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Statement: IPCC Report on Science of Climate Change

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Releases New Assessment Report on the Science of Climate Change

Statement by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change

February 2, 2007


The IPCC Fourth Assessment “Summary for Policymakers” Working Group I report represents the IPCC’s strongest statement to date on climate change. The report calls the evidence of climate warming “unequivocal.” This report expresses more confidence than past reports that most of the observed warming is due to human influences (“very likely”-- that is, greater than 90% confidence). The report finds that rates of both observed warming and sea level rise have accelerated over the past century, and discusses other important changes being observed, including more intense precipitation in some regions, prolonged droughts in others, and intensification of hurricanes in some tropical regions.

The assessment is based on extensive published, peer-reviewed scientific literature. Today’s report is the first of three major studies that comprise the Fourth Assessment with input from more than 1,200 authors and 2,500 scientific expert reviewers from more than 130 countries. Subsequent reports will look at the impacts of climate change and options for reducing emissions.

According to Vicki Arroyo, Director of Policy Analysis, "The scientists have spoken. The message for policymakers is clear: we need to act now to both reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and adapt to the climate changes we are already experiencing."


Back to coverage of the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report

For China, the Shift to Climate-Friendly Energy Depends on International Collaboration

For China, the Shift to Climate-Friendly Energy Depends on International Collaboration

By Jeffrey Logan, Joanna Lewis, and Michael B. Cummings

Originally published in the January/February 2007 issue of Boston Review

According to the latest International Energy Agency forecast, China may become the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases as early as 2009. While it will be many decades before China surpasses the United States in cumulative emissions, annual emissions from China are clearly rising rapidly, with potentially dangerous global implications.

Scientists in China have declared the urgency of the climate-change problem, and the highest levels of government now acknowledge that it is a serious issue. Zhang Guobao, the vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (which oversees economic and energy policy), recently remarked, “Because we’re a coal-dominant country, we have to take responsibility for lowering greenhouse emissions.” However, these sentiments have yet to be reflected in either domestic climate policy or international-level commitments. China has taken a wait-and-see approach in the international climate change negotiations, unwilling to discuss making a commitment to reduce emissions until the developed world demonstrates its own commitment to do so.

But while China waits and sees, it is also constructing hundreds of pulverized-coal-fired power plants that are likely to lock in a trajectory of high greenhouse-gas emissions for 50 years or more. Coal will likely remain the fuel of choice for many decades in China, despite the severe economic, social, and environmental dislocations it creates, making future efforts to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide significantly more difficult.

In the absence of an explicit national-level climate-change mitigation strategy, China’s energy strategy—driven by its economic-development goals—by default becomes its climate policy. The 2003 comprehensive National Energy Strategy Policy calls for maintaining growth in energy use at half the rate of GDP growth—essentially a doubling of energy use between 2000 and 2020 while GDP quadruples. Yet even to maintain this relatively impressive intensity of GDP and energy growth through 2020, the Chinese energy sector is poised to continue its breathtaking expansion.

Although the National Energy Strategy Policy calls for reducing the overall contribution of coal to the energy mix (down to less than 60 percent), overall coal capacity is slated to increase rapidly. Also planned are dramatic expansions of nuclear power, small- and large-scale hydropower, and increased renewable energy utilization (including large growth targets for wind-power and solar-energy technologies). Nuclear capacity is to expand more than four times by 2020, large-scale hydro is to more than double (requiring the building of a dam the size of the Three Gorges Project every two years), and non-hydro renewables are to grow by more than 100 times. However, targets and predictions related to Chinese economic and energy growth are notoriously uncertain, and the feasibility of these projections have been questioned, including the implications of expanding the use of nuclear power and large dams. Also uncertain is China’s ability to reduce its reliance on coal, particularly since China’s increases in coal capacity in the last two years were the largest ever. In the event that nuclear or renewable energy goals are not met, coal may end up filling the void—leading to an even greater increase in China’s greenhouse-gas emissions than currently projected.

The decentralized nature of the institutions and actors of China’s energy sector poses additional challenges to effective greenhouse-gas mitigation. Development of China’s energy sector is carried out largely at the local and regional level, where central-government mandates are not always reflected in local decisions. Moreover, the central government has little control over the construction of new power plants: regional power shortages have spurred a wave of new plant construction, often completed without central-government approval.

All these factors combined call into question the Chinese central government’s ability to move down a different, more climate-friendly path without meaningful international engagement and assistance. It is therefore critically important for the international community to increase bilateral and multilateral collaboration with China to address shared energy and environmental concerns before it commits to half a century of carbon-intensive infrastructure. Five areas are particularly well-suited for further engagement and offer strong opportunities to expand global benefits:

Energy efficiency. Efforts to improve energy efficiency are the most effective and affordable measures China can take to meet development goals while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Continuing its tradition of relatively impressive energy-efficiency policies, China recently approved new fuel-economy standards for its rapidly growing passenger-vehicle fleet that are more stringent than those in Australia, Canada, and the United States. Moreover, the government has set an extraordinarily ambitious target of cutting energy intensity by one fifth by 2010.

