Wednesday, May 16th

• May 21, 2012

Welcome to this edition of the Fresh Air Brief, a weekly overview of trending climate news, and upcoming meetings, events and issues that our tcktcktck partners & peers are tracking. Fresh right now:

  • UN Climate Change talks open in Bonn
  • New hope for the “Robin Hood Tax”
  • Saudi Arabia goes solar?

Recent developments  

Too much to do, too little time?
As climate negotiations get underway at the UN in Bonn this week, two new studies add to the growing sense of urgency, demanding a rapid increased climate mitigation and adaptation efforts. A new study from Netherlands-based think tank, the Club of Rome, forecasts more than a 2 degree (Celsius) rise in average global temperatures over the next 40 years – missing a goal that countries around the world have committed to, but so far failed to support with adequate national and international policies (read more). Another recently-released study shows that economic exposure to climate impacts is increasing faster than per capita GDP in many low- and middle-income countries; effectively sending disaster costs on a trajectory set to outpace economic growth.

Alliance of vulnerable nations tells EU to step up ambition as key climate negotiations open in Bonn
As UN climate talks open in Bonn, European leaders were told by the alliance of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island States (AOSIS) to get past internal wrangling with Poland and show greater ambition on climate change. The alliance of vulnerable nations argues that the EU should swiftly adopt an improved carbon reduction commitment of 30% by 2020, which would unlock European support for an ambitious 5 year second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

Saudi Arabia announces major solar investment
While few countries seem willing to commit to the level of emission reductions that our best science tells us we need – there is lots of recent evidence that countries are taking steps in the right direction. This week, our biggest news comes from a surprising actor in the clean energy space. Fresh from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia has announced it is seeking investors for a $109 billion plan to stand-up a solar industry capable of generating one-third of the nation’s electricity by 2032 (read more). This fits new analysis from the European Photovoltaic Industry Association showing that the highest PV capacity growth is expected in China and India, followed by the southeast Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa in the next five years. The world’s solar power generating capacity will grow by between 200 and 400 percent over the next five years, with Asia and other emerging markets overtaking leadership from Europe (read more).

Argentina slows climate action amid energy supply crisis
After seeing  national climate change laws passed in Brazil, Peru and Mexico, we’re hearing disappointing from Argentina. The country is bucking a positive Latin American trend by backsliding on actions to tackle its greenhouse gas emissions as the country struggles to meet energy demand from a fast-growing middle class. While experts point to Argentina’s energy crunch as an opportunity for the country to overhaul its policy and move toward a less carbon-intensive matrix, it’s more likely that the country’s near-term priorities will be met at the expense of increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Reuters has more on the story. Reuters has more on the story.

Norway announces world’s largest effort to test carbon capture technologies
Norway on Monday launched the world’s largest facility of its kind to develop carbon capture and storage (CCS), the so-far commercially unproven technology that would allow greenhouse gases from power plants to be buried safely underground. A $1 billion USD government-funded centre will test two post-combustion carbon capture technologies that could be extended to industrial-scale use if shown to be cost-effective and safe. Read more here.

Small island states in clean energy race
The Guardian is reporting on new UN analysis of the most recent energy plans of 52 low lying poor countries – traditionally heavily dependent on imports of petrol and oil – shows the Caribbean island of Dominica leading the world with plans to become carbon “negative” by 2020. The Maldives is not far behind, hoping to be carbon neutral by 2020. Tuvalu and the Cook islands intend to generate all their electricity from renewables by 2020 and Timor-Leste, the poorest country in Asia, expects to provide solar electricity to all its 100,000 families by 2030. Read more here.

Small-holder coffee farmers tap carbon markets to protecting their livelihoods and your morning ‘cup of joe’
Fairtrade coffee supplier, Cafédirect, just released a new report on how climate change is affecting the coffee industry.  According to the report, the majority of high-quality coffee comes from small-holder farmers who do not have the resilience that larger organisations have and, at the same time, are located in tropical areas where climate impacts are forecasted to be most intense. To offset the rising costs of adaptation (and keep coffee quality and price in check), Cafédirect is tapping carbon markets on their growers’ behalf.  According to the Vice president of Peru, where the idea is being piloted: “Climate change is a huge worry for us in Peru and we hope this initiative in Sierra Piura can be rolled out to other regions too. It is so important because Peruvian coffee is special. It protects biodiversity, and it’s about development of whole communities. It also has an amazing aroma and taste. That’s the taste of social justice.” Read more here and here.

