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CCAP's Tyndall discusses challenges to leveraging private-sector investments post-Paris

Now that the Paris climate agreement is binding, what are the goals for next month's Conference of the Parties meeting in Marrakech, Morocco? During today's OnPoint, Bill Tyndall, CEO at the Center for Clean Air Policy, previews the meeting and discusses the key drivers behind optimizing private-sector funding for clean energy projects in developing nations.

Transcript

Monica Trauzzi: Hello and welcome to OnPoint. I'm Monica Trauzzi. With me today is Bill Tyndall, CEO at the Center for Clean Air Policy. Bill, thank you for coming back on the show.

Bill Tyndall: My pleasure.

Monica Trauzzi: So, Bill, the Paris Agreement will become binding on November 4th, and soon after negotiators will convene in Marrakech for COP 22. It's been a historic year for global action on climate. How significant is the momentum that we have right now and the speed at which the agreement all came into place?

Bill Tyndall: Well, it is amazing. It's incredibly important in terms of sending out a signal. It's incredibly important because the reality of the situation is that action is needed today on every front, given how close we are to a tipping point of not being able to reach either the 2 degrees, let alone the aspirational, you know, 1.5. So it's huge that this came together so fast — lots of interesting country politics involved, including the presidential election in the United States perhaps driving things. But it's still an interesting outcome, amazing outcome.

Monica Trauzzi: The meeting in Marrakech will be important in setting standards for implementation of the Paris deal. What are the key issues you'll be watching for as that meeting develops, and how important is this meeting truly?

Bill Tyndall: Well, it's important. It's obviously not Paris, and so you know, the key outcomes? Hard work. You know, hopefully — the people deserve, the countries deserve, the negotiators deserve to do some high fives, but then they need to buckle down. There are a series of rules that are needed around nuts and bolts things for countries to actually start implementing their Paris pledges, and those rules — the sooner they're set out, the better. Many of them are subject to a deadline of the first meeting of the parties. It was totally unexpected that this meeting would be the first meeting, so they'll probably start the meeting and then push it off for a year, so a year from now will be when these rules are finally finalized. But they're so important for those guideposts to be out there as quick as possible.

Monica Trauzzi: Let's talk about financing. Developed nations have this $100 billion promise to assist poor nations with climate adaptation and mitigation. How is that money all coming together? Where do things stand now?

Bill Tyndall: Well, it's — I mean, there's progress being made on it. I mean, you know, the developing countries would probably say — and some of the — especially some of the exposed countries like Pacific island nations would probably say it's not coming together quick enough. I think there are plans with every major donor country to get there. You have things like the Green Climate Fund that are up and functioning ... at about $750 million at their last meeting. So there is progress being made. You know, it's important to put all this in proportion, too, because while that money is very important, there's also — like if I — you know, we focus a lot on clean energy. A trillion dollars a year gets invested in energy globally, so if that money can be channeled towards clean energy, which, you know, more than half is now, that to me is as important as some of the support that's been promised in the more country to country negotiations or process.

Monica Trauzzi: Right, and so we were talking before the show about the importance of the private sector in finance.

Bill Tyndall: Right.

Monica Trauzzi: The private sector needs certain signals, certain commitments. What specifically are those signals that they're looking for in order to make more aggressive investments?

Bill Tyndall: Well, I think you're seeing investments take place, and it's a lot of countries in — you know, there are a lot of markets and there are a lot of different types of opportunities. Different sectors are different. Having said that, you know, there are three ingredients that you really need, I mean, to have a functioning — like energy transformation, to have that happen. You need the sort of enabling policies in place, and Paris is a huge start. You have 190 countries agreeing to take on climate reduction goals, and many of them have clean energy in them. So already you have a national commitment. You know, what's the capacity of the pipeline? What are we doing for the entrepreneur in Senegal or in Indonesia who wants to build a solar facility? And then the financing needs to be there, and that's a mixture — you know, there is this sort of climate concessional financing that plays a role, there's the development — pots of development money that's already been out there for many years, and then you have the private sector. And all that needs to be leveraged and optimized, and it's a huge challenge, but it's very case by case. It doesn't all have to be tackled at once, is the good news.

Monica Trauzzi: And your organization is on the ground doing work in a lot of these different countries. Where do you see sort of the most interesting stories developing?

Bill Tyndall: Well, I think that — everywhere. I mean, that's — I mean, the most amazing part of this was when I first started at CCAP, shortly after I came in and was on your show before, I was sitting in a room in Mexico City at a dialogue that CCAP had put together with countries from all over Latin America, talking about how they were implementing their Paris pledges. And it was a wonderful discussion, and in the middle of that discussion with one country explaining what they were doing and all the buy-in they had gotten, and other countries peppering them with questions, my phone starts blowing up with all these texts. And it's news that the U.S. Supreme Court has stayed the Clean Power Plan. And I'm sitting there going, "This is so ironic," because, you know, the biggest — you know, No. 1 or No. 2 emitter in the world has slowed down apparently while the rest of the world is going forward. And so each of — you know, there are themes here like clean energy, energy efficiency. They are solutions — prior to coming to this I was working with a big energy company on the board of several different renewable energy companies we'd made investments into. One of the solar entrepreneurs I was on the board with, he'd started — he'd gotten into solar when it was $5,000 a watt. It's now 50 cents a watt.

I mean, with the Paris pledges, we have the commitment of the countries. The technology revolution is here. There's more needed to be done, but you know, there are so many tools that are available right now. And financing is coming along, and it isn't — you know, the $100 billion is very important, but to me it's also this challenge of turning the existing $1 trillion that's invested every year into — making it carbon-friendly.

Monica Trauzzi: So a politics question then. How important will the next U.S. president be in continuing to advance this discussion? If it is a President Clinton, would you expect a similar handling of these issues to how President Obama has done things? And if it's a President Trump, how viable is that option for the U.S. to exit the Paris Agreement?

Bill Tyndall: Well, you know, it's sort of a [laughter] interesting choice there. On this issue, I mean, we have people with very diametric views. Trump is clearly into — you know, has clearly indicated he is not a believer in the climate problem and has said he would withdraw from the Paris Agreement. But as I understand it from the legal status of where it will by the time — if he were sworn in, it would take approximately three years for him to withdraw. I think there's also a certain economic logic to what is going on, and I — you know, go back to all over the — literally all over the globe, but in the United States, too, the auction price for solar, for wind is coming in at pennies — you know, 50 percent off of what fossil fuels are coming in. So there's a certain economic reality. So if anyone is a believer in markets, the markets are choosing renewable energy.

And then for a Hillary Clinton administration, I do expect a complete embracement of the Paris Agreement, and also looking to see how the U.S. can be a leader on clean energy and have that create jobs.

Monica Trauzzi: She's mentioned that quite a bit on the campaign trail. All right, we'll end it there. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Nice to see you again.

Bill Tyndall: Thank you. Yep, thank you.

Monica Trauzzi: And thanks for watching. We'll see you back here tomorrow.

[End of Audio]

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