Objective COP21: the road is still long

There is still some way to go in bringing together the visions of industrialised and developing countries

This is one of the main findings of the 4th European Forum of Energy “Objective COP21- acting efficiently against climate change” which the Conseil Français de l’Énergie (WEC France) organised on 12-13 March 2015 in Paris.

The forum gathered one hundred experts from more than 25 countries  which ensured that the viewpoints of all stakeholders involved in the process were heard.

(from left to right) Jean Marie Dauger, Rabiou Hassane Yari, Olivier Appert, Marie-José Nadeau, Teruaki Masumoto

(from left to right) Jean Marie Dauger, Rabiou Hassane Yari, Olivier Appert, Marie-José Nadeau, Teruaki Masumoto

Rabiou Hassane Yari, former minister of Mines and Energy of Niger said that, as with most African countries, Niger is not concerned about the limitation of CO2 emissions or the carbon price but instead looks at adaptation policies.

“We want to ensure that an agreement is made before COP 21 in December so that it only has to be adopted and celebrated during the meeting”  said Paul Watkinson, Head of the French climate negotiations team for COP 21 .

A dynamic climate agreement

The run up to the climate negotiation  is made up of informal consultations between the parties. Watkinson explained that with regard to adaptation and mitigation, the Paris agreement is a legal agreement. He is pushing for a system with rules and transparency as well as monitoring compliance with the commitments, but above all at a dynamic agreement which will be continuously renewed and strengthened.

All participants present at the forum were convinced that international cooperation is essential, especially as Europe accounts for 10% of global CO2 emissions only. Marie-José Nadeau, Chair of the World Energy Council, stated that the European Union has often taken innovative steps and if the energy union’s aim of integrating 28 European energy markets is achieved, it will represent a true transformation of the energy sector and without doubt advance the debate.

The cost of resilience

Energy accounts for two thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions which illustrates the close correlation between climate change and energy. Solutions to limit emissions range from improving energy efficiency to decarbonisation of the energy mix but almost all these measures require technological innovation and all have a cost.

To mitigate the risk of extreme weather events and to maintain system reliability, major investments have to be made. “But the more we invest to increase the resilience of our parks, the less we invest in accelerating energy access at an affordable price” said Marie-José Nadeau.

Fortunately there is enough capital and a variety of funding options available for mitigation and adaptation investment. However governments have a role to play in financing energy infrastructure as markets cannot evolve rapidly enough to fight climate change.

Setting a carbon price to direct investment

The forum also highlighted the importance of identifying markets, compatible solutions, understanding the economic dimensions, reducing bureaucracy and ensuring that decisions and actions are less political and are managed more effectively.

Implementing carbon pricing policies was considered a key element within a broad range of tools like the R&D and technological innovation. Paul Watkinson maintained that setting a carbon price would send a clear signal to redirect investment but does not believe that the COP21 will establish a  global price for carbon.

Watkinson maintained that at the end of the negotiations solutions must be adopted, no matter if in the form of a protocol, a treaty or instrument and regardless of whether the agreement is binding or not. Countries must set goals and then commit and report on progress. It is essential that all countries participate in the agreement, not only the biggest CO2 emitting countries. A public commitment of all countries to the international community and to citizens would be a great step forward in the fight against climate change.

The 5th European Energy Forum will take place in Spring 2016.

 

Clothilde Grascœur, Conseil Français de l’Énergie

 

  • Find the speakers’ presentations here
  • Marie-José Nadeau’s speech (English and French) can be found here
  • Read Chief negotiator Paul Watkinson’s interview here