"The idea is not to tell one group of country what to do; the idea is to allow each one to show what we have done, the difficulties we encountered, and what we intend to do, to compare and stimulate each other and conceive this exercise and conference in a positive spirit."
H.E. Stephane Gompertz the French special envoy for Africa and Middle-East speaking on Climate Change, highlighted Kuwait's role in building climate action, and encouraged Kuwait’s high-level participation at the upcoming 21st Climate Conference (COP21) to be held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December, 2015.
He hoped that as many heads of government, in particular H.H. the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah or His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, would attend COP21.
Speaking to the press along with French Ambassador Christian Nakhle at the ambassador’s residence, Mr. Gompertz underlined the importance of COP21 and pointed out that after over 20 years of UN negotiations, it is hoped that the Paris Climate Conference will achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2 degrees centigrade.
Having visited Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana, and recently Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon and Iran, prior to his visit to Kuwait, Mr. Gompertz rounded up on the mechanism of COP21, which would replace the 1997 Kyoto protocol from the year 2020 onward.
"The approach we are following now is based on the goodwill of each country; it is up to each country to determine freely what they want to do. This is embodied in the United Nation's Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), wherein each country is supposed to propose to the international community or to commit itself freely to reaching certain targets, both, regarding mitigations and necessary adaptations. The sooner those contributions are published or submitted to the UN, the better," he noted.
Numbers indicate that 155 countries, including Oman and the UAE from the Gulf – have already submitted their INDCs. "I understand that other countries like Kuwait would do so very soon. It is a complicated and, per se, very useful exercise because it forces various stakeholders together. Sometimes, even within a country, you can have conflicting interests, so, various ministries, agencies, public bodies, parts of government and public bodies have to speak to each other in order to come up with a position," he said.
On Kuwait's best practices to protect the environment, he stated, "We met an official of the Ministry of Transport and he told us of the plans to build an underground railway system in Kuwait. Clearly, there is a lack of public transportation here. So, the sooner they can achieve it, even though it may be costly, the better it is. It is not good for a country to be totally dependent on private transportation such as cars; they are expensive and generate a lot of CO2 emissions. So this is an area where Kuwait, like many other cities or countries in the world, could make progress in."
Elaborating, he said given the abundance and usage of oil- and gas-based resources of energy in the region, "a country's shift towards the use of newer renewable sources of energy cannot be done in short-term, since you have to adapt your economy. Oil will continue to be a great component in the overall growth but with time, the importance of oil for energy will probably lessen."
In reference to the recent visit to the French capital by H.H. the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Mr. Gompertz said the prime minister agreed that at the end of the century, we should aim for a carbon-free economy.
"It does not mean that we are not going to use carbon anymore, but the emission of Greenhouse Gases (GHC) should be reduced. Oil and carbon will remain essential for other uses – chemicals, pharmaceuticals – but we know that oil is not going to last forever," he added.
The French Ambassador to Kuwait Christian Nakhle mentioned of "a promising project in energy-conservation through the use of solar energy for water desalination, which will be a pilot project prototyped at KISR in Kuwait with the joint efforts of two universities from France specializing in the field of energy."
The conference in Paris would showcase examples of best practices. During the 12-day period, besides plenty of before and after side-events, there would be three centers – the conference center where official delegations will meet, discuss and come to an agreement; the climate generation space for civil society organization (CSOs) where they will meet compare their experiences; and the third focal point in the near vicinity would be for companies which have the capability of showing their technological achievements.
"The idea is not to tell one group or country what to do; the idea is to allow each one to show what we have done, the difficulties we encountered, and what we intend to do; to compare and stimulate each other and conceive this exercise and conference in a positive spirit," concluded the envoy.
During his visit to Kuwait, Gompertz met several high ranking officials, including Minister of Oil and the head of the national environment committee Ali Al-Omair, Deputy Director General of Kuwait Environment Public Authority Mohammad Al Ahmad, Director General of KISR Dr. Naji Al-Mutairi, as well as several representatives of Kuwait's civil society and the private sector.