Sectoral approach fails at COP15

Posted on 15 Dec 2009 by The Manufacturer

EEF's Susanne Baker reveals the rift that has formed between the developed and developing countries at Copenhagen.

It was on, then it was off, now it is back on again. Talks have ressumed here in Copenhagen, but there is still a great deal of mistrust between the developed and developing world.

And a small comment made today in one of the negotiations could spell trouble for some of our most energy intensive industries. Attempts to develop a framework for developing “sectoral approaches” are failing. Negotiators have failed to agree upon even a general text on the matter.

European industry interest in sector approaches has been high in the run up to Copenhagen, particularly in those sectors at risk of carbon leakage – where the risks are high that production or investment will shift to unregulated regimes to avoid “carbon costs” or where EU-based industries lose market share to competitors based in countries where growth can continue unabated. For such sectors, concern about enhanced risks from carbon leakage in a post-Copenhagen world has been acute.

And figures from the OECD this September support these fears. It estimated that if the EU acted alone to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2050, almost 12 per cent of their emissions reductions would be offset by emission increases in other countries. However if all industralised countries acted together, this would be reduced to below 2 per cent.

By targeting key sectors on a global basis competitive concerns could have started to be addressed in a rational way (and maybe satisfy a few US senators in the process, perhaps?). It would have also underpinned an effective agreement by helping to broaden participation in global emission reductions – there are after all extremely developed sectors in developing countries.

But as it stands the current proposal refers only to cooperative sectoral approaches and sector-specific actions in agriculture.

It reflects a real missed opportunity. Some sectoral mechanisms may be delivered through developing countries NAMAs (nationally appropriate mitigation actions) – but this could never deliver the scale of coverage needed to address competitiveness concerns.