2017
Nov
17
Updates from the Commissioner at COP23

Commissioner Saxe is in Bonn, Germany for the 2017 UN Climate Change Conference. She will be providing updates on her thoughts and experiences while at COP23. Read below and stay tuned...

November 17

Today I learned that independent (non-employee) directors of oil companies have become much more worried about both corporate and personal climate change risk in the last 12 to 18 months; there are lots of good reasons for them to be worried, including:

  • Worsening loss and damage around the world;
  • Attribution science much better at tying disasters to climate change (e.g., that climate change made Hurricane Harvey damage 6 times more likely);
  • Strong and growing demands for better carbon risk disclosure in financial markets and supply chains;
  • Successful shareholder resolutions on disclosure;
  • Impressive growth of legal developments on fiduciary duties of directors and trustees to take the financial impacts, risks and opportunities of climate into account; and
  • Precedent-setting procedural successes in climate-related litigation against high-emitting companies.

Commissioner Saxe standing in front of protest signs in Bonn

 

November 16

Exciting to hear about the scale of the energy transition in China. Existing government policies are predicted to cut China’s GHG emissions nearly in half by 2050, especially by reforming and connecting to power markets, by continuing to drive down the costs of renewable energy, and through the nation-wide emission trading network that is expected to launch soon.

China’s current emissions are about 9,000 (Megatonnes) Mt; they are predicted to peak at 10,000 Mt and then drop to 5,000 Mt by 2050. China’s National Renewable Energy Centre predicts that China could get its emissions below 3,000 Mt by 2050 through a stronger emphasis on renewable energy, energy efficiency and a coal phase-out, with huge public health benefits.

 

Commissioner Saxe and Kate Sullivan of the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA)
Commissioner Saxe and Katie Sullivan of the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) 

 

November 14

Bonn’s flood defences along the Rhine River offer a lovely path for cycling to work each day, especially when the rain takes a break. The large pedestrian zone is also appealing.

I am attending many events on low-carbon transportation; both personal mobility and green freight. Vehicle manufacturers, giant logistics firms and their major customers, bankers, and investors now dominate the conversation that used to be between NGOs, scientists and governments.

BMW, for example, announced today both major reductions in the GHG emissions from its fleet, and that it will purchase 100% renewable electricity by 2020. In fact, BMW plans to transition its entire fleet from fossil fuels to electric vehicles, as well as expanding into low-carbon mobility as a service. They are not waiting for national governments. Good to hear.

Cycle path in Bonn along the Rhine River

 

November 13

My favourite quote yesterday:

“an offshore wind turbine a day keeps the subsidies away.”

The saddest quote yesterday:

“we have probably passed the tipping point for collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.”

Dianne Saxe with bicycle in Bonn, Germany

 

November 12

The main reason to attend an event such as Conference of the Parties (COP) is to learn from the amazing pool of experts (in all climate-related topics) that participate. At these events, expertise and ideas are shared with extraordinary generosity.

It is like a crash course in everything, all happening at once; backed up with resource materials. Already, I have a daunting stack of interesting and useful reports and resources to bring back as office reference material.

For example, here is a website listing the world’s climate legislation and litigation: www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/climate-change-laws-of-the-world

Plus, there is an unparalleled opportunity to interact with these very experts. The contacts I made two years ago at COP21 in Paris continue to deepen our office’s understanding of the issues and enrich our reports. I look forwarding to building more meaningful relationships in Bonn.

 

Dianne Saxe with Bonn, Germany in background
Commissioner Saxe is in Bonn, Germany for COP23

 

November 10

It’s great to be at COP23, the annual world meeting on the Framework Convention on Climate Change. After some adventures, I now have my badge and my bicycle, and am starting to find my way around.

Glad to see the American “We Are Still In” contingent here in such strength: business, state/local governments and civil society; though the federal government is badly missed.

There have been some very interesting discussions on international trading of mitigation obligations (for example, offsets) under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement; and how to make sure they have environmental integrity.

 

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