Kate Mackenzie Copenhagen wrap: Draftgate, data and a new climate tax idea

Two reports dominated yesterday’s news and are set to continue today: new temperature data, and the controversy over a draft Copenhagen agreement being circulated.

The hottest decade

Data from the UN’s World Meterological Organization and the UK’s Met Office that this decade will be the warmest on record, and 2009 looks likely to be the fifth-hottest year ever – and the absolute hottest in some parts of the world (FT). The Met Office data, perhaps ironically, was released in response to calls for greater transparency from sceptics (The Times). And it plans to release more data, plus its workings (WSJ).

Draft text triggers furore

The Guardian’s reports of a draft Copenhagen agreement that could disappoint developing countries was widely picked up, and the newspaper writes that the conference was ‘in disarray’ because of the draft. The G77′s current leader, Lumumba Stanislas Dia Ping, said it “threatened the success” of negotiations, but so far the most vocal critics are the NGOs, writes Fiona Harvey. The draft itself is not an official one, as UN climate chief Yvo de Boer stressed, and reports impose a lower per-person emissions limit on developing countries than on rich countries are simply not borne out by the document itself, Harvey writes.  More from the FT.

Now, to the sceptics

The FT’s Andrew Ward describes the issues covered at a climate sceptics’ conference also in Copenhagen – albeit with a tiny fraction of the number of attendees seen at the Cop15 meeting. There was a strong right-wing slant to the summit, he writes – “but also a call for greater humility about the limits of knowledge and the fallibility of predictive models”.

A Tobin tax for climate?

France’s foreign minister Bernard Kouchner called for a modified “Tobin tax” on all transactions to finance developing world costs. Given the general unpopularity of new taxes – and of wide-ranging multi-lateral rules – such a measure would presumably face difficulty. But the idea of a universal tax has recently gained some currency among policymakers, as a means of bailing out banks in financial crises – and it would at least avoid the need for carbon border taxes. (FT)

Obama defended

Meanwhile US Democratic Senator John Kerry made a point that anyone following US politics will know already: US negotiators in Copenhagen are constrained in what they can do by Congress, much of which is resistant to proposed cap-and-trade legislation. (Bloomberg)

The Russia problem

Russia is talking tough about emissions credits it was granted under the Kyoto Protocol. With the move away from Soviet-era industries, the country’s emissions have dropped considerably since the assigned amount units (AAUs) were granted in 1997, leaving it with a surplus of units that it can sell on to participants in the EU’s carbon market. But Russia wants to continue to bank the units after 2012 – a prospect that could push down the price of carbon, lowering emissions. It’s the “gorilla in the background” that “nobody dares touch”, a senior EU official tells the New York Times.