International partners can help China to build on these important efforts, in particular by promoting the business, financial, and regulatory skills needed for energy-efficiency projects and standards, and to reform policies that impede market-driven projects. Developing incentives for accelerated technology transfer, particularly for the private sector, are also crucial. Many of these efforts are already underway, and Chinese government officials are open to proposals that can help them meet their targets. Foreign partners need to be open and flexible so that their efforts can have maximum impact.

Energy security with climate benefits. China’s booming economy has required a huge expansion in imported raw material, especially oil, since 2001. Chinese national oil companies have begun to purchase oil and gas assets around the globe as a way to increase energy security. Some nations view these actions with alarm, since there are potentially destabilizing military, political, and economic implications. From a climate perspective, China’s growing interest in coal liquefaction is also alarming because making transportation fuels from coal through chemical transformation sends approximately twice as much CO2 into the atmosphere as using standard crude oil.

Better integrating China into the processes of managing the global energy system would make it a more helpful partner in managing that system. Increased participation in the IEA, G-8 and other global bodies involved in high-level energy dialogues would provide opportunities for developing shared understandings on topics affecting global energy security. Such dialogues could lead to energy-security-enhancing initiatives with climate benefits, and could lead the way toward climate-focused dialogue between the major energy consumers of the world. But any such endeavours will need to be backed by meaningful actions. China and its international partners could also discuss deeper technical collaboration on vehicle technologies, alternative fuels, and associated policies. However, any partnerships first need to focus on a dramatically improved atmosphere of trust and sincerity.

Energy security with climate benefits. China’s booming economy has required a huge expansion in imported raw material, especially oil, since 2001. Chinese national oil companies have begun to purchase oil and gas assets around the globe as a way to increase energy security. Some nations view these actions with alarm, since there are potentially destabilizing military, political, and economic implications. From a climate perspective, China’s growing interest in coal liquefaction is also alarming because making transportation fuels from coal through chemical transformation sends approximately twice as much CO2 into the atmosphere as using standard crude oil.

Better integrating China into the processes of managing the global energy system would make it a more helpful partner in managing that system. Increased participation in the IEA, G-8 and other global bodies involved in high-level energy dialogues would provide opportunities for developing shared understandings on topics affecting global energy security. Such dialogues could lead to energy-security-enhancing initiatives with climate benefits, and could lead the way toward climate-focused dialogue between the major energy consumers of the world. But any such endeavours will need to be backed by meaningful actions. China and its international partners could also discuss deeper technical collaboration on vehicle technologies, alternative fuels, and associated policies. However, any partnerships first need to focus on a dramatically improved atmosphere of trust and sincerity.

Advanced coal technologies and carbon sequestration. For the past few years, China has built, on average, one new large power plant each week. Provided that it can overcome technical, financial, regulatory, and social barriers, carbon capture and storage (CCS) may become a critical option for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions from fossil-burning plants throughout the world, but especially in coal-intensive countries such as China. While China is unlikely to invest in CCS systems for coal plants in the next decade or two due to the cost, it is looking to collaborate on advanced coal technology research including coal gasification. China is also keenly interested in enhanced oil-recovery methodologies that could use carbon dioxide in the process. CO2-enhanced oil recovery can help anchor early investments in CCS infrastructure that might otherwise have to wait for a more comprehensive climate policy.

Once more, international partnerships can help. A new U.K.-led initiative, part of the China–EU partnership on climate change, aims to accelerate experience with CCS by building a demonstration plant in the next decade. And Huaneng, China’s largest coal-based power-generation company, is one of 12 energy companies participating in the U.S. FutureGen “clean coal” project, attempting to become the world’s first integrated sequestration and hydrogen production research power plant.

China is also collaborating with international partners on coal and CCS technologies through the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, known as the AP6. Officially launched in January 2006, the AP6 brings together China, the United States, Australia, India, Japan, and the Republicof Korea in an agreement based on clean energy technology cooperation. Some have criticized the AP6 as an attempt to further weaken the Kyoto Protocol, but limited funding raises doubts about whether there is enough glue to hold the membership together. The AP6 does bring together an important grouping of nations, and therefore has the potential to lay the groundwork for future action.

Finally, China is a member of the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, an international initiative of 22 countries currently collaborating with the International Energy Agency to deliver recommendations to the G-8 in 2008 on how CCS can be enhanced in the near term. The Forum is opening its meetings to new participants but doesn’t yet seem to offer much interest for developing countries such as China.

