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Green Peace and WWF Press Conference in Barcelona

11/05/09

–Mengxiao Han, Nanjing, China

Greenpeace and World Wildlife Fund held a press conference at the recent UNFCCC negotiations in Barcelona to discuss carbon markets. The three speakers were the climate policy adviser at Greenpeace International, a fellow of the EU climate foundation and the head of climate change for WWF- UK.

At the beginning of the conference, the climate policy adviser pointed out the dramatic moment when the Africa group walked out, expressing serious concerns principally about the low level ambition of Annex I countries’ emissions reduction targets (the targets of industrial countries). Close behind that concern is the lack of substantial credible public financial pledges from industrialized countries and uncertainty around the league outcome. Instead of increasing their ambitions, the industrialized countries continue to push forward the vision of the future world based firmly on the carbon markets.

People need to move towards understanding that the post 2012 landscape is fundamentally different from the landscape of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol for two reasons:

  1. The ambition for emission reduction needs to be much higher.
  2. Developing countries are no longer a blank sheet of paper. Future mechanism needs to understand that the real deviation from business and need to take place in the developing countries with the substantial support from the rich world and at the same time, the industrialized countries decarbonize their economies. Those two are traded against each other.

Carbon markets could have a real role to play in the future landscape, but this role needs to be redefined. Because of the low carbon targets and hardly any credible finance pledges from the industrialized countries, the role of offsets is unknown. From the developed countries’ perspective, combining offsets with the low targets would risk locking in the high carbon economy and then we’ll be trapped into the old ways of doing things.

The second speaker was not associated with WWF or Greenpeace. He’s from the EU climate foundation which is completely independent. This foundation has no NGOs and sponsorship. He focused on the carbon markets based on what the foundation have done on the project. Among all the reduction opportunities all around the world, 30% are in developed countries and 70% are in developing countries. In order to get all these opportunities, money is flowing from developed countries to developing countries to do the reductions. The issue is that of all the reduction happened in developed countries, the carbon market finance can only cover 1/3 of the total financing that is required at best. That means the rest of the 2/3 needs the developing countries to find from other public sources. Someone may argue that the developed countries could shift more towards offsets and do less at home, but then the cost would go down. If that would be happen, we wouldn’t get all the reductions that we need to stay on course. It will prevent a transition of low carbon economy in developed countries, which is an essential problem.

We are not on track to a 2℃ scenario at, because if we add up the entire announcement about their target of developed and developing countries, we only get a half of we need. Therefore, the role of offsets becomes even smaller. We won’t get much financing of these offsets towards developing countries as we would have. The burden on carbon market will shift to other sources like private funding to make the developing countries possible to attribute to the global effort.

The third speaker indicates the strong link between the carbon markets and the industrial countries’ targets and there’s also a strong link for the legal outcome of Copenhagen agreement. So we need the strong targets to make the carbon market helpful to us to stay below 2℃. Also, we need to have improved mechanism. If the industrialized countries’ targets are significantly improved, the magnitude of the public finance for mitigation will be 120 billion euros or more. Securing the future of carbon markets sometimes seems to be more important for the industrialized countries. We need to create the enabling conditions that at least 40% emission reductions for industrialized countries from 1990 level to 2020 and at least 160 billion euro from public sources for developing countries for mitigation, adaption and forest production. We need to improve the international rules of carbon trading and other rules, if carbon market is to play a role in the international system.

She mentioned at the end as the conclusion that if the industrialized countries are serious with the carbon market, they need to start to enable it with strong targets.

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