First impressions from COP16
After shaking off the jet lag and escaping the European chill I am walking into the UN Conference for Climate Change also known as COP 16 (Conference of the Parties) being held this year in sunny Cancun, Mexico and in its 3rd day.
The turnout is a lot smaller compared to Copenhagen last year and expectations on what will be achieved by the delegates is very low. The view is that this was done on purpose so the negotiators can focus on getting the job done. But there is a buzz down here amongst the many NGOs who remain optimistic on a positive outcome. The really big change is that technology is taking a far greater spotlight than last year.
I had the good fortune to see a panel with R.K. Pachauri who is the head of the scientific body looking at climate change known as the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He personally gave examples from his home country in India as well as Africa where cheap solar panels are helping to bring light and energy to the 1.6 billion people who live in poverty and have no access to electricity. He was joined by Zoe Tcholak-Antitch from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), who Microsoft works with closely, who detailed their fascinating story of a voluntary initiative to encourage companies to publish information publically on their carbon emissions. Microsoft has helped them build the site and looking to use the new technology power of the Cloud to improve it and help the CDP increase its influence and impact.
I am here wearing two hats: one for TechAmerica Europe which is an official UN Observer, and the other for the Global e-Sustainability Initiative
(GeSI) where both Associations have shared goals. GeSI on Wednesday will be holding a CEO Roundtable with government Ministers from India, South Africa and Mexico. The objective of that meeting will be to emphasize the transformative enabling power technology can have to reduce carbon emissions and to see how the ICT sector can get involved both inside and outside of the negotiations to help move it forward to a positive conclusion.