Live: 2012 Petersberg Climate Dialogue opens in Berlin

By Ed King

– The day’s top climate change stories as chosen by RTCC
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– Updated from 0900-1700 BST (GMT+1)
Live WEBCAST from the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin

Monday 16 July

DAY 1 SUMMARY: Merkel tells Petersberg Climate Dialogue that equity means everyone – not just a few

1712 Final word from Switzerland, Franz Perrez says that information will be key to making sure national efforts are translated into more activities. He says there needs to be better information on what commitments countries have been implementing and will implement not only to build trust to but to drive “new ambition and new efforts”.

1708 Claudia Salerno speaking from Venezuela says despite being an oil producer, the country produces 70% of their oil from renewables – mainly hydro – and are a country who are already feeling the impacts of climate change. She says the country has used their frustration in the international negotiations and taken it back to do something about it nationally.

1649 Connie Hedegaard speaking now on behalf of EU. Says three things are vital to keep country governments focused – putting in place binding targets, getting the prices right and setting the standards.


She says in the EU businesses and industries that have shown resilience to the financial crisis are those who have invested in green growth and says they see energy efficiency as central to tackling the crisis. Important to have discussions on removing fossil fuel subsidies, reforming systems and finding a better way of measuring growth in order to decouple emissions and growth.

1620 Al-Attiyah, who is really enjoying his position of chair now, welcomes the ‘lovely young lady’ from Gambia. Not convinced that goes down too well with the Honourable Fatou Ndeye Gaye, Minister for Forestry and Environment, Republic of Gambia.  Her computer then breaks deleting her speech. good recovery: “Bear with me everyone, this is an LDC (Least Developed Country) computer”.

1612 Small presentations from Australia, Brazil & Bangladesh. These are all just repeating what they have been doing – national climate mitigation plans

1550 Co-chair Al-Attiyah uses his post to let rip about assessing states climate policies by their per-capita emissions. “We are cast as the bad boys by the big boys…per-capita is the biggest trick in the world” he says. Any prizes for guessing who has the biggest per-capita emissions in the world? Qatar. Interesting that the COP18/CMP8 chair has decided to get involved on this issue now.

1538 Now here’s a man talking from a solid base. Mexico‘s Environment Minister Juan Elvira Quesada – who’s an old hand at these talks. On June 1 outgoing President Felipe Calderon signed a new climate law, aimed at reducing Mexico’s emissions by 30% on a 2020 baseline. He stresses the importance of linking climate change and development, international decisions and local measures. “We have been on a carbon diet – cutting 7% of total emissions so far.”

1530 China’s chief climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua is up next. He’s running through a list of figures and stats explaining how China is committed to low carbon development. He’s unremitting. But he does provide examples of the wide range of incentives and regulations that China is planning to implement – including a much vaunted carbon market. But it’s nothing new (and let’s be fair – nor was what Ed Davey said either).

1526 Davey ends by saying his ‘finance minister’ is happy with these proposals. Followers of climate politics in the UK will know Chancellor George Osborne appears anything but, and the COP18 chair (and co-chair here) Al-Attiyah adds an unwittingly hilarious tone to proceedings by telling Davey ‘no finance minister is ever happy’, and he bets that his one ‘is not’. And he’s right. He’s not.

After a ropey start I’m sensing Al-Attiyah could be quite a star in Doha.

1524 UK Energy & Climate Change Minister Ed Davey explains to a slightly dozy audience exactly what the UK has been doing to promote ‘green growth’, running through Green Deal, electrification of railways and other regulations. Stresses he believes it is vital to have a binding deal at the top, despite progress below.

1520 Petersberg Dialogue is now live again – watch on the German Environment Ministry website

1438 What do we mean by the Circular Economy? @rtcc_tierney has been investigating – it’s a fairly simple concept but one that could have dramatic effects on the way we live our lives, what we consume and the well being of the planet.

1435 We’ll have more from the Petersberg Climate Dialogue when parties reconvene in around 30 minutes. Remember the German Environment Ministry is streaming it LIVE

Until then here’s another picture from GreenpeaceUK‘s day of direct action against Shell, in protest again the latter’s decision to start Arctic exploration in the coming weeks. And it seems this Polar bear has met its match in the honest British bobby:

Edinburgh police arresting a Polar Bear (Copyright Greenpeace UK)

1400 Summary. Well that was a strongly worded, positive and can I say patriotic speech by German chancellor Angela Merkel. She is clearly proud of the lead Germany has taken on the rest of the world, in terms of renewable energy deployment. It’s worth remembering that Germany expects renewables to contribute 35% to electricity production by 2020.

Key points: Vital that KP2 is adopted, and that industrialised states ‘lead the way’. Current pledges are not enough, and must be increased to avoid 2C. Equally important that developing countries do not hide behind equity or historical responsibility arguments.

1358 Merkel: “This is a path I hope we will all travel down together – it will not all be completed by the Doha conference. The bigger the international understanding will be – to bring this [international climate] agreement to fruition.

“Dealing with what our planet has to offer – clean air, pure water – it’s worth us to show responsibility. What do we need an economy for…for well-being.”

