Below, you will find Graciela Chichilnisky’s response to the following question from the Climate Experts’ Forum:

There was progress last week on technical matters such as forestry credits, technology transfer and, importantly, the EU’s fast-start financing commitment – but now that the ministers have arrived, Copenhagen talks are getting down to the central issues of binding emissions agreements and long-term financing. Was last week largely a waste of time?

The first week of the Copenhagen summit was somewhat chaotic and mostly about positioning – not very helpful. From my point of view it was difficult but very valuable.

The first week of the Conventions of the Parties always focuses on ‘technical issues’ in preparation for the political ministers’ meetings during the second week. At Copenhagen the first week ended yesterday – Monday. After a long and arduous week of negotiations I was able to introduce new wording into the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) about ”negative carbon” technologies that could qualify for funding under the carbon makret and CDM process that has allocated so far about $25bn to developing nations. Negative carbon is necessary for the low emitting nations – Africa, Latin America and the small island states – to get significant funding from the Clean Development Mechanism for clean development, adaptation and mitigation. This was not possible until now.

The new wording may change all this. So far CDM funding has mostly gone to the large emitters, such as China and India – because they have more emissions to reduce. Africa, for example, emits only 3% of the global emissions and has little to reduce. With negative carbon technologies however Africa could reduce 20% of the carbon in the atmosphere – namely it can reduce much more than it emits. On this basis the low emitter nations can be significant assisted by the CDM – and can become important contributors to resolving climate change risks.

There are several ‘negative carbon’ examples involving projects that reduce more carbon from the atmosphere than what they emit:

For example, REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) is carbon negative, another example is a technology that “sucks carbon from air” and was recently advocated by Dr Pachauri of the International Panel on Climate Change as being necessary for averting climate change at this late stage of the game. One can build power plants that suck carbon from air, reducing atmospheric carbon while they produce electricity. With the wording we now introduced during the first week of the negotiations – I expect a solution for the climate negotiations that involves building power plants that suck carbon from air in Africa, Latin America and the small island states. This would involve a $200bn-a-year fund – underwritten by the OECD nations with private funding – for the purpose of building power plants in low emitter nations for development, adaptation and mitigation. This can also create new jobs and expand exports in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development nations, all together a win-win solution for the world economy. A private-public fund of about $200bn a year would suffice to get positive results all around – a possibility that negative carbon technologies have now made possible. I will be working on this solutions from now on, as part of the CDM process.

Graciela Chichilniskyis the architect of the carbon market of the Kyoto Protocol and the co-author of Saving Kyoto.

To read all responses, please visit the Climate Experts’ Forum