Steve Sawyer

Job title:
Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council

Steve Sawyer joined GWEC as the first Secretary General on 2 April 2007. He has worked in the energy and environment field since 1978, with a particular focus on climate change and renewable energy since 1988. He spent 30 years working for Greenpeace, primarily on a wide range of energy issues. He was the CEO of both Greenpeace USA (1986 - 1988) and Greenpeace International (1988-1993), and he served as Head of Delegation to many Kyoto Protocol negotiations on climate change, as well as heading delegations to the Johannesburg Earth Summit in 2002 and numerous sessions of the Commission on Sustainable Development. Steve Sawyer is also a founding member of the REN21 Renewable Energy Policy Network and was a member of the Steering Committee of the Renewables 2004 ministerial conference in Bonn. He has also been an expert reviewer for the IPCC’s Working Group III.

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COP15: The calm before the storm…

15 December: After a manic first week or 10 days, things are a bit less hectic in the Bella Center today.

After 9 days of largely circular discussions, I believe the negotiations at official’s level have gone as far as they can go. We have a couple of draft texts (on the Kyoto Protocol and on the Convention), both of which have the core elements and hooks upon which individual COP (and COPMOP) decisions can be hung, but not substantial movement on the actual content of any of the main issues. Like one delegate from a certain large, sparsely populated agricultural country east of the Tasman Sea where they filmed the Lord of the Rings said, "This discussion is above my pay grade, at least mine."

Ministers met on Saturday and Sunday to help produce these slightly refined texts, but they only assume centre stage in this drama as of 5:30 p.m this evening with the official opening of the High-level segment. Their moment to shine will be from then until the Heads of State and Government begin arriving late Wednesday and early Thursday when the High level segment will morph into a Leaders’ Summit.

Needless to say, the fact that there are so many ‘Heads’ coming to a meeting where the result is not pre-determined, is absolutely unprecedented, and the Danish government needs to be commended for its courage in taking the risk of inviting so many leaders. It has upped the stakes here enormously and increased the pressure on negotiators as well as ministers and presumably at some point it will dawn upon the Heads themselves what they have gotten themselves into.

The potential results, therefore, are extremely unpredictable and could range from a catastrophic crash to a political breakthrough, although the targets at this stage are so weak and so full of loopholes that they won’t begin to deliver what is required to keep us on a path to avoid 2 deg C global mean temperature rise, never mind the 1.5 deg C target.

So at this point, the reality is that we still have everything to play for, and I will be surprised if we’re a great deal wiser on the final outcome before the wee hours of Friday night/Saturday morning.

Posted 15/12/2009 by Steve Sawyer

Tagged under: COP15 , Copenhagen , Climate change

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