Death of key Article 6 negotiator to weigh heavily at COP26

Published 00:13 on October 30, 2021  /  Last updated at 12:11 on December 19, 2023  /  Africa, Americas, Asia Pacific, Bavardage, Climate Talks, EMEA, EU ETS, International, Kyoto Mechanisms, Mexico, Nature-based, Paris Article 6, South & Central, Voluntary

As delegates descend on Glasgow next week to attempt to finalise the Paris Agreement’s Article 6, the absence of one long-time carbon markets negotiator who died tragically earlier this year from COVID-19 will weigh heavily on their work.

As delegates descend on Glasgow next week to attempt to finalise the Paris Agreement’s Article 6, the absence of one long-time carbon markets negotiator who died tragically earlier this year from COVID-19 will weigh heavily on their work.

Sven Braden, who passed away suddenly in June at the age of 44, was a key member of the team of negotiators tasked with establishing a rulebook to govern international carbon trading under the 2015 climate pact.

Part of Liechtenstein’s official delegation, he was deeply involved in UN climate negotiations between 2007 and 2017, acting as the alpine microstate’s lead negotiator for carbon markets from 2011.

He coordinated the markets position for Environmental Integrity Group negotiating block of Mexico, Liechtenstein, Monaco, the Republic of Korea, Switzerland and Georgia, including during the Paris talks.

Sven also was integral in creating multiple legal frameworks including those guiding accession to the EU ETS, developing national greenhouse gas inventories and emissions trading registries, and advancing other matters pertaining to market-based mechanisms.

“A lot of the Article 6 negotiators will be feeling quite down this COP because of his death,” one veteran delegate told Carbon Pulse.

“It’s just so incredibly sad, and he was such a big part of the [Article 6] team.”

The UN’s Amy Steen added: “Sven enriched our community of UNFCCC [market-based mechanisms] people so much. He always looked for outcomes that were aspirational, not just achievable. He looked up to the horizon, and raised us up as he did so. In our small negotiations world, he was always trying to build a better real world. I hope a little bit of his belief and his dedication can find its way into each of our hearts.”

Sven eventually moved on from international climate negotiations to take up a number of projects over the past few years, including initiatives to introduce blockchain technology to facilitate emissions trading and MRV systems.

However, he remained involved in Article 6, observing the ongoing negotiations at subsequent COPs and helping the Sustainable Development Initiative (SDI) to author ‘good practice guidance for the assessment of sustainable development in Paris-based markets.

“My favourite memory of you is quite a simple one, they are always the best,” wrote Gold Standard’s Owen Hewlett on one memorial website dedicated to Sven.

“It was at COP in Madrid. I’d had a long day of meetings and events and was wrapping up a speaking slot when you appeared outside the tent I was in. I didn’t recall making a plan to meet, don’t know if you’d looked up where I’d be or it was just coincidence. There aren’t many people you want to hang out with after a long tiring day, but it was always great to hang out with you. A friend amongst all the chaos just when I needed a beer.”

“It was just a privilege to spend time with you, always the easiest and best company … We’ll continue the work and we’ll be holding your memory with us when we get it done, I promise,” Hewlett added.

“Sven was a great and positive force for climate action, in particular on the innovation front. A great loss for the climate community,” said Jan-Willem van de Ven of the EBRD.

BP’s Jeff Swartz, another veteran of the UNFCCC negotiating track, wrote: “He brought such warmth and kindness to every conversation. He was an incredible force for good, and a friend to all. He was by far one of the coolest people I ever came across in the climate world, and his dedication to making the world a better place was genuine, inspiring, and focused.”

Sven relocated from Europe to Lima, Peru after leaving the negotiation circuit.

He leaves behind his beloved family and a large collection of colleagues and contacts that feel blessed to have known him.

“My fondest memories of Sven involve bar-hopping through the alleys just off Las Ramblas following numerous Carbon Expos in Barcelona,” said Mike Szabo, Director of Carbon Pulse.

“He was one of my favourite people from this industry with whom to have beers. His death leaves a gaping hole in the Article 6 negotiation process, and we will remember him fondly as helping to design any carbon markets born from Paris.”

A second memorial website has been set up in Sven’s honour.

“With his warm, generous manner, his open nature, friendliness and warmth, Sven was a friend of our whole family,” one message reads.

“We miss him, thankful for all encounters.”