Key words :
"A failure in the Copenhagen process would be devastating for any chances to achieve 450ppm"
20 Nov, 2009 03:16 pm
IEA Head Energy Efficiency & Environment Division Richard Bradley talks to Scitizen about the World Policy Conference, the World Energy Outlook 2009 and the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.
We believe the financial crisis represents an opportunity to climate policy. We expect energy related CO2 emissions to decline as much as 3% in 2009 after 20 years of almost steady growth. Government in most G20 countries have promptly reacted to counter the impact of falling investment in cleaner energy technologies with generous financial and stimulus packages. Copenhagen gives us an opportunity to put in place the right economic signal to make investment shift to cleaner technologies when demand is going to recover.
Among the three objectives for Copenhagen you defined at the World Policy Conference in Marrakech ("to establish a price on carbon", "to provide clarity for investors incentives and longer term objective" and "to empower other organisations to contribute to the global response"), isn't the second one the most likely to be carried out?
Actually, I think a price on carbon is the most likely outcome from a successful Copenhagen. A price already exists in the EU and is under development in other IEA countries. Trading is an established objective of IEA countries. The question for Copenhagen is the linkage between these systems. Will the framework provide global rules? Establishing a carbon price will certainly provide an incentive for investors, so in that sense, an incentive will have been created. What complicates the investor incentive question is the other incentives that will be created, at least at the national level. Governments use other incentives than price to encourage new technologies. For example, those incentives include Renewable Portfolio Standards and Feed-in Tariffs. The relationship between Copenhagen and these other incentives are not clear, but it would be surprising if there were direct creation of these other incentives in such a framework given the focus on establishing emissions trading. The final pathway point which addressed empowering other international organisations is the least likely as there is little negotiating focus on that issue.
The successive Major Economies Forums this year produced a hardening of the positions as well as dissensions over the juridical structure of a Copenhagen deal. Could a failure in Copenhagen put in jeopardy the 450 Scenario?
I disagree with your characterisation of the Major Economies Forums results. It seems rather to have clarified areas of agreement and disagreement. In that sense, it aids negotiation as it focuses areas where a compromise might bridge differences. Nevertheless, a failure in the Copenhagen process would be devastating for any chances to achieve 450ppm. The WEO 2009 has demonstrated that a window has opened up with the financial crisis, but for investment to move in the right direction, governments will need to act. However, ?Copenhagen? is widely understood to mean the meeting this year and its follow-on activities. Even after the major pieces are established, hopefully this year, additional negotiation will be needed to develop the specific implementing rules which will be crucial to national governments efforts for ratification. However, if the Copenhagen process in the next year or two and ratification is not completed, 450ppm will be very difficult to if not impossible to achieve.
In that case, is a sectoral rather than a global approach the solution as you suggest in your presentation at the World Policy Conference?
In our view, a sectoral approach is not a substitute for a global approach, but rather a complement. One of the challenges of a new global mitigation architecture is insuring that the least cost mitigation occurs. Cost effectiveness is critical to maintaining public support for the aggressive reductions which a 450 scenario requires. It is clear from the experience with the Clean Development Mechanism, that the CDM is not adequate for the task. A project-by-project approach has high transaction costs and limited environmental effectiveness. Sectoral approaches offer an alternative way to galvanise more least cost reductions. As the IEA has shown in its recent publication, "Sectoral Approaches in Electricity: Building Bridges to a Safe Climate", sectoral approaches offer the promise of greater geographic participation in the mitigation effort.
However, should Copenhagen not provide for a global mitigation framework it is not clear that sectoral approaches would become the dominate alternative to a global agreement. It seems more likely to me that governments will, in the short run, join more regional agreements to pursue climate mitigation. Of course, ultimately a more global framework is essential for stabilising concentrations at any level currently under discussion.
As a last question, Greenpeace France has just published a ranking of 11 leaders' climate policies. While China and India are surprisingly given marks of 5.9/10 and 5.3/10, France and the U.S. only get 3.7/10 and 0.8/10. Could this ranking change the power struggle in Copenhagen?
I believe that differing national self interest, or at least perceptions of it will be the dominate considerations in any agreement. Larger emitters will bear the majority of the cost of mitigation, both direct and indirect costs, and can be expected to have a significant role in determining the Copenhagen outcome. In the final analysis, national interest and significance to the problem matters more than past actions or perceptions of it.
Interview by Clementine Fullias