with fundamental concepts of equity, the "budget approach" provides concrete figures for the emission allowances that are still available to countries, assuming they want to prevent the destabilization of the planet’s climate system. Our calculations demonstrate that the time pressure for acting is almost overwhelming—in industrialized countries and also in emerging economies and many developing nations. We suggest several institutional innovations and rules to manage the global and the national CO2 budgets in a transparent, fair, and flexible way. A sober analysis of the state of the art of climate change science and of the state of multilateral attempts to create an effective climate protection accord so far reveals that the budget approach can provide crucial orientation for the negotiations toward a comprehensive post-Copenhagen climate regime. The approach facilitates at the same time an institutional design for a low-carbon global economy, setting the necessary incentives for decoupling economic growth from the burning of fossil fuels. Link.

1.5, 2.0, 1.0 ...

India and the other BASIC countries are not against a global goal for emissions reduction, but they believe any decision must be preceded by an equitable framework for deciding how all countries will share the burden for global emission cuts.

"1.5 and 2 is very serious and its not that India is against 1.5 or 2 or even 1," said Ramesh. "What we are saying is where is the framework for an equitable sharing of costs? Once we have this framework, then we can decide on the SCIENCE and only then would LDCs have a fair chance of still fulfilling the right to development"

What is the carbon budget and how should it be shared?

The carbon budget is a calculation on how much CO2 can be emitted between now and 2050 without moving global temperatures above 2 degrees.

Climate scientists have determined we can use 1440 gigaton of CO2 from 2000 to 2049.  Currently, we only have 300 gigatons left!

"There is an enormous over occupation of carbon space by developed countries and this over occupation is so gross and extreme that under no conditions will the developing countries get anywhere near their fair share," says Professor Jayaraman. "The bulk of the world will not even reach 50% of fair share and the rest will have even less. And this will continue, even if developed countries could came to absolute zero emissions by 2050."

While CO2 as a pollutant is front and center, the other less discussed parameter is CO2 as ‘development space’, the space LDCs need for poverty reduction and sustainable development.

If countries of the world continue to emit 30 gigatons of CO2 annually, in 20 years at this current rate, the entire carbon budget will be exhausted. Developed countries have overused their fair share in relation to the total world population by 568 gigatons, and that, says Dr. Jayaraman, "is their carbon debt."

The most serious questions which arise in these considerations are:

• How do we pay back this carbon debt?
• How is carbon allocated and what are the rights and responsibilities?
• What parameters are used in determining carbon rights and debts?
• If a country overuses its limit, what are the consequences?
• How do you operationalize a carbon budget in the negotiations?

This is our Great War: The Carbon War Room. A Parallel Conference

Our global industrial and energy systems are built on carbon-based technologies and unsustainable resource demands that threaten to destroy our society and our planet. Massive loss of wealth, expanding poverty and suffering, disastrous climate change, water scarcity, and deforestation are the end results of this broken system.

This business-as-usual system represents the greatest threat to the security and prosperity of humanity – a threat that transcends race, ethnicity, national borders, and ideology.

Systems do not change themselves – the same stale, business-as-usual thinking that has driven us to our current state of emergency will continue to endanger our safety, our livelihoods, and our planet. We need new thinking, new leadership, and innovation to create a post-carbon economy. Our goal is not to undo industry, but to remake it into a force for sustainable wealth generation. The Carbon WarRoom/


The Gigaton 5 By blgmadresh100

"Think of it like this," says Dr. Jayaraman. "Your doctor tells you that you need a triple bypass. You say 'I’ll work out the money and get back to you. Maybe I can come up with enough for 1 and a half bypasses.' It just doesn’t work"

All these talks of carbon sinksand REDD, he says. "WHO will get the sinks? The science was starkly clear by 2009. There are NO sinks to be had.

photo
Peace, Love and Carbon Sinks by Chiharus S.

" The base line is that there is a linear relationship between emissions and how much temperature increase there will be. Some countries want to go with an increase 2 degrees while others are saying 1.5. There is so much carbon we can put up there. There’s no way around it.

It’s time, said Dr. Jayaraman, for academics to become the centerpiece of these negotiations and for those in power to face the fact that fossil fuels are going to around for long, long time. There are no realistic alternatives for transferring to alternative fuels in any significant manner and it would be foolhardy to plan growing economies which are not based on fossil fuels.

"The nub of the issue is we still need fossil fuels and departing from their use involves high costs to everyone," he said. "If the world had a way of moving away from fossil fuels, we would be popping the champagne over at the Moon Palace right now or we might have popped it last year."


Gigaton Awards by Simple Switch

3M Wins Best in Class in Carbon War Room

December 4, 2010 | Cancun, Mexico |  In the midst of the climate debate’s tug-of-war between regulators and the private sector, "us versus them" took on a very different meaning at the World Climate Summit’s first ever Gigaton Awards, held in tandem with the Sixteenth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP16).

At the event, private sector climate leaders celebrated their weighty emissions reductions and environmental leadership in spite of negotiators’ and some governments’ inability to produce meaningful international and domestic commitments.

Among the award presenters was billionaire Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, who contrasted the spirit of the event with the world’s low expectations for outcomes in Cancun when he said, "This night is about raising expectations"

"I think that if governments are not going to be able to get on top of the problem, then it’s up to business." Branson is a co-founder of the Carbon War Room, which hosted the evening ceremony to recognize climate conscious Global 1000 companies across six sectors of business: Consumer Discretionary, Consumer Staples, Industrials, Telecommunications, Energy, and Utilities.

Branson wasn’t the event’s only headliner to contrast private sector accomplishments against political inertia. CNN and United Nations Foundation founder Ted Turner seized the podium as the evening’s honoree to put it bluntly: "We’re right, they’re wrong." link

Got some hope, anybody?

Originally posted to boatsie on Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 08:42 PM PST.

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