Eddie O’Connor addresses leading experts in climate change policies in Beijing

Mainstream Renewable Power’s Chief Executive, Eddie O’Connor, addresses an audience of climate change experts and academics at the Institute for Contemporary Chinese Studies, Tsinghua University.

eddiespeechEddie spoke about the increasing urgency to cap emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, explaining that Carbon emission rates, which are rising rapidly towards the threshold of 450 ppm, must peak immediately and begin to fall in order to avoid catastrophic climate change.

He explained why China and Europe should work together to devise a global emissions trading scheme that will put a put a price on carbon and achieve deep emissions cuts.

Renewable energy, which is already significantly cheaper than new coal plant in many markets, will enable the transition to a global, low carbon economy at no extra cost than continued reliance on fossil fuels.


Here is an abstract of the speech.

“China and Europe Working Together at COP 21”

Paper by Dr. Eddie O’Connor, IIEA, Dublin, Ireland

to be delivered at Tsinghua University on 27 June 2014


The Fifth Assessment Reports from the IPCC Working Groups confirm that global warming is a serious environmental threat to the human species and that the rate of growth in carbon emissions must be stabilised and then reversed if irreparable environmental damage is to be prevented.

The achievement of this objective requires a global agreement to be reached at the forthcoming Conference of the Parties (COP) being held under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  Past experience indicates that the COP negotiating processes are ineffective as a means for arriving at equitable agreements supported by all of the parties concerned.  The current round of preparatory talks suggest that a comprehensive agreement will not be reached at COP21 next year in Paris despite the urgency of the need to so in the light of prevailing scientific evidence.

One possible way forward would be for China and Europe to co-operate together in providing joint leadership in devising a common approach, which other countries would then follow.  A joint approach can be constructed on the basis of using an Emissions Trading Scheme as the means of capping the amount of global emissions to be permitted in any given year and simultaneously placing a price on carbon which internalises the external costs arising from the burning of fossil fuels.

The reasons for this belief are twofold.  China has begun experimentation with seven pilot projects in accordance with its well established methodology of policy formulation and will use the results to devise and implement a national scheme as part of the Five Year Planning process.  For its part, the European Union has implemented an Emissions Trading Scheme which, at this stage, can also be categorised as experimental and which, most likely, will be reformed in the near future.

This confirms that both China and Europe are adopting a parallel policy approach to the reduction of carbon emissions and that, consequently, there is real potential for adopting a joint approach to COP21 with the aim of breaking the negotiating deadlock, establishing a fresh context for the conduct of the negotiations and creating a new dynamic among the global community in favour of agreement on a viable and equitable framework for achieving reductions in carbon emissions and thereby limiting the deleterious effects of climate change.

A joint venture by China and Europe has never before been tried on such a scale but given the magnitude of the climate change threat identified by the IPCC, and given the harmonious state of the current relations between them, a strategic partnership along these lines would stand a good chance of success both as a new force for good in international affairs and as a courageous attempt to create a new approach to global governance.

Even if the joint China/Europe leadership did not succeed in Paris it would almost certainly create the framework for arriving at a later global agreement commensurate with the challenge of stabilizing and reducing carbon emissions below the level of 450 ppm.  For that alone, it is worth considering by the Chinese and European authorities.

The timetable for confining the rise in global temperature to less than 2 degrees celsius is shorter than previously believed and, as a direct consequence, the transition from a high to a low carbon society will have to be far speedier than had been previously envisaged by governments throughout the world.

This is turn will require development in the deployment of clean energy technologies on a scale and at a speed greater than currently planned.  This requirement alone will strengthen the necessity for harmonious action among the leading world powers lead by the example of China and Europe.

The rationale for China and Europe working together at COP21 is a combination of climate change science, the economics of environmental protection, the dynamics of entrepreneurial response to market signals, the politics of international negotiations in a world of differentiated responsibilities and the real potential for China and Europe working together in a long-term harmonious strategic relationship.


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