Interview with Roman Dantec
Spokesman for the Rio+20 summit of United Cities and local Governments
AIVP : During your previous intervention on the occasion of the 12th World Conference of AIVP in Buenos Aires in November 2010, you drew the attention of people responsible for the development of port cities on the consequences of climate change. What is the position today ?
RD : The situation is extremely worrying. The subject was not directly tackled in Rio, which was not a conference on climate change, however, the question is in everybody’s mind. The decision taken in Durban, in 2011, was to try to negotiate a new international agreement on climate by 2015 which would, this time, engage all the big polluters, including the emerging countries. For the ports, one of the impacts of climate warming will be the rise in sea levels. New extremely serious studies, in particular American ones, tend to show that this increase has been underestimated. We are closer today to a rise of 1.50 metres by the end of the century than the 70 cm to 1 metre previously announced. This means tomorrow. There is a considerable difference, and stakeholders in the development of port cities must absolutely already take this data into account today in the context of their investments and projects.
AIVP : After Rio + 20 green economy has been much spoken about, what is the message to be passed on to the members of AIVP ?
RD : As I have had occasion to say since Rio at your last conference in Saint-Nazaire , the question of “innovatory financing” in order to support the development of the poorest countries is one of the keys to getting over the current blockages. Amongst the most advanced ideas, there is the famous “Bunker Tax” to which one must be especially attentive. The idea is to find a new recipe built on transport, notably maritime, a taxation contributing to the limitation of emissions of CO². This will inevitably have consequences on maritime traffic, for example in the tight management of vessel arrivals, and thus on the port cities. The first reflex of the shipping community could be to oppose what they could perceive as a hindrance to the development of transport by ships. However, this would be a short term vision. It should be understood that if we cannot find international agreements on climate and on the objectives of sustainable development, then there is a big risk in seeing the revival of protectionist reflexes… which would be even more prejudicial to maritime transport. Financially participating today in a global agreement would cost far less in the long run !
AIVP : What are your views about the recent debates at Rio 20 + ?
RD : In many respects this last summit was very disappointing. If Europe defended the development of a green economy, the emerging countries are still blocking it, in the fear of constraints weakening their economic growth, itself hard-hit. Regarding the objectives engaging all countries, in Rio we have mainly obtained an agreement on a timetable for 2015 on the objectives of sustainable development with an increased role for civil society. For the port cities, it should be noted that the final declaration contains interesting new elements concerning the protection of the oceans and the management of oceanic resources. However a global convention on the management of ocean resources is still far from being enacted !