Katie Sullivan

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[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][mk_image src=”https://energy-exchange.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/007_cor2.jpg” image_width=”400″ image_height=”400″ crop=”true” lightbox=”false” frame_style=”simple” target=”_self” caption_location=”inside-image” align=”left” margin_bottom=”10″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][mk_image src=”https://energy-exchange.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/044_cor3.jpg” image_width=”400″ image_height=”400″ crop=”true” lightbox=”false” frame_style=”simple” target=”_self” caption_location=”inside-image” align=”left” margin_bottom=”10″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][mk_image src=”https://energy-exchange.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/046_cor3.jpg” image_width=”400″ image_height=”400″ crop=”true” lightbox=”false” frame_style=”simple” target=”_self” caption_location=”inside-image” align=”left” margin_bottom=”10″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]Canada is routinely criticized around the globe for developing its oilsands. Does that make it particularly difficult for us at international climate conferences?

So many things have changed related to the energy industry so quickly. So though things are always changing, right now, the oilsands are an easy target at climate conferences, but, importantly, Canada is also sitting on an incredible amount of land that could be used as sinks for CO2. So preserving our forest and sequestering the carbon is a huge and unique opportunity for Canada.

What’s the current status of global initiatives to combat climate change?

In Kyoto, we had kind of a 1.0 plan to deal with climate change. The developed world agreed to reduce their carbon output with legally binding targets, while the developing world were simply recipients of clean investment and technologies from developed countries and business trying to comply with Kyoto. The reason was most of the carbon out there came from North America and Europe, and so the countries that produced it should be responsible for it. But it hasn’t worked. We tried to get a 2.0 agreement in 2010 in Copenhagen, but it fell apart. What did come out, and saved the day, were two new institutions, the Green Climate Fund and the Climate Technology Centre and Network, along with a pledge by developed countries to spend $100 billion a year by 2020 on greenhouse gas mitigation and adaptation projects in the developing world. In June 2015 the fund began to take proposals.

The chair of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change said beforehand that a Paris agreement “sets the destination and the intent…the collective intent… throughout several decades of where we want to go.” Why was Paris so important?

Well, we obviously have to do something to keep temperatures below the 2 C increase threshold, and Copenhagen, though it didn’t go as planned, kind of set the stage for Paris. Sixty countries have submitted their post-2020 plans to combat climate change, known as intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs). These are the crucial ingredients to any new agreement. The UN will aggregate all the INDCs and determine if, in sum, they’ll keep us below the 2 C mark.

What are the challenges to meeting that objective?

It’s an amazingly complicated problem. For one, each INDC, the building block of any agreement going forward, is different. Canada has agreed to its 30 per cent decrease by 2030, while China, for example, has simply said that it will reach its peak greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. There are so many questions that need to be answered — Will all parties be treated the same? Will some countries have legal obligations and others not? — it’s almost endless. The details are going to be a problem, but also, and I think crucially, the financing is going to be so important. The question is, how do we ensure that the clean technology and resources are not only channelled into large developed and emerging economies that have to quickly decarbonize, but also address smaller countries that are potentially most vulnerable to climate impacts (sea level rises, weak infrastructure). At the IETA, we believe markets are the best way to achieve this, but these are all major questions that have to be addressed and resolved with all the UNFCCC parties around the table.

What is it like at a COP event?

During the actual conference, one of the main challenges for the IETA is liaising and consulting with our many stakeholders. We have so many different groups that finding common ground among them can be extremely challenging, but it’s rewarding when it works out. For example, we have to find a way for power generators, oil and gas companies and, say, clean technology companies to work together. Add the fact that some are Chinese companies, while others are European or North American, and it gets even more complicated. So sure it’s difficult, but it’s important because if you can get that broad stakeholder community to find a common voice on some of these issues, with clear recommendations and sound rationales behind them about why government should move in a particular direction with regards to their polices and regulations, well, that’s a powerful voice.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

–  Tom Hall

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Read more stories from the Winter 2016 issue of Energy Exchange magazine