Here’s What Amber Rudd Missed When She Didn’t go to the Lima Climate Talks Last Year

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Gender issues, climate finance, and green investment strategies were all debates Amber Rudd missed out on when she was barred from attending climate negotiations in Peru last December, newly released documents reveal.

DeSmog UK has obtained, following a Freedom of Information request, the itinerary for the Energy and Climate Secretary’s scheduled trip to the Lima COP20 talks as parliamentary under-secretary at the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

Days before she was set to leave however, Rudd was told by Tory Chief Whip Michael Gove that she was no longer to attend these crucial talks. Instead, she had to stay in the UK to vote in the Commons on counter-terror measures. Lib Dem Ed Davey, then head of DECC, would attend the climate talks alone.

Speaking to the Guardian at the time, a Liberal Democrat source said: “It’s stunning that Tory high command has stopped their own climate change minister from attending these crucial talks… The Tories are showing their true colours, and they’re not green.”

Gender and Climate Finance

As the documents show, in addition to a trip to a melting glacier in the Andes, Rudd was scheduled to moderate a “high-level event on gender and climate change” as well as give the opening remarks at the Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance side-event hosted by the US Department of State, in partnership with DECC and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment.

As the itinerary describes, the event on gender and climate change “brings together influential women leaders to discuss the importance of empowering women to become drivers of change on the climate agenda.”

Held on 9 December, 2014, those expected in attendance were UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres and Peru’s First Lady Nadine Heredia. Actress and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson, was invited but didn’t attend.

Then on 11 December, Rudd was to attend the Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance. The aim was to provide an update on the Innovation Lab’s progress. As the itinerary describes: “Participants will hear from an expert panel on driving climate finance in developing countries at scale.”

In addition to Rudd, the panellists included German Environment State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth and Purna Saggurti, global chair of investment banking at the Bank of America Merill Lynch. Discussions were chaired by Barbara Buchner, senior director at Climate Policy Initiative.

It is unclear whether Davey picked up any of the items on Rudd’s itinerary in her absence.

Other events that Rudd was set to attend include:

  • December 9, 2014: A panel discussion hosted by the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) entitled ‘Linkage Among Climate Policies in the 2015 Paris Agreement’. The panel discussion focused on “the role of carbon markets in the new Agreement. Panellists will discuss how the Paris agreement might facilitate or impede linkage among cap and trade, carbon tax, and non-market regulatory systems. Panellists will also address related issues involving market mechanisms in the new Agreement.”
     
  • December 9, 2014: Rudd had been invited to give the opening “scene setting comments” for up to five minutes at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) event entitled ‘Green Growth and Green Infrastructure’. Here, an expert panel looked at “solutions to attract green investment in decarbonisation and sustainability infrastructure”. The panel included names such as James Bacchus, ICC chair of the Trade and Investment Policy, Buchner, of Climate Policy Initiative, Giles Dickson, vice president of global public affairs at Alstom, and Maria Netto, financial institutions lead specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank.
     
  • December 10, 2014: The 5th annual OECD high-level breakfast event hosted by Angel Gurria, Secretary General of the OECD. Rudd had been expected to participate in a roundtable breakfast discussion focused on “institutional investors, green infrastructure and how to turn solutions into action”.
     
  • December 10, 2014: Rudd had been invited to speak for up to five minutes at the launch of the 1 Giga-ton Coalition. The coalition “sets out a voluntary framework to help developing countries better collate data and assess emission reductions from existing policies on energy efficiency and renewable [energy]. It’s a coalition focused on increasing capacity to encourage a more robust assessment of how we are closing the gap and at the same time provide confidence for countries to put forward more ambitious INDCs in 2015.”
     
  • December 11, 2014: ‘Lima Climate Action High-level dialogue’. This was a “ministerial dialogue with industry and civil society to build momentum on real world action as a follow-up session from the UNSG Leader’s Summit in NY.” Opening remarks were by Peru President, Ban Ki Moon, Felipe Calderon, and then IPCC President Rajendra Pachauri. Closing remarks were by Jim Yong Kim, chair of the World Bank, Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and UNSG special envoy for climate change, Al Gore, former vice president of the US, and Sir Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute. Leonardo DiCaprio, actor and environmental activist was also invited but didn’t attend.
 

Photo: H.E. Mr. Sam K. Kutesa via Flickr

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Kyla is a freelance writer and editor with work appearing in the New York Times, National Geographic, HuffPost, Mother Jones, and Outside. She is also a member of the Society for Environmental Journalists.

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