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Mexican President on “The struggle against climate change, what should our legacy be?”

December 9, 2010

Thursday, 9 December 2010, 10:45 – 12:15

H.E. Mr. Felipe Calderon, President of Mexico, is hosting the second dialogue session with Heads of State/Government to exchange views on the topic:

“The struggle against climate change, what should our legacy be?”


Plurinational State of Bolivia (tbc), Central African Republic, Guyana, Republic of Kiribati, Nauru, Norway, Samoa, South Africa

joined by

The President of the World Bank and the Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

– – –

Below are the main gists of their discussion.

Norway President

  • sharing of responsibilities by both developed and developing worlds
  • forests
  • finance

The President of Norway focused on the importance of Forests and Finance.  He mentioned that Finance is important because it is addressing the issue of “common but differentiated responsibilities”.  The industrialized world has had a historic responsibility because it had polluted for many years; however, there is a need for reduction in emissions by both the developed and developing worlds, in order to achieve the overall emission reductions required.

He had been involved in a Report of which the main findings were that, it would be challenging, but it IS feasible, to mobilize the USD100 billion (committed in the Copenhagen Accord) by 2020.  He proposed auctioning the carbon credits, having carbon pricing for international transportation, and redirecting subsidies (for fossil fuels) to greening actions in the developing world.  He also highlighted that carbon pricing would not only be strong incentives to reduce emissions, but also provides sources for mobilizing huge funds for mitigation and adaptation, and other green practices.  He emphasized the need to “fund the fund”.

He was also a proponent to make “Forests” success stories.  He believed that, should deforestation be proven successful, it could have the largest, fastest and cheapest emission reduction.  And he was confident because he’d seen progress and action on the ground, especially in Brazil, Amazon.

[aLgae’s note – it would be prudent to double-check how “cheapest” was defined, because “commodifying forests” would not have reflected its full value.]

“We all have to compromise, we will not have a perfect agreement, but we cannot let perfect be enemy of the good.”


World Bank President

  • importance of having more ministries involved
  • pilot studies, R&D
  • markets
  • technology “diffusion”

The President of World Bank talked about lessons learnt from previous COPs and noted the multi-dimensional nature of this problem (Climate Change).  He advocated for cooperative action in order to succeed and suggested that “problem-solving” approach needs broader coalition (i.e. need to involve many more ministries).  He recalled conversations in Bali, where the importance of learning how to work together with indigenous people was discussed.

He talked about how Climate Change was a “living process”, a complex interaction (with science and modeling still evolving) and reminded us to build in monetary and feedback systems, to continue to host and test hypotheses.  He believed in building pilot programmes across various topics and incorporating systems for revision, scaling up, and feedback.  He believed in continuing R&D, with step-function-change to really make a difference.

[aLgae’s note – but the vulnerable countries have no time for pilot studies, and they believe sufficient knowledge had already been gained from existing projects.]

He wanted to use markets to allocate resources efficiently and innovate (by manipulating the incentives and disincentives associated with pricing).

He talked about technology being diffused more quickly now than in the past, and how developed and developing countries are both engaged (in different ways).  He said we can’t lose sight of the smaller players that have special problems and that customization is needed as part of the solution.  For effective carbon mitigation, he urged the largest emitters to focus on challenges and make the biggest difference.

Again, there was talk about not letting perfect be the enemy of the good, and he reminded all to make progress where and when we can, and not to lose sight of the big picture.


Samoan Prime Minister

  • sustainable economical model / sovereignty
  • sustained funds for adaptation / mitigation in the long-term
  • sustaining the financing
  • political will of the Pacific islands
  • technolody
  • lessons for future generations
  • negotiating in good faith

The Prime Minister of Samoa identified characteristics that an economical model should have, in order to be sustainable.  The economical model should be country-owned and country-led and bottom-up, with good consultation processes, and where development is country-focused and country-developed.  This would provide an enabling environment for green solutions.

He raised concerns over how to ensure that there are sustained funds for adaptation / mitigation in the long-term.  e.g. the adaptation fund in KP is available, but the queue is getting longer and the current level of resources is too low to meet all requests.

