Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Copenhagen must learn from history

Too often there is a tendency to forget history when the speed and complexity of the negotiations increase. But many of us have been in the same situation before, The Climate meeting in Kyoto 1997, the WTO meeting in Seattle 1999, World Summit on Sustainable development 2002, etc. Now Copenhagen. We can go back even further and it is time for the rich countries to see how they have failed to live up to their promises. Instead of keeping the key issue in focus (the need for transformative reductions that result in minimum 40% reductions by 2020 and carbon free by 2050) they get lost in details.

This is one of the key messages I have been trying to highlight during the Copenhagen summit. Unfortunately it looks like history will repeat itself. Rich countries will desperately trying to portray vague targets and the fact that US is far behind as a victory. Hopefully developing countries will be constructive and commit to different measures that open up for transformative reductions, BUT, and this is important, the developing countries must at all costs make sure that it is clear in the final agreement that the rich countries that must take the lead (US must accept that). Right now it looks like US, but also EU, want to create a situation where they will use, what they will define as, a lack of action among developing countries for not taking real domestic action.

Hopefully cities and business can embark on an innovation based development path where a low carbon future is a driver for innovation and profit.

Below are some input that I provided to China Daily today

"Swedish environmentalist Dennis Pamlin has been digging through history: the Stockholm Conference of 1972, the Rio Summit of 1992, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

In each summit, he found that rich, developed countries promised to support poor countries though money, better trade rules and transfer of technology.

"But again and again, rich countries have failed to live up to these promises," Pamlin told China Daily. "There are many reasons for the failures and it doesn't mean anything to blame anyone, especially since very few at the conference in Copenhagen were part of these historic summits."
However, when leaders such as United States President Barack Obama step into the Bella conference centre in Copenhagen, they should keep in mind the gap between promises and delivery, he said.

"This is my message to the leaders from rich countries," said Pamlin.

He added that developed countries, which have emitted so much during their developments, should make the first move.

"We have seen very little of this and we need to see not only targets, but also measures that ensure delivery," Pamlin said. "Developing countries have already begun measures to reduce emissions and these measures will increase."

He noted that where the per capita emissions are the highest, living standards are also the highest"

New project for transformative change with ICT:

The 21st Century Office project was presented ”live” during the B4E dinner dialogue. Already some though leaders have submitted their interest for a first VIP trial of the app that will be launched next year.

The 21st-Century-Office project explores new Web 2.0 tools for mobile devices and how they can be used (crowdsourcing, Wiki-approaches, etc) in order to deliver transformative change, not just incremental.

It asks the question: Is it possible that 50 percent of all major companies on the planet will define their office as a 21st Century office within two years? It might be difficult, but the technology exists and the need for a transformative shift is now accepted. If we are to reach the reductions needed to avoid dangerous climate change and conflicts of natural resources we need more than incremental improvements.

Saturday, 12 December 2009


My first project as Senior Advisor, B4E, Global Initiatives. I look forward to a process with concrete deliverables and a statement explaining the process and the deliverables by the 15th

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

ETNO's "Cool Connections" in Brussels

Participated in a panel at ETNO's "Cool Connections" event. I was surprised by the lack of links between the project presented and the actual policy agenda, it really felt old and not really up to standard compared to what ETNO done so far. ETNO is an organisation that was way ahead of most in Brussels. Back in 2004-2005 (before most people who talk about smart ICT had woken up) they supported the joint ETNO-WWF project “Saving the Climate @ the Speed of Light”.

I suggested two project that I hope to be able to develop further with ETNO to deliver real results in a time when people write reports and arrange seminars in order to understand what happens. I will develop them and send them to Michael Bartholomew who has been a strong supporter of a solution agenda with a strong innovation focus all the time. Below is the outline for the ideas and we’ll see if it will be some exciting things coming out of Brussels in 2010.

A two prong strategy for ETNO in moving the smart telecom agenda to the next level.
1. Implementation: Smart buildings and transport in reality
> Webinars/round-tables and interviews Best practice and ways to accelerate uptake of smart solutions in the building and transport area. Focus on how existing barriers can be overcome and creation of new constellations. It will build on existing work that has demonstrated that the solutions are possible. Now the focus in on actual implementation and how investments and revenue streams start to move in a low carbon direction.

Investment: €150 000 (including project leadership, design and printing of report + dedicated web-page + seminar in Brussels and selected member states)

2. Continued thought-leadership
> The development is fast in the ICT sector and the opportunities to use tools that did not exist a year ago is often ignored by slow institutions. In the same way that ETNO was ahead with low carbon, it can set the agenda for new ways to deliver transformative change, in a way that also engage people. The project would explore transformative changes in new IT enabled areas. Especially the following three: Connectivity of things, Miniaturisation/ubiquitous computing and augmented reality

Investment: €75 000 (including writing, proof reading, input from thought leaders, design and printing of report)

The panel at the event:
> Jo Leinen, Member of the European Parliament, Chairman of the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety
> Fabio Colasanti, European Commission Director General for Information Society and Media
> Colum Joyce, Director, IMR World. Mr Joyce is an expert in e-business strategies.
> Danilo Riva, Telecom Italia, Chairman of ETNO Sustainability Working Group

Op-ed China Daily: Low-carbon innovation versus trade war

This is my op-ed, "Low-carbon innovation versus trade war", from todays China Daily (link to the article here) . It was great timing as documents about Border Tax Adjustment (BTA) started to float around in Copenhagen yesterday and today. While this issue might sound boring it is one of the biggest challenges ahead. WTO and the global climate work will collide when serious work to reduce emissions begin unless we create a framework for cooperation. The op-ed here is an attempt to explore ways to collaborate instead of fight in old ways.

