UNFCCC Executive Secretary and Jeffry Sachs Discuss How to Best Address Climate Change

A high-level discussion on the role of the Kyoto Protocol's flexible mechanisms held at Columbia University in New York

9 October 2008: At a special event at Columbia University in

New York, US, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer and economist Jeffrey

Sachs discussed whether a carbon market or carbon taxes are the best way to cut

greenhouse gas emissions.

Sachs criticized current international measures as

inadequate, qualifying the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) as a very small,

marginal tool, and called for a global fund to finance new technology to help

poor countries tackle climate change. He also called for developing countries,

in particular China, to set emissions targets. De Boer defended the CDM,

stating that it was a useful tool for engaging poor countries in climate change

issues, while acknowledging that current gains were incremental.

He added that

the Kyoto Protocol's flexible mechanisms represent necessary first steps to

“building confidence” in the system, and had brought substantial private-sector

involvement. De Boer also addressed the international financial response to

climate change, and to what extent the meltdown in the financial sector may

impact international climate change negotiations. Jeffrey Sachs is Director of

the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to the UN

Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals. The debate was moderated

by John Drexhage, Director, Climate Change and Energy, International Institute

for Sustainable Development (IISD). [IISDRS coverage] [Webcast of the debate]