Obama plan offers UN climate boost, Russia claims the Arctic

WEEKLY WRAP: All you need to know from the last seven days of international climate change and energy politics

(Pic: White House/Flickr)

(Pic: White House/Flickr)

By Ed King

This was the week US president Barack Obama laid his cards on the table, and released the much-vaunted clean power plan to slash energy sector emissions 32% on 2005 levels by 2030.

Will it make much difference to the US phase-out of coal? Not likely, revealed Megan Darby in an analysis for RTCC.

But still, it does offer another sign major economies are taking climate change seriously in the lead up to December’s Paris summit and underlines US political capital invested in the 2015 deal.

For Obama, this is just the start of a new diplomatic push to get domestic and international support for a deal, with visits to Nevada, the Arctic and meetings with Pope Francis and Xi Jinping planned.

France: optimistic?
As for those Paris talks – the hosts say there is now “considerable common ground” between the 195 countries working on a final agreement.

But a joint France-Peru review of a recent ministerial meeting seen by RTCC underlines the need for a clear finance package to be presented by COP21… or trust at the talks could slump.

The EU is working on what’s called a ‘toolbox’ of options. Luxembourg environment minister Carole Dieschbourg told RTCC a finance plan by December was a “priority” for the 28-strong bloc.


17: That’s how many sustainable development goals were agreed by 193 countries on Sunday, ahead of official sign-off by the UN in September.

INDC watch
Trinidad and Tobago:
15% GHG cuts over 3 sectors by 2030, needs $2 billion
Macedonia: 30% cuts on biz as usual by 2020, 36% of it gets more cash
Benin: Will cut 120-160MT of GHG by 2030. Requires $30 billion investment.

Latest news and analysis on our Paris UN climate plan tracker. Rumours are Australia will deliver its pledge on August 11.

South Africa
A government background document seen by RTCC suggests it will stick to a 2009 pledge to cut emissions on business as usual 34% by 2025, but if it receives support it too could boost that to 42%. No official submission is expected until next month.

Land of Thunder Dragon
Bhutan is nominated by the Climate Action Tracker as the world’s most ambitious country on climate change. Here’s why: it has zero greenhouse gas emissions. Alex Pashley took a closer look and spoke to the mayor of Thimpu, the capital.


“We can’t become a nation of naysayers; we have to remain a nation that gives people a fair go if they play by the rules” – Australia PM Tony Abbott expresses outrage at court order blocking a US$12 bn mega mine.

Poland’s coal
Is a major issue in the upcoming election, where the conservative Law and Justice party are leading in the polls. They want the country’s ailing coal industry to receive special treatment from the EU, and if necessary renegotiate the bloc’s 2030 climate package. Alex Pashley has more.

Russia’s Arctic?
As the region warms, so hungry countries are eyeing its vast resources. Moscow this week laid claim to 1.2 million square kilometres including the North Pole, an area with potentially vast oil and gas resources. The move comes weeks before a US-sponsored Arctic and climate summit in Alaska.

Fossil fuel subsidies
Little sign the G20 is ready to ditch its vast handouts to the oil, gas and coal sectors – that according to a new set of data from the IMF. China is the biggest offender, spending $2,271 billion a year on supporting fossil fuel extraction and consumption. But EU states are equally culpable – the UK spends $41 billion a year, Germany $55bn, France $30bn.

BBC balance
Duty-bound to be impartial, this week the BBC’s flagship station Radio 4 broadcast a curious half-hour show suggesting the facts behind global warming are fiction and pseudo-science. Ed King’s blog on this has drawn a lot of attention from climate lukewarmers/sceptics – here’s a link so you can make your own mind up.

August feeling quiet?
Fear not. September won’t be. Alex Pashley picks out 11 key dates for your diary ahead of COP21 in Paris.

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