Still a lot of work to be done at climate change talks: Masagos

Singapore's Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli says that despite an agreement on a new climate change framework, there are still clauses that need to be discussed within the group members at the climate change conference in Paris.
Channel NewsAsia 10 Dec 15;

PARIS: As talks for a global climate deal enter the last stretch, Singapore's Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said there is still a lot of work to be done.

Mr Masagos said major emitters, including the United States, China and the European Union, have forged a substantive agreement on the broad principles of a new climate change framework to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which is expiring in 2020.

He was speaking to Channel NewsAsia in Paris on Thursday (Dec 10), where a climate change conference is being held.

"Certainly there's an attempt to reduce the amount of variability of the agreement that's just been sent out to every party,” he said. ”It's still too early to say that it will be accepted. As far as I know, there is still a lot of work to be done. Particularly when there are clauses which some particularly large companies want to put in, (take) out and vice versa. So, (there's) still some way to go."

Mr Masagos also talked about the importance of everyone following through with their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). It refers to actions that countries have committed to take to address climate change.

"The INDCs only make a meaningful impact when everybody commits to them, (when) everybody actually carries them out, make sure they are measurable, reported and then everyone agrees ... that in five years' time, we have actually moved forward,” he said. “Without that agreement for every party who has committed to the INDCs to move forward on them, I think the agreement will unravel."

- CNA/ek


Review global warming pledges or risk 3°C rise in temperatures: WWF Singapore
"It is has become clear the current level of pledges are not enough to secure against climate-related problems," says the World Wide Fund for Nature Singapore of UN climate talks in Paris.
Channel NewsAsia 10 Dec 15;

SINGAPORE: The World Wide Fund for Nature Singapore (WWF Singapore) called on countries to return to the discussion table for a review of their climate change pledges before 2020, to ensure the rise in global temperatures is limited to no more than 1.5°Celsius higher than pre-industrial times.

"Without a review of these commitments before 2020, we would risk putting the world on track to warm by at least 3°C," said the organisation in a press release issued on Thursday (Dec 10).

Said WWF Singapore CEO Elaine Tan: “It is has become clear the current level of pledges are not enough to secure against the type of climate-related problems we could all be affected by, like food security and extreme weather.

"We still have the ingredients for a successful outcome in Paris, but we are at a pivotal moment where strong leadership is needed for a firm commitment before the Friday deadline."

WWF's head of delegation to the United Nations climate talks in Paris Tasneem Essop said there are "more options" in the draft agreement to have all nations come back to improve their pledges before 2020.

"That said, they’ll need to close existing loopholes to make sure any pre-2020 review and ratcheting up mechanism is comprehensive - covering adaptation, finance, and emissions reductions - and does not let some countries off the hook," she said.

The 195-nation UN talks have been billed as the last chance to avert the worst consequences of global warming: Deadly drought, floods and storms, and rising seas that will engulf islands and densely populated coastlines.

- CNA/kk


Tough for countries to give up thirst for oil: Perspectives panel
Despite global investment in renewable energy, experts discussing the Future of Oil say fossil fuels will be the main energy resource for years to come.
Samantha Yap Channel NewsAsia 10 Dec 15;

SINGAPORE: Over the past week, business and political leaders in Paris been in negotiations to put forward proposed reduction targets to greenhouse gas emissions, in order to keep the global temperature rise to below 2°Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

And while the effectiveness of global climate conferences is usually fodder for sceptics, a slate of promises from countries at the climate change conference (COP21) in Paris to cut emissions - together with pledges to invest in renewable energy in Africa and China, for example - show that there is room for optimism should these promises be kept.

Nonetheless, experts on Channel NewsAsia’s Perspectives panel discussing The Future Of Oil they believe that it is going to be difficult to wean countries off their thirst for oil and stem global warming despite the emergence of alternative energy sources.

“If you look at the overall demand around the world, almost any way you slice it, all elements of energy that we know of today will be required and interestingly enough today, about 80 per cent of energy comes from fossil fuel,” said Mr Mark Nelson, President of International Products for Chevron International.

While the growing global energy demand presents a huge opportunity for renewable energy, fossil fuels will still remain a big source for the world’s energy, he added.

“Even if renewables were to triple in usage over the next 25 years, oil and natural gas would still account for over 50 per cent of energy supply," Mr Nelson said.

“It is really oil which has not surprisingly been the main use and provider of energy, and I don’t see that changing dramatically,” said Ms Hari, who also said that fossil fuels are still going to be a mainstay for many industries, including industries that rely on alternative energy.

“A lot of people argue quite rightly, that if you’re going to power your car with electricity, that electricity was produced by burning coal, so you’re just shifting from one fossil fuel to another."

A CONVENIENT PROBLEM

According to Prof Davies, he believes that a combination of the world’s energy demand, and the price of oil and other fossil fuels, have been too convenient to give up.

Said Prof Davies: “We’ve never paid the full price of using fossil fuels and we’ve never cleaned up after ourselves.

“It’s a very difficult thing to accept and I’m sure it won’t make me popular, but we have had fossil fuels too cheap.”

Oil prices have tumbled since reaching highs of US$115 a barrel in June 2014, but with the emergence of new energy sources, changes in the digital economy and a lack of unity in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, oil prices have hovered around the US$40 mark per barrel in recent days.

Mr Hughes warned that the risk of a low oil price environment means that there will not be enough capital invested in technology around renewables.

“Governments have to play a role in order to kickstart that particular industry across a range of different jurisdictions to move to the point where you have a price parity where renewables can stand on their own two feet and compete equally with oil and gas,” he said.

Helping the environment will come at a cost and if energy consumers are to move forward in the renewable space, they will need to ask themselves how much they are willing to pay.

Said Mr Hughes: “The key question then is to what extent should governments, industry and society want to back subsides within the renewable sector in order to turbo charge the use of renewables across the Asia-Pacific?"

MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE

What needs to happen is for the world to figure out how to have more alternatives in the balance, more hybrid technologies and how to burn oil more efficiently, Ms Hari proposed.

“I think the steps are being taken to use more renewables in power and to use more gas,” said Ms Hari.

“What’s been thrown in the mix now is environmental consciousness. It is fashionable and I think it is needed for us to think about the environmental consequences.”

Prof Davies said that since Southeast Asia is a mature oil province that has found most of the oil it is has, the region needs to increase the recovery from existing fields.

“By doing that, you can extend the life of oil production in this part of the world,” he said. “Two-thirds to three-quarters of fossil fuels need to stay underground in order not to go beyond this 2°C temperature rise."

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