Day 5 of COP 14: 5th December 2008
Heading for the third degree
I met Bill Kyte for a coffee; Bill is a veteran of the climate debate both in terms of business and policy. He is currently Advisor on Sustainable Development at E.ON, Chairman of the UK Emissions Trading Group and Chairman of the EURELECTRIC Environment & Sustainable Development Committee.
Bill Kyte – COP veteran
Apart from catching up on life in general, we talked about the likelihood of holding temperature increases below the critical 2°C threshold. I am increasingly pessimistic on this, not only through lack of confidence in agreed targets being achieved, but also in the face of the multi dimensional complexity of reversing current trends. Bill is in a way more optimistic – believing that transformative changes will happen across whole industries – and especially in the energy industry which he knows intimately. But pressed on whether he would tell his children that they should adapt to a 2° world, he said not. He believes that with a global dictatorship it was clearly possible to stay below 2°. In the real world, however, he thinks that we will commit to a 2°C goal but overshoot to possibly three degrees. I have to agree, and, as Tom Burke – a leading UK voice on environmental issues – put it recently, ‘My somewhat more pragmatic advice in the face of climate change is ‘don’t be under 40’!’
Giving new meaning to ‘equity’
I was amused and then alarmed at a side event where a European Commission speaker noted very matter-of-factly that the Commission had to ensure, when developing automotive standards, that countries were treated ‘fairly’. He explained that it would be unacceptable for a country which had a company making smaller, fuel efficient cars (e.g. Fiat) to derive competitive advantage from their climate friendlier market offering. In a stroke, he completely undermined my argument with business leaders that climate responsibility will offer competitive advantage. I now know that this is an unfair principle, in Europe at least. Where does fairness to climate victims come into play?
A trillion here, a trillion there and we’ll soon be talking real money
At a presentation here today on technology transfer, the leader of the negotiating process referenced that the best estimate currently circulating for the annual budget to deliver the scale of innovation needed to deliver required emissions cuts was in the order of $5.6 trillion a year. Sadly, a business representative rapidly dismissed the possibility. ‘So we have the money but how quickly do you think we could build 30 nuclear plants or put pipelines across California to transport the CO2 for sequestration?’ he asked. Another reason to believe Bill Kyte?