Monday, June 4, 2012

Fourteen programs show CO2 trade taking off: World Bank

Industrial emissions at a coal coking plant in China. Ian Teh / Panos

By Mathew Carr and Catherine Airlie
1 June 2012

New carbon programs in at least 14 emerging nations from China to Costa Rica show emissions trading may take off even as U.S. lawmakers focus on non-market-based regulations for climate protection, a World Bank official said.

Seven countries including Mexico and Indonesia are considering emissions-crediting systems, five mull domestic carbon markets while India and South Africa are studying their own plans, Xueman Wang, team leader for the bank’s Partnership for Market Readiness program, said in an interview.

“Brazil and Chile are leaving all options on the table,” she said May 30 at the Carbon Expo in Cologne, Germany.

Carbon trading rose 11 percent to $176 billion last year, the World Bank said in its annual report on May 30. Besides the European Union program, the world’s biggest by traded volume, developed nations and their states have started or plan at least eight greenhouse-gas markets from California to Japan. EU and United Nations carbon prices last month fell to records on robust supply and muted demand.

Developing and emerging nations including China, whose populations make up more than three-quarters of the world’s 7 billion population, are seeking to protect the climate cost- effectively, Wang said.

Emerging countries are choosing industries such as steel and housing, where emission credits can encourage carbon cuts, lowering the cost of climate protection, said Wang.

“These countries know there is very little demand for the time being,” she said. “Some want to fulfill a domestic climate objective. It’s quite an exciting time.”

Their push is being fueled in part by about $80 million under the bank’s readiness program known as PMR, which began in 2010. Japan this month decided to double its contribution to $15 million, Wang said.

Environmental and public health advocates pressed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from existing power plants during a May 24 hearing on a proposal to limit carbon dioxide from new fossil fuel-fired units. Cap-and-trade legislation stalled in the U.S. Senate after narrowly passing the House of Representatives in 2009.

“The U.S. intransigence has not stopped emerging economies from valuing carbon in their own way,” James Cameron, chairman of Bunge Ltd. (BG)’s Climate Change Capital unit, said in an interview May 30. Cameron helped negotiate the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on behalf small-island states.

The other nations considering crediting are Costa Rica, Columbia, Morocco, Chile, Vietnam and Jordan, Wang said. Vietnam is considering handing out credits for reductions in industries including steel and solid waste and also to power users that boost energy efficiency, she said. The nations are moving ahead even as demand for the credits is unclear, she said.

South Korea, Ukraine, Brazil, Chile and China are considering domestic carbon trading, Wang said. South Korea is not part of the PMR. […]

Fourteen Programs Show CO2 Trade Taking Off: World Bank

Friday, June 1, 2012

The people-power-inflicted downfall of Heartland Institute

Heartland Institute loses its funding. As of 31 May 2012, $1,140,000 had been withdrawn by corporations that were unwilling to have their brands damaged by Heartland. forecastthefacts.orgBy Daniel Souweine, Campaign Director, Forecast The Facts
31 May 2012

It has been a rough few weeks for the Heartland Institute, the "intellectual" nexus of the fossil fuel-powered machine to disparage climate science in the United States. Nineteen corporations have pulled more than $1 million in expected funding, leading President Joe Bast to ask attendees at the recent Heartland climate denial conference whether they had a "rich uncle" who could help out. Seriously.

In a time when most news about climate change is bad, Heartland's decline has been a rare bright spot. Which has caused many observers to tackle the obvious question: how did this happen? In the reductive rendering of the mainstream media, the narrative has become that Heartland simply overplayed its hand by launching a billboard campaign comparing people who believe in global warming to the Unabomber and Osama Bin Laden, one of the single dumbest PR moves in recent history. Others have gone deeper, pointing out that Heartland has been painting itself into the crazy corner for a long time, and their lies were bound to catch up to them eventually. In that view, Heartland's demise was essentially inevitable.

While both of these narratives have elements of truth -- the billboards were incredibly stupid, and Heartland has been lying for a long time -- neither offer a full explanation because both tend to de-emphasize the crucial role of citizen action. Simply put, the post-billboard exodus of Heartland's corporate donors would have been neither as big nor as fast if not for the actions of thousands of everyday Americans calling those donors to account. Indeed, it might not have happened at all.

For those not following the saga, here is the basic chronology. In February, documents containing a list of Heartland funders were leaked to a number of bloggers by climate scientist Peter Gleick, who risked his professional reputation to expose the sources of Heartland's support. Two days later, Forecast the Facts launched a campaign calling on all corporations to pull out of Heartland, with our initial focus on General Motors. Within a week, more than 20,000 people (including 10,000 GM owners) had signed on. After adding their names to the effort, those citizen-activists then called GM, posted hundreds of comments on GM's Facebook page, uploaded photos of themselves with their GM cars, showed up at events where the GM CEO was speaking and generally made it clear that they were extremely upset about GM's Heartland association. After weeks of pressure, including considerable media coverage, GM pulled their support on March 28th -- more than a month before the now infamous billboards.

Forecast the Facts isn't an established player -- our ability to influence General Motors was not due to our reputation. It was entirely the result of our active members, who organized around an idea and spoke in a louder voice than any single person or institution could.

Because GM's pullout happened before Heartland's Unabomber messaging fiasco (a key story point that most reviews of Heartland's troubles overlook), it offers the clearest demonstration of how citizen activism can impact corporations. There is literally nothing more valuable to a public-facing company like General Motors than their brand. And in the wake of the bailout, GM has a great deal invested in building GM's environmental identity. Exhibit A: The Chevy Volt. 20,000 customers and potential customers pissed off about GM's ties to climate change denial represented a real threat to GM's image makeover. Which is why GM's CEO agreed to review the matter personally, and eventually decided that their twenty-year relationship with Heartland was just not worth the potential brand damage.

In the weeks following GM's announcement, Forecast the Facts staff, together with partners at Greenpeace, contacted the rest of Heartland's corporate donors to ask why they were still supporting climate change denial. In doing so, we made clear that we were speaking on behalf of the 20,000 people who had signed on to the campaign. And our questions sparked a conversation within many of those companies about whether the lobbying that Heartland did for them was worth the risk to their brand. In the case of the insurance industry, an active dialogue began about helping Heartland's insurance program, led by the non climate change-denying Eli Lehrer, to to spin-off, the functional equivalent of defunding Heartland.

Then came the billboards. The companies that had already been thinking about leaving because of the aforementioned public pressure immediately did so. Soon after, 150,000 more people joined the campaign through groups including,, League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club. And just as in the case of GM, those everyday people did more than just sign a petition. Thousands posted on company Facebook pages and chipped in to fund billboards calling out remaining Heartland holdouts, hundreds made phone calls to corporate headquarters, and dozens showed up in person to protest Heartland's conference. All of those actions sent a message to Heartland's remaining donors -- there are a lot of people who care about this issue, and your brand is at risk. In response, corporate supporters have continued to scurry for the exits. […]

The People-Power-Inflicted Downfall of Heartland