What our partners are focused on now

Suing for climate action.
Last week was a big deal for our US-based partner, iMatter. Attorneys representing the youth plaintiffs from iMatter are suing the US federal and state governments to expedite climate action; arguing that governments have failed in their duty to protect the atmosphere as a “public trust” under common law. The judge assigned to the federal case heard Obama administration and industry groups lawyers’ arguments for the cases dismissal. This week, we’re expecting a decision. While they wait, iMatter published an open letter to President Obama; Greenwire has more on last week’s case; and iMatter is posting regular updates via Facebook and Twitter as news comes in.

Pilot global protocol for community-scale greenhouse gas emissions
Before the difficult country to country climate negotiations got underway in Bonn, our partners at WRI joined with ICLEI and C40 to celebrate achieving a significant milestone towards establishing a single standard for measuring emissions for cities.

UN Climate Talks are underway in Bonn
Monday marked the start of the Bonn Climate Change Conference, the first formal UNFCCC Negotiations of 2012. We got a preview of what to expect in a conversation with CAN International’s new Executive Director, Wael Hmaiden. If you missed it, you can check out out the audio and transcript here.  TckTckTck awarded fellowships to three young people to publicly track the negotiations for the Adopt a Negotiatior (AaN) project. In addition to blog posts digging into the issues, AaN aggregates some of the most useful documents & resources for following the talks each day. has live-streaming and archived webcasts of many of the formal negotiating sessions and press conferences throughout the conference. And the best twitter hashtag to follow is #UNFCCC.

On the road to Rio+20
We’ve partnered with the Elders in an initiative called Elders+Youngers. Four members of the Elders – Desmond Tutu, Gro Brundtland, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Mary Robinson – are joining four young leaders to discuss what it means to live together sustainably. WWF today launched it’s flagship report, The Living Planet; and created version on specifically focused on how the reports findings relate to Rio+20. And last Thursday, twenty of the world’s leading off-grid clean energy entrepreneurs sent a letter to World Bank Group president Robert Zoellick requesting $500 million in financial commitments to help them deliver on the world’s energy access goals. The group’s letter was backed by a letter of support from the CEOS of more than 25 leading civil society organizations –  including the Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, Practical Action & NRDC –  calling for these commitments to take the form of a pledge at the upcoming Rio+20 earth summit (read more).

The “Robin Hood Tax” Global Week of Action
Our partners are making the most of new opportunities to enact a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) or “Robin Hood Tax” (infographic), organizing a global week of Action with events in 35 countries. We started out with a Monday blogger-briefing on EU policy, where Stamp Out Poverty Director, David Hillman, outlined upcoming opportunities in Europe – check out the audio and transcript here. If you’re looking to learn more, Oxfam is hosting another blogger briefing on Wednesday at 17:00 GMT: dial-in numbers are listed here, the passcode 240 702 93#.

WWF Climate Savers program hits benchmark 100 million tons of emissions savings. 
Our partners at WWF just announced their Climate Savers initiative has cut 100 million tones of greenhouse gases. WWF’s Climate Savers works with large companies –  like The Coca-Cola Company, HP, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Nike and many others – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They just signed SKF Group, their first industrial engineering company. If the program expands to include other companies in the program’s 16 current business sectors included thus far, between 500 and 1000 million tonnes of emissions could be avoided annually in 2020, an amount roughly comparable to the current annual emissions of Germany. These reductions could contribute up to 9% to closing what recent UNEP reports are calling the ’emissions gap’. Read more here and here.

