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UK attempt to push world "Beyond Copenhagen"

Susan Watts | 17:30 UK time, Wednesday, 31 March 2010

With the UEA climate e-mails report still fresh from the printers, Ed Miliband, the climate change secretary, chose today to attempt a "kick start" for international talks on a new global climate deal.

Ed MilibandHe offered a major sop to developing countries dismissive of the political agreement that emerged from Copenhagen. They want a legally-binding treaty, under which developed countries agree to cut their emissions.

The UK is offering to sign up to a further round of the Kyoto Protocol, so long as the world embraces a second legally-binding treaty at the same time. According to Ed Milband, this so-called twin-track approach is "a signal that we are determined to unblock negotiations".

He sees a role for the UK in being out front: "We do not want to let a technical argument about whether we have one treaty or two derail the process. We are uncompromising about the need for a legal framework, but willing to be flexible about the precise form that that takes."

In the closing days of Copenhagen there was much talk of China's hardball negotiating style and use of divisions over Kyoto to scupper hopes of a legally-binding deal. Take those divisions away and it's harder for China to use them as an excuse not to engage.

Today's move is also a deliberate nod to Kyoto because it has gained what Ed Miliband called "totemic" status for many in the developing world. The hope is to leave behind what he described today as the "painful and frustrating process" of Copenhagen.

That won't be easy. The US, a vital part of any global deal, is set hard against Kyoto and president Obama is bogged down in trying to usher through domestic climate legislation let alone having to cope with a complicated two-tier international arrangement.

Gordon Brown is doing his bit to help get things moving. This evening, at Downing Street, he'll host the first meeting of the UN's high level advisory group on climate finance. Without finance there will most likely be no global deal at all. Today's meeting is the first since last year's pledge by developed countries to find money over the long-term to help developing countries tackle climate change.

This was described by senior UK officials today as one of the few breakthroughs of Copenhagen.

The finance group includes four heads of state, several finance ministers, President Obama's chief economics advisor Larry Summers and the financier George Soros. Their mission - and they've apparently accepted it - is to find $100 billion per annum by 2020.

They'll be considering all options, including a so-called Robin Hood tax on international financial transactions and a levy on global aviation and shipping. They hope to report to the next big international climate meeting, in Cancun, Mexico, at the end of the year.


  • Comment number 1.

    Laughable will soon be forgotten . I think we may even see a landslide win for the Conservatives.

    If in the next 5 years fusion power look feasible - in say 50-70 years that 100 billion would come in handy. Other than that it will be nuclear power - no other feasible option at the moment. Global warming or cooling will happen with or with-out mans help.

  • Comment number 2.

    The stock market parasites will be rubbing their hands together thinking of all money they can embezzle if the deal goes through !

  • Comment number 3.

    tax tax tax. labour is a one trick policy pony.

    ...The chief beneficiaries of the European system have been some of the Continent’s largest industrial companies, like the steel producer ArcelorMittal and the cement maker Lafarge, which received many of their permits for free from governments to help them meet the challenge of competition from parts of the world without such regulation.

    Many of these companies have booked millions of euros from the sale of their excess credits,..

    that is taxpayers millions being transfered from the poor struggling to pay energy bills to multinationals. great system. full of glory. not.

  • Comment number 4.

    real Millibandisms

    UK attempt to push world "Beyond Reason"

    UK attempt to push world "Beyond Common sense"

    UK attempt to push world "Beyond into a future of carbon derivative scams that will make the financial crisis look like a storm in a teacup"

  • Comment number 5.

    if unemployment is caused by pixies why not climate change?

  • Comment number 6.

    "I think we may even see a landslide win for the Conservatives." flicks

    That could happen anyway, but for reasons wholly unconnected with the climate change argument. Changes in governments, national moods etc are cyclic. Every democracy throughout the past century shows that.

    As for the science. The scientific case that greenhouse gasses have heat trapping properties (this can be demonstrated in any school lab) or of the existence of the 'greenhouse effect' that these GHGs provide that warms our atmosphere hasn't been dented one iota.

    As many have pointed out they form only a small part of our atmosphere, yet the effect they have is considerable.(earth would be 18 degrees C colder without them.)

    The idea that increasing them (by 36% so far) this will have NO effect, is you could say, a viewpoint many are sceptical of.

    The sceptics have attempted a straw man argument that Jones is the main architect of the whole GHG climate change argument and cherry picked a few selected quotes (and wildly distorted and exaggerated these in the blogsphere) in the hope that if they discredited one individual they discredited the entire case. I'm afraid that isn't the case.

    And of course those in the blogsphere (the equivalent of any saloon bar know-it-all) don't have to verify their assertions or demonstrate the same standards they insist those they oppose uphold - or reply to incessant FOI requests.

    As you say, 'Laughable will soon be forgotten.'

  • Comment number 7.

  • Comment number 8.

    "And of course those in the blogsphere (the equivalent of any saloon bar know-it-all) "

    "That could happen anyway, but for reasons wholly unconnected with the climate change argument. Changes in governments, national moods etc are cyclic. Every democracy throughout the past century shows that."

    Could get all Ancient Greek on you but then that would be patronising and unbecoming of a saloon bar know-it-all.

    'Laughable will soon be forgotten.'

  • Comment number 9.

