The Road to Mexico: Strategies and Vehicles for successful climate change negotiations 2010


Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, during a workshop on Climate Change organised by the EU and the Spanish EU Presidency

Paris, 3 February 2010

Madam State Secretary, Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The road from Copenhagen to Mexico goes through Paris today. I am grateful to the Spanish and the EU delegation for having organised this seminar here at the OECD. Our Organisation is ready to continue to play an important role in supporting efforts to reach a climate change agreement.

Copenhagen – a critical first step

Let me start with what happened in Copenhagen: The Copenhagen Accord is a hard-fought political agreement, and includes most of the key elements of a climate deal. With most countries likely to sign the Accord, and the main emitters already having listed their targets or actions, it is an important breakthrough towards collective international action to limit global emissions and to help build cleaner economies. It is far from perfect, and we would have liked to achieve more, but it is a starting point.

Indeed, the Copenhagen Accord represents progress on three key issues in particular:
First: on greenhouse gas mitigation. The targets and actions countries are listing in the accord represent, for the first time, an internationalisation of actions by both developed and developing countries. However, more ambitious targets than current commitments will be needed to meet the required action to limit the raise in temperature to 2°C. 

Indeed, OECD analysis suggests that the pre-COP15 declared targets of industrialised countries would reduce their emissions collectively by at most 18% by 2020 compared with 1990 levels, below the estimated 25-40% reduction needed to stay within a 2°C temperature increase. OECD will support both developed and developing countries in identifying potential for stepping-up their emission reductions, while still growing the economy. In this respect, I personally would encourage the EU to move to the upper end of its mid-term emissions reductions targets -- i.e. 30% below 1990 levels by 2020. The EU should keep the lead in this area.

Second, on financing climate change, Copenhagen has delivered both, initial fast-start finance of 30 billion US$ for 2010-2012 and a longer term-perspective with advanced countries aiming at mobilising 100 billion US$ per year by 2020, including from public and private sources. The new Copenhagen Green Climate Fund will be critical for building trust and co-operation between developed and developing countries but again, the proof of the pie is in the eating, and funds will need to be delivered, leveraged and well-used.

Third, the agreement includes general principles for the measurement, reporting and verification of targets, actions and finance -- an essential element to ensure transparency and accountability amongst countries. 

The EU and its role as a catalyst for the negotiations

There is considerable work to be done on the path between the Copenhagen climate conference and COP16 in Mexico at the end of this year. The world is looking to build on the Copenhagen Accord to agree an ambitious, legally-binding global agreement on climate change in Mexico.

The world is also looking to key policy actors like the EU to pave the way towards such an agreement. The EU had a clear and strong position well in advance of Copenhagen, which helped to move other countries forward and lay the framework for what became the Copenhagen Accord. We need the EU to continue to play a leading role as a catalyst for the negotiations going forward.

It is encouraging to see that Spain has taken up these issues as an important cornerstone of their EU Presidency.

Mexico - a climate change agreement for our future

Finally let me come to Mexico and the hope for a new post 2012 agreement: The crucial question over the next months - even prior to the Bonn climate meetings in May/June - is to bridge the interests of industrialised, emerging economies and developing countries. Mexico could play an important role as a host. International Organisations can also help, providing the analytical evidence for decision making and for advancing negotiations. We have already talked with the Mexican Government in this respect.

OECD stands ready to support all our countries in the lead-up to and at COP16. We have expertise here at the OECD and are working together with our colleagues at IEA in a number of key areas relevant to the climate negotiations, including on: carbon markets and climate finance, effective and efficient policy mixes for both adaptation to climate change and mitigation, “Measuring, Reporting and Verifying” actions and finance, and integrating climate change into development co-operation activities.

We have already scheduled in the first half of 2010 a number of key opportunities for government representatives to discuss and move forward, like the OECD-IEA Annex I Expert Group meetings in February and April and an upcoming workshop on new issues in carbon markets. We will use these opportunities to explore how to build up a global carbon market, through direct linking of emissions trading schemes and broadening developing country engagement in carbon markets.

We will step-up our analysis of how to integrate adaptation to climate change into all aspects of economic development, including how to assist developing countries to best manage the risks and make their development resilient to the impacts of climate change. And we will work with countries to better understand how actions to reduce emissions and financing for climate change can be Measured, Reported and Verified in consistent and comparable ways.

A key issue in the discussions will be ensuring the finance agreed to is forthcoming. We need to set the right price for carbon and send the right signals to encourage private investment to support a low-carbon economy.

Raising the necessary finance will not be easy, but it can be done. For example, recent OECD analysis found that, if the proper mix of policies and instruments to price carbon were used to reduce emissions by 20% in developed countries by 2020, this could raise revenues equivalent to as much as 2.5% of their GDP.  While there will be many competing demands for using these revenues, a fraction of that amount would be enough to supply the public money needed by developed countries to reach the finance levels they agreed to in the Copenhagen Accord.

In addition, OECD is advancing policy options to stimulate innovation, from the early stages of technology development through to diffusion and transfer. Easy and rapid access to low-carbon technologies and technologies that can support adaptation will be critical to ensuring timely and effective action in developing countries. We are also looking at ways to better inform consumer and industry choices and working with all levels of governments to identify and disseminate good policy practices to reduce emissions.

Innovation can lead to a greener growth model. As we exit the financial crisis, many countries are facing various social and economic challenges. At the OECD, we believe that it is possible to tackle climate change and grow the economy at the same time. “Green” and ”Growth” are compatible. We can and must have them together. In the next few years, we will be focusing our efforts on helping governments to realise the potential of the green economy, through our Green Growth Strategy, mandated by the last MCM.

We stand at the disposal of our member and partner countries to provide our contribution to a forward looking, fair and binding international agreement on climate change. Thank you!



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