If the leading countries participating in the seventeenth Conference of the Parties (COP 17) negotiations do not make a firm decision to have a second commit- ment period, following the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol, there is a risk that there will be an increase in bilateral climate agreements, which is not desirable, as it will make doing business more complex, says financial services firm Deloitte director and South African lead for sustainability and climate change Duane Newman.
He points out that a similar trend was seen with the World Trade Organisation’s Doha negotiations, saying this brings into question the role of these global institutions.
Currently there is no Kyoto replacement treaty or second commitment period beyond 2012 and Newman predicts that an international agreement might only be reached by 2020.
Deloitte senior manager for sustain- ability and climate change Peter Oldacre agrees that without a clear global view and a legally binding agreement on how commitments for reducing emissions are to be shared, it is difficult to expect much progress coming from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s COP 17 negotiations.
“An uncertain outcome from the conference will not be good for business. As the meeting approaches, there is a sense that there is no concise plan to deal with the complex and diverse agenda.
“The aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis has left many countries with differ- ent priorities and a reluctance to commit to anything that could place an additional burden on their economies,” he says.
However, Newman emphasises that positive outcomes must be generated from COP 17, as this event is the only one aimed at achieving global reductions in greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions.
“Business is realising that it is a key stakeholder with a role to play in the negotiations. It must be part of the solution and the design of mechanisms to engage businesses so they can benefit from it,” he adds.
Newman and Oldacre state that the focus of COP 17 will be on creating mechanisms that may enable the progress made at the climate change discussions at COP 16, held in Cancun, Mexico, in 2010, to be realised.
Measurement, reporting and verifica- tion will receive greater attention as these are necessary to ensure the accuracy and usability of the measurement of GHG reductions. Loopholes need to be closed and rigorous discussions must be held to increase the levels of ambition in developed countries, says Newman.
Last year’s conference saw the establishment of a technology mechanism and a climate technology centre and network, which seek to promote partnerships and collaboration between stakeholders.
Further, the development of a Green Climate Fund (GCF), aimed at channelling $100-billion a year into climate-related investment from the developed world to the developing world by 2020, was agreed.
The design of the GCF will be presented for consideration at COP 17 in Durban. Ways to ensure transparency and accountability in the governance of the fund will also be presented.
“A set of instruments to provide support needs to be put in place. Each instrument should be offered by public and private institutions and competition between them is likely to keep costs down and provide good governance and transpar- ency,” says Oldacre.
In addition, Newman says significant attention will be paid to the architectural design of agreements.
The concepts of ‘developed’ versus ‘developing’ in terms of country classification will form a noteworthy debate and agreement on a fair approach to individual countries’ responsibilities is fundamental to the implementation of strategies going forward, he states.
Integration of city planning, infrastructural development and adaptation needs to be discussed this year and vulnerable countries’ capacity building must be a key implementation issue, in practical terms, Newman adds.
“Realisation of the inhibitory obstacles for governments and civil society will enhance the ability to achieve sustainable results,” he concludes.