7 Billion, 1 challenge!

Following a morning cultural experience at the museum on Wednesday, we headed over to the COP18 at Qatar’s National Conference Center (QNCC) for our first set of official meetings.

At QNCC, we met with Edward Cameron, the Director of International Climate Initiative at the World Resources Institute (WRI). He has been responsible for the five year strategy program at WRI that aims at reducing the vulnerability of people and communities from the impacts of climate change. His previous experiences included leading climate action and equity programs at the World Bank and designing the Maldives Foreign Affairs Ministry’s climate strategy as their Senior Advisor on climate change.

Edward Cameron had a candid conversation with us on the urgency around climate change, highlighting the implications of the failure to follow the Kyoto protocol. Alarmingly, many countries such as US (responsible for 18% of global emissions) have not taken up their fair share of responsibility. However, the key takeaway was that as much as the current proposed solutions may not be “fair”, not taking any action would result in a greater “injustice” to the world and that everyone should act based on their own capabilities.

One interesting point that was brought up during the conversation centered on a report just released regarding the aviation industry. President Obama signed an aviation act that “enables the country’s transportation secretary to “prohibit” US airlines from participating in the European Union’s (EU) Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).” See the full report at here. The big question is “Who is actually going to do what?” when it comes to addressing climate change. I guess that is why everyone is here!

Next we met with David Hone, Shell’s group CO2 Senior Advisor on climate change, Giles Dickson, Alstom’s VP of environmental policies and global advocacy, and Timothy Juliani, Director for corporate engagement at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES). Our conversations focused on the pros and cons of the two models for carbon pricing: 1) Carbon Tax and 2) Cap and Trade of Carbon. The general consensus was that a Cap and Trade model would be most effective but that if a choice had to be made between doing nothing versus having a carbon tax in place, the tax at least would help offset some of the externalities created.

As Joya and Sarah worked on their blogs, others grabbed a quick supper and headed over for our panel discussion (jointly hosted by Tuck and C2ES). Stay tuned for a report of the panel by Vijay (who also doubles as the group’s translator from time to time)!

Left to Right: professor Anant Sundaram, David Hone, Timothy Juliani, and Giles Dickson

On Thursday, we headed over to the Diplomatic Club for a day of events organized by the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA). Pat Palmiotto and Professor Sundaram had suggested attending a few of these sessions and it proved to be a rich experience.

We also attended a variety of side event sessions. My favorites of the day were 1) “The business partnerships for market readiness (B-PMR): an open Q&A between IETA and the World Bank PMR Secretariat, 2) “Who is on base? Ensuring access and demand for the CDM and JI with new mechanisms in the ballpark”, and 3) Reaching the $100 Billion-A business Perspective on the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

Left: Timothy Juliani                 Right: Giles Dickson

Finally, the eventful day concluded at the Souq Waqif. Thursday nights here is the equivalent of Saturday night’s back State side as Friday is the weekend in Qatar. We concluded our “official” week with Kiwi juice drinks, “old country style” at a Syrian Restaurant (referral credit goes to a prospective Tuckie as well as Sarah and Joya).

A final slide from one of the European presenters at IETA

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