If you are interested in Chinas emerging role, please read this article in todays China Daily link here, where I bring up the need for transparency and engagement with civil society both within and outside China.

The UN General Assembly and the G20 in Pittsburgh marked a new era. At both meetings, President Hu Jintao presented China's climate policy and put it in a global context with a clear and much-needed message that global collaboration is necessary.

Over the last weeks trade has emerged as a major challenge in global climate negotiations. Countries like the US and France have started discussing ways to impose tax on imported products that have been made using a lot of CO2. Even though not explicit, it shows that China is one of their main targets.

This trend is dangerous and can easily result in protectionism and trade wars. It is therefore important to explore possible ways forward that link trade and reduced CO2 emissions in a way that they support each other. China has a great opportunity to turn this potential conflict into increased cooperation. Building on the collaboration message, China has an opportunity to present concrete suggestions for low-carbon development.

The biggest problem with the current discussion is probably not the possibility of a trade war in itself, even if that would be a serious problem, it is the fact that the current discussions have focused on conflicts and problems. What is needed instead is collaboration and focus on solutions.

The current approach of countries such as the US and France is based on two assumptions. First, that the focus should be on reducing emissions from the big polluting companies that are creating the problem. Second, that countries should try to reduce their own emissions as little as possible and get others to reduce as much as possible without collaboration. Both should be challenged, and the government and companies in China can play an important role here.

The problem approach with focus on the big emitters has dominated global climate negotiations since the Kyoto Protocol. It is time to move away from a situation where all counties are trying to protect their dirty industries.

China could help to shift the focus from big emitters to also include the new solutions providers. With companies such as Suntech, Himin Group, China Mobile and Broad, China is well positioned to make the case for policies that support solutions, not just try to reduce the problems. Instead of a focus on how to deal with carbon intensive trade we could have a discussion on how export of low-carbon solutions should be encouraged.

A solution initiative could include incentives to support global trade that would enable the world's cities to build buildings that are net producers of renewable energy, and support an accelerated uptake of electric cars that in turn are supported by renewable energy and other solutions, which help reduce the need for fossil fuels. A special focus should be given to transformative solutions that can help reduce emissions by 90 percent or more, such as teleworking, smart grids, smart buildings and e-paper.

China could propose initiatives to encourage trade and investment in low-carbon solutions. China could also suggest that a system is created where solutions-providing companies can report their contribution to reduced emission through their products and services. Today, the focus is on how much polluting companies are emitting, but in the future the focus should shift to how much the solutions-providing companies are helping reduce emissions.

The second assumption is that negotiations should continue to only focus on individual countries and how they can reduce their emissions. This approach is problematic from two perspectives. First, because it undermines smart collaboration and second because it ignores the fact that the most important question is how we can provide low-carbon lifestyles. The solutions that are needed must be developed through international collaboration, and countries, companies, universities and cities must come together to solve the climate crisis.
It is important to remember that the main problem is the high-carbon lifestyles in Western counties. What the world needs is solutions that can provide a high quality of life with low emissions. Instead of focusing on where the emissions happen today, China can help shift the focus to the need for low-carbon lifestyles.

China could initiate key collaborations in areas such as the creation of a global virtual meeting infrastructure, an initiative for buildings that are net producers of renewable energy, and software for smart city planning. China could collect a number of such ideas and present a global low-carbon city development initiative. This would focus on collaboration between countries and cities around the world and allow solutions-based companies to implement their best ideas.

The world really needs China to step forward and turn the current problem into an opportunity and the emerging conflict into increased collaboration. By putting forward solutions- and collaboration-based proposals the Chinese government would not only avoid a difficult situation, but also get solutions-providing companies, both in China and abroad, the kind of recognition that they deserve.

The author is adviser to various companies, governments and NGOs.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Our Hopes and Promises: A Communiqué from Chinese Businesses at Copenhagen

Great news today. Congratulation everyone involved for delivering this.
The full document can be downloaded here

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

New report from China/GlobalFOCUS: Low carbon opportunities in China: Report of Transformative Climate Youth Leadership Project

I have not read the whole report (and have not seen any draft), but I’m happy that the GlobalFOCUS team in China deliver results. Unfortunately it looks like there are no transformative solution companies in the report, instead there are chapters about the big emitters and the supply side companies for renewable energy (some of the companies on the renewable side have some interesting projects. Maybe the real report will be published after this traditional report?

Regardless, it will hopefully contribute to the discussion about transformative companies in China. The full report (88pages and 4.5 meg) can be downloaded here.