Effective Global Climate Policies Could 'Set The Table' for Sustainable Energy Developers
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) talks in Bali, Indonesia this week and next are the latest symptom of the growing concern globally for the effects of Climate Change (Pew Centre, a U.S. Foundation provides some good background on the Bali meetings, here).
These concerns resulted in the Kyoto Protocol, negotiated under the auspices of the UNFCCC in 1997. And despite the problems with that treaty, officials, Environmental and other NGO's, industry representatives and others are at it again. Over the next two weeks, officials will try to layout a roadmap for developing the an agree for action beyond 2012.
Concerns for climate change or global warming are one of the strongest drivers for the transition to a more sustainable energy future. The outcome in Bali will have a significant and long lasting influence on the environment for developing sustainable energy in the years to come.
With that in mind, I thought you might find a it useful if I was to pull together a brief summary of press commentary on the meetings.
Picking up on what be one of the most important themes of any post-2012 agreement, engaging developing nations such as China and India in any planned action, the Financial Times yesterday included commentary from Indonesia's Minister of Finance and the head of the World Bank group (see Bali Must Bring Developing Nations on Board, December 5th).
The Globe & Mail is today highlighting what may be one of the less savory partnerships emerging from the meetings, Canada, Japan and the U.S. acting in concert to push back against mandatory targets or other kinds of binding commitments, leading some of the ENGO's interviewed to suggest the three are trying to derail any kind of agreement in Bali. (see Ottawa Gains Key Allies to 'Move Beyond Kyoto', December 6th). The Globe & Mail notes that:
"Japan and Canada have dominated the 'Fossil of the Day awards' - sarcastic prizes given everyday by environmentalists to the worst-performing nation at the Bali conference."
On a more positive note, The Australian reports that Australia's new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has told Chinese Premier Wen Jiobao that he "is willing to act as an intermediary between China and the developed world", helping to bridge the gap on cutting greenhouse gases (see Rudd to Bridge China-West Climate Gap, December 6th). This comes after Australia's about-face at the strt of the meetings where it commited to signing the Kyoto Protocol.
Picking up on the theme I started with, i.e. the climate change meetings will have a significant influence on the development climate for sustainable energy, I came across a somewhat dated commentary in Greentech Media that talks about the challenge facing alternative or 'green' energy providers if concerns for climate change are to be addressed (see In Depth: Can Technology Save the World?, September 4th, 2007).
Shifting focus to the fate of climate policy discussions in the U.S. - the big prize for carbon market investors when that country moves to address greenhous gas emissions - the Baltimore Sun reports that the U.S. Climate Security Act has passed in the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works (see Historic Climate Bill Gets Yes Vote in Committtee, December 5th). The bill would put in place a national cap and trade system for greenhouse gas emissions. My understanding is that while the Bill has little chance of passing into law, it will play a significant role in setting the template for a post-Bush U.S. response to climate change.
In response to the Senate Committee's agreement, the Wall Street Journal Energy Round-up blog, has already identified a wave of apocalyptic economic predictions form the likes of the Edison Electric Institute, American Petroleum Institute and others (see Running the Numbers Game, Dec 5th). I assume that the real debate is only just getting started.
Developing effective global policy is a complex, difficult business. As the above clippings suggest this seems to be particularly true for climate change. While I understand the complexity, I can only hope that the participants in Bali (and Washington) understand the urgency and the impacts that are already occuring and push on to develop effective policy now when there is a chance for cost-efficient implementation. Developing a sustainable energy future demands good, consistant policy and incentives.
The alternative is to wait until the need for action is overwhelming and the likely response knee-jerk and costly.
If the saner course happens, it looks like the current government in Ottawa has already chosen to not be a part.