BREAKING: ‘Obscure Proposal’ Would Bring Fossils to the Heart of International Climate Talks
Multinational fossils would be slotted into an “intermediate layer” of administrative authority between the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and national governments under a proposal expected to be tabled tomorrow, during the annual UN climate change conference in Bonn.
The “obscure Ukrainian proposal raised this week during a backroom meeting of negotiators could formalize access to the heart of the UN climate process for companies that want to sell coal technology,” Climate Home News reports. The Orwellian-named Committee for Future would “enhance public and private sector participation” in national climate policies, according to an overview produced by Ukrainian energy advisor Taras Bebeshko, who later said it was “envisaged as a way of bringing U.S. energy majors and other non-state actors to the UN table,” writes reporter Arthur Neslen.
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The news coincided with reports that Ukraine and Ghana may negotiate coal import/export deals with the United States on the margins of COP23 negotiations.
“American corporates have expressed an interest in the Ukraine proposal’s ‘integrated climate partnerships’ which would form an ‘intermediate layer between the global UNFCCC and national [climate plans and] allow direct participation of the corporates,’” Climate Home notes, citing a Ukrainian source. “
“Within this structure, I can clearly see in-depth cooperation with corporations,” the source told Neslen. “If they could bring proper [coal] technology that would allow us to do that, it would be brilliant.”
The news story Friday indicates Ukraine and the U.S. are discussing the plan through the Umbrella Group, a negotiating bloc of high-emitting countries that also includes Canada, Russia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Australia, Norway, and New Zealand. “U.S. coal giant Peabody, which the U.S. is bringing into the heart of the talks in Bonn, has expressed an interest in the initiative,” Neslen writes.
Climate Home points to specific reasons for individual countries to consider U.S. coal imports at a time when efforts to phase out use of the climate-busting fossil fuel are gaining momentum. “Ukraine began importing coal from the U.S. earlier this year after losing control of key mines in a separatist conflict,” the story notes. And Ghana “has been living with an energy crisis since a drought associated with climate change hit hydro power generation in the country, bringing routine power outages.”
Bilateral coal discussions during the COP are “very possible, because the Volta River Authority [Ghana’s largest energy company] is prospecting for these options,” said the Ghanaian energy ministry’s renewable energy director, Wisdom Ahiataku-Togobo. “We are looking at clean coal options, and if it comes out as more cost-competitive, why not?”
Seyni Nafo, chair of the Africa Group negotiating bloc, added that some African nations are turning to coal due to difficulties tying down financing for renewable energy.
“If you are presented with a certain technology with a finance package, that’s what you are going to implement,” he said. “That’s the situation in which we find ourselves. If the fossil option is the cheapest one and you have access to do it and it’s a simple process, that’s what you are going to do.”