Monday, November 29, 2010

Yvo de Boer on the Future of the UNFCCC

At the World Energy Congress in Montreal, Canada, Rebecca Lutzy, interviewed the former UN climate change boss Yvo de Boer, on the future of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The 16th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP16) to the UNFCCC and the sixth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP) is being held in Cancun (Quintana Roo), Mexico, between 29 November and 10 December 2010.

After four years of hard work, de Boer left the UNFCCC earlier this year to work with KPMG. When asked about the future of the UNFCCC process and what to expect in Cancun, de Boer was optimistic, saying that he believes that "it should be possible to make practical progress on frameworks on adaptation, mitigation, technology, finance, capacity building, and forests."

de Boer explained that managing climate change is about a lot more than just reducing emissions. "If coming to grips with climate change were only about reducing emissions, then it would make a lot of sense to just bring the 20 or so major economies of the world together in a room and get them to focus on emissions reduction, but...the climate change agenda isn't only about reducing emissions. It's about adapting to the impacts of climate change as well...and then you're talking about the 100 or so developing countries who did absolutely nothing to contribute to climate change but will be confronted with the bulk of the impacts. need a larger group at the table."

However, at the World Energy Congress roundtable, de Boer noted that more productive progress can be made by splitting up issues and having subsets of countries work on specifics, rather than having all countries "at the table" for all discussions.

de Boer also said that companies first need to figure out where they stand on carbon and other sustainability measures and then to respond to the risks and opportunities presented by their footprints.

He stressed that "it's clear that the international community wants to address climate's clear that sustainability is rising to the top of the agenda of governments and companies and of consumers...the environment in which businesses have to operate is changing very rapidly." He used airlines, companies with long supply chains, and beer breweries as examples of businesses that face risks related to their carbon (and water) footprints but also face business opportunities through smart choices in responding to and reducing impacts.

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