Angela Merkel at Petersberg Climate Dialogue (© UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres)

1355 Merkel: Convergence now vital to take advantage of ambitious state climate policies around the world

1352 Merkel – hopes Germany’s transition from reliance on Nuclear to renewables can provide inspiration for other countries around the world.

1347 Merkel: “We need to resolve KP2. Kyoto 2 will be a litmus test – industrialised counties should be under no illusions. If we are leaning back saying we don’t need to do anything, then the emerging economies will say – if they are not taking this seriously they cannot expect us to move. We must be clear and serious – particularly when we are talking about growth.

“We will only be able to master this task if we see growth in terms rather than just quantitative terms.  If we understand growth in a different way that we have so far then we will see change.”

“EU discussions over debt incurred almost exclusively in quantitative terms.”

1345 Interesting that Merkel also makes the case for taking action against resource depletion and climate change – even if you do not believe in the science.

“There is nothing to be gained by playing for time…and we know with the voluntary pledges on the table the 2C target cannot be met”

1342 Merkel: “If we continue with business of usual – there could be terrible consequences. We have to change something – if we don;t do anything we run the risk of devastating consequences. Should we lose time complaining about mistakes made in computations – and waste time dealing with it [climate change]”

1340 German Chancellor Angela Merkel is now addressing Petersberg Climate Dialogue and dealing with the hot topic of equity. She’s making the point that for her equity means everyone must make an effort to cut emissions – not just countries with an historical responsibility.

Merkel also stresses it’s vital that it’s vital climate ambition is doubled at Qatar – especially where we have the question mark over the extension to the Kyoto Protocol.

1105 The Climate Group are reporting China has announced a new plan to tackle climate change. It includes ten mitigation and ten adaptation technologies as part of its 12th Five Year Plan covering 2011-2015.

From a mitigation perspective it’s clear the government regards energy efficiency as hugely important, gas (fracking?) will play a part, as will electric cars and othjer automobile technologies. Carbon Capture and Sequestration is also listed – given China’s huge reliance on coal this could be fundamental to their long-term planning.

Not sure what ‘Holistic coal gasification-based integrated combustion-cycle technology’ means though – any ideas?

On the adaptation front a focus on using water more efficiently, growing plants that can deal with rapidly changing conditions and ‘Man-controlled weather manipulation technology’ (geo-engineering) stand out. In an Olympic spirit it’s worth remembering that in 2008 Chinese authorities ‘seeded’ the clouds over Beijing in an attempt to rid the city of the blanket of smog that was in danger of choking citizens and athletes alike. It worked – as did stringent laws on traffic for the two weeks.

0900 The session has now closed to the media. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will address delegates at 1335 BST

0845 The UK’s Energy and Environment Secretary Ed Davey says it’s vital to get Poland to agree to a new EU-wide 30% carbon emissions reduction target.

0830 Deputy Prime Minister of Qatar H.E. Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, who is co-host of these talks and COP18/CMP8 President, stressed the importance of coming to an agreement over a second period of the Kyoto Protocol in Qatar, as well as concluding the work of the LCA (the body that focuses on long-term implementation of the UN climate convention).

He also drew on what was agreed at COP17 in Durban, calling for work to start on the ‘new legal instrument’ that is mentioned in the text, and calling on all participating nations to demonstrate the ‘flexibility to compromise’.

0820 German Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier called for delegates to deal with each other “openly, honestly and directly” stressing the need for “dialogue not monologue” (he’s clearly an old hand at UN climate talks). He linked the current economic crisis with an “imbalance in the environment”.

Today Altmaier said he wanted to deal with two issues (which are both huge). One – the direction of the UN climate talks. And secondly the perennial hot potato – the meaning of fairness and equity (see here why this is such a sore issue). On Tuesday he said the talks would focus on raising the ambition of participating countries – you may be interested in RTCC’s submission to the UNFCCC on that very issue earlier this year.

0800 Petersberg Climate Dialogue

The third Petersberg Climate Dialogue has just started in Berlin – the German Environment Ministry is streaming parts of the the event live. We’ve written a short guide on what we can expect – find out more here.

The Berlin talks are being attended by 35 ministers and representatives of the major negotiating blocs within the UN climate talks. Germany and COP18 hosts Qatar are co-chairing the event – which aims to target three key questions:

– The ambition gap between the targets set so far and what actually needs to be done to meet the 2°C target
– Transformation to a low-emission economy as a strategy for modernisation and growth
– The new climate treaty to be negotiated by 2015 and implemented from 2020

Other news

Distinguished BBC environmental journalist Sir David Attenborough says he fears Britain’s abysmal summer (rain, rain…more rain) is down to climate change. To be fair he’s not a happy bunny today: “I’m not optimistic,” he says. “The climate, the economic situation, rising birth rates; none of these things give me a lot of hope or reason to be optimistic.”

This fantastic story deserves another outing – the Guardian and Ecologist reported on a planned 4,000-mile wall of trees stretching from Senegal to Djibouti that is designed to stop encroaching desertification.

Tweets of the day


This surprised us too. But it’s a cracking story


Picture of the day

Greenpeace UK have embarked on their #TellShell campaign of action today. It’s targetting Shell’s decision to start drilling in the Arctic in a few weeks.

As of 0951 they say they had shut down 45 petrol stations across the UK – and they appear to have some help from one of the Arctic’s most famous animals…

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