Advanced coal technologies and carbon sequestration. For the past few years, China has built, on average, one new large power plant each week. Provided that it can overcome technical, financial, regulatory, and social barriers, carbon capture and storage (CCS) may become a critical option for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions from fossil-burning plants throughout the world, but especially in coal-intensive countries such as China. While China is unlikely to invest in CCS systems for coal plants in the next decade or two due to the cost, it is looking to collaborate on advanced coal technology research including coal gasification. China is also keenly interested in enhanced oil-recovery methodologies that could use carbon dioxide in the process. CO2-enhanced oil recovery can help anchor early investments in CCS infrastructure that might otherwise have to wait for a more comprehensive climate policy.

Once more, international partnerships can help. A new U.K.-led initiative, part of the China–EU partnership on climate change, aims to accelerate experience with CCS by building a demonstration plant in the next decade. And Huaneng, China’s largest coal-based power-generation company, is one of 12 energy companies participating in the U.S. FutureGen “clean coal” project, attempting to become the world’s first integrated sequestration and hydrogen production research power plant.

China is also collaborating with international partners on coal and CCS technologies through the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, known as the AP6. Officially launched in January 2006, the AP6 brings together China, the United States, Australia, India, Japan, and the Republicof Korea in an agreement based on clean energy technology cooperation. Some have criticized the AP6 as an attempt to further weaken the Kyoto Protocol, but limited funding raises doubts about whether there is enough glue to hold the membership together. The AP6 does bring together an important grouping of nations, and therefore has the potential to lay the groundwork for future action.

Finally, China is a member of the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, an international initiative of 22 countries currently collaborating with the International Energy Agency to deliver recommendations to the G-8 in 2008 on how CCS can be enhanced in the near term. The Forum is opening its meetings to new participants but doesn’t yet seem to offer much interest for developing countries such as China.

Safe and Secure Nuclear Power. China’s leaders have called for a new growth era in nuclear power, motivated in part by a recognition of its over-reliance on coal. Despite almost certain difficulties in reaching its ambitious goals for nuclear power in the coming decades, China is still likely to significantly increase its nuclear fleet. The international community should engage China and other nuclear countries in developing and enforcing an enhanced regime of international waste and proliferation safeguards to ensure that growth is done responsibly. If successful, such an enhanced international regime could help to ensure an acceptable role for nuclear power to contribute to long-term global efforts to address climate change. Until this is addressed, in actions such as the recent agreement between the U.S. and India, proliferation concerns may outweigh potential climate benefits.

Research, development, and demonstration for renewables. Motivated by the economic and environmental benefits that these technology industries provide, China is committed to developing indigenous renewable-energy technology industries and has set aggressive targets. China’s national renewable-energy law went into effect in January 2006, offering financial incentives for renewable energy development. Targets that have been announced in conjunction with the renewable-energy law and subsequent government documents include 16 percent of primary energy from renewables by 2020 (includes large hydropower—which would place the current share at about seven percent today), and 20 percent of electricity capacity by 2020, which includes 30 gigawatts of wind power, 20 gigawatts of biomass power, 300 gigawatts of hydropower capacity. Policies to promote many renewable-energy technologies in China also aim to encourage local technology-industry development; China is already producing commercial wind turbines that sell for approximately 30 percent less than similar European and North American technology, and 35 million homes in China get their hot water from solar collectors—more than the rest of the world combined. China also has a burgeoning solar photovoltaic industry.

Nevertheless, non-hydro renewable technologies will make up a relatively small fraction of the energy mix in China over the next few decades. Yet given the challenges facing the widespread deployment of CCS and nuclear power in the near term, the commercialization of renewables by the major energy-consuming countries of the world offers an important opportunity for international collaboration with China. The entry of Chinese manufacturers into these rapidly expanding global markets may drive cost reductions and increase the viability of renewable energy technology utilization worldwide. Assistance with several embryonic Chinese technologies could push these technologies into the marketplace. Combining China’s growing manufacturing prowess with the innovation experience of other industrialized countries to enable widespread commercial deployment of solar photovoltaic and utility-scale wind turbines should be a high priority of the international community. Many existing international forums, such as the UNFCCC and the WTO, are being underutilized to discuss key issues surrounding renewable-energy technology transfer, including the role governments can play in facilitating the sharing and protection of intellectual-property rights.

Providing modern energy services for 1.3 billion people in a climate-friendly manner is a daunting challenge. Fortunately, the Chinese central government is demonstrating increasing awareness of the problems posed by climate change and interest in altering China’s current energy-development trajectory. However, the central government’s ability to significantly alter this trajectory without meaningful international engagement during the critical time period of the next ten or 20 years is questionable. In particular, U.S. leadership to address energy and climate issues at home and in international forums is essential to expand cooperation with China and other large developing countries. There are ample opportunities to address linked climate-protection, energy-security, and economic-development issues—more opportunities for collaboration available than political willpower currently supports. But change can come quickly, and those prepared to engage will benefit first.

