Here is Fitzpatrick Woods Consulting’s assessment of the hot topics tracked over the course of the United Nations climate change negotiations:-
The role of forestry in any post-2012 scheme. Not a lot of time was devoted to forestry in the main sessions, but there continues to be recognition from most countries that forests and the carbon stored in them will play a major role in emissions reductions into the future. Where countries differ is on the best way to achieve this. The issues to be addressed include:
• recognition of the carbon stored in harvested wood products
• ensuring that natural disturbances to forest carbon stocks (fire, pests, drought etc) are not counted as though they were human caused emissions
• establishing definitions and rules that assist to reduce emissions arising from deforestation and degradation in developing countries
• ensuring the rules around carbon accounting for various land uses are sufficiently flexible to take Australia’s specific needs into account
CCS – Carbon Capture and Storage. There are some nations that do not want CCS plants or technologies in their countries, but there is overarching support for advancing this technology. The major opponent is Brazil and while it is speculation, we guess their concerns are related to trying to avoid competition for their burgeoning bio-fuels industry.
Renewable energy. Aside from the conflict between biomass energy and other energy sources outlined above, the lack of impediments to the use of biomass energy at an international level makes this a domestic policy issue. Australia’s international role will continue to be arguing for proper accounting treatment of bio-energy feed stocks – like forest biomass.
Finance. As we have commented before, all options are going to stay on the table into 2009, but progress was made in Poland on funding for adaptation (addressing the impact of emissions). If the decisions here are followed through, the use of pooled global funds will become increasingly regular. The role of private organisations and funding is under active consideration.
Technology transfer. This is an over-spruiked, ill-considered and complex area of policy. The idea is to ensure the lowest emissions technologies are transferred as quickly as possible around the world. But let’s consider the issues that need to be addressed:
• technology is usually owned by companies, not countries.
There are serious rights and even sovereign risk issues here.
• technological advantages are the competitive edge for some countries
• not all best available technologies are held in developed countries.
China and the pulp and paper industry is a developing country example with technology.
• avoiding perverse outcomes like loss of capital and jobs from countries that transfer capital to other countries.
This is a tough issue to see resolved within one year.
++ HOT Topic is a collaboration between Fitzpatrick Woods Consulting (FWC) and IndustryEdge. The updates are provided by FWC principal, Tim Woods, based in Poland for the two weeks of the United Nations’ climate change negotiations. ++