    It is very hard to credit much of value from the lips of a person who conflates legitimate questions on detail of vast expenditure in the name of something still being talked of in terms of a nursery rhyme boogey-person, as 'flat-earthism'.

    Especially one who has proven so scientifically astute with his participation in Justin's kitchen cabinet and associated Good Lord & rocket scientist 'experiments' in conviction.

    And who seems bound to the notion that failure to persuade through poor explanations is not the fault of the messengers, but those being broadcast (only) at. And the solution seems to be vast sums more on 'awareness' to whack square pegs into already dented round holes.

    As to a minor Minister of a minor Western country throwing a sop to others around the planet, well, yes, that did raise a slight smile.

    As did this: 'Gordon Brown is doing his bit to help get things moving.'

    Being that the 'They are all saboteurs!' PM's influence with global leaders is so vast and friendly. Just ask the Falkland Islanders.

    Though I do see him vying with Tony Blair for the fun role of flying (suitably accompanied by legions of climate change reporters) endlessly around the world (somewhere sunny; look at TB. Nice he has time to grab some rays in his hectic schedule) 1st class and 5* talking about 'stuff' and doling out questionable enviROI trillions in its name, ably supported by John 'Bermuda Jolly' Prescott, Climate Rapporteur extraordinaire.

  • Comment number 10.

    can Prescott park his two jags in the House of |Lords?

  • Comment number 11.


    "Changes in governments, national moods etc are cyclic."

    I suggest it only LOOKS like a cycle. I suggested recently that most government 'initiatives' fail, but it takes several terms for this to be apparent, and born in on the dumb electorate. THEN they dump the incumbent, and another lot of errors start, inexorably, to build up. I lean to this explanation rather than the idea that passage of time ITSELF brings a change.

    It is all down to the fact that politics is about power, pocket-lining and legacies (with a sprinkling of 'honours') and virtually nothing to do with betterment of the people.

    And world statesman Blair, with his fleeting Aussie accent (what did Cherie say when he got home?) and his vacuous all-embracing grasp of life the universe and everything, epitomises the finest distillate of the bizarre denizens of Westminster. He is the Westminster Ethos in a grain of sand, approximately the right colour, and about as worthless.

  • Comment number 12.

    Dear Mr. Rippon,

    Here is some news that probably does not make it onto the Newsnight screen programme.

    NO so smart Miliband and Cameron?
    Coinciding with this news about the Miliband initiative, British Gas is currently launching the role-out of Smart Meters, as part of the government fuel-efficiency/climate change programme. Perhaps Susan Watts and Paul Mason should be looking at the merits of the government over-investment in Smart Metering. This will cost eventually every household in the country £300 approx. It is all going to cost billions in the name of climate change. Is it a worthwhile expense?

    Economy 7 Meters and Smart Meters.
    Smart meters are basically an up-graded version of Economy 7 meters. They will be able to charge different rates throughout the day according to levels of peak demand. If it were worthwhile to install Economy 7 meters for gas supply, this could have been done years ago. However, gas is more easily provided at a constant price throughout the day than electricity. A limited peak demand for gas does exist. However, gas is stored in larges quantities and readily imported from abroad. Such additional supplies reduce the peak demand effect for gas supply. Furthermore, interrupt-able contracts are far more common in the gas supply industry. For these reasons, domestic gas does not have a peak tariff and a night rate.
    The other alleged advantage of smart metering is that it avoids the need for a meter reader to call at the premises. However, online accounts and telephone readings already allow customers to provide actual readings directly to utility companies.
    Finally, smart meters allow consumers to see how much their consumption goes up when one, for example, boils a kettle. This information has always been available in printed form. If one wishes actually to stand in front of a traditional meter, one can readily see the dials and the disc whirl round when consumption goes up.
    In short, the smart meter offers no real advantages, apart from dealing with customer fraud.

    Is smart metering cost-effective?
    British Gas will incur £300 approx per dwelling to put smart metering for both electricity and gas in a typical household.
    Assuming a 10% discount rate or required return on capital, a household must make annual savings of £30 approx to justify such capital expense. British Gas and the industry estimate that smart metering "encourages" the customer to save at least 3% on annual consumption and perhaps as much as 10%.
    Assuming a fuel cost of 8 pence per kilowatt hour (electricity) and also assuming a customer saving of 10% (highly optimistic), an annual household would have to have annual usage of 3750 kilowatt hours to produce savings on their bill of £30 per annum. Assuming a fuel cost of 8 pence per kilowatt hour and a saving of 3% (realistic), a household would require annual usage of 12,500 kilowatt hours to produce savings of £30 per annum.
    The standard annual usage for a one bed flat is 6500-7000 kilowatt hours approx. /EST. The standard annual usage for a two bed room flat is 8500-9000 kilowatt hours. From the above, one can see that, realistically speaking; smart meters are hardly justifiable at small dwellings. It is only on the wildly optimistic assumption that they "save" 10% by encouraging economic or penny-pinching usage, that the British Gas plans for smart metering make any economic sense.
    Smart metering is, in fact, being inflicted on the general public as part of the government's save-the-planet programme.

    Local Authority Wastage.

    One local authority has a budget of £1250 per dwelling for meter installation on their communal systems. My understanding is that British gas will incur £300 approx. per dwelling to put smart metering for both electricity and gas in a typical household.

    It was on a Monday morning and the gasman came to call…. See you in Court!
    Global warming…let’s get local!


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