With the dust still settling over the recent UN Climate Change Conference in Mexico’s Cancún, 2011 begins with a multi-lateral package of measures aimed at taking action on climate change.
Though there was little by way of concrete action on emissions to emerge from the conference and the ‘Cancún Agreements’ there is perhaps more optimism as the world looks towards the next Conference of the Parties, scheduled for South Africa in late November. Until then there is a major uphill battle to be fought that climate campaigners hope will see close to 200 nations thrash out a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, due to expire just one year hence.
Perhaps crucially, the Parties did agree to continue negotiations with the aim of ensuring there is no gap between the treaties and given the outcomes at the previous talks in Copenhagen - widely perceived as a flop - it is perhaps not surprising that those close to the talks herald them as a huge leap on the road to a low carbon global economy.
And after all, there were some successes, too. For example, the package did include initiatives to deploy money and technology to developing countries with a total of US$30 billion financing from industrialised countries to support climate action in the developing world up to 2012, with the intention to raise up to $100 billion by 2020. Elsewhere, the design of a Green Climate Fund has been established as well as a technology mechanism with a Technology Executive Committee and Climate Technology Centre and Network to increase technology cooperation to support action on adaptation and mitigation. The Clean Development Mechanism has also been strengthened with a series of measures designed to drive more investment into emission reduction projects in the developing world.
Indeed, commenting at the event last year, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said: “Governments have given a clear signal that they are headed towards a low-emissions future together, they have agreed to be accountable to each other for the actions they take to get there, and they have set it out in a way which encourages countries to be more ambitious over time.”
As one of the key mechanisms available to policy makers to reduce carbon emissions, a global climate change deal clearly bodes well for the renewable energy sector and the initial raft of measures to come from Cancun are certainly encouraging. But can we really justify an optimistic view that a binding global deal can be reached in the current timeframe? And even if a global deal is not reached before Kyoto expires, what does this actually mean for the renewables sector?
It is in this context that we turn to our latest ‘Big Question’:
Considering the outcomes from December’s COP in Cancun, and looking to the year ahead, what are the prospects for an effective global climate agreement, and what are the implications for the renewables industry if this is, or is not, achieved?
For our regular Big Question feature, we invite readers to respond with around 300 words and we ask contributors who wish to be considered for inclusion in the print magazine to be identifiable rather than anonymous.
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