I recently replied to a question on the National Journal blog: “Should international negotiators abandon the top-down multilateral system to confront climate change and find another way?”
You can ready other responses at the National Journal.
Here is my response: True enough, the Doha climate talks will produce no big breakthroughs. Compared to the last three conferences – Copenhagen, Cancún and Durban – Doha is indeed a pretty ho-hum affair.
That is no doubt disappointing to anyone still looking to the U.N. climate negotiations to deliver a quick, decisive response to the challenge of global climate change. In actuality, though, the diplomatic humdrum in Doha marks a long overdue shifting of gears that could, in time, produce a far more practical approach.
The Durban Platform: Issues and Options for a 2015 Agreement
By Daniel Bodansky
The Durban Platform talks, aiming for a new global agreement in 2015, present an opportunity to assess and strengthen the international climate change effort. Since launching the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change two decades ago, governments have tried both "top down" and "bottom up" approaches. Neither has achieved the levels of participation or ambition needed to reverse the continued rise of global greenhouse gas emissions. Going forward, governments should draw on both models to forge a more effective global agreement.
When climate negotiators meet in Bangkok this week for the latest session of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), they will (hopefully) begin substantive discussions under new terms better reflecting how much the world has changed since the Convention’s adoption in 1992.
Of particular relevance is the dramatic shift in the distribution of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions over the past two decades, as highlighted in the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency’s 2012 Trends in global CO2 emissions. A telling statistic: In 1990, industrialized countries that negotiated targets under the Kyoto Protocol (including the U.S.) accounted for 68 percent of global CO2 emissions; in 2011, the authors estimate, this share was 41 percent. Developing countries now account for well over half of annual global emissions – with China and India generating a full third.
November 21, 2011
Contact: Tom Steinfeldt, 703-516-4146
NEW REPORT EXAMINES OPTIONS FOR INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE ACTION
Looks at Opportunities in Multilateral Venues Beyond UN Framework Convention
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new report released today by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) highlights opportunities to strengthen efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through multilateral agreements other than the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The policy brief, Multilateral Climate Efforts Beyond the UNFCCC, examines ongoing and potential climate-related efforts in four venues: the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the Montreal Protocol, and the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP).
“The UNFCCC must continue playing a central role in mobilizing the global response to climate change, but it can’t do the job on its own,” said C2ES President Eileen Claussen. “Our climate and energy issues are multi-faceted, and different multilateral forums offer opportunities to tackle different dimensions of the overall challenge. We need to pursue every available avenue if we want to make real progress.”
The brief notes that sectoral forums such as IMO and ICAO can target efforts to specific emissions-intensive sector; regional agreements such as CLRTAP can address pollutants such as black carbon with largely regional impacts; and the Montreal Protocol, which has already made a significant indirect contribution to the climate effort, can contribute further through limits on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
The brief was authored by Daniel Bodansky, the Lincoln Professor of Law, Ethics, and Sustainability at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. Bodansky, a leading authority on the multilateral climate effort, last year coauthored The Evolution of Multilateral Regimes: Implications for Climate Change, a report by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, C2ES’s predecessor organization.
“At the start of the international effort, many hoped that climate change could be addressed through a single comprehensive agreement. But 20 years of experience tell us that we need a more incremental, evolutionary approach,” Bodansky said. “While the UNFCCC will likely remain the hub of the global effort, complementary efforts in other multilateral forums can make a major contribution to its evolution and, hopefully, to its success.”
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent non-profit, non-partisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address the twin challenges of energy and climate change. Launched in November 2011, C2ES is the successor to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, long recognized in the United States and abroad as an influential and pragmatic voice on climate issues. C2ES is led by Eileen Claussen, who previously led the Pew Center and is the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.