Rhein on Energy and Climate

Durban will be a non-event

The 17th international climate conference (COP 17) that opened November 28 will not produce any worth while results. This is – unfortunately – a foregone conclusion whatever final declaration might be adopted at the closure in two weeks.

The conference cannot be productive for four major reasons.

  • Europe finds itself in the worst economic and financial crisis since more than 40 years: it is focused on getting its house in order in the short term and therefore unable to assume the leadership that would be required to take major countries forward.
  • The USA, completely absorbed by fiscal disarray and the forthcoming elections next November, will be unable to take any international commitments on such sensitive and politically controversial issues as energy and climate.
  • China is sitting comfortably back waiting for “developed” countries to act more decisively. It will proudly present its achievements in substantially cutting C02 emissions relative to GDP and becoming the world`s major producer of solar and wind equipment.
  • India will insist on the need for its economic development and rising energy consumption. It will align with developing countries in reproaching the West for its insufficient mitigation and financing efforts.

The Conference will, hopefully, debate the recent report from the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the inter-linkage between climate change and the increasing number of worrying weather anomalies, from hurricanes to droughts, floods and melting glaciers or the polar ice cap.

It will, no doubt, register the recent introduction by Australia of an effective climate policy, which has taken several years of intensive political fights before being adopted.

The EU will lobby for a formal commitment by the 195 parties to prepare a comprehensive climate agreement to enter into force by 2020 and present its Energy Road Map 2050, by which time it aims at having reduced C02 emissions by more than 80 per cent, as an example to be followed by other countries.

There is little chance for the substantive adoption of the $ 100 billion UN climate fund to be operative as of 2020 as a means of helping developing countries reduce emissions and adapt to the consequences of climate change.

The Conference will above all allow the global community of policy makers, scientists and civil society involved in energy and climate issues to exchange notes and serve as the annual wake-up call to the world community to finally get its act together and address Humanity’s most pressing and the only truly irreversible policy issue.

The solution for the global climate will have to come from a series of bilateral/multilateral agreements on concrete actions which might progressively merge into an agreement among all countries to stabilise or reduce their emissions. EU enhanced cooperation should be the model to strive for.

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