Insights and Commentaries

Insights and Commentaries

COP23 marks the eighth year of our engagement in the UNFCCC

17th September 2017

Topic(s): Carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS)



As we gear up to attend the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23), the Institute’s Program Lead – International Climate Change Engagement, Mark Bonner, shares information on the Institute’s eighth year of engagement at COP.

The Institute’s focus in Bonn

The annual international climate conference (COP23) is just two months away (6-17 November, Bonn). This means that, along with 20,000 to 25,000 other delegates, the Institute has commenced implementing its engagement strategy in earnest. As with other years, CCS is not expected to hold high visibility in these negotiations – unlike energy efficiency and renewable energy. This does not signify its lack of importance. It is quite commonplace at these COPs for alternate energy options to be hailed by environmental NGOs as the centerpiece of Party strategies in the decarbonisation of national energy and industrial sectors. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes it perfectly clear however that for many fossil-dependent economies, the only realistic pathway to large-scale and affordable abatement is with CCS sitting prominently in the mitigation toolbox. Without the appropriate public policy support and private sector investment in new CCS projects, many governments will simply not be able to meet their Paris Agreement obligations and/or in a timely manner. This could well see an increase in the rate of environmental catastrophes for both the planet and its global community within less than three decades as the Paris Agreement climate thresholds are surpassed.

In an effort to deeply understand the future direction and economics of climate and energy policy, the Institute will focus closely at COP23 on the following agendas: response measures (economic diversification and a just transition of the workforce), various approaches (Article 6’s markets and non-markets), technology development, finance, and increasingly sustainable development issues (which for CCS includes ensuring all parties appreciate and value the full benefits of CCS including its social and environmental co-benefits).

The Institute’s challenge at the COP23

The ease in which the profile of some technologies, especially renewables and energy efficiency, are elevated by some parties and environmental NGOs as being ‘clean, green, affordable and sufficient’ presents one of the Institute’s greatest advocacy challenges at these talks. Such claims do more to service the industrial policy and associated commercial interests of the few, often under a misleading guise of economically prudent environmentalism, rather than helping to deliver the appropriate climate mitigation or socio-economic outcomes needed by all. Given the paucity of time in which to discuss meaningful climate actions at the COP, such claims also serve to distract from the more urgent discussion on how the international climate architecture must be designed and implemented to support a pragmatic, predictable, and sustainable transitioning of national economies and workforces (equitably) to net zero emissions by the second half of the century.

In this regard, the Institute advocates for policy parity for all technologies according to the stage of their development cycle across all UNFCCC’s mechanisms, programs and initiatives; as well as for technology neutrality in the Paris Agreement’s ‘rulebook’. This rulebook, which is expected to be progressed at COP23 and forwarded by the subsidiary body (APA) for adoption by the parties at COP24 in 2018, will govern the international climate architecture perhaps well beyond 2030. In addition to the many formal submissions and informal representations made by the Institute to the UNFCCC throughout the past year on a variety of issues, it will again closely follow the COP23 negotiations as they evolve over the two week period. In parallel, it will intensively network and advise a broad range of senior negotiators on issues that can both directly and indirectly affect the future of CCS. The Institute’s effort to date has substantially helped to normalise CCS in the mitigation and technology negotiations, as well as positively feed into the national policy development and implementation processes.

It is critical that the Institute’s advocacy efforts at COP23 further educates and enlightens as diverse a range of stakeholders as possible on the merits of supporting CCS mitigation. We will do this by not only protecting the momentum it has created over the years to have CCS formally discussed by the parties, but by encouraging key decision makers to engage in a continuous and positive dialogue on CCS matters, as well as occupy the UNFCCC’s available ‘spaces’ to prosecute the virtues of CCS. It’s important to keep on reminding everyone that CCS has been working safely and effectively for 45 years and is probably the most versatile and vital climate mitigation technology that exists.

Institute’s educational efforts

The Institute will again invest its resources to showcasing global CCS developments and enhancing the policy debate as it pertains to national innovation systems, cost-effective emissions reductions, commercial viability of projects and sustainability of scalable climate actions. While the details of a couple of its COP23 initiatives are still to be decided upon by the UNFCCC Secretariat, the following schedule gives an indication of its intended endeavours (all located in the Bonn Zone).

  • Side-event: “Delivering commercial scale CCS projects” – UNFCCC endorsed event in collaboration with Sintef and Gassnova: date tbc by the UNFCCC (but applied for Monday, 13 November)
  • Side-event: “Showcasing CCS in Canada”: Tuesday 14, November in the IETA pavilion; 12:30 PM-2:00 PM
  • Side-event: “Policy holds the key to unlocking the potential of CCS mitigation”: Wednesday, 15 November in the IETA pavilion; 12:30 PM-2:00 PM
  • Participating in external events in the Bonn Zone including:
    • China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC): Wednesday, 8 and Thursday, 16 November in the China Pavilion
    • CO2GeoNet/GCCSI “Why we need CCS (and why we need it) now”: date TBC (but could be 6, 7 or 9 November) in the European Pavilion
  • Exhibit in second week: tbc by UNFCCC
  • UNFCCC Press Conference where all will be welcome: TBC by UNFCCC
  • Informal social gathering for the CCS community attending the COP (please note that this is not a reception and guests will be expected to cover their own entertainment expenses)

Institute’s CEO, Brad Page, will be attending the COP from Wednesday, 6 November to Thursday, 16 November should members or delegates wish to meet with him. Also attending the COP23 will be Mark Bonner – Climate Lead, John Scowcroft – Executive Adviser, Xiangshan Ma – China Country Manager, Antonios Papaspiropoulos – Global Lead  - Advocacy and Communications, and Annya Schneider – Advisor – Advocacy and Communications.

Feel free to approach any one of us should you wish to meet in Bonn and/or discuss any matter or should you require a COP23 badge to the Bonn Zone (ie access to all events and exhibits but not to the negotiations).



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