A complete coverage of the question and answer session that took place after the presentations by experts from China, Brazil, Switzerland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on behalf of the European Community and its member States can be found at <unfccc.int>
The issues raised during the discussion included energy use efficiency, the need for energy as part of development, links between climate policies and sustainable development, problems and prospects for the use of the clean development mechanism, international cooperation in technology development, future emission reductions by developed countries, opportunities for adaptation to climate change, the future use of nuclear energy, and development of particular industries to address climate concerns.
One country highlighted its success in improving energy efficiency and conservation programmes and expressed its willingness to investigate opportunities for technology cooperation with other countries, such as China. Another wished to learn more about opportunities for international cooperation in technology research and development and how the international climate policies could support sustainable development policies.
Several countries addressed the issue of access to the carbon market by developing countries as well as the efficiency of mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol, such as the clean development mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation. Others commented on the role of nuclear energy in the post Kyoto period.
One participant requested more details on Brazil’s renewables programme and its impact on innovation and employment. Another emphasized the need to examine the risk of feedback, i.e. generating more greenhouse gas emissions in responding to some of the adverse effects of climate change such as building more dams to protect against sea-level rise.
It was noted that gross domestic product (GDP) and greenhouse gas emissions are still growing in developed countries as a group and that to limit temperature increase by 2 degrees, global emissions will need to be reduced considerably. In this regard, one participant asked how these countries intend to drastically decrease their emissions, and suggested that if they are unable to do so it would be difficult for the international community to find ways to decrease emissions and increase development.
In response to the above-mentioned questions and comments, one expert on the panel noted that there was indeed a strong need for technology transfer to developing countries, and that obstacles to technology development and transfer need to be analysed before a successful climate change agreement can be built for the post-2012 period. He also noted that the use of energy sources by a country is driven by its need for clean energy irrespective of whether or not it is part of the clean development mechanism or not.
On the CDM in particular, another expert reiterated that, although it is not able to fulfil the ultimate objective of the UNFCCC entirely, it is the instrument, through which developing countries can benefit from the flexibility mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol, and for this reason countries need to explore its enormous potential and the opportunities that it may present.
Another expert on the panel explained that his country, in delivering its reductions under the Kyoto Protocol, expects some contribution from the flexibility mechanisms.
In response to a concern by one participant that the panel did not address opportunities for adaptation, one expert on the panel explained that adaptation is “residual” and that if mitigation actions are effective, the need for adaptation should be small; in this regard, adaptation should be complementary to mitigation.