Wondering what’s happening at the much-un-discussed Doha Climate Conference? Check some fascinating fly-on-the-wall snippets from globe-trotting Australian green finance guru, Sean Kidney:

And more at – http://climatebonds.net/category/blog/

For example (his latest post):


Qatar is the world’s highest per capita greenhouse gas emitter; so, to mark the UN Kyoto negotiations, it announced this week that it was going to spend up to $20bn growing solar from 0% to 16% -1.8 gigawatts – of national power generation. Tenders will be in 2014. The country does seem to have nearly as much solar resource above ground as gas below ground – there’s a lot of desert here.


I’m sitting through a Saudi Arabian presentation on their solar energy plans – they say they’ll have 16 Gigawatt of solar installed by 2022 – from a zero  base. That’s a lot of solar.

That will involve some $109bn in investment – compared to $136bn invested worldwide in solar in 2011.

Don’t get me wrong; this doesn’t make up for all those oil exports destined for our atmosphere (sorry Saudi, but we’re going have to leave the bulk of that in the ground). But it’s very good news for a solar industry that we all need to grow quickly, and for the prospects of further driving down costs with larger scale deployment.


Then talk turns to the enormous energy efficiency gains to be made in the Gulf. The conversation ends up being exactly the same as in Europe or the US: how hard it is to get people to do something that will so obviously save them money (putting aside those places that provide free energy). They talked about how they needed to learn from Europe and the US who “know how to do it”. Unfortunately that’s wishful thinking; every country we work in talks about the importance of energy efficiency, but finds it fiendishly difficult to get things moving at speed and scale.

Government in the North as well as the Middle East et al are going to have to face up to the fact that adequate urban and industrial emission reductions are not going to be achieved just through “education” or “presenting business cases”.

We need a mix of mandation, well-signalled a few years before it starts to bite, combined with a range of up-front enabling financial and regulatory measures – and solid work to ramp up capability provision. It has to be really easy to save money now and avoid the sting of penalties later.

We’re not much of a fan of pure mandation either; solutions provision still requires significant policy engineering (like removing “principle agent” problems) if the change is to actually happen at speed. But, if it genuinely saves people money and everyone is in, we believe it can be packaged as a vote winner.


The OECD have been fantastic over the past two years, working hard to press member Governments to pursue green growth policies, and exploring how those financially stressed Government can leverage private sector finance for climate solutions. But we’ve still got some way to go with change.

At an OECD breakfast this week I asked them about whether they were doing any modelling to show the “economic multiplier” benefits of green growth (they do have 1500 economists wandering around the corridors of their Paris HQ; might as well get them doing useful stuff).

I asked because Treasuries around the world are full of economists trying to restrict their thinking to immediate national growth prospects, and green growth proposals, without quantitative multiplier arguments, are all-too easily dismissed. Witness what’s happened in the UK over the past two years.

Those of us taking the fight to Treasuries around the world need narratives backed by stronger economic modelling arguments.

The good news is that it seems OECD are now looking at this and we can expect to see their take in 2013.


Philippines negotiator Naderev Sano broke down yesterday as he read a statement to the Conference: ”We are experiencing climate change; we have never seen a storm like the one hitting the Philippines now. As we sit here in these negotiations, even as we vacillate and procrastinate here, the death toll is rising.” Watch the video here.


A couple of days ago I posted that: “90% of buildings that will exist in India in 2050 are not yet built”. I’d originally thought he’d said 2020, but it didn’t look right so I put 2050. Then I chased down Kersten-Karl Barth of Siemens to double-check. It’s actually 2025! Yikes!

A friend at the EIB emailed to say he was wondering whether he should be giving up on banking and starting a construction company in India – or at least servicing that sector. Hmmm.


Finally, just thought you’d like to know: The Qatar National Convention Centre, where the conference is being held, is the most amazing building – all polished stone, coloured glass and facilities that actually work. Even the toilets are beautiful. And it’s highly energy efficient LEED certified (part of it is LEED Gold).

In fact Doha is full of impressive LEED certified buildings. But slightly awkward that it’s all (literally all) being paid for by huge fossil fuel exports. Sigh.