Friday, December 11, 2009

Copenhagen: Day 5

In a sincere attempt to attend a briefing for NGO delegates on G77 interests, I arrived so early to the briefing and ended up sitting in on an actual closed meeting of the G77 and China, though I didn't realize it at the time.  In general, State Parties were signaling that they wanted the text to move forward, but a number of disagreements remain.  The diplomatic style of State Party representatives in the room varied significantly, with China leading with a brief statement indicating their mild support and interest in the recommended text moving forward despite very clear reservations and disagreements, but with India taking the time to list detailed points of concern.  The Group Chair, from South Africa, defended the process behind the development of the language, emphasizing sources from earlier documents and discussions, and the consequences of not having language ready to move forward. 

The text under discussion was regarding the release of the Chair's proposed language amending the Kyoto Protocol and adopting language for Long-term Cooperative Action (LCA).  The LCA draft “states that emissions should be halved worldwide by 2050 compared to 1990 levels, but it also suggests 80 percent and 95 percent reductions by that year as possible alternative options.”  ClimateProgress explains:

Halving emissions by 2050 is estimated by scientists to have roughly a 70 percent chance of limiting global warming to two degrees C above pre-industrial levels. An 80 percent cut would increase the likelihood of staying below the two-degree threshold to 85 percent. However, small island nations and many African nations believe the science shows that warming needs to be limited to 1.5 ° C to ensure their survival.
For any wonks reading this, here are links to draft text, including bracketed options where the issues are unresolved:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Copenhagen: Day 4

Today I attended briefings for U.S. Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) delegates held by the State Department's lead negotiator, who discussed with delegates the key issues getting to a deal, such as financing structures, and the important relationship between negotiations and U.S. Congressional action on climate legislation. 

U.S. - China Youth Exchange

Afterwards, I attended a session between American and Chinese youth.  Despite the slow pace of negotiations, it gave me new hope that so many young people from China are participating in the conference, and not only share the environmental and human rights values that many Americans hold, but are actively engaged in research, business, communications, and advocacy to promote China's acceptance of emission reduction targets. 

While the official position of China earlier this week was to block some proposed amendments to the Kyoto Protocol, it was refreshing to engage in an open discussion with young people from China who could balance China's developing nation status and need for international financing mechanisms, but who shared a commitment to wanting our nations to adopt an ambitious, binding treaty.  When my break-out group discussed shared opposition to coal-fired power plants, an economics PhD student from China recalled the prisoners' dilemma, where prisoners are logically doomed to their worst fate due to mutual disincentives, but she also pointed out that a solution to the dilemma is open channels of communication. 

This evening, some new channels were opened among China and U.S. NGO youth. While I certainly hope this is happening effectively among the State Party negotiators, it was insightful to learn at a tactical and cultural values level how Chinese researchers and organizers are advocating for their government to act, too. 

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Copenhagen: Day 3
I think the issues from Day 3 are best summarized by the Center for American Progress Wonk Room.  My brief synopsis follows:

Key Event- Tuvalu, and other small island states, are staring at the brink of survival when considering the outcome of international action to stop climate change.  Tuvalu moved to form a new "contact group" to begin talks on a parallel protocol to the Kyoto Protocol.  While many developing nations supported this, Saudi Arabia, China, India, and others opposed, with the US, EU, and Australia and others silent.  After this effort was blocked, Tuvalu moved to suspend the COP negotiations, and without consensus, they were suspended.  This question of process remained unresolved. 

Key Issues:
1. "Ambition," - The scale of emissions reductions by developed countries.
2. "Differentiation," Whether some developing countries will be pressured to take direct targets.
3. "Support"  To what extent the developed countries will provide financing and technology transfer to the developing countries to reduce their emissions.

There are real advantages to opening up these issues with a new protocol.  The Bali Action Plan from last year requires the United States to take on targets that are "comparable" to Japan and the EU, but doesn't address targets for India and China.  The US also lacks firm commitments for emission reductions and international aid.

Monday, December 07, 2009

EBMUD Adopts Water Supply Management Plan 2040

The EBMUD Board of Directors adopted the Water Supply Management Plan 2040 to meet our water needs over the next 30 years on Tuesday, October 13. While the Plan includes increased water conservation programs, recycled water projects, rationing during worst-case droughts, securing water transfers and groundwater storage, it also includes desalination, and expanding Pardee reservoir with a new dam.

The proposal to expand Pardee Reservior would flood nearly 1,000 acres, including about two miles of riparian and scenic stretch of the Mokelumne River that is used for whitewater recreation and fishing. I support managing our water supply relying on groundwater storage, recycled water, rationing in severe worst-case droughts, and increased investment in conservation programs to avoid the environmental impacts of a new dam that would destroy our natural resources.

East Bay Express 4/29/09 - "Sierra Water Grab"
San Francisco Chronicle 10/14/09 "EBMUD Board Votes to Boost Water Supply"
Read the adopted Water Supply Management Plan 2040 here
***Amendments made on the hearing dates may not be included.

Votes for expanding Pardee: Directors Coleman, Foulkes, Mellon, Patterson.
Votes against expanding Pardee: Directors McIntosh, Katz, Linney

The Board by acclamation included in the adopting resolution to condition future development of expanding Pardee on the support of upcountry stakeholders, and confirming the need for water based on the latest information.

Diesel Truck Standards to Cut Toxic Pollution by 80 percent
NBC Story 12/12/08

Diesel trucks and buses on the road represent the largest source of toxic diesel emissions in California.
These toxic diesel emissions are responsible for causing approximately 1,500 premature deaths and more than 38,000 asthma attacks annually in the state. Truck drivers, children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable to the health risks of diesel pollution. The loss of life, health care costs, and lost work and school days cost an estimated $12 billion each year, nine times more than the cost to clean up the trucks.

Update: Due to economic concerns, the California Air Resources Board continues to monitor planned implementation of the Truck and Bus Rule, and will take public comment at their December 9, 2009 Board meeting.

News archive on EBMUD drought policy in 2008:

East Bay Express Story

ABC 7 News Story

EBMUD WaterSmart Center

Sunday, December 06, 2009

News archive on Protecting Tenants in Foreclosed Buildings from Water Shut-offs:

ABC 7 Story February 26, 2008
ABC 7 Story March 11, 2008

San Francisco Chronicle March 25, 2008
San Francisco Chronicle March 26

SF Chronicle on Governor's Veto of AB 1333 (Hancock)

EBMUD will seek to co-sponsor legislation with Alameda County in 2010 to find a permanent solution so that EBMUD can get bills paid through property liens, a remedy available to every other water utility in California.