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Commentaries

Intervention at UN discussions on Sustainable Development Goals: Human Rights

John Drexhage makes an intervention on behalf of the Global Business Alliance at the 6th session of the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's)

Intervention at UN discussions on Sustainable Development Goals: Energy

John Drexhage makes an intervention on behalf of the Global Business Alliance at the 5th session of the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's)

Intervention at UNFCCC

John Drexhage makes an intervention on behalf of the International Council on Mining and Metasl at the 34th session of the United Nations Framework for Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation.

A Victory for Multilateralism? A commentary on the UNFCCC negotiations in Cancun, Mexico

John Drexhage provides his analysis of the outcomes of COP16 in Cancun, Mexico, weighing the final decision and commenting on the various positions of the parties involved in the negotiations. Drexhage feels that the outcome was a measured success for multilateralism, especially in light of the issues at Copenhagen last year, but that there is much left to do between now and Durban before a wider success can be reached on the development of a binding post-2012 climate change regime that all parties will be able to agree to.

Canada and Climate Change: Where to now?

On the heels of the recent 2009 Copenhagen Accord negotiations, John Drexhage was invited to speak about Canada's position on climate change at a Round Table discussion led by Liberal Energy and Environment Critic David McGuinty. He examined Canada's position in the global context, as well as in relation to current policy in the United States.

Drexhage shares his concerns for the precarious nature of the current Copenhagen Accord negotiations, suggesting that the global focus remain on the progress made on substantive issues at the 2009 negotiations. On the home front, Drexhage examines national and regional initiatives in Canada and the United States. He suggests that Canada focus on policy incentives and the removal of perverse subsidies in order to negotiate its strong economic and energy relationships with the United States, while still offering a constructive role in building off the Copenhagen Accord.

Copenhagen: A Memorable Time for All the Wrong Reasons?

Director John Drexhage and Associate Deborah Murphy examine the outcomes of COP15 held in Copenhagen in December 2009. The final result of COP 15 and the roles played by major countries are reviewed. Attention is paid to two problems with the UNFCCC process that became apparent over the course of the two-week meeting: consensus is the only basis by which binding decisions can be made; and a decided lack of access and transparency when the final deals are brokered. Drexhage and Murphy conclude that the next stop is the G-8 and G-20 sessions that Canada will host in 2010, providing an opportunity for Canada to help countries work toward a legally binding pact by the end of the year.

A Brief Analysis of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference

The commentary provides a brief analysis of the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, examining expectations for and decisive moments in Copenhagen. Attention is also paid to the Copenhagen Accord, reviewing the main provisions of the agreement and its strengths and weaknesses. The authors conclude that the Copenhagen outcome highlights the enormous amount of work that remains to be done, and question if the political and public profile created in Copenhagen can be translated into a binding and ambitious international agreement on climate change.

Barcelona Postscript

Director John Drexhage examines the developments between the climate change meetings held in Barcelona in November 2009 and those to be held in Copenhagen in December 2009. Attention is paid to the commitments of countries to strengthen or take on emission-reduction commitments and to the dynamics of the international negotiations leading into COP 15. Drexhage concludes that the developments have been mostly positive and have injected some life into the COP discussions.

The Barcelona Negotiations on Climate Change: Where the Spirit is willing?

John Drexhage, IISD’s Director of climate change and energy notes that although the November 2009 climate negotiations in Barcelona, Spain, ended on a more positive note, significant differences between Parties remain. While slow progress was made in Barcelona on issues such as the development of new market mechanisms and addressing deforestation, Drexhage observes that Parties remain far from resolving some of the critical “faults” in the negotiations. In particular, he highlights the challenge posed by the U.S. government’s insistence on a “bottom-up” architecture and the potential for this approach to undermine the international greenhouse gas accounting system and thereby weaken the global climate regime. He also notes the real opportunity the U.S. position creates for China to play a strong leadership role in Copenhagen.

House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development—Statement by John Drexhage

On October 29, 2009, John Drexhage, IISD's Director of the Climate Change and Energy Program, gave a presentation to Canada's House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development on Bill C-311, an Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change.

Bangkok Talks on Climate Change: Matter over Form is the Only Way Ahead - An IISD Commentary

In this IISD Commentary, John Drexhage calls for a greater focus on discussing substantive issues within the 2009 negotiations on the future of the international climate change regime.

Reflecting on the outcomes of the climate negotiations in Bangkok in September/October 2009, IISD's Director of climate change and energy observes that constructive headway is being made in some areas. But several key issues, including emission targets and financing, remain far from being resolved. More critically, he draws attention to the continuing fractious debate between developed and developing countries over the legal form of a climate agreement. This debate—on whether the agreement will emerge out of discussions related to the future of the Kyoto Protocol and/or out of negotiations involving all countries under the climate Convention—has the potential to bring the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen this December to a full stop.

Sobering Days in Bonn

In this IISD Commentary, John Drexhage assesses progress toward Copenhagen following the August 2009 climate negotiations in Bonn.

"The June session in Bonn ended with recriminations abounding as the Kyoto Protocol negotiating group, led by China, accused developed countries of not acting in good faith," he writes. "This time it ended in what can most accurately be described as a farce. The week did very little–if anything–to actually help bridge negotiating positions. Even simple process issues unwound all too easily for the international community to witness."

Status of the UNFCCC Negotiations: Outcomes of the Bonn Climate Change Talks, March-April 2009

This paper provides an overview of the status of the international climate change negotiations with an emphasis on the outcomes of the Climate Change Talks, March-April 2009 in Bonn, Germany. The paper examines the main issues at stake in the negotiations with an emphasis on the four pillars of the Bali Action Plan: mitigation, adaptation, technology and financing. The concluding section discusses critical issues that will impact on the negotiations.

