In my previous posting as this blog, What to Expect at COP-25 in Madrid, I wrote about the “Rulebook” for the Paris Agreement, which puts flesh on the bones of the skeletal 13-page Agreement. It was completed last year at COP-24 in Katowice, Poland, with the exception of one very important part of the Agreement, namely Article 6, which potentially facilitates international carbon markets and other forms of cross-border cooperation.
In the latest episode of our podcast, “Environmental Insights: Discussions on Policy and Practice from the Harvard Environmental Economics Program,” our focus is on precisely this topic in an interview with an individual who has had tremendous experience in this realm, Andrei Marcu, the founder and executive director of the European Roundtable on Climate Change and Sustainable Transition. You can listen to the interview here.
In hosting these podcast episodes, I interview interesting and accomplished people who are working at the intersection of economics and environmental policy. Our first episode featured my interview with Gina McCarthy, former Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (who is leaving Harvard to become President of the Natural Resources Defense Council). Our second episode featured Nick Stern of the London School of Economics discussing his career, British politics, and efforts to combat climate change.
In this third episode – recorded here in Madrid at COP-25 – Andrei Marcu provides an overview of the opportunities and challenges facing the negotiators, with particular attention to the important work now being done on carbon markets and international cooperation via Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. By the way, you can read about the other activities of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements at COP-25 in Madrid here.
Marcu has long been engaged in multilateral negotiating processes and subsequent implementation action, both at the global and sectoral levels. In various capacities, he has acted as negotiator for developing countries, coordinator for the G-77 and China, and as representative of the international business community. He previously served as Manager of Private Sector Cooperation in the United Nations Development Programme; and founder, president and CEO of the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA).
Marcu attended the first week of negotiations at COP-25, during which time lower-level discussions were held among representatives of many of the 200 countries which signed the Paris Climate Agreement of 2016. Marcu characterizes the Agreement as a “decentralized pledge and review type of approach” to the global emissions problem, one that brings countries to the table, but also one that “creates headaches” in the market.
In the interview, Marcu says that what happens in Madrid during the coming week will be very important. “Presumably you will see three decisions – one for Article 6.2, one for 6.4 and one for 6.8,” he explained, naming three of the key sections of the Paris Agreement that are being negotiated at COP-24. Marcu also remarked that some of the most difficult decisions may be “punted” to future talks.
In general, Marcu said he is “optimistic that we are moving in the right direction” on addressing climate change, while also expressing concern about the pace of change. “To be fair, it is not an easy change. It’s quite a radical change as people are just coming to terms with what carbon neutrality means.” he stated. “It is not an incremental change. It is a radical change.”