A rules-based second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol will be produced at the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) in Durban, South Africa, this week, according to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres (above).
The question is no longer “Is there going to be a Part 2” but “How will it look?” a confident Figueres told about 120 of us at Durban Business Day, organized by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. She said a second commitment to Kyoto would contain the same metrics as under the first period, but that details would be refined over time. “What instruments will be built into it to raise the ambition of it” is yet to be determined, she said.
As the second week of negotiations kicked off at COP17 yesterday, Figueres reported that by end of Week 1, two of six negotiating tracks had wrapped late Friday night and negotiators had a draft of a long-term text to review over the weekend.
After a relatively quiet first week – with headlines about Canada’s intent to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol – Figueres said the turning point was the European Union’s offer to extend its commitment to the 1997 agreement – with “certain conditions.” Reports say those conditions mean major carbon dioxide emitters like the U.S. and China would support plans for a binding pact by 2015 that will supersede voluntary commitments by 2020. Later yesterday, China announced it would support a binding framework this week. Figueres said most of the climate ministers are here (I can vouch for the U.S.’s Todd Stern, as I saw him in the hotel gym yesterday morning) and this week will be about identifying “the likelies” to join the EU in calling for Kyoto Part 2. The ministers are having their first meeting today.
When moderator Marc Spelman of Accenture asked Figueres how we are moving toward the $100-billion-per-year Green Climate Fund, she said, “We don’t expect one to be open and ready for business until probably 2013,” adding that the instrument is “such a political issue” that debate will likely move well into Friday. The Green Climate Fund was adopted last year at COP16 in Cancún to support climate projects in developing countries.
“I question whether the Green Fund should be used for technology,” said American Electric Power’s Dennis Welch (below), who appeared on a panel on climate finance. He said the $100 billion is “woefully short” of adequately funding technology, citing AEP’s now idle Mountaineer carbon capture and storage project in New Haven, West Virginia. Welch called the project “successful” but pointed out that the government would not help absorb costs.
“Are you suggesting the Green Climate Fund should be used to finance coal?” asked a Greenpeace representative in the audience, citing renewable energy projects as perfectly viable. Welch said “we would be fooling ourselves” to think renewable energy would replace coal in 20 years and pointed out that what coal goes unsold in the U.S. is consumed overseas.
Coca-Cola’s Jeff Seabright, appearing on another panel, said the company reports climate change “as a risk to our business” in its SEC filings. With operations in 206 countries and 100,000 bottling companies, Coca-Cola is also the world’s largest juice company. Seabright cited water and agricultural issues as its two areas of greatest concern related to climate, and said all bottlers are required to conduct watershed assessments and adopt plans that ultimately will help the company work toward its goals of replenishing water supplies.
Greenpeace demonstrators outside the WBCSD meeting. Two representatives were invited inside the meeting. WBCSD President Björn Stigson said, “It’s good to see you inside rather than outside demonstrating.” They replied, “It’s important to do both.”