10 October 2008
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

PRESS CONFERENCE ON NEGOTIATIONS TOWARDS GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE AGREEMENT


The credit crisis should be seen as an opportunity to rebuild the world financial system in a way that underpins “green” growth, Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, told correspondents at a Headquarters press conference this afternoon.


“Governments now have an opportunity to create and enforce policy which stimulates private competition to fund clean industry,” Mr. de Boer said, as he briefed on the upcoming Poznan Conference and other negotiations towards a new post-Kyoto Protocol climate change agreement that must be finalized by December 2009, in Copenhagen, Denmark.  [The Protocol’s first commitment period ends on 31 December 2012, and international talks began late last year on a subsequent deal on specific outlooks in greenhouse gas emissions].


Global energy demand would grow by 55 per cent by 2030, he said, and in the period leading up to that date, worldwide energy supply infrastructure required a total investment of $22 trillion, with about half of that needed in developing countries.  If those investments were not directed towards green investment, there would be a marked increase in greenhouse gas emissions, rather than the necessary decrease, he stressed.


The issue of redirecting investments during the current financial crisis should be a focus at the conference in Poznan, Poland.  He noted that about 40 environment ministers would be meeting next week to set the stage for that conference.  It would be the first time those ministers would meet following last year’s conference in Bali.


Poznan, he said, would be significant because it would be the first time that a real negotiating text will be on the table, pulling together the intergovernmental discussions on how to move forward on adaptation, mitigation, technology and finance.


“It will be very important, in that context, that ministers focus their attention on a shared vision of cooperative action,” he said.  So far, there had been much discussion of what developed and developing countries had to do to reduce emissions, but there had been little attention paid to the infrastructure and the financial architecture that would allow developing countries to move forward on the issue.  It was critical, at Poznan, that ministers make the necessary commitments to allow that to happen.


Asked what kind of proposals were on the table to create such an architecture, Mr. de Boer said there were many creative approaches already existing or in the works, such as the United Nations-backed clean development mechanism, and the kind of auction of emission rights now being proposed in the United States Congress through the Boxer/Lieberman/Warner legislation.  He looked forward to more market-based approaches.


In response to similar questions, he said that the $60 billion carbon market that had already been created was a substantial achievement in the development of market-based approaches.  Now, ambitious targets were needed in industrialized countries to make the carbon market work.  To effectively reverse the growth of greenhouse emissions, however, the market-based approach had to be combined with taxes and standards.  Carbon trading might have little effect on the energy use of individuals for dwellings and automobiles.


Asked about the prospects of the United States becoming a full partner in climate change efforts, he said that there was already a huge amount of action on the part of American cities to create cap and trade regimes.  Industry, as well, had been requesting clarity on regulation planning so that it could make the right investments in infrastructure.  In addition, both United States presidential candidates were committed to fighting climate change through an international process, through cap and trade schemes, and through reaching out to developing countries.


On questions about the continued pursuit of oil in the United States, and coal in Kosovo and many other areas, Mr. de Boer said that fossil fuels would continue to be part of the energy mix for some time to come.  It was inevitable.  As the transition was made to other energy sources, it was essential that cleaner technologies for fossil fuels be developed and used.


Asked if the Polish Prime Minister was trying to get out of commitments by the European Union to reduce emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, he said no, Poland simply wanted to mitigate the effects of such reductions in the electricity sector.  It did not intend to slow the pace of European Union reductions as a whole.  Asked about the reduction of airline emissions by the European Union, he said that that area would be dealt with in the next phase of European Union climate talks.


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For information media • not an official record