He suggested that, for financing to be sustained, there needs to be full monetization of GEF5, and a need for clarity in “fast-start finance”.  He hopes some amount of CDM funds can be contributed under adaptation.  And besides urging more partners to donate generously, he did not wish for voluntary contributions to be the only source of funding.

He commented that although the Pacific islands are heavily dependent on fossil fuels, they have taken on regional and national mitigations projects on a voluntary basis.  This is actually carried out at great expense to them but they believe in it and it reflects their strong aspirations to be part of the solution.  (Samoa to be carbon-free by 2020.)  However, they feel discouraged when the Annex 1 countries do not share the same commitments to be part of the solution.

He said that technology must be accessible and affordable.  The current lack of economies of scale in the Pacific islands have deterred technological investment / advancement, hence he urged the need for private-public cooperation.

To teach future generations about facing up to challenges, he suggested to include Climate Change modules into existing curriculum.  Also Samoa had organized Climate Change documentaries 2 years ago (about 17 movies were produced to educate the developed countries) and he hoped the Annex 1 citizens would lobby their governments to take more ambitious actions to combat climate change.

He urged all to negotiate in good faith, to change the global problem to global opportunity, to recognize and fix the mistakes of the past, and focus on being positive for the future.


Guyanan President

  • importance of Cancun agreement / trust
  • dubious accounting
  • science
  • focus
  • urgency

The President of Guyana praised the efforts of the Mexican government to provide the environment to achieve a fair and balanced package (which would not be perfect, but would allow to claim some success).  He had come with lower than normal expectations (after Copenhagen) and he believed that partnerships and trust and the atmosphere were essential to getting an agreement, and just as important as the contents of the agreement.

He indicated that despite of the “partnership that the negotiators speak so eloquently of”, there is lack of trust between the developed and the developing worlds.

“We believe in the science and we agree to 2 deg rise in temperature…but what we pledge doesn’t match our belief in the science”.  He talked about the excuses and “new warfare” others are indulging in their countries, with glossy brochures and other misinformation.

“Even if we agreed on all the things we’d made progress on, we’re still on a pathway that will take us above 2 deg C… let’s face that stark reality.. this is the pathway to catastrophe”.

He did not believe the “dubious accounting” behind the finance systems.  “We agreed to Copenhagen Accord, reluctantly, because we saw it as a compromise, something that is not perfect but at least some money is there”.  “We have not even determined the eligibility criteria for the most vulnerable countries”.  “We heard about money distributed for fast-track financing but we have no privy to it”.

“The way forward is to have an aggressive fight, fight to restore the momentum before Copenhagen” (that was replaced by skeptics).

He said that one government (Australia) fell victim to skeptics and urged all to stay focused on the problem and put pressure on the governments to make the right decisions.

He said there was a need to create a series of global institutions that are “enlightened”.  There were projects discussed that have Phase 1 & 2, but forests are not waiting for pilot and capacity building projects.  He urged the need to go large-scale and said “no experience” was just an excuse because Guyana has proven their MRVs, which could be easily replicated if they had the will.

He felt for the smaller countries that were “bullied” into “jumping through a million hoops to get some money that rightfully belongs” to them.  Due to the lack of binding agreement and lack of deep emission cuts (especially for developed countries), there is no carbon price signal, so there is no private investor confidence.  He felt there are few building blocks and “we make excuses for those who have to make the decisions”.

It is already late and there is imminent urgency to address the “existential threat to the developing world”.


[aLgae’s notes – it’s getting really long, so only bullet points for the below speakers]

Nauruan President

  • long-term vision – roadmap beyond COP16/CMP6
  • long-term battle – challenge of responding to CC will not be met in 1 meeting
  • confidence in the UNFCCC system to be restored
  • need for sustained and sufficient financing
  • finance – predictable, reliable, with private sources for adaptation funding
  • adaptation & mitigation together
  • disaster recovery – crippling for small countries
  • technology – existing technology must be used
  • setting a good example – no procrastination
  • perfect v.s. good (where good = survival)
  • survival is priority, financing is secondary