A Plea for Reason

IISD’s John Drexhage attended the March/April 2009 climate change talks in Bonn, Germany. Participants were impressed by a change in the tone of U.S. representatives, but a “powerful exception” to the cordial affair reared its head in the conference’s final hours. The last item was to cover the conclusions of a somewhat arcane-sounding negotiating group called the “Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex 1 Parties Under the Kyoto Protocol.” It’s the last phrase (“Annex 1 Parties Under the Kyoto Protocol”) that have made these discussions so difficult. “To put it simply,” writes Drexhage, “its mandate is to indicate what actions and commitments developed countries will agree to take after 2012 (after the conclusion of the Kyoto Protocol period) to help avoid the serious consequences of climate change. The only problem is that includes everyone but the U.S., since it is the only developed country that did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol. And so we have carried on a discussion now for over two years that, honestly, carries on an Alice in Wonderland quality.”

Environmental Policies under an Obama Administration: Is Change in the Air?

The day after Barack Obama's November 4, 2008, election victory, EM asked leaders within the Air & Waste Management Association and the environmental community for their initial thoughts on what a new administration might mean to the environmental industry, particularly in terms of new policies and regulations.

This article captures those responses, and includes a co-written contribution from IISD Project Officer Philip Gass, and Director of Climate Change and Energy, John Drexhage. Their piece begins on page 13 of the article.

Statement to the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development

John Drexhage, IISD's Director of Climate Change and Energy, shared his post-Bali thoughts with Canada's House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development on January 28.

"First of all, was Bali a success?," writes Drexhage. "If I may bring in a baseball analogy here, while the final agreement reached at Bali was far from a 'home run', neither was it a strike out. I guess I would categorize it as a 'bunt single'. The world is 'on base' in addressing climate change—but barely—and we are now entering into the last innings of this critical global challenge."

House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development November 27th, 2007

In testimony to the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development November 27th, 2007, John Drexahge explained the lessons of the past twenty years of understanding climate change leads us to conclusions about what we need to know and do during the COP 13 meeting in Bali, Indonesia in December 2007. He states it is clear that we simply cannot meet the environmental imperative of avoiding human interference with the globe's climate system without engaging all major emitters. But the lead must lie with developed countries, who are most responsible for the current greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and who, by cause of their relatively stable and prosperous social and economic conditions, are most able to take on more aggressive actions. In his view, this means that North America, which can only be described as a pariah when compared to the rest of the world's greenhouse gas emissions per capita, must lead the way.

Statement to the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development (June 19, 2007)

On June 19, 2007, John Drexhage, IISD's Director of Climate Change and Energy, made this statement to Canada's House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development. In the statement, Drexhage assesses G-8 progress and comments on climate change and comments on Canada's efforts in that context. Writes Drexhage: "… successfully addressing climate change requires a serious re-thinking of how we approach policy development and implementation towards more integrated, adaptive models."

The beginnings of a plan

Canada's new emissions plan may be tougher on industry than many environmentalists claim. But more will clearly be required across all sectors of Canadian society, says Drexhage, IISD's Director of Climate Change and Energy.

Statement to House of Commons Legislative Committee on Bill C-30

On February 13, 2007, IISD Director of Climate Change and Energy, John Drexhage, made a Statement to Canada's House of Commons Legislative Committee on Bill C-30, also known as the "Clean Air Act."

"The very phrase 'Kyoto' has taken on all sorts of connotations, most of which, unfortunately, have only worked to needlessly politicize the issue of climate change in Canada," noted Drexhage. "In particular, all the attention on our specific targets has resulted in us losing sight of the fact that the Kyoto agreement just as critically established, and continues to establish, the international policy architecture for addressing climate change, from methodologies for how we count, verify and report our emissions, including biological sequestration activities, to developing work programs for adaptation, and establishing the rules for the operation of the many flexibility provisions in the agreement."

Statement by John Drexhage, IISD’s Director of Climate Change and Energy, to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development

John Drexhage, IISD's Director of Climate Change and Energy, made a statement to Canada's House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development regarding Bill C-288, "An Act to ensure Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol." Drexhage argues that effectively addressing "the grave and present threat" of climate change demands a response well beyond the world of environmental negotiators. Kyoto and future agreements, if they are to be successful, must engage at the investment and financial policy level. (November 23, 2006)

Bush Blinks; The U.S. now at the climate change table

There is renewed global energy about tackling climate change following the December 2005 climate conference in Montreal, writes IISD’s Director of Climate Change and Energy, John Drexhage. The fact that the U.S. is prepared to join discussions is a major step forward.
Ottawa’s “green” budget a good first step
In this IISD Commentary, IISD's Director of Climate Change and Energy, John Drexhage, reviews Canada's federal budget of February 2005. The budget, he notes, sends a strong signal that Canadians and Canadian industry will be rewarded for pursuing cleaner, more climate-friendly development. This Commentary was originally aired on CBC Radio One, February 24, 2005.
Russian Ratification Puts Pressure on Canada
After over two years of anticipation, President Vladimir Putin's November 2004 signature on Russia's Kyoto Protocol ratification papers is the final step in confirming his nation's commitment to address climate change, and brings into force one of the most complex multilateral environmental agreements ever negotiated. It also means countries, like Canada, that have taken on specific greenhouse gas emission reduction targets have a fundamental obligation to show leadership in the international community by actually implementing credible plans to achieve their targets.