---------
Adapted from “Understanding the Climate Challenge in China,” in
Climate Change Science and Policy, edited by Schneider, Rosencranz, and Mastandrea, forthcoming. Original version includes citations.

by Joanna Lewis, Jeffrey Logan, and Michael B. Cummings— Appeared in Boston Review, January/February 2007
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COP 12 Report

Twelfth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
and
Second Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol
November 6-17, 2006
Nairobi, Kenya

Download a pdf of this summary.

Government negotiators at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Nairobi continued two processes launched last year in Montreal to consider next steps in the international climate effort, and agreed in the final hours to open another track to review the Kyoto Protocol.  In two weeks of talks, parties also agreed on modest steps on adaptation, debated approaches to reducing deforestation and accelerating technology transfer, and heard proposals from South Africa and Brazil on ways to promote stronger action by developing countries.

The conference – known formally as the Twelfth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 12) and the Second Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 2) – was the first such gathering in sub-Saharan Africa.  Its high-level segment featured an opening statement by outgoing UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who lamented a “frightening” lack of leadership from governments and announced the “Nairobi Framework,” an initiative to help spread the benefits of Kyoto’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) among more developing countries.

Business and economic issues took on a more prominent role in Nairobi. Sir Nicholas Stern of the U.K. government presented a comprehensive new economic review showing that the projected impacts of climate change will be far more costly to the global economy than the steps that would be required to avert them. Business leaders, meanwhile, expressed growing concern that without strong new signals from governments on the future of the climate effort, the rapidly expanding carbon market spawned by the Kyoto Protocol could collapse.

But with the United States and developing countries still strongly opposing any discussion of taking on binding commitments, the conference made little measurable progress toward new agreements on international action beyond 2012, when the current Kyoto commitments expire. The most contentious issues were the terms of the new Kyoto Protocol review, a proposal by Russia to establish a pathway for developing countries to take on “voluntary” emission targets, and Belarus’ proposal to set an emissions target for itself. As those were issues for Kyoto parties only, the United States did not engage on them and maintained a relatively low-key posture throughout the conference.

Despite the lack of progress, much of the debate was marked by a growing sense of urgency about the threats posed by climate change, and privately some developed country negotiators talked of aiming for a strong new negotiating mandate at next year’s conference, tentatively slated for Bali, Indonesia.

Following are summaries of key outcomes (the full text of decisions is available here.):


The Montreal Processes

At COP 11 and COP/MOP 1 in Montreal, parties established parallel processes under the Convention and the Protocol to consider next steps in the international effort. Both processes convened initial sessions earlier this year in Bonn, and their second sessions in Nairobi.

The Kyoto process – triggered by Article 3.9 of the Protocol and called the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol – has the charge of negotiating post-2012 commitments for developed country parties. In Montreal, parties set no deadline for these negotiations, specifying only that they conclude in time to “ensure…no gap” between commitment periods. In Nairobi, the Ad Hoc Working Group, or AWG, held a workshop to explore the scientific basis for establishing future commitments and adopted a work program for completing its mandate.

The workshop included presentations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the European Commission on the long-term emission pathways necessary to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. In its conclusions, the AWG noted that to stabilize concentrations, global emissions must be reduced to “well below half of levels in 2000,” seen by many as an implicit recognition that developing country commitments also will be needed. The work program lays out a series of analytical steps – focusing first on mitigation potentials, then on possible means of achieving mitigation objectives – followed by consideration of post-2012 targets for developed country parties. The AWG said timely pursuit of its work program would “send a clear message that [developed countries] are taking the lead in the mitigation effort” and deliver “a clear signal to economic actors about the continuity of the international carbon market.”

In presenting the group’s conclusions, Chair Michael Zammit Cutajar of Malta said he would have liked to establish a deadline for concluding the process, but one could not be agreed. The COP/MOP named Leon Charles of Grenada to succeed Zammit Cutajar, and Outi Bergall of Finland to succeed Luiz Figueiredo Machado of Brazil as vice-chair.

Unlike the AWG, the Dialogue on Long-Term Cooperation Action to Address Climate Change by Enhancing Implementation of the Convention – the parallel track established in Montreal under the Convention – is explicitly not a negotiation, but rather a two-year series of workshops to explore a set of broad themes related to future action. Its launch reflected the recognition that Kyoto’s developed country parties are unlikely to take on new targets under the AWG without some means of securing stronger action by major developing countries and by the United States (which is a party to the Convention but not the Protocol).

The Dialogue workshop in Nairobi featured presentations and discussion on the broad themes of sustainable development and market-based opportunities. Highlights included Stern’s presentation of his new economic review, widely regarded as the most comprehensive synthesis of climate economics to date, and presentations by major developing countries on existing and future efforts.

