Friday, 19 December 2008


Peter Carl, the former head of the European Commission's environment department, has spent most of the year as an advisor on climate change issues to the French Government during its EU Presidency. Yesterday he spoke at a debate in Brussels at which, I am told, he described the outcome on financing carbon capture and storage projects as one of the most significant of all, potentially equal in importance to the rest of the measures combined.

But if it was so important, why has it attracted so very little media attention? I suppose it just wasn't on the radar of most journalists covering the negotiations; their story had been pre-defined as that of 20:20:20 - (20% energy saving plus 20% renewables to achieve a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020). It's an interesting reflection on what makes news and what does not. Maybe it will prove a slow-burner.

We held a celebration party in Brussels last night for those involved in the campaign. With hindsight, with €9 billion in the bag, we achieved a lot more than we could have ever dared to hope. Over the months I discovered a lot about the EU decision-making process, the strongest lesson of all being that EU governments spend too much time rehearsing their prepared positions and talking AT each other instead of debating seriously WITH each other about how to achieve shared objectives.

David Hone, Shell's climate change adviser, played an important role in giving substance to the idea of using carbon allowances as a means of supporting CCS capital investment. I read out an email from him: "Between us all, I feel we have done something pretty good for the world." A good note on which to end.

Except, of course, that it is not the last word on CCS. In the New Year I shall want to chase and chivvy the Commission into getting the programme of demonstration projects up and running.

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