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Cancun’s Lost Kittens

“Lost Kittens” is what we call the selection of ideas, essays, tweets, and blog posts that we think contribute to the discussion around energy poverty alleviation and sustainability.

So, for those of us stuck in the frigid Northeast, here’s a grab-bag of items we would include in our rucksack if we were headed to the Yucatan.

How to Change the Global Energy Conversation (WSJ)

1. We picked this article because it included cookstoves as part of the solution to the global energy conversation.

Wall Street Journal – 29 November, 2010

How to Change the Global Energy Conversation

Forcing countries to agree to emissions caps will never work, argue Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger. Instead, they say, the focus should be on technology innovations.

Nations should focus on lowering the cost of clean energy, not raising the cost of fossil energy. The goal? Make clean energy cheap enough to become a viable option for poor as well as rich nations. Until that happens, emissions will continue to rise, and no effort to regulate carbon can succeed.

How do we accomplish that? Stop subsidizing old technology that will never compete with fossil fuels and create incentives for innovation. Along with ramping up support for research, governments should buy cutting-edge clean-energy technologies, prove them—and then give away the intellectual property, so others can improve on it.

At the same time, wealthy nations shouldn’t try to hammer out these kinds of agreements in the United Nations, where they get bogged down in politicking with smaller nations. Big countries should work through the G20 and the World Trade Organization—forums that are, however imperfect, focused on economic and trade issues.  Read more

2. Here are a few good links for the masochists out there who want to know all about Cancun.

Aggregated by journalists from around the world: http://earthjournalism.net/program/cop16-fellowship

3. India got a bad rap in Copenhagen. It now seems it want to play a constructive role in Cancun.

Climate Wire, via New York Times – 1 December, 2010

India hopes climate auditing scheme to get U.S. nod.

India is pushing a global emissions monitoring system in Cancun talks that could become the centerpiece of a compromise with the United States if other developing countries sign on. Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh is said to expect a “quid pro quo” from the United States to make the deal work, new documents show.

In proposing a system that the United States and China might agree upon, Ramesh in no uncertain terms told U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern and Deputy National Security Adviser Michael Froman that money and technology assistance to developing countries must be part of any deal on formulating a transparent system. Moreover, he said, extending the 1997 Kyoto Protocol beyond its expiration date in 2012 is a key element to any agreement. Read more

4. Japan has no intention on voting to extend the Kyoto Protocol beyond its 2012 expiration date. Maybe they’re right. Perhaps it is time to scrap Kyoto altogether and start anew. After all, Kyoto does contain major gaps, such as no inclusion of black carbon emissions and offsets and no reduction targets for developing nations.

Dot Earth via New York Times – 1 December, 2010

By Andy Revkin

The Ghost of Kyoto visits Cancun

CANCÚN, Mexico – There might have been some hope among parties seeking a new international climate agreement that sunny skies and azure seas would brighten treaty negotiations after the darkness and chill of Copenhagen one year ago.

But just two days into the two-week treaty conference here, gloom has already spread among climate campaigners and treaty supporters. The main source this time is Japan.

With unusual bluntness, senior Japanese officials have said their country will not seek any extension beyond 2012 of the gas restrictions set under the Kyoto Protocol, the first (and possibly last) international pact with mandatory restrictions on greenhouse gases. Read more

5. And what kind of editors would we be if we didn’t connect Wikleaks to Climate Change?

The Guardian, UK, – 3 December 2010

By Damian Carrington

WikiLeaks cables reveal how US manipulated climate accord – Embassy dispatches show America used spying, threats and promises of aid to get support for Copenhagen accord.

The US diplomatic cables reveal how the US seeks dirt on nations opposed to its approach to tackling global warming; how financial and other aid is used by countries to gain political backing; how distrust, broken promises and creative accounting dog negotiations; and how the US mounted a secret global diplomatic offensive to overwhelm opposition to the controversial “Copenhagen accord“, the unofficial document that emerged from the ruins of the Copenhagen climate change summit in 2009.

Negotiating a climate treaty is a high-stakes game, not just because of the danger warming poses to civilisation but also because re-engineering the global economy to a low-carbon model will see the flow of billions of dollars redirected.

Seeking negotiating chips, the US state department sent a secret cable on 31 July 2009 seeking human intelligence from UN diplomats across a range of issues, including climate change. The request originated with the CIA. As well as countries’ negotiating positions for Copenhagen, diplomats were asked to provide evidence of UN environmental “treaty circumvention” and deals between nations.

Read more

6. This headline speaks for itself:  The Poorest Farmers in the World are Custodians of Global Stocks of Carbon

OutreachA multi-stakeholder magazine on environment and sustainable development (Undated)


The rural poor of the world are the custodians of huge quantities of terrestrial carbon. As an example about 60% of Africa’s carbon is found in the drylands of the continent. These are vast, sparsely vegetated areas mainly inhabited by poor farmers and pastoralists.

The drylands are often badly degraded and prone to losing the carbon they contain. Desertification brings not only desperation for the people affected, but also loss of the earth’s carbon stocks.

For poor farmers and pastoralists, conserving carbon is – of course – not a priority. Their priority is to grow crops, raise livestock, produce food and sell their products, and even this cycle is demanding given the volatility of the natural environment and socio-economic stresses. Their priority is to feed their families, send their children to school, pay for health care and escape from poverty. However, the very actions that will help them to escape from poverty are actions that will also protect carbon stocks. Actions that maintain vegetative cover help farmers by controlling soil and water loss. Controlling soil loss keeps the carbon where it is. Trees can help to fertilize the soil while providing fodder for animals. An increase in tree cover will also contribute to carbon sequestration. Low tillage systems increase agricultural productivity while conserving soil, water and carbon. Agriculture and livestock production depend upon the ecological services provided by the landscapes around farms and pastures. Conserving trees or reforesting highlands helps to ensure the constant supply of water to users downstream. Preserving vegetation around water courses protects fisheries, moderates water flow and reduces flash flooding. All of these actions protect carbon stocks and help farmers, herders and fishers.

Read more

Check out the powerful video featuring the impact of East Africa’s droughts on the region’s pastoralist communities.

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  1. Pingback:Tweets that mention Cancun’s Lost Kittens « The Charcoal Project -- Topsy.com

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