Central African Republic President

  • emphasis – importance of Climate Change
  • Climate Change impacts – seasons – agriculture – economy, healthcare, energy – security
  • survival
  • forests & development – inability to use its resources
  • partners who are supposed to uphold their obligations and responsibilities are not doing so
  • financing – compensation as motivation to continue their mitigation efforts
  • technology transfer – absent


Kiribati President

  • how to keep the process afloat?
  • degree of vulnerability to be addressed (vulnerable? most vulnerable? frontline of vulnerability)
  • did not sign Copenhagen Accord initially but later aligned themselves to it @ Copenhagen because they believed it would trigger the flow of fast funds
  • science says no matter what you do, the most vulnerable countries will be submerged – it is too late for countries for Kiribati
  • it’s not about trying to negotiating, it’s about surviving (and having to survive even the negotiations)
  • what we need is to talk amongst the leaders, to try to resolve the issue, to resolve what the negotiations could not resolve
  • political and humanitarian issue
  • don’t let vulnerable countries be collateral damage in the negotiation process


Secretary General of OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development)

  • good news = we can afford to take ambitious action, fraction of 1% of GDP per year
  • USD 400 billion could be raised if industrialized countries used carbon taxes or auction tradable permits, to comply to the commitments already on the table (from Copenhagen)
  • any reasonable effective course of action today is less expensive than the cost of inaction
  • a lot of unknown costs (that we don’t control and don’t know) will come with inaction
  • bad news = even with the commitment on the table, it may not be enough to get to the 2 deg reduction
  • urgency
  • need to create a comfort zone, create trust, as a platform to build on later
  • low-balled the number (100 billion) so we can achieve it
  • taxes and trading of emissions – private sector participation
  • TLC required for private investors – transparency, long-lived (i.e. stay in power of the framework), credible
  • have not provided the roadmap for the private investors (lots of unknown, will have insurance premium, which will kill many projects)
  • Subsidies for fossil fuels – large amount (larger than agriculture) – bad for environment, bad for the budget, bad for the distribution of income
  • Indonesia – dedicated to the poorest – re-elected – success story!
  • Possible reduction of emissions by 10% by 2050 by eliminating subsidies
  • We’d lost hope after Copenhagen
  • thanks to Mexican government for regaining confidence
  • got back on the track of believing, that cancun CAN.


South African President

  • COP17 host
  • urged to think now about how future generations will judge us, based on our response to the challenge of CC
  • the world is waiting for good news and progress to be met from these negotiations in Cancun
  • they look up to us to come up with solutions to their very threatening challenges
  • the bali roadmap set 2-track framework for negotiations
  • equity and commons but differentiated responsbility and respective capability.
  • we dare not delay.
  • the climate is changing and regions such as africa and SIDS are becoming more vulnerable as we spend time deliberating
  • droughts in Africa, flooding in Philippines, Pakistan, China, wildfire in Russia are warning of what lies ahead if we do not act soon.
  • estimated in some African countries,
  • 250 million people are projected to be exposed to extra water stress by 2020.
  • health impact – challenges of food and water insecurity
  • effects of CC is already fed by most developing countries, steps to help and mitigate the effects of CC.
  • CPH accord provided political direction.
  • Cancun negtiations must help us move forward.
  • The talks have to produce a multilateral CC regim that is fair, just, etc.
  • keeping temperautre to less than 2 deg C above pre-industrial levels
  • 1.5 deg C is the safe limit (sci)
  • multilaterial CC regime must balance between climate and development imperatives
  • must also not jeopardize economic growth
  • thru actions, also need to respond to the notion that there is a trade-off between faster economic growth and the preservation of our environment
  • faster economic growth can be achieved alongside sustainable development of our actual resources
  • green jobs
  • scaling up labour intensive natural resources conservation that contribute to lifelihood activities
  • pursuing developments in projects in the field of renewable, agriculture, wild life management
  • eco system, rehabilitation projects, etc.
  • adaptation to be seen as international responsbility that needs international legal framework that can oversee projects at international, national, regional levels
  • Bali – political accepted way – thru an amendment to the KP, to establish a 2nd commitment period
  • legally binding outcome
  • must leave Cancun agreed on the overarching principles
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