China made a lengthy presentation on a wide array of national policies it described as “efforts of China to mitigate climate change,” including energy efficiency goals and policies to promote biofuels, renewable energy, nuclear power, and reforestation. The presentation included estimates of the emission reductions these policies are projected to achieve. Brazil presented a proposal to reduce emissions from deforestation in developing countries, calling for financial incentives in the form of payments from developed countries, rather than through tradable emission credits, as other tropical forest countries have proposed (see section on avoided deforestation below). South Africa outlined a proposal for developing countries to pledge to Sustainable Development Policies and Measures, or SD-PAMs, which would simultaneously address national development objectives and contribute to climate mitigation under the Convention. Brazil and South Africa emphasized that their proposals were meant to promote stronger action by developing countries under their existing Convention commitments, rather than to suggest new commitments.

In a step toward opening the Convention process to broader inputs, the Dialogue also heard presentations from nongovernmental organizations, including one from us on the outcome of its Climate Dialogue at Pocantico. (Presentations to the Convention Dialogue can be viewed at the UNFCCC website. The report of the Pocantico dialogue is available in English, Spanish, French, and Chinese here.)


Review of the Kyoto Protocol

Article 9 of Kyoto required an initial review of the Protocol at COP/MOP 2 and calls for periodic reviews thereafter. It was expected the initial review would be pro forma, as there had been no process in advance to prepare for it. In brief conclusions, the parties declared that the Protocol “has initiated important action and has the potential to make a decisive contribution to addressing climate change,” although elements such as adaptation “could be further elaborated upon,” and the Protocol’s implementation “could be further enhanced.”

The timing and nature of the second Protocol review emerged as the most difficult issue in Nairobi because of the potential implications for the question of future commitments. Developed countries, hoping to establish a process demonstrating that developed country commitments alone would be inadequate, sought a firm date for a second review explicitly linked to the Article 3.9 negotiations. Developing countries, however, strongly opposed any linkage or specified timing, and insisted the review focus narrowly on how well developed countries are implementing their existing commitments under Kyoto.

The compromise adopted calls for a review at COP/MOP 4 in 2008, with its “scope and content” to be decided at COP/MOP 3. The decision specifies that the review “shall not lead to new commitments for any Party,” but also notes that the COP/MOP “shall take appropriate action” based on the Article 9 reviews.


Russian and Belarus Proposals

The COP/MOP also wrestled with two specific proposals related to the question of how additional countries could assume emission targets under the Protocol – a proposal by Belarus to commit itself to a target, and a proposal by Russia to establish a process enabling developing countries to make “voluntary commitments.”

Although Belarus is an Annex I (developed country) party, as an economy in transition it was not assigned a target under the Protocol. In Nairobi, Belarus proposed taking on a target of reducing its emissions to 5 percent below 1990 levels, about the average reduction negotiated in Kyoto. However, Belarus’ emissions have fallen well below 1990 levels, and many parties were concerned that its proposed target would grant it “hot air,” or excess allowances, which it could sell through emissions trading, in effect weakening the overall effort. To win the COP/MOP’s approval, Belarus accepted a target of 8 percent below 1990 levels (the same as the European Union’s), together with various safeguards to limit the potential for “hot air,” including a requirement that it hold 7 percent of its allowances in reserve, unavailable for trading, and a commitment to use any proceeds from emissions trading for further emission abatement measures. The Belarus target is the first new target adopted – and the first amendment to the Protocol – but takes effect only if ratified by three-fourths of the Kyoto parties.

While the Protocol spells out procedures for new emission targets for Annex I parties, developing countries insisted that it include no mechanism for them to take on targets. Last year in Montreal, Russia proposed establishing a way for developing countries to take on voluntary emission limits, and the proposal was deferred to Nairobi, where it was the focus of heated consultations chaired by the COP/MOP president, Kenyan environment minister Kivutha Kibwana. A last-minute comprise calls for a workshop in May 2007 “to clarify and explore the scope and implications” of the proposal, with a report to COP/MOP 3. In an unusual gesture to Russia, which has complained bitterly that its proposal has not been given a fuller airing, the decision “noted, with regret, that it had not been possible to consider this important proposal in substance” during COP/MOP 2.


Adaptation

With the conference taking place in sub-Saharan Africa, among the regions most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, adaptation issues drew considerable attention, though with only modest results.

A major issue for the COP/MOP was the administration of the Adaptation Fund established under Kyoto to support adaptation efforts in vulnerable countries. Unlike other funds under the Convention and the Protocol, which are supported by developed country contributions, the Adaptation Fund is supported by a 2 percent levy on projects generating emission credits through the CDM. As such, many developing countries have argued that it should be managed not by the donor-dominated Global Environmental Facility, which manages the other funds, but by an entity giving developing countries more say in decision-making. Parties agreed to sidestep for the time being the choice of entity, however, and focused in Nairobi on governance principles. They decided that funding would be made available for national, regional, and community-level efforts, and that whatever governing body is selected, a majority of its members will represent developing countries.

The COP, meanwhile, filled in many of the details of a five-year work plan launched two years ago in Buenos Aires, and renamed it the Nairobi Work Programme on Impacts, Vulnerability, and Adaptation to Climate Change. The plan calls for a series of workshops and reports over the coming three years to share and analyze information on topics including climate data and modeling, adaptation tools and methods, climate variability and extreme events, and economic diversification.


