For the first green drinks of the year in Hong Kong, speakers who were at the 17th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP17) held in Durban, South Africa shared their on-the-ground, personal observations. While many were disappointed with the results of the conference, the speakers were quite positive about the discussions.
David Lunsford works in Hong Kong as a consultant on greenhouse gas trading issues in China and has several years of experience in the carbon markets, including as Policy Director for the International Emissions Trading Association, gave a general overview of the results. He described how, after two weeks of discussions, delegates came to a consensus to decide on a legally binding accord, which will replace the Kyoto Protocol, to cut greenhouse gases by 2015 and have the protocol come into force by 2020. There will be a second commitment period starting 2013. Countries taking part in this second period have to convert their economy-wide reduction targets into reduction objectives and submit them for further consideration. Canada, Japan and Russia will not participate in the second period. Interestingly, a new greenhouse gas that is actually created in solar panel production -nitrogen trifluoride - has been added to the six greenhouse gases regulated under the future protocol. Given that the conference was in a developing country, the Green Climate Fund which helps developing nations tackle change, was also hailed as success.
Robert Gibson, Adjunct Professor at City University’s School of Energy and previously Director of Sustainable Development, Swire Group, was especially optimistic about the proactive initiatives China has moved on, and hopes to see similar centralized planning and actions taken by India, another nation that is topping the charts in terms of greenhouse gas production. For 2012, Robert shared his feeling that reducing carbon emissions will be a key trend in the aviation industry as stricter regulations come into place.
Jeanne Ng, Director of Group Environmental Affairs at CLP Holdings, cited the importance of bottom-up action through individual states in countries such as India and United States to combat climate change when the action is not happening at the country level. At the same time, she noted the ineffectiveness of countries such as Australia putting carbon taxes in place at a time when world carbon prices in the various trading schemes have plummeted.
Image: By AFP via: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,803158,00.html