As you probably know by now, the head of the UN Frameworlk Convention on Climate Change Yvo De Boer is stepping down. Often referred to as the UN’s top climate change negotiator, de Boer had the very difficult task of balancing the interests of over 180 member states while marshaling an international agreement that could curb the catastrophic effects of climate change. Arguably his biggest triumph was the 2007 “Bali Road Map” which set the broad outlines of a final agreement that was to be signed in Copenhagen.
This achievement was critically important because, if you will recall at the time, the government of the world’s largest emitter was completely disinterested in any sort of international accord to replace the Kyoto Protocol. The Bali Road Map strategically left the major deliberations for after the 2008 U.S. Presidential elections, figuring that either candidate could not be as hostile to international climate change negotiations as the Bush administration. Of course, when the Obama administration took over, it had only 10 months to prepare for the Copenhagen negotiations. Because of a stalled legislative calender in the U.S. Congress, this turned out not to be enough time for the U.S. to come to the table with hard figures with which it could negotiate. Still, the United States was able to participate constructively in the Copenhagen negotiations and the resulting Copenhagen Accord was an important step forward.
The fact that we have this agreement is a testament to the hard work of de Boer. He’ll be missed.