Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Barcelona and Copenhagen

So we are on the final stretch to Copenhagen climate change negotiations. Next week, climate negotiators meet in Barcelona, the last stop before Copenhagen. Reducing carbon emissions from deforestation (REDD) will be high on the agenda.

I'll be chairing a REDD event hosted by the World Economic Forum, on Monday evening (see details below). In December, I've also agreed to chair a plenary discussion on forestry in Copenhagen hosted by the Center for International Forestry Research, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and the Government of Denmark. More about this event closer to the time.

Anyway, if you are going to Barcelona, you'll find me at this event at 19.15, which is being held at the Fira Congress Hotel, Meeting Room 1, Barcelona. Which is across the street from the Southern entrance of the main Congress Centre).

Solving the REDD Puzzle
Parallel public side event to the Barcelona round of the UNFCCC negotiations
Hosted by the World Economic Forum Climate Change Initiative in collaboration with the Sustainable Amazon Foundation

Forest-based mitigation through a mechanism such as REDD+ is a critical component of any global climate change solution, offering a significant win-win abatement opportunity equivalent to as much as 25% of required emission reductions by 2020. Important questions remain however regarding how to practically catalyze such abatement not only in terms of the required enabling policies at the international and national levels, but also on a range of critical issues such as how to finance REDD+ and readiness activities, integrate forestry into the carbon markets, and build robust MRV systems to ensure environmental and social integrity.

Building on recent reports by the World Economic Forum and the Global Legislators Organization for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE International) among others, this session will bring together key government officials with leaders from civil society and the private sector in a constructive dialogue on the best designs for putting together these various pieces of the REDD puzzle. This interactive session will begin with a keynote address with a proposition for how to solve this puzzle, followed by reactions and comments from the high-level panel and the audience. This session aims to engage the broad set of stakeholders required to solve the REDD puzzle and map a practical path forward to this end.

Opening Speaker:
Virgilio Viana, Director, Sustainable Amazon Foundation, IIED Fellow, Brazil

Ralph Ashton, Convenor and Chair, Terrestrial Carbon Group, Australia;
Federica Bietta, Deputy Director, Coalition for Rainforest Nations, USA
Adam Matthews, Secretary General, Global Legislators Organization for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE) International, UK
Graeme Sweeney, Executive Vice President, Future Fuels and CO2, Shell, UK

Updated with revised location and final panellist list. November 1st.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Satellite highs and lows

I worked on a couple of pieces published recently in The Economist on satellites (the second appeared in the Business section). I think the continued problems with America's NPOESS program are significant for us all, wherever we live. We all rely on the data from Earth observing satellites, even if that is invisible to us in our day-to-day lives. Whether it is predicting the course of hurricanes, or the effects of climate change, earth observation matters.

The White House has a big challenge on its hands. Any changes to the NPOESS programme which is currently facing a significant chance of failure will cost money. And Congress is mightily sick of being asked for more money to make NPOESS work. The solution is difficult for everyone to swallow but it is simply to put one agency in charge of the programme (in my mind preferably NOAA because it will improve the data we get), and simply swallow any extra cost. It might help if the contractors were paid on delivery as well.

Satellites in the alphabet soup

Oct 15th 2009
From The Economist print edition
America’s next generation of Earth-observation satellites is in trouble

WITHOUT satellites, both forecasting the weather and studying the climate would be a lot harder than they are. Such satellites, however, need replacing from time to time, and those used by the Americans are coming to the end of their useful lives. Unfortunately, the plan for their replacement is in chaos. Indeed, the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System, NPOESS, as the replacement system is known, has suffered so many delays and budget increases that its whole future is in doubt. If things go badly wrong, crucial data about the climate could be lost. (More)


Oct 8th 2009
The spread of satellite television bolsters a once shaky business

EARTH may have been hit hard, but the recession, it turns out, has not done much damage in space. Turnover among operators of satellites in geostationary orbit (GEO) grew by 7-8% last year, according to Northern Sky Research (NSR); analysts at Euroconsult, a rival research firm, put the figure even higher, at 11%. The three biggest firms in the business—SES, based in The Hague, Intelsat, based in Washington, DC, and Eutelsat, based in Paris—brought in combined revenues of over $6 billion. SES and Eutelsat boast profit margins of over 25%. NSR predicts that in the next decade the business of leasing satellite capacity will grow by an average of 4.3% a year. (More)