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Posted on on October 31st, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (


 HOPENHAGEN in COPENHAGEN – In November President Obama goes to China – is this the new source of hope?
The Wall Street Journal, Halloween Day, October 31, 2009, reports on “EU CLIMATE-CHANGE PACT” that developing countries will need 100 billion Euro ($148 Billion) annually by 2020 to face the challenges of climate change, and that “the EU is ready to contribute its share, taking into account the financial capabilities of poorer members” – this as a quote from Swedish Prime Minister Frederick Reinfeldt – the WSJ saying that this was a pre-Copenhagen “deal.”

The paper also said that “the EU has the ambition to lead the talks which will seek to find a successor o the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.” This might indeed be scary news for Washington.

But Tony Barber of The Financial Times writes from Brussels in less certain, or Washington scary, terms. He just says that “EU proposes rich nations give up to 50 billion Euro a year in climate fight” and that the EU stopped short of stating own donation. This after a two days meeting that failed to reach a numerical agreement for the EU participation in funds, so there is indeed no EU position to be put at the Copenhagen table this December – even though the Swedish PM is quoted today as a potential first EU full-time President starting 2010. If there is no EU joint position, there is no position whatsoever, as there is not yet a US or China, or US-China joint position either. Washington has no reason yet to worry that it will be called to dish out money while it still has not yet passed either a health care bill or an energy and climate bill.

The best that happened in Brussels was that countries are free to contribute, on their own will, to what might be a poor countries’ need of 100 billion Euro annually. Germany will not step in before they know what the US and China are ready to do, some countries of the EU have lost all hope for Copenhagen, while Denmark and Finland want to see a face saving situation for the EU. 
This Thursday, October 29th, my ears heard it clearly – the UN has not come up even with progress on Sustainable Development. To be honest, the UN does little more then recite the old mantra about the unalienable right to development – as if the subject of climate change did not come up these last 20 years.
The papers started to point out that people like Prof. Jeffrey Sachs and even UNFCCC chief Yvo de Boer have lost their hope for Copenhagen. The Inner City Press made no bones about the fact that the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, may do to such people what he did to the head of the UN Afghanistan election observers team. When that man leaked the truth that the elections were forged – this being held top secret by the UNSG – he was fired. So, will the UNSG fire now Jeffrey and Yvo also?
But look – Thursday Bangkok UN Energy and Climate Advisor,  and UNIDO chief, sitting next to UN DESA chief, presented an Asian point of view that had nothing in it that could become basis for Copenhagen negotiations. It was plain recital of grievances we heard at the UN 30 years ago – the problem of DEVELOPMENT that was floated all over before there even was a concept of SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT. That is why clearly there is not even a Hopenhagen of “Seal the Deal” left at the UN. Can Copenhagen be revived next week in Barcelona – that is a mere one month before the big event that was being touted as the world’s last chance?
The October 29, 2009 briefing arranged by the Division for Sustainable Development of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), in the UNICEF building, was related to the discussion of item 55(i) of the agenda of the UN General Assembly – “Sustainable development: promotion of new and renewable sources of energy.” The Report of the UN Secretary-General on Promotion of NRSE was distributed at the briefing. So where two UNDESA reports: “World Economic and Social Survey 2009 – PROMOTING DEVELOPMENT, SAVING THE PLANET,” and “Climate Change: TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT AND TRANSFER” ( that was prepared for the October 22-23, 2009, High level UN Delhi Conference on Climate Change – that was promoted as a stop on the road to Copenhagen) –The above were rather two good reports. Nevertheless, there was a basic problem with the briefing – it stemmed from  the fact that seemingly, under the pressure from groups like the G77 that purport to speak for the Developing Countries – including countries like China and India – the magic words SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT WERE NOT MENTIONED BY THE SPEAKERS. All we heard was old plain “development” and the need for energy in order to get there. Now energy is energy and the magic words SUSTAINABLE ENERGY were also forgotten, even though we heard about biofuels, and in the Q&A period, solar and wind, nevertheless, the audience that in large part was from Missions to the UN, did not seem to object – at least not the question that came from a member of the delegation of Belarus.
The Briefing was chaired by Mr. Tariq Banuri of Pakistan, Director of the Division of SD at UNDESA. His panelists were Mr. Kandeh Yunkella of Sierra Leone, Director of Vienna based UNIDO, and Mr. K.V. Remani of India, Senior Adviser on Energy issues to Noelen Heyzer of Bangkok based UN ESCAP.
The Briefing was chaired by Mr. Tariq Banuri of Pakistan, Director of the Division of SD at UNDESA. His panelists were Mr. Kandeh Yunkella of Sierra Leone, Director of Vienna based UNIDO, and Mr. K.V. Remani of India, Senior Adviser on Energy issues to Noelen Heyzer of Bangkok based UN ESCAP.
Mr. Yunkella comes from a country that was among the poorest at the UN, at the time he grew up, but now, thanks to having found oil, is in much better condition. Selling two million barrels of oil – will the country’s poor get something of this? 
The issue according to above line is Energy Security and not Climate Change! But then, he was right by saying that because of the subsidy system to energy materials renewable energy has not become attractive. Good start – but I wished he would have delved further into this line of thought.
Mr. Remani spoke of an Asia Pacific Energy Security Cooperation Framework Initiative.
He presented two scenarios – a $50 price of crude per barrel and a $100 for the next three years. He said that while this is not true in general, it is developing countries that are pushed to RE because of prices of oil. Electricity is not the beginning and the end of the issue, what about the wood used for cooking? Expanding the market share of the use of oil will not make sure by itself the provision of energy to the poor. An interesting observation he put forward is: “MONEY THAT GOES OUT FROM DEVELOPING COUNTRIES IS THE SAME IF THEY PAY FOR TECHNOLOGY OR FOR FUEL.
If we take above seriously – then we realize that the productive capacity of developing countries can be used to make the RE equipment they need. The labor costs and transportation to the end users will be much lower if done right there in the developing country. On the other hand, on the macro level, energy security questions are also an obsession of developing countries he said.
Mr. Banuri stressed that from the DESA angle – they want to bring people, Governments, and Business together. He gave an interesting insight by saying that BRINGING COUNTRIES TOGETHER IS THE ESSENCE OF SUSTAINABILITY. I never heard this before but there is something here to think about if dealing with climate change will allow us enough time to do so.
About UNDESA work we realize that they focus specially on Africa – a continent where 2/3 of energy per capita use is just in one country – South Africa. He said we are romantic about RE and he wants to see $1/1Watt.
In the Q&A period he said that India talks now of 15% RE by 2020. He wants to see a price guarantee as subsidy for RE and a control of the loans by being based on energy delivered – this so that when the loan is obtained the money is indeed invested in production of the energy materials – this in order to get the money in fact – the way to avoid corruption.
I asked how does one distill what was said as a set of recommendations for Copenhagen. This caused silence and brought forward answers from all three speakers – but I am sorry to note that there was nothing in he answers that gives me material to report here.
Another question with immediacy value came from a member of the US Mission to the UN – Michael Snowden, Advisor on Economic and Social affairs who wanted to know, specifically from the Asian angle, what do they think about the Off-grid and On-grid aspects of electricity, and the answer was that they usually start in the rural sector with small scale hydro locally, then, in order to assure supply build a regional grid with end of this process when they connect to the national grid. This was quite perplexing and it seems lack of real vision – this even like in the case of biofuels, it turns the production of electricity into a enterprise, in its first business steps – but then it gets submerged into the centralized bureaucracy ideal.
After the meeting I had a chance to discuss with the American Advisor the French Foreign Aid experience in North Africa, specifically Morocco, were decentralization creates savings and keeps private enterprise locally. It would be important to transfer these ideas to the workings at the UN.
Above briefing was the second event I participated at the UN that day.
The first event was with the UN University that was the host to Professor Lan Xue, Dean, School of Public Policy & Management, SPPM Tsighua University, Beijing.
The event came about as UNU is in direct link with Tsinghua University, and UNU is moving from not just being the one and only Think Tank at the UN, to becoming in effect a degree granting University – this with the help of other affiliated Universities – like this Chinese University. As such, the event had two aspects to it – one that was information exchange between the speaker, members of the audience, and UNU Director of the New York Office. This was done in a think tank mode. The other aspect was discussion of Tsinghua School’s education for Policymaking – that is building of an institution in China to stimulate the students into independent thinking – a development that is truly revolutionary in a system that was geared to bring up cadres of executioners rather then independently thinking executives.
Only two years ago, our website predicted that eventually India will pass China in becoming the global superpower number 1, this because of the lack of independent thinking quality in the way China’s engineers are being brought up. Obviously, this observation was no secret to the new China and they decided to act also on this area in their education system. The speaker himself is a product of Harvard, and he continues to-date to work in cooperation with institutions outside China. He gets the best minds among those Chinese young students that want a policy management position as their career – yes China is changing. There are now over 6 million public servants in China and Tsighua is running the DRC-Harvard-Tsinghua Senior Public Mgmt. Training Program that provides q three months course to some of the managers with higher responsibility, and a two months program for lesser managers. SPPM, founded in 2000 has a full time faculty of 45 and has granted already 199 Doctoral degrees.

