Photo courtesy of Fundación Repsol.
Speech of the María Teresa Costa Campi, Director of the Chair in Energy Sustainability of the University of Barcelona and General Coordinator of Strategic Projects Funseam.
Thank you to delegates, ladies and gentlemen.
I would like to start my speech by thanking all the speakers and chairs for their relevant contributions. The conference Climate Change: Implications for Technological Developments and Industrial Competitiveness has been a great success.
The quality of the input to all the sessions of this conference has been extraordinary and has focused on key issues regarding the coming COP 21. With regard to Paris I have observed a general consensus that this is the last chance to reach the 2C target that will enable the world to mitigate the worst effects of Climate Change. Despite the existing agreement on the pernicious effects attributable to Climate Change, the measures adopted so far have been limited and there is still a long way to go. The reasons for this have been highlighted recently by Nobel Prize winner, Jean Tirole, who considers that “most benefits of mitigation are global and distant, while costs are local and immediate”. However, now is the moment to make important progress, building bridges between different postures to find a common worldwide position to fight Climate Change, and COP 21 is the place to do it. Although the impact of climate change is known, the potential to face it differs from country to country, BUT all of them should now do their best to solve the number one global problem. The key to gathering all of these divergent interests could be offering all players flexibility for them to meet their obligations.
For any agreement reached in Paris to be successfully applied, it must take competitiveness into consideration. If the objectives coming from the COP 21 are not compatible with maintaining industrial competitiveness it is very likely that they will be left aside by countries concerned for their economic development. In that sense, it is very important to highlight the impact of the effectiveness of the policies implemented, of the fear of “carbon leakage”. In order to avoid that the undesired effects related to the loss of competitiveness erode the chances of reaching Climate Change objectives, countries should bear this in mind while they write any agreement. At the same time, it is indisputable to have the highest number of countries possible on board to fight climate change. I would like to point out than more and more academic research and institutions throughout the world agree that the best way to achieve Climate Change objectives and avoid negatives impact on competitiveness, is through technological innovation. R&D will be the key to the harmonisation of the two objectives.
Experts agree with the establishment of flexible targets depending on the cost-effectiveness of each country’s efforts to fight climate change. The effort by each country should be matched with their ability to provide cost-effective solutions. Moreover, there is a concern about the lack of public awareness regarding Climate Change effects and the necessity to implement a set of rules that will drive the transformation to a sustainable model. In that sense, specialists have pointed out the difficulty of meeting 2 degree target by 2050 if there isn’t a cooperative environment between countries to face this challenge. The message to be applied in the COP21 negotiation is that without cooperation and effort sharing there is not going to be a strong enough agreement to cope with the worse effects of Climate Change.
Within Europe, the reduction of emissions will be driven by the EU ETS system together with the development of renewables and the improvement of energy efficiency. The trade in emission rights would be a good example for other countries to fulfill the commitment made in Paris regarding the reduction of CO2 emissions. Today the possibility of revising the current system for trading emission allowances has been raised, and take into account the different situations of the industry so that no adverse effects occur in terms of competitiveness. This approach could mean greater acceptance of trade in emission rights from developing countries and business groups most affected by EU ETS.
But again it must be stressed that the objective of reducing emissions will not be achievable if it does not encourage successful R & D, to mitigate climate change and reach advances in competitiveness through technological development, in line with what the speakers have pointed out in the second and third tables.
This conference ihas considered technological development and industrial competitiveness as key issues for a successful climate policy. One conclusion from this meeting is that the Paris Summit must work within these parameters.
The speakers have argued that research and technological development are essential for tackling climate change. The main conclusion in this regard is that a shared commitment to promote innovation in clean energy is the only way the world can meet its climate goals. This means a joint impetus from both the public sector, as well as private investors as both should increase their financial support for research into energy.
In this regard, the need for governments to implement public policies to encourage clean energy technologies through incentives to innovation should be emphaszed. It is urgent to accelerate the development and deployment of advanced technologies in energy efficiency, to promote renewable energy technologies and in general all those technologies that help reduce emissions in order to tackle the global challenges of energy security, climate change and competitiveness.
One issue that certainly is subjected to very different views and that is on the table is what solution may be found to offset the loss of competitiveness that some companies may suffer which are key to energy production and the energy sector, mainly European, which they face in the international market from competitors who are not subject to the same level of regulation?
Avoidance of relocation seems a desirable objective which requires special provisions so certain manufacturing processes do not incur additional costs for businesses. The current provisions are rejected as insufficient by the affected industry and it is advisable to resolve this issue with the agreement of all parties. A energy program and low-emission technology, exploitation of alternative resources and setting goals on competitiveness, are accepted measures that should help overcome this problem.
In conclusion, we have learned many lessons from the mistakes made in previous negotiations. Now is the time to apply those experiences to find a suitable agreement to combat global climate change in which all countries should be represented. For this purpose, innovation and technological development are the foundation on which climate policy is to be built.
Finally, Paris and subsequent success is not possible without an attitude of effective public-private partnerships and regulation that favors self-regulation. A good example is the recent agreement between 80 multinational corporations and the Obama administration to reduce its environmental impact on the horizons 2020 and 2050. In addition, I would highlight the initiative led by the 10 largest oil and gas companies in the world, including Repsol, with a joint statement to express their collective support for the achievement of an effective agreement on global climate change at COP21.
I do not want to finish without thanking again all the speakers and moderators for their participation and not only for the level of their contribution but also for their diligence and availability during program development. I thank you who have made my job so easy.
The program of this conference was drawn up by the Repsol Foundation, the Chair of Energy of Orkestra from Deusto University, the Foundation for Energy and Environmental Sustainability, FUNSEAM, the Chair of Energy and Sustainability at the University of Barcelona. I want to thank the Repsol Foundation, and in particular its Vice-President, Ignacio Egea, for his support and dedication to the project.
Finally, my warm and special thanks to Repsol, and especially the President, who has once again demonstrated its concern about climate change and its commitment to sustainability by organizing this event as another step on the road to Paris, to the success of COP 21.
Madrid November 4, 2015