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: Are things finally ready to pick up?

17 December: On Wednesday morning, Connie Hedegaard resigned as the COP President in favour of Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen, and in the obviously tense handover between the two, they made the huge blunder of announcing that there would be ‘new text’ from the Danish Presidency released ‘shortly’.

Unsurprisingly, the G-77, China, India and a number of other countries objected to this procedure, not least because they had been up all night negotiating the LCA text, but to introduce new text ‘from the sky’ prior to the report from the LCA did not go down well and resulted in half an hour of back and forth between the Parties and the new President. Today, it transpired that there would not actually be such a new paper, and negotiations on both tracks today resumed on the basis of yesterday morning’s texts.

Last night also saw the opening of the ‘high level segment’, which started the endless series of national speeches from Ministers, Prime Ministers, Presidents and other luminaries. This began in the main plenary, and the COP plenary was set to convene at 1pm.

However, the informal consultations resulting from the procedural snafu in the COP/MOP plenary led to ‘informal consultations’ which lasted for the rest of the day, and as a result, the COP plenary didn’t actually begin until about 10 pm, with what seemed to me to be discussing calls for discussions about how to have the discussions about how to proceed. Both plenaries were adjourned late, with the announcement that they would resume at 10am on Thursday morning.

While it is easy to despair about the complete waste of yet another precious day, we must also remember that the situation in Kyoto in 1997 was just as bad if not worse on the Wednesday evening of the second week. One prominent member of the US delegation reassured us that ‘there was still a deal to be had’.

While I agree with this judgment, the likelihood of reaching a reasonable deal in Copenhagen fades with each passing hour, unless the meeting between about a dozen countries/groups (US, China, India, Sudan for G-77, the Swedish EU Presidency, representatives of GRULAC, Africa, AOSIS and the LDCs) to actually come to enough agreement to give their negotiators some new instructions actually occurs, and soon. The issues can be sorted, but someone needs to demonstrate the political will to do it. So far as I can tell, that is still lacking.

As I mentioned, negotiations on both tracks resumed today, and I hope to be able to report more progress tomorrow.

I’m in the Bella Center here today with ‘only’ 300 other NGOs. The process of scaling back from 22,000 registered NGO observers (which includes business and many other groups) to just 300 was inevitably a bit messy.

Business finally resumed today (this afternoon), after President Rasmussen confirmed in the COP and then the COPMOP that the current documents reported by the AWG KP and LCA yesterday morning would be the basis of negotiations. Now, under Connie Hedegaard’s leadership, contact groups have been established to discuss both texts, and these have immediately resulted in an ever-growing set of ‘open ended drafting groups’. They are under extreme pressure to produce decision texts for the ministers as soon as possible. This is where we should have been a week ago.

The other big news from today was Hillary Clinton’s announcement that the US would ‘support’ a target of US$100 billion per year in financing. This is seen as a big step forward, although it is entirely unclear how much of that the US share would be, or how much of it would be new money, or how much of it would be public finance and how much would be private investment. It’s the first US commitment to long-term finance, so this is a big deal.

Rumours are flying madly at this point, including one that Presidents Hu and Obama are on the phone at the moment, that the EU Council is meeting tonight to raise the target from 20% to 25% or 30%, that there is a new deal coming from the Danish presidency…but I wouldn’t put much stock in the rumours at this stage until we have some more evidence.

It’s going to be a marathon from now until sometime Saturday noon, I would guess, with very few people getting any sleep, tensions rising and tempers wearing thin. The good news is that we still have the possibility of getting out of here with something useful. More tomorrow.

Posted 18/12/2009 by Steve Sawyer

Tagged under: COP15 , Copenhagen , Climate change

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