Could you briefly tell us about your professional and academic background?

Before joining the UNFCCC secretariat most of my professional experience has been working on renewable energy and climate change related projects. I have gained extensive experience in the development and assessment of clean development mechanism (CDM) and joint implementation (JI) project activities and programmes in several sectors and regions, and also I worked as a consultant for carbon trading, greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories, corporate sustainability strategies and in support of the Brazilian Stock Exchange Sustainability Index (ISE).

I have an undergraduate degree in environmental management and I hold a master’s degree (MSc) in fuel cell technologies from the University of São Paulo. I also did the capacity building with the Deutschen Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) called International Leadership Training (ILT) – Managing Development in the Energy Sector. Finally, I did a postgraduate course on Renewable Energy in the United Nations University (UNU), in Tokyo, Japan.

Tell us about the UNFCCC and its secretariat.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the focus of the political process to address climate change. The ultimate objective of the UNFCCC is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.

The UNFCCC secretariat is a Bonn-based UN agency whose mission is to support cooperative action by States to combat climate change and its impact on humanity and ecosystems. This is a contribution to a sustainable world and to realizing the vision of peace, security and human dignity on which the UN is founded.

What are the aims of the UNFCCC regional collaboration centres (RCC)? What are their benefits?
The RCC is a brand new initiative and work area for the UNFCCC secretariat. The purpose of the RCC is to provide a globally available, regionally located network of offices to provide direct support to governments, non-governmental organisations and the private sector in the identification and development of potential CDM project activities and programmes of activities and in so doing create a more sustainable capacity for future local engagement in the global carbon market.

Therefore, the RCCs aim to help tap the potential for CDM projects and programmes, the utilization of CDM methodologies and standards, and also to serve as a working example of the kind of inter-agency cooperation needed to tackle climate change.

The first RCC was established in January 2013 in Lomé, Togo, in collaboration with the Banque Ouest Africaine de Développement (BOAD). Soon afterwards, the UNFCCC secretariat signed a partnership agreement with the East African Development Bank (EADB) to establish another RCC in Kampala, Uganda. The UNFCCC secretariat also partnered with the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) to provide an RCC in St. George’s, Grenada and with Banco de Desarrollo de América Latina (CAF) to provide an RCC in Bogotá, Colombia. The establishment of a fifth RCC in the Asia-Pacific region is being investigated.

Could you briefly tell us about the focus of your work?
I initially worked in the establishment phase of the regional collaboration centre (RCC) for Latin America, as well as during the start-up operations of this centre.

In particular, the activities that I have been carrying out are: (1) stakeholder engagement, (2) standardized baseline (SB) support; (3) CDM project cycle support; (4) providing policy input to the CDM Executive Board in ways to improve the CDM project cycle based on site-assessments experience; and (5) the promotion of new demand centres for certified emissions reductions (CERs).

What is a standardized baseline? Could you tell us more about it?
A standardized baseline (SB) is a baseline established for a Party or a group of Parties in order to facilitate the calculation of emissions reduction and/or the determination of addionality for CDM project activities, while providing assistance for assuring environmental integrity.

In a nutshell, all projects aiming to generate CERs under the CDM of the Kyoto Protocol must follow similar steps to register a project. An early step requires project participants to set a baseline, which identifies the level of emissions that would have occurred without the CDM project or programme. This is a vital step in proving the project is additional, i.e. emission reductions occurring due to the project would not have occurred otherwise. Identifying a baseline and demonstrating additionality are the two most resource-intensive aspects of registering a CDM project or programme, often requiring the expertise of hired consultants.

Standardized baselines (SBs) allow a baseline to be calculated only once for an entire class of project or industry sector, as opposed to being calculated separately for each CDM project.

Why is it so important to develop standardized baselines?

Once an SB is approved, project participants can apply this ready-made baseline to their own similar projects. Hence, SBs can reduce transaction costs, and enhance transparency, objectivity, predictability, and user-friendliness of CDM projects or programmes.

Furthermore, the SBs have the potential be applied to any other new mitigation mechanism. Some countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are now considering this approach in order to improve the accountability and enhance the reliability of their national greenhouse gas (GHG) measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) systems, which could potentially be included in their nationally determined contribution (NDCs) under the UNFCCC.

In which areas do you see an urgent need for action?
It is crucial that all levels of government – national, sub-national and local – take stronger and bolder actions that are required to keep the world on the right track to reduce GHG emissions, to deal with existing climate change and to help smooth the way for an effective new global climate change agreement in 2015 under the UNFCCC. Therefore, it is urgent to find ways to further raise the existing level of international and national action and ambition to bring GHG emissions down.

What motivates you in the morning and how do you think about it in the evening?
It is the realization that each day is unique and with countless possibilities. A major driver that I have is a feeling deep inside that I must contribute with my very best effort to work towards improving (or at least to reducing the suffering) of lives on this planet. Hence, I’m always trying to learn more about what is relevant. And each evening I think to myself that I haven’t done enough.

What question you have never been asked before would you like to answer?
How should we move forward? Definitely to keep on doing things the way we are used to doing is no longer an option. George Bernard Shaw puts it best “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

More information: UNFCCC

Interview by Susanne von Itter