China has concluded that without an effective government it is impossible to talk of development. That is how the reforms were started 30 years ago when ministries were changed to Industrial Associations and the welcome door was opened to NGOs.

The end of the seventies, the time China started its transition to a market based economy – 30% of its people were in agriculture – now it is only 11,3%, this while manufacturing moved from 39% to 68.6% with the appropriate switch from rural to urban way of life, and an increase in international trade from 10% of GNP in 1978 to 62% in 2005. The confidence in China grows and FDI is this year at $60billion.
Policy people have a lot on their hands. How do you manage a country when you have regions like Shanghai, that enjoyed great growth, and regions in the West that were left behind – it is this disparity that has to be managed now.

China has now a Center for International Economic Exchange and in 2008 hosted a Global Think Tank Summit.

I have many more pages of notes, but in effect I came to that seminar with a question in mind – it was based on that days Financial Times that had two articles about China. So I will now switch to what is most relevant to this post.

In November, President Obama will be going to Beijing for bilateral negotiations and it is expected that one of the subjects of discussion will be the two nations stand on the Copenhagen climate meeting. Todd Stern, the US Climate Negotiator said the two will “seek a common understanding on Climate change ahead of a crucial meeting in Copenhagen in December and would deepen co-operation on clean energy, but will not reach an accord on carbon emissions targets.”

A second FT article says: “China to investigate US car subsidies. Probe could lead to import duties. Beijing talks to precede any action.”

So my question was what he thinks can be obtained at these high level discussions in order to create a bilateral agreement to work on decreasing the danger from climate change while also avoiding subsidies to polluting industries the like of the inefficient US car manufacturing industry?

A long answer pointed at the tremendous potential and opportunities in the climate area and the fact that any subsidies stand in the way of advancing the relations and are counterproductive.

The following day, the papers knew to tell that in the light of the Obama trip to China, the US has stopped its rules against imports of chicken from China, and China has stopped its rules against imports of pork from the US. So – we have a step forward to make the eventual negotiations this month smoother – leading back to our old belief that the way international relations are these days, it is only a US-China bilateral agreement that can move forward the Copenhagen meeting that as described above has very little to expect from a Europe that is not yet united and will not step forward unless it sees a US and China position. The developing countries without China, are not enough to put forward anything anyway.
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