Clean Development Mechanism

Another issue drawing particular attention by virtue of the conference’s African venue was the geographic distribution of CDM projects. Under the CDM, projects that reduce emissions in developing countries generate tradable emission reduction credits that can be applied by developed countries toward their emission targets. This provides developed countries with lower-cost reductions while drawing investment to clean development in developing countries. However, the vast majority of projects approved to date are in large countries such as China, India, and Brazil, with only a handful in Africa.

To help promote a broader distribution, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced the “Nairobi Framework,” a joint initiative of the UN climate secretariat, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Environment Programme, the World Bank Group, and the African Development Bank. Funding and other details are as yet uncertain. The European Commission also announced pledges by Germany and Finland for clean energy programs that it said would promote a more equitable distribution of CDM benefits.

Among other CDM-related issues, the COP/MOP called for further input from governments and others on whether carbon capture-and-storage (CCS) technologies should be eligible as CDM projects. Following a workshop on the issue in May, many parties felt that developing countries were not the right proving ground for the emerging CCS technologies. The COP/MOP called for submissions on a range of technical issues and asked the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) to provide recommendations at COP/MOP 3, with a view to taking a decision at COP/MOP 4.


Technology Transfer

The perennial debate over technology transfer became more pointed in Nairobi with parties offering widely differing views on whether and how to extend the mandate of the Expert Group on Technology Transfer (EGTT).

The EGTT has to date had a largely analytical role, studying a wide range of technology-related issues and helping countries assess technology needs and options. With the group’s mandate set to expire, developing countries saw an opportunity to reinvent it as a standing body with a much stronger role in promoting the transfer of technologies from developed countries. Proposals included creation of a Technology Development and Transfer Board with decision-making powers, and establishment of a Multilateral Technology Acquisition Fund to make technologies available to developing countries by “buying out” intellectual property rights. These proposals were staunchly opposed by developed countries.

The COP agreed only to keep the EGTT alive for another year and to refer the issues back to SBSTA with a view to adopting a decision at COP 13.


Avoided Deforestation

The deforestation debate opened in Montreal deepened in Nairobi, with tropical forest countries now offering competing views on the types of incentives that should be offered to reduce emissions by slowing deforestation. The issue is drawing intense interest in part because it is the one area where developing countries have offered concrete proposals to reduce their emissions.

In Montreal, a coalition of 15 rainforest nations led by Papua New Guinea floated a proposal to allow CDM-type credits for reduced deforestation. The proposal led to a workshop earlier this year where Brazil outlined a competing approach that it then elaborated in Nairobi. Under Brazil’s approach, countries reducing their deforestation rates would not get credits that could be sold on the emissions trading market, but payments from an international fund supported by donor country contributions. Brazil argues that its approach would result in greater environmental benefit because the resulting emission reductions would be above and beyond – rather than substituting for – those of developed countries.

Negotiations focused narrowly on the agenda of a second workshop to be held prior to the May meeting of SBSTA. Although the United States wanted to confine the agenda to technical matters, SBSTA decided the workshop would focus on “ongoing and potential policy approaches and positive incentives” and related methodological issues. SBSTA plans to consider the results of the two workshops in May and possibly offer recommendations to COP 13.


Future Meetings

COP 13 and COP/MOP 3 were set for December 3-14, 2007, likely in Bali, with a final decision on the venue due in mid-February. Poland expressed interest in hosting COP 14 and COP/MOP 4 in 2008, and Denmark offered to host COP 15 and COP/MOP 5 in 2009.

Press Release: Pew Presents Results of Climate Dialogue at Pocantico

Press Release
November 15, 2006

Contact: Katie Mandes, (703) 516-0606

PEW CENTER PRESENTS RESULTS OF ITS CLIMATE DIALOGUE AT POCANTICO AT NAIROBI TALKS

Also Releases New Report on Policy Options for Climate Adaptation

NAIROBI, Kenya – Parties to U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change will hear recommendations tomorrow from the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico, a group of policymakers and stakeholders from 15 countries convened by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change to examine options for strengthening the international climate effort.

The Pew Center was invited to present the report of the Pocantico group to the Dialogue on Future Action to Address Climate Change, a set of talks launched by governments last year in Montreal to consider next steps in the international climate effort. The Dialogue is a major focus of COP 12 – the twelfth session of the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention – underway November 6-17 in Nairobi.

Also at the negotiations, the Pew Center today released a new report on options for future international efforts to help vulnerable countries adapt to the impacts of climate change. Options outlined in the report include stronger funding and action under the Framework Convention, mandatory climate risk assessments for multilateral development finance, and donor country support for climate “insurance” in vulnerable countries.

