What Does Yvo De Boer’s Resignation Mean for Climate Change Negotiations?

Yvo de Boer, head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, dropped a bomb shell when he announced his resignation last week. His last day will be July 1. He will join the consultancy group KPMG as global adviser on climate change. This leaves the UN with just a little over four months to find de Boer’s successor.

About his plans to join KPMG, de Boer said, “I have always maintained that, while governments provide the necessary policy framework, the real solutions must come from business. I now have the chance to make this happen.”

What does de Boer’s departure mean for climate change negotiations? Mark Lynas, a climate change consultant who advised the President of the Maldives during the UN negotiations, said, “It is quite bad news he is quitting at this point because the world is in desperate need for a reliable pair of hands to get through this dark period where climate change negotiations are under assault from anti-science deniers, by the Climategate furor and by the US Senate.”

Lynas added, “I think he is very likely to be going because he has had enough. Because the whole process is unraveling at this point.”

Ed Miliband, British Secretary of Energy and Climate Change, disagrees with Lynas, and thinks that a “suitable successor” needs to be found quickly. The successor must be able to “oversee the negotiations and reform the UNFCCC to ensure it is up to the massive task of dealing with what are some of the most complex negotiations ever.”

De Boer’s successor will have big shoes to fill. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) said of De Boer, “(He) has provided years of global leadership and sound, science-based solutions to the international effort to halt the devastating impacts of global climate change. He brought the world’s major emitters, including China and India, to the table.”

“The important thing is his successor is bedded in quickly and can reinvigorate the UN process,” said Ben Caldecott, head of European Union policy at London-based carbon fund manager Climate Change Capital.

“There is probably no perfect person for this job, it’s a task for a superman,” said Wendel Trio, the head of Greenpeace International’s political and business Unit.

What does De Boer’s resignation mean for carbon markets? Alessandro Vitelli, director of strategy in London at carbon markets analyst IDEAcarbon, said De Boer’s resignation adds “to the uncertainty of the political process that is hopefully going to create the context for an international market going forward.” He added, “It’s a slight knock to the guys buying and selling carbon.”

“It’s a sad day for the carbon market, and we’ll be lucky to get somebody with Yvo’s dedication and hard work as a successor,” Trevor Sikorski, an emissions analyst for Barclays Capital in London, said.

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.