Press release

IISD CEO says world can't wait for political agreement on climate: sees trade as catalyst for change

December 12, 2009
COPENHAGEN—December 13, 2009—"The world urgently needs an international framework to address climate change, but cannot wait for political agreement. Effective actions must be taken now," said David Runnalls, president and CEO of the International Institute for Sustainable Development.

IISD is kicking off the second week of the international climate change conference in Copenhagen with three separate side events, on Monday, to build momentum for low carbon development strategies, fossil-fuel subsidy reform and action on trade and climate change.

"Climate change is an urgent issue. It isn't just an environmental issue anymore. It is also the economic and social issue of our time and the outside world is becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of progress displayed in the conference centre," Runnalls said.

"While governments talk about the need to expand trade to help emerge from the economic crisis, much of the action at the legislative level seems designed to protect domestic industry, thereby threatening the integrity of the trading system," Runnalls said, adding that the world can't afford to continue on this path.

"IISD has ideas for using trade to promote low carbon development and investment in renewable energy technologies. And while governments complain that their fiscal situations are too stretched to accommodate funding for clean energy research and for assisting developing countries with adaptation to climate change, they continue to pour subsidies into the fossil fuels, which are responsible for the climate problem in the first place.

"Our Global Subsidies Initiative is aimed at identifying the sources and extent of such subsidies so that they can be turned to more sensible solutions."

IISD's side events will feature its senior directors and advisors including John Drexhage, Mark Halle, Peter Wooders and Aaron Cosbey, as well as other members of IISD's climate change and energy team, and other panelists attending the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Fifth Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP 15 and COP/MOP 5).

Tomorrow's side events are designed to advance action on climate change through policy research, development and implementation on the following key issues:

For more information about the Institute's work at the conference, please see IISD at COP15, as well as related commentaries and its Climate Change and Energy program.

For more information, please contact IISD media and communication officer Nona Pelletier
Cell: +1-(204)-962-1303.
(For local calls during COP15 in Copenhagen, please phone 53 97 61 23 until December 18, 2009)

About IISD

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an award-winning independent think tank working to accelerate solutions for a stable climate, sustainable resource management, and fair economies. Our work inspires better decisions and sparks meaningful action to help people and the planet thrive. We shine a light on what can be achieved when governments, businesses, non-profits, and communities come together. IISD’s staff of more than 250 experts come from across the globe and from many disciplines. With offices in Winnipeg, Geneva, Ottawa, and Toronto, our work affects lives in nearly 100 countries.