In the Pew-sponsored Pocantico dialogue, a group of 25 from government, business, and civil society explored options for advancing the international climate effort beyond 2012. The group’s report calls for engaging major economies under the Convention through a more flexible framework allowing countries to take on different kinds of climate commitments. Possible elements of such a framework include economy-wide emission targets like those in the Kyoto Protocol, sectoral agreements, and policy-based approaches.

“The clear message from this very diverse group is that we need to move urgently with all the major economies engaged. This calls for new approaches that give countries more flexibility and produce real results,” said Pew Center President Eileen Claussen, who co-chaired the Pocantico dialogue with World Economic Forum Managing Director Ged Davis. “We welcome the opportunity to convey this message directly to the Convention parties, and look forward to working with governments and stakeholders to translate these ideas into action.”

The Pocantico participants, who took part in the dialogue in their personal capacities, included policymakers from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Malta, Mexico, Tuvalu, the United Kingdom, and the United States; senior executives from Alcoa, BP, DuPont, Eskom (South Africa), Exelon, Rio Tinto, and Toyota; and experts from the Pew Center, The Energy and Resources Institute (India), and the World Economic Forum. The group’s report will be presented in Nairobi by Elliot Diringer, the Pew Center’s director of international strategies.

While the Pocantico report offers a broad vision of the future climate framework, the Pew Center’s new adaptation report focuses specifically on options for strengthening international support for climate change adaptation, both within and outside the climate framework. The report, Adaptation to Climate Change: International Policy Options, is coauthored by Ian Burton of the University of Toronto, Elliot Diringer of the Pew Center, and Joel Smith of Stratus Consulting Inc.

The authors examine the history and evolving nature of human adaptation to climate, highlight key issues in the design of adaptation policy, and summarize and assess international adaptation efforts to date. The paper outlines three broad and potentially complementary approaches to future international efforts:

  • Adaptation Under the UNFCCC – Initiating new steps under the Framework Convention to facilitate comprehensive national adaptation strategies and to provide reliable assistance for high-priority implementation projects.
  • Integration with Development – Integrating adaptation across the full range of development-related assistance through measures such as mandatory climate risk assessments for projects financed with bilateral or multilateral support.
  • Climate “Insurance” – Committing stable funding for an international response fund or to support insurance-type approaches covering climate-related losses and promoting proactive adaptation in vulnerable countries.

“The next stage of the international climate effort must deal squarely with adaptation. Climate change is underway and vulnerable countries need and deserve help coping with the impacts. What’s more, future agreements on reducing emissions may be politically feasible only if they include stronger support for adaptation,” said Diringer. “Adaptation must be tackled on many fronts well beyond the climate framework, but only within the climate framework can the necessary political momentum be achieved. This new report offers policymakers a range of options for an integrated and effective international adaptation strategy.”

Both the Pocantico report (in English, Chinese, French and Spanish) and the new adaptation report are available at www.c2es.org.

###

The Pew Center was established in May 1998 by The Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the United States’ largest philanthropies and an influential voice in efforts to improve the quality of the environment. The Pew Center is an independent, nonprofit, and non-partisan organization dedicated to providing credible information, straight answers, and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change. The Pew Center is led by Eileen Claussen, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

Adaptation to Climate Change: International Policy Options

Adaptation to Climate Change cover

Adaptation to Climate Change: International Policy Options

Prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change
November 2006

By:
Ian Burton, University of Toronto
Elliot Diringer, Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Joel Smith, Stratus Consulting Inc.

This report examines options for future international efforts to help vulnerable countries adapt to the impacts of climate change both within and outside the climate framework. Options outlined in the report include stronger funding and action under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, mandatory climate risk assessments for multilateral development finance, and donor country support for climate "insurance" in vulnerable countries.

Press release

Download entire report (pdf)

Introduction

 

From its inception, the international climate effort has focused predominantly on mitigation—reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to prevent dangerous climate change. The next stage of the international effort must deal squarely with adaptation—coping with those impacts that cannot be avoided. This is both a matter of need, as climate change is now underway, and a matter of equity, as its impacts fall disproportionately on those least able to bear them. It also may be a condition for further progress on mitigation. Indeed, substantial new mitigation commitments post-2012 may be politically feasible only if accompanied by stronger support for adaptation.

Ambitious mitigation efforts can lessen, but not prevent, future climate change. While steep reductions in emissions could stabilize atmospheric GHG concentrations at lower levels than under “business as usual,” they likely would be well above current, let alone pre-industrial, levels.2 With higher concentrations will come further rises in temperatures and sea level, changes in precipitation, and more extreme weather. The early impacts of climate change already are being felt worldwide.3 Future impacts will affect a broad array of human and natural systems, with consequences for human health, food and fiber production, water supplies, and many other areas vital to economic and social well being. While certain impacts may in the nearer term prove beneficial to some, in the long term, the effects will be largely detrimental.4

Anticipating and adapting to these impacts in order to minimize their human and environmental toll is a significant challenge for all nations. Meeting it requires action at multiple levels, from the local to the international, within both public and private spheres. This paper explores one critical dimension of this multifaceted challenge—how adaptation can be best promoted and facilitated through future multilateral efforts.

