WWF China’s Yang Fuqiang on Copenhagen

Friday, November 13, 2009 13:33
Posted in category Citizens and Heroes, NGOs
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With less than a month to go to COP 15, Alex Pasternack at Treehugger has loaded a very interesting dialogue he recently had with Yang Fuqiang of WWF. See Part 1 and Part 2

Perhaps one of the most experienced persons on the issues, in China, his background lends his thoughts significant weight:

For more than two decades, Dr. Yang Fuqiang has been a participant in the energy and climate change discussion in and around China. His career began as a researcher at the National Development and Reform Commission, the Chinese government’s main economic planner, and continued for three decades in the realm of energy and the environment. Formerly head of the Energy Foundation’s China office, he is now director of global climate solutions at the World Wildlife Foundation.

In short, he comes from one of the most powerful agencies in China, and is now working on the other side of the aisle trying to get his former colleagues to embrace and engage on the issues that will be front and center in Copenhagen.

And of all the questions asked and answered as part of his interview, the ones that should garner the most attention are:

Even with a successful Obama-Hu meeting, do you expect any substantive agreement at Copenhagen between countries?
This time, no. Even though the WWF position is positive, and still says we’d like to find something, but the reality is I don’t think it’s going to happen.

What’s the best thing that could happen at the conference?
The best thing is if all the countries’ leaders or some ministers are open, and they find a final decision and say the UN has the authority to carry out these [emissions] reductions for the coming years. They have to have something, some political declaration saying they will move. Otherwise the UN cannot do it. They can say, next year, the next five years, we will get a new deal. The US is not ready yet. The Congress has too many differences with other countries.

Now, without saying anything more on the inteview -except that you should read it – I wuld like to say that this interview for me is a lens into the problems that we face going forward.  That while there is clearly an environmental case fofr change, the topic of conversation is still solely focused on carbon.

As if carbon is THE problem itself.

.. and it is this focus on CARBON that I personally believe is the core reason why little has been accomplished, and why I fear little will be accomplished at COP15.

It is not that negotiators don’t want to do a deal, or that they cannot agree that there is a pressing problem.  It is that the problems that each side of the table faces – the US (representing developed nations) and China (representing undeveloped nations.

That, if we are to make progress, COP 15 needs to be about something more than carbon.  About the core issues that are actually responsible for creating the emissions in the first place, and while there certainly should be a portion of the event devloted to mitigating the effects of carbon through CCS, cap & trade, etc, the core focus should be on creating economies that do not emit carbon in the first place.

Were the conversations to change focus, and I am not the only one hoping this change is made, then I would be more optimistic.  However, I am not going to hold my breath that this change will be made.

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