Anything coming from international COPs?

Today I attended a Sustainability Business Australia forum on the direction of international climate negotiations.

Are these negotiations doing anything?

So far there have been 18 conferences of the parties, or COPs, with mixed results (I remember writing a thesis on COP3 when I was at uni!) The COPs have led to Kyoto, an agreement to agree, a roadmap to comprehensive agreement, and other indifferent results.

So will COP19 in Poland be a good COP or a bad COP?

It is worth remembering that Australia was hailed last year after implementation of the carbon price. It probably won’t be the same this year as the mood of today’s meeting was certainly that Australia is swimming against the international tide of action. In fact, 75% of people on the planet are now covered by some kind of laws to reduce emissions and this fact will help rather than hinder negotiations.

But a little bit behind Australia’s adulation was a lower key event about savanna burning in the north of Australia. This event seems to have been quite a hit and has led to a project led by UN University and the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA) to internationalise the savanna burning methodology. African countries in particular are very interested as the work done to develop the Australian methodology overcame earlier work in Africa. The positive story of COPs perhaps rests with the innovation and ideas from these side events.

Our discussion suggested that COP18 last year managed to declutter the process towards a comprehensive agreement, but what will COP19 deliver? Maybe the groundbreaking CFI will get a run in the margins. Hopefully Australia won’t be announced as the first country to introduce then remove a carbon price.

Australia’s negotiating position is due to be announced next week.