You know you are doing something right when…
We just learned that our partner project,, just won three Webby Awards. Counterspill is a digital initiative devoted to reporting information about natural disasters involving oil, coal and other energy companies.  But Webbys aren’t the only way to know if you’re doing something right, online. Sometimes you know you’re winning when you earn the focused attention of your adversaries – and by this measure, Avaaz is winning. recently came under massive attack, likely originating from a government or large corporation.

Happy five year anniversary –!
We’re excited to join the celebration of our new partner,, 5 year anniversary. To mark the occasion, the social network built around sustainability issues, developed an infographic and video on its growth,  and is hosting an Earth Day Living Contest to help draw in new members. The contest runs through June 5, World Environment Day.

Resources from our editorial desk
The TckTckTck team is pleased to offer ready-made, creative-commons licensed editorial content for you to republish, remix and reuse. Here’s what we have available for bloggers and writers this week. First, we’re offering embeddable RIO+20 Issue Slideshows.  We’ve just launched second in our collaborative series – Water Access. You can embed this and the previous show, Energy Access, by clicking the “Embed” button in the lower right of the slideshow player. Second, we’d like to share a little inspiration from the 23 youth leaders who competing as finalists in TckTckTck’s Date with History contest. The winner will have a chance to address world leaders at Rio+20 this June.. You can embed a viewer for all 23 three-minute videos on your site using the code snippet below. See it in action here.

<script type=”text/javascript”>// <![CDATA[ studio=’datewithhistory’;document.write(‘<script src=”“><\/script>’); // ]]></script>

Upcoming opportunities and dates

Webinars & blogger-briefings
In case you missed it: Last Thursday, we hosted a blogger briefing on the Bonn Climate Change Conference with CAN International’s Wael Hmaiden (check out the audio & transcript here).  And Monday we hosted a blogger briefing to check in on climate policy developments in the EU Climate with David Hill and Nina Jamal (audio & transcript here)

Wednesday, May 16th @ 17:00 GMT
Robin Hood Tax global week of action, blogger-briefing
Hosted by Oxfam. Dial in details for countries here: (If country is not listed use 617-614-4893) Passcode: 240 702 93#

Friday, May 18th @ 16:00 GMT
Blogger-briefing on the status of the UN Climate Change talks in Bonn
Join me Friday for a check-in on the Bonn Climate Change Talks at the end of the first week of the Bonn Climate Change Conference. We’ll get a briefing from partners on the ground, and you’ll have a chance to ask questions about what to expect for week two.

Wednesday, May 23 @17:00 GMT
Webinar: Avoiding the Clean Tech Crash – Can Renewable Energy Achieve Susbsidy Independence? 
Can clean tech survive without subsidies? How can support for renewable energy and technology innovation be structured in such a way to avoid these boom-and-bust cycles? Join The Energy Collective, WRI & BrightSource Energy to discuss the findings of the new report about putting clean tech on a path to subsidy independence. Click here to register & find out more

Thursday, 24th May at 15:00 GMT
Webinar: Rio +20 and Sustainable Energy for All
Drew Corbyn, Energy Consultant with Practical Action Consulting discusses the role of energy in development and poverty; presenting Practical Action’s Poor People’s Energy Outlook 2012, which supports the 2030 goal of universal energy access. Click here to register & learn more.

Other upcoming moments on our calendar:

  • 14th – 25th May, Bonn Climate Change Conference
  • 15th – 20th May, Camp David – 38th Summit of the G8
  • 23rd May – European Growth Summit, Brussels – European heads of state will meet to discuss austerity measures in the context of European growth. The FTT is on the agenda.
  • 29th May – 2nd June, New York – Third Informal Informal Consultations on the UNCSD (Rio+20) Outcome Document

Connect you with our partners in the trenches

That’s all for this week’s Fresh Air Brief. We’re eager to learn how to make this as useful as possible, so all feedback is welcome. We’re also eager to accept suggestions for leads, content and opportunities you’d like to promote. Get in touch.
If you haven’t already, apply to join our Fresh Air Network.
Til next time.


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About the Author

Joshua Wiese is a project director at the Global Campaign for Climate Action. He runs the Adopt a Negotiator project and publishes our weekly Fresh Air Brief

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