11 February 2008


11 February 2008
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York




The thirteenth meeting of States parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, held last December in Bali, Indonesia, had delivered an incredibly ambitious agenda, and there was now less than two years to create “the most complex international agreement ever”, the Convention’s Executive Secretary, Yvo de Boer, told correspondents today.

During a press conference at Headquarters, he said that the Bali Conference had produced an action plan consisting of four building blocks:  adaptation; mitigation; technology and finance.  Of the four, one should begin with focusing on technology and finance, as two were of primary concern to developing countries.  Technology and finance were also critical to any long-term climate change regime that would make sense.  The finance and technology aims would not be realized, however, unless rich countries took on ambitious reduction targets and put in place real measurable and verifiable mitigation actions.

“Technology and finance are the glue that connects action on the part of developed and developing countries,” Mr. De Boer said.

Only with an active engagement of the private sector, the international financial institutions and other civil society organizations, could one deliver on the four building blocks agreed at Bali, he continued.  A meeting would be held in Bangkok, Thailand, from 31 March through 4 April to turn the Bali action plan into a working agenda for the next two years.  One of the priorities would be to focus on the engagement of major stakeholders to see what they could contribute towards tackling climate change, and to hear what they would need to have written into an international agreementfor them to play that role.

Asked for an update on the “Adaptation Fund” agreed at Bali, Mr. De Boer said the Fund was interesting as it was not dependent on diverted official development assistance (ODA) or donations from rich countries.  Rather, the Fund depended on the “clean development mechanism”.  There would be a 2 per cent levy on every ton of emission reduction that was generated through that mechanism, which would go to the Fund.  If the Adaptation Fund continued, levies could be extended under instruments under the Convention, such as “joint implementation”, namely cooperation among rich countries to reduce emissions, and “emissions trading” -- and rich nations would adopt more stringent targets.  Then, the Climate Change Convention could generate very significant resources for adaptation.

India’s national climate change strategy focused largely on what the country could do on its own, but also indicated how it could go the extra “green mile” if there was international cooperation, he replied to another question.  The country’s Prime Minister had underlined India’s recognition of the importance of that issue, but emphasized that, because of the country’s size, the problem had to be broken down into different parts of the economy and into different geographical regions.  After Bali, India, like many other developing countries, was not waiting for the negotiations to proceed, but was beginning to act on its own.

Asked about the possibility of a moratorium on coal, he said that, globally, such a moratorium was not realistic.  For countries like India and China, energy from coal and nuclear energy were inevitable.  Technologies to store CO2 emissions were in early stages of development, and some were sceptical about it.  Because of the experimental stages of development, storage increased the price of energy.

Addressing a question about a breakthrough during Bali on deforestation, he said there had been a decision to start a serious debate about avoiding emissions from deforestation in developing countries.  Another decision had been taken to begin exploring how deforestation might be credited under a future regime.  There were concerns about methodological issues -- measuring, for instance -- and about the scale of things.  The question was what impact there would be on the carbon price in general if avoiding emissions resulting from deforestation in developing countries and forest conservation were credited under a climate change regime.

In response to a question about a balance between biofuels and their impact on food prices, he pointed out that “one biofuel is not the same as another”.  Ethanol produced from sugar cane generated a lot of additional value, while ethanol produced from corn used so much energy in the production process that there was almost no gain.  At the same time, food prices were increasing because more and more corn was used to produce biofuels.  An important part of the discussion, therefore, should be a focus on the second generation of biofuels, namely from waste products and sea algae.

He would be happy with any of the three candidates for United States President, as all three had taken very strong and positive positions on climate change, he replied to a question about Barack Obama’s proposal to auction greenhouse allocations.  The Europeans had recognized that, if one continued to give away emission rights and insufficiently constrain companies’ emission rights, then there would be no progress.  They increasingly chose to auction emission rights and were beginning to explore how part of the proceeds from such auctioning could be used to help developing countries engage on climate change.  That would be an interesting way of not diverting official development assistance for climate change, but of creating new financial flows in North-South cooperation.

As for a “tense” atmosphere during the Bali Conference, Mr. De Boer said that that tension had been based on a misunderstanding, as some countries felt that the process was being mismanaged, that negotiations were going on in two different places at the same time, based on different texts.  That misunderstanding had been a result of confusion over “informal” and “formal” consultations.  The meeting of the plenary had been suspended until that situation was resolved.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.