Other / 26 May, 2009
World Business Summit on Climate Change

World Business Summit on Climate Change 

Copenhagen, 24-26 May 2009


Address by
Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change



Ladies and Gentlemen,

There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the Copenhagen climate conference in December is going to lead to a result. Why? There are four reasons I would like to mention.

Firstly, because I believe that politicians owe the scientific community an answer, and that answer has to be provided in Copenhagen.

Secondly, because I believe that the political moment is right in Copenhagen to reach an agreement, especially from an American perspective.

Thirdly, I believe, because if we’ve learnt anything from the financial crisis, it is that global issues require a global response.

Fourthly, because allowing international diplomacy to break down would lead to a policy anarchy which no one can afford. Those are the four reasons I believe Copenhagen will deliver a result.

The much more difficult question, of course, is what constitutes a result, what constitutes success. I would like to mention three small four -point checklists for success. The first checklist for me is what constitutes a political success in Copenhagen. I would like to repeat here many of the points that Prime Minister Rasmussen raised.

The first point on my political success list is that Copenhagen has to deliver absolute clarity in terms of what individual industrialized countries will do to reduce their emissions by 2020. That has to be unequivocally clear.

At the same time, it has to be absolutely clear what major developing countries will do to limit the growth of their emissions, because without that indication from major developing countries, we will not get the ratification in many industrialized countries.

And that takes me to the third political imperative, which I share with Prime Minister Rasmussen, which is that there must be significant, stable and predictable finance on the table for developing countries in Copenhagen; finance for both adaptation and mitigation, because without the finance, you will not get the developing country engagement, and without the developing country engagement, you will not get the industrialized country engagement.

And my fourth political essential goes to governance, goes to an equitable governance system in which developing countries feel that they are adequately represented in the management of the financial resources they are going to need to address both mitigation and adaptation. So those are the four points on my political checklist for success.

The four points on my private sector, or business checklist for success are the following:

First of all, I think that as a result of Copenhagen, we have to arrive at a situation where climate change is fully costed for both companies and economies. We have to begin to take the costs of climate change into account.

The second point on my checklist would be - and it counterbalances the first - that Copenhagen has to take us to a situation where green investments are valued positively on a level playing field; that we take economies forward and not destroy them.

My third point would be that Copenhagen has to create a new global pool of carbon assets that allow us to find the most affordable emission reduction options in an international market.

Fourthly, and finally, on my checklist, Copenhagen has to be designed in such a way that it times policy interventions to fit with economic investment decisions, to create a positive climate policy and not a climate policy that leads to capital stock destruction.

So those are the four points on my private sector, or business checklist for success.

My final checklist is a company checklist for success.

I think that if Copenhagen leads to a situation where it becomes possible for you to invest more in both adaptation and mitigation, that will be a very clear sign of success.

Secondly, if Copenhagen can take us to a situation where your investment advisors fully value climate risk whenever you are about to make an investment, that is a second critical point.

Thirdly, and perhaps most critically to you, if Copenhagen can take us to a situation where your shareholders actually value you going green, we will have achieved success.

And fourthly, if Copenhagen can create a situation where you, as companies, help to build strong international institutions that underpin a climate change regime.

As I said at the beginning, I am convinced that, in December, we will see something blossom in the state of Denmark. But I also believe that what blossoms here must, above all, be clear, it must be simple, and it must make sense. In other words, no mumbling allowed in Copenhagen.

Thank you.


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