The sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP16) in Cancun is the latest UN effort to get the international community to act on climate change. Although COP16 is not expected to produce a binding agreement, many governments have adopted initiatives to diminish their environmental impacts and carbon footprint.
European Union (EU)
The EU's commitment to renewable energy has helped to advance renewable energy sources like wind power. Other encouraging signs are also in evidence in the European auto industry. EU legislation, passed in 2008, requires manufacturers to reduce CO2 by one fifth by 2015. Business Week is reporting that European car makers are ahead of schedule in their efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, thanks in part to increased consumer demand for more efficient vehicles.
China has engaged in an ambitious renewable energy policy that will see heavy investment in solar power and subsidies for cleantech companies. The country is also offering consumer subsidies for the purchase of electric cars and has also been closing down small coal plants in order to help it meet its goal of reducing CO2 per unit of GDP by 45 percent through 2020. Business Week reports that China is exploring cap-and-trade to help meet its targets. By some estimates, a cap-and-trade market in China could be functioning as early as 2013.
As reported in the Business Standard, the Indian government has launched a cleantech certification process that will help Indian power distribution companies to meet their renewable portfolio obligation (RPO) through the purchase of certificates. The Electricity Act of 2003 mandates that state distribution utilities purchase electricity from renewable energy sources as a certain minimum percentage of the total consumption of power in the state. This certification scheme will help promote clean power.
Reuters reports that Brazil managed to stem deforestation and cut its emissions by 34 percent over the past five years, enabling the country to meet its 2020 target ten years ahead of schedule. The government of Brazil has come down on cattle ranchers and loggers. Brazil also announced that its state developmental bank, BNDES, has opened a $588 million fund to finance projects that reduce deforestation caused by the agricultural sector.