Monday, March 30, 2009

The Road to Copenhagen (COP 15): Timetable for Action on Climate Change

A host of climate negotiations are taking place ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen scheduled for December (COP15). It is expected that ministers and officials from 192 countries will take part. In addition, there will be participants from a large number of organisations. The goal is to broker a deal replacing Kyoto which is due to expire in 2012.

Frameworks for climate change agreement are being discussed in UN sponsored climate conferences, forums and exchanges. Yesterday saw the commencement of the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany. Earlier this year the Western Climate Policy Forum was held in Denver, Colorado, and earlier this month, the Research Congress on Climate Change was held in Copenhagen, Denmark concurrently with the Midwest Climate Policy Forum in Columbus, Ohio.

US involvement is crucial to success at COP 15 and although President Obama has many allies in the push for climate change legislation, others have made it known that they will oppose such legislation. Despite opposition, The House of Representatives climate bill is expected by May, a US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule is due to be published by June. EPA is also expected to provide more guidance on the greenhouse gas reporting rule that the Clean Air Act outlines. An additional climate bill from the US Senate could also develop soon. Both the Senate and the House are working on various aspects of a climate bill.

The Senate's top environmental lawmaker suggested that a major component of climate change legislation could be introduced "in weeks, not months." "We are not sitting back and waiting for some magic moment," Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, told reporters. "We're ready to go. We may move in three weeks, we may move in six weeks, we could move in 10 weeks...but it will be before the end of this year," she said.

Despite Ms. Boxer's determination, there is equally determined resistance to things like cap-and-trade from some US legislators. Some insiders have suggested that resistance to cap-and-trade will delay a climate change deal by at least six months. Even if we do not not see a signed deal replacing Kyoto in 2009, American participation is crucial and it is imperative that we have agreement well before Kyoto expires in 2012.

Ed Markey, chairman of the US House energy and environment subcommittee said, “We know the G8 and the rest of the world is waiting for the United States to stop being the laggard and be the leader,” Mr Markey told CERA, a week-long energy conference that began on Monday. “There are potentially catastrophic consequences for the planet if we do not act.’’

Here is a summary of key climate change policy events scheduled to take place in 2009:
May 24-26: World Business Summit on Climate Change (Copenhagen, Denmark)
June 1-12: U.N. Climate Change Conference (Bonn, Germany)
July 8-10: G8 Summit (La Maddallena, Italy)
Monday 28 September to Friday 9 October 2009United Nations Conference Centre (UNCC) of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP),
Monday 2 November to Friday 6 November 2009Barcelona Convention Centre,
Dec. 3-6: Copenhagen Climate Exchange (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Dec. 7-18: U.N. Climate Change Conference (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Dec. 15-17: Copenhagen Climate Conference for Mayors (Copenhagen, Denmark)

Next: The Road to Copenhagen (COP 15): Part 2, Implications for Business / Part 3, Positioning Your Business

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