Thursday, 28 May 2009

The Copenhagen Call: A reactive outcome with light in the tunnel

Let’s hope that the call from the World Business Summit on Climate Change is not setting the standard for the outcome at COP15 in Copenhagen. The “Copenhagen Call” is a document that is vague and seem to adopt a lowest common denominator approach. Much better papers have been written by all the organizations that have been working in the process, except for 3C (WBCSD, WEF, The Climate Group all have much better and detailed proposals that could have helped to move the issue forward).

The one organization that is as bad as the outcome is 3C, but I hope it is not Swedish Vattenfall that is responsible for the poor outcome [UPDATE: Just saw that Vattenfall got this prize]. But with the single-minded focus on CCS and a global price on carbon it is not unlikely. Maybe it was Mondag Morgon, the small Danish consultant company that took on a bigger task than they could manage and maybe even was looking more for money than an outcome that would make a difference for one of the greatest challenges humanity faces. Most likely is probably that too many people was involved with the purpose of pushing a single issue and the result was a mix that did not make much sense. Again we see an example of what happens when leadership is lacking.

On the optimistic side it shows that those in denial that Climate Change is real are left behind. Now we need to focus on separating those that are serious from those that engage in green washing. We know that this vague statement stand against very detailed anti-climate lobbying. The conference itself was really bad prepared and the “call” that was presented was not even presented as a draft for those participating. That was very unfortunate as many of the companies participating at the summit could have contributed text. Text that it would have been very hard to resist if the process was transparent. And if good suggestions were killed it would be clear to everyone who the companies were that killed these ideas.

One clear example of how afraid the current companies are for a solution approach is the way reporting of emissions was dealt with. In the Copenhagen Call reporting about emissions was dealt with as a problem… The following was suggested by a number of solution driven companies but was ignored:
"Business, cities and states should be encouraged to report, not only their own emissions, but also their contribution to reductions in other parts of the economy. This would allow for climate positive reporting and catalyze action among companies that have solutions that can help reduce GHG emissions significantly, but are not big emitters (such as many IT biotech and renewable energy companies).”

The fact that a business conference ignores a simple suggestion that opens up the door for those with solutions is strange. My guess is that it is either depend on the old thinking among the organizers, or that utilities like Vattenfall don’t want policy makers know that there are much cheaper and smarter solutions that CCS that the world should focus on.

The contrast between the fact that good suggestion was not even discussed and the process almost total lack of transparency is especially interesting as lobbying was one of the few issues that triggered a really dynamic discussion. It was refreshing to hear the last panel engage in a heated debate about the destructive role of business lobbyist.

For governments a statement that don’t have actual companies signing under on the call is hard to use when companies are knocking on their door threatening to leave the country unless they are allowed to continue to pollute. As we move forward I hope we will se more concrete suggestions from companies with sustainable low carbon solutions.

The text it is not bad, just vague and shying away from the difficult questions that policy makers are wrestling with so if it was not meant to be an input to the COP15 it would not been so bad. Kunihiko Shimada was very clear and refreshing when he told the panel he was sitting in “I have not heard anything new here”. That energy efficiency is important, or that low carbon technology should be supported has been well known since before 1997.

A future "call" from business should include at least the following:
  • 100% CO2 reduction by 2050 is supported
  • 50% by 2020 from developed countries without any demand on developing countries until the rich world have demonstrated progress.
  • Climate Positive reporting from those with solutions and emission reporting from those with emissions (many companies would have both) would be mandatory from 2011.
  • Business could pay 50bn for adaptation and expect government to do at least the same.
  • A global fund for investment in 21st century infrastructure created and business (investors) will allocate 200bn per year to this fund
  • Global guidelines for public procurement that encourage a switch from products to services are supported (allowing new innovative low carbon ways to provide different services, (e.g. virtual meetings instead of flying and using laptops working outside the office instead of commuting by car.
  • Global guidelines for net producing buildings by 2020 is supported and if there are IPR challenges these will be dealt by through the 21st Century Infrastructure fund and new innovative compensation schemes.
  • Targets for solutions that help reduce emissions with 90% are necessary. These solutions should also be given preferential treatment in order to avoid many of the incremental improvements that are dominating the debate today
  • Multi-solutions must be given priority, so that solutions with the same potential for CO2 reducitons that also reduce poverty, water scarcity, etc are put in focus (so that integrated solar solutions that can provide energy and desalinate water also in poor countries are given priority over CCS).

It was encouraging that Tim Flannary, as he presented the Copenhagen Call highlighted that important issues had not been included and mentioned especially ICT. Although I think he said that “We don’t say enough about ICT”, but the truth is that nothing about ICT, biotech or renewables from a solution perspective was mentioned. Still there is an opportunity for a message that also see reduced emissions as an opportunity.

So Tim has given us second chance and the meeting brought together quite a number of CEO’s that policy makers could get really good suggestions from (these are only the companies that I heard presenting good ideas):

Carl-Henric Svanberg, Chief Executive Officer, Ericsson
Zhengrong Shi, Chief Executive Officer, Suntech Power
Steen Riisgaard, CEO, Novozymes
Girish S. Paranjpe, Joint-Chief Executive Officer, Wipro
Li Zhengmao, Executive Board Member, China Mobile
Walter B. Kielholz, Chairman, Swiss Re
Ditlev Engel, Chief Executive Officer, Vestas
Harish Hande, Co-founder and Managing Director, SELCO Solar Light
Shai Agassi, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Better Place
David Blood, Managing Partner, Generation Investment Management
James Cameron, Vice Chairman, Climate Change Capital
Alan Salzman, Chief Executive officer, Vantage PointVenture Partners