Fotografía (cortesía de Fundación Repsol): María Teresa Costa Campi, Director of the Chair in Energy Sustainability of the University of Barcelona and General Coordinator of Strategic Projects Funseam; Josu Jon Imaz, CEO of Repsol; y Eloy Álvarez Pelegry, Director of the Energy Chair of Orkestra-Basque Institute of Competitiveness, Deusto University.
The conference "Climate Change: Implications for Technological Developments and Industrial Competitiveness" was held at the Repsol campus facilities in Madrid on 4th November. Funseam and the Orkestra Chair of Energy with the invaluable assistance of the Repsol Foundation organized a conference on climate change and its implications for technological development and industrial competitiveness. This event was part of the many activities from various institutions worldwide which were being held to bring new ideas and proposals to the Paris Conference on Climate Change - COP 21. Presentations encompassed the various positions held by countries and companies, in terms of the general objectives in the fight against climate change, its consequences on technological development and the maintenance of industrial competitiveness.
The inaugural session included participation by Antonio Brufau, president of Repsol, Antonio Llardén, president of Enagas and Funseam, Eduardo Gonzalez, Deputy Director General of the Spanish Climate Change Office and the President of the Orkestra Chair of Energy. In this inaugural session the main challenges facing the planet from climate change and issues need to be addressed at the summit in Paris were raised. All speeches at the opening session agreed on the need to reach an agreement in Paris to help prevent the harmful effects related to climate change. This objective hinges on controlling the increase in global temperature to 2Cº.
In the first panel entitled "Road to Paris" the positions of the United States, Latin America and Europe were put forward. The first speaker Alexander Ochs, director of the Worldwatch Institute, presented the US position on the agreement on climate change. He was optimistic and stressed that the Paris conference is has the backing of President Obama's administration. He talked of the agreement between the US and China with a view to COP 21 in Paris and the diplomatic efforts being made by the US delegation to ensure that the talks in Paris come to fruition. The second speaker was the Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University Alberto Hurtado in Santiago, Jorge Rodriguez Grossi. The Chilean representative, explained the different positions in South America and the Caribbean regarding the possible agreement in Paris, presented a different view. Since the emissions from the South American continent and the Caribbean are very low, the total decarbonisation effort should be consistent with this. He also downplayed the idea that decisions taken in the region could have a significant impact in the fight against climate change due to the current lack of technological development in the region. The third presentation of this first panel was given by Geoffrey J. Blanford of the IFO Institute in Berlin, who presented the EU position. Mr. Blanford upheld the leading position held by the EU in terms of commitment to the fight against climate change. The EU is pushing for the most ambitious agreement possible and is willing to make an even greater effort through INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions). Finally, Teresa Ribera, Director of IDDRI (Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations) in Paris, gave an insider's perspective on what is expected from negotiations currently underway and what results are hoped for at the summit.
The main conclusion of this first panel was that although the impact of climate change is known, the potential to address it differs from country to country. Despite this, all countries must do everything in their power to solve this leading world problem. The key to putting together all these divergent interests could be to offer all stakeholders the flexibility necessary to enable them to meet their obligations.
In the second panel, experts from business, Fernando Temprano, director of technology at Repsol, and Gonzalo Sáenz de Miera, director of energy perspectives, Iberdrola, together with Daniele Poponi of the International Energy Agency and Bettina Schreck of the United Nations, presented the various technologies that will shape the future of a low-emission energy industry committed to the fight against climate change. The conclusion of this second panel highlighted the urgent need to accelerate the development and deployment of advanced technologies in energy efficiency, renewable energy and low carbon technologies in order to cope with the global challenges of energy security, climate change and competitiveness.
The third panel addressed another aspect of utmost importance for the negotiations in Paris, the maintenance of industrial competitiveness in the framework of policies to combat climate change. World-class experts, Karsten Neuhoff, head of the department of climate policy DIW Berlin (German Institute for Economic Research), and Susanne Drogue of SWP (German Institute for International Security) presented their most recent work on this subject. Alexander Affre, representative from Business Europe, presented the vision of European industry on how to challenge the diversion of investment to other regions with more lax environmental laws, which allow intensive production processes in energy which are more inefficient and polluting.
Regarding industrial competitiveness, all speakers agreed that for any agreement reached in Paris to be successfully implemented, industrial competitiveness must be taken into account. If the objectives established at COP 21 are not compatible with the maintenance of industrial competitiveness, they are likely to be side-lined by the countries concerned about their economic development.
The closing ceremony presided over by Josu Jon Imaz, CEO of Repsol, included the participation of Eloy Alvarez, director of the Orkestra Chair of Energy, who reviewed the many positions presented at the Conference, and Maria Teresa Costa, Chair of Energy Sustainability at the University of Barcelona and coordinator of strategic projects, Funseam, whose contribution dealt with the most significant aspects of the Paris summit. Dr Maria Teresa Costa stressed the importance of flexibility in the agreements to reach maximum consensus, the recognition of industrial competitiveness as a vital aspect to consider in the negotiations, and the need for technological development meet the desired objectives.