December 6 at COP25: Business & Industry Day
Friday at COP25 in Madrid was Business & Industry Day, focusing on Business as a Key Partner to Help Limit Global Warming to 1.5 Degrees Celsius. Jeff Muffat recaps multiple sessions about topics including business initiatives and leadership regarding sustainability, Article 6 from the Paris Agreement, and the value of carbon reductions.
6 December 2019
Reported by: Jeff Muffat, A&WMA Treasurer and Past-President
Friday was COP25 Business & Industry Day: Business as a Key Partner to Help Limit Global Warming to 1.5 Degrees Celsius. All the sessions I attend had this as their main driver.
Powering Results Across Sectors: Energy, Buildings, Agriculture and Transportation.
The theme for this session was, “Businesses are delivering results towards sustainability, mitigation and resilience goals. By powering impactful change in the energy transition, choices in land and urban development, and structure of supply chains and the bio - and circular economies – the private sector enables greater ambition.”
As you would expect, this session was organized by a group of organizations: the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE), the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE), Corn Refiners Association, Inc. (CRA) and the US Green Building Council (USGBC). There were several companies, large and small, that made presentations. Those companies included Mars, Ingersoll Rand, Johnson Control, Schneider Electric and Signify. They all talked about their partnerships and innovative public – private collaborations. When they finished their remarks, the audience was asked to discuss the following points:
- Tell us about an innovative public-private collaboration you've been involved with implementing, and the one lesson learned from it.
- What do you think is the single most important thing companies can do to help countries meeting their Paris commitments?
- What do you see as the most overlooked and under-invested climate solution?
Most companies said that supply chains were the most overlooked and under-invested climate solution. With this regard, Mars said that they were working to help agricultural (farm) workers earn better wages to help them become more productive in their communities.
The second session I attended was put on by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and their business partners.
The theme of this session was: Beyond Business as Usual: Leading for a Net Zero Future. This ICC Session aimed to explore how business can contribute to further ramp up the ambition of countries' NDCs. The speakers were:
- Gonzalo Munoz - High Level Climate Champion
- Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba – UN Special Envoy
- Claire O'Neill - COP26 President
- Bertrand Piccard – Initiator and CEO of Solar Impulse
- Business is a key partner to help limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius
- Article 6 is extremely important and there are lessons learned for its practice and research efforts
- Business is climate resilience. They have to navigate the risks and explore the opportunities.
COP26 President Designee, Claire O'Neill, pointed out that we were the first generation to recognize climate change and the last generation to do nothing about it. The changes since the Paris Agreements are that we are moving from “rhetoric to reality,” but we have a long way to go. Tumbling carbon prices have started making long term commitments a reality. Pledges have come forward from more than 130 countries!
Bertrand Piccard, CEO of the Solar Impulse Foundation, said we have set very ambitious goals, but nobody seems to know how to reach those goals. He wondered aloud, “Why do we only have 1-1.2% growth in our economies?” His answer to that question was: We need to implement those innovative technologies that are just sitting out there waiting to be developed. We need to replace what is polluting with clean technologies and create jobs.
He believes there is a need to push those technologies through regulations. This is very much like US EPA's past philosophy that BACT/MACT/HAP regulations needed to be “technology forcing.” Mr. Piccard said we need to develop clever regulations with incentives to meet them.
As Mr. Piccard was finishing his solo around the world balloon flight, on the last day he was looking out of the capsule window and he could see the dawning sun through the ice crystals. To get to the dawning sun and finish his trip, he had to first fly through the ice crystals. Mr. Piccard concluded his presentation by saying, “When it comes to climate change regulations and innovation, too many people are afraid to go through the ice crystals to get to the dawning sun and the success on the other side.”
The Value of Article 6 (from the Paris Accords) Research and Practice
The theme for this session was aimed at building momentum for the adoption of guidance for Article 6. It was also to highlight the critical contribution that Article 6 could make towards the goals of the Paris Agreement, as well as to discuss other important issues to consider.
The panelists for this session were:
- Claus Stig Pedersen, Head of Global Sustainability & Public Affairs Novozymes of Denmark
- Kaj Torok, Chief Sustainability Officer for Max Burgers of Sweden
- Shari Friedman, Senior Strategy Officer, Climate Business Dept., International Finance Corporation (IFC)
- Kay Harrison, Climate Change Ambassador, Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zeland
- Jahan Chowdhury, Country Engagement Director, NDC Partnership Support
Kaj Torok said that since Max Burgers is a smaller company with a much smaller footprint than others, they have started a tree planting program in Africa to goes beyond “net-zero” with their carbon reductions. Many other companies are getting on board with this initiative.
Kay Harrison pointed out that in New Zealand, there is a larger degree of flexibility in how carbon reductions are implemented with everyone signing onto 5-year carbon budgets. Public engagement is critical and businesses need to create and adopt innovative and flexible action, or they will be faced with strict regulations!
Shari Friedman presented information that showed how by scaling solar energy in Sub-Sahara Africa with 8 countries, they were able to create over one giga-watt of solar energy. In addition, they have invested over $10 billion and created systems and platforms for green building standards.
Javan Chowdhury explained that NDC Partnership Countries many times have trouble coming up with their contributions to matching funding because typically, their portion exceeds the countries' debt ceiling set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Finance, investment and integration are needed to meet the challenges of designing bankable carbon projects. According to Mr. Chowdhury, global standards for climate positive are needed!
Part II of the third session was to address overriding questions and the Value of Carbon Reductions. (There were a lot of graphs and predictions on the value of carbon credits/reductions that went beyond my economic intelligence, but I will try to give you a sense of the presentations!)
Dirk Forrister, CEO and President of the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), was the moderator of this session.
- Leon Clarke, Research Director, Center for Global Sustainability, University of Maryland, USA
- Steven Rose, Senior Research Economist, Electric Power Research Institiue (EPRI), USA
The presentations concentrated on these overriding questions:
- What is the potential economic value of Article 6?
- How much could mitigation costs be reduced?
- Who would benefit?
- What is the potential size of the carbon market?
- Who would be buyers and who would be sellers?
- How much could ambition be increased bu applying economic gains from Article 6?
- How big is the potential?
- Who increases their ambition?
- What structures will facilitate increased ambition?
Leon Clarke Slides:
All of these slides are somewhat self-explanatory. I'm sure you the reader can interpret them better that me, but I do think they give a great sense of what happens when the entire world gets involved with beyond “net-zero” and toward “climate positive!” In most cases the larger countries will benefit significantly, and depending on who's included, countries' “stake in the cost of carbon” increases and decreases. If the USA is not involved, it would significantly change benefits to buyers and sellers.
Steve Rose Slides:
Steve Rose presented some very interesting slides. The main overriding point that Mr. Rose kept expressing was, “NO DOUBLE COUNTING.” If one set of carbon reductions are being used to demonstrate achievements in one country, they absolutely cannot be used in another country!