Among the many issues confronting governments, two are especially daunting. The first is equity and its relation to cost. Difficult questions of fairness suffuse the climate debate but are particularly stark in the case of adaptation: those most vulnerable to climate change are the ones least responsible for it. Stronger international adaptation efforts—whatever form they might take, and whether understood as assistance or as compensation—will be possible, let alone effective, only insofar as affluent countries are prepared to commit resources. This is a question not of policy design but, rather, of negotiation and political will. Second, reliable information and relevant experience are in short supply. Relative to mitigation, the adaptation challenge is much less well understood—needs as well as solutions. A high priority in the near term is strengthening the knowledge base with better data and modeling to refine projections of future impacts, and with early insights from the field on the most effective responses.

It is at the same time essential to begin considering how future international efforts can best be structured. This paper examines underlying issues and lays out an array of possibilities. To set the issue in context, it looks first at the history and evolving nature of human adaptation to climate. It then highlights key issues in the design of adaptation policy, and summarizes and assesses international adaptation efforts to date. Finally, the paper outlines three broad and potentially complementary approaches to future international efforts:

  • Adaptation Under the UNFCCC—Initiating new steps under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to facilitate comprehensive national adaptation strategies and to provide reliable assistance for high-priority implementation projects.
  • Integration with Development—Integrating adaptation across the full range of development-related assistance through measures such as mandatory climate risk assessments for projects financed with bilateral or multilateral support.
  • Climate “Insurance”—Committing stable funding for an international response fund or to support insurance-type approaches covering climate-related losses and promoting proactive adaptation in vulnerable countries.



1. This report was prepared initially as input to the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico convened by the PewCenterin 2004-5, and in its final form reflects contributions from the dialogue. The Pocantico dialogue brought together 25 senior policymakers and stakeholders from 15 countries to recommend options for advancing the international climate change effort beyond 2012. The group’s report is available at: /global-warming-in-depth/all_reports/climate_dialogue_at_ pocantico/index.cfm.

2. Metz et al. (2001).

3. Parmesan, C. and G. Yohe (2003); Root, T. L. et al. (2003); Stott et al. (2004).

4. McCarthy et al. (2001).

 

Elliot Diringer
Ian Burton
Joel Smith
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COP 12 and COP/MOP 2 Nairobi

United Nations Climate Change Conference
COP 12 and COP/MOP 2 

Nairobi, Kenya
November 6-17, 2006

 

COP 12 Report

Government negotiators at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Nairobi continued two processes launched last year in Montreal to consider next steps in the international climate effort, and agreed in the final hours to open another track to review the Kyoto Protocol.  In two weeks of talks, parties also agreed on modest steps on adaptation, debated approaches to reducing deforestation and accelerating technology transfer, and heard proposals from South Africa and Brazil on ways to promote stronger action by developing countries.

The conference – known formally as the Twelfth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 12) and the Second Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 2) – was the first such gathering in sub-Saharan Africa.  Its high-level segment featured an opening statement by outgoing UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who lamented a “frightening” lack of leadership from governments and announced the “Nairobi Framework,” an initiative to help spread the benefits of Kyoto’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) among more developing countries.

Click here to continue reading the report from COP 12.


The Center's Activites at the Nairobi Climate Change Conference

Presentation of Pocantico Report –
View the presentation here at the UNFCCC website.

At the invitation of the UNFCCC Secretariat, C2ES presented a report of its Climate Dialogue at Pocantico at the Convention’s Dialogue on Long-Term Cooperative Action.  The Pocantico dialogue brought together senior policymakers and stakeholders from 15 countries to explore options for advancing the international climate effort post-2012.  The group’s report, released in November 2005, recommends engaging major economies through a flexible framework allowing countries to take on different types of commitments.  The report was presented November 16 at the Convention Dialogue by Elliot Diringer, the Center's director of international strategies. View the presentation here at the UNFCCC website.

Release of New Adaptation Report –

The Center held a side event on November 15 (1:15 pm – 2:45 p.m. in the Acacia Room) to release a new report, Adaptation to Climate Change: International Policy Options.  The report explores key issues in strengthening international adaptation efforts and outlines three broad sets of options: steps under the Framework Convention, working through the development process, and climate "insurance."  It is coauthored by Ian Burton of the University of Toronto, Elliot Diringer of the Center, and Joel Smith of Stratus Consulting Inc.

Speakers at the side event included:

  • Elliot Diringer, director of international strategies;
  • Emily Massawa, lead climate change negotiator, Kenya;
  • Alf Wills, lead climate change negotiator, Republic of South Africa;
  • Ian Noble, climate change advisor, The World Bank; and
  • Thomas Loster, chairman, Munich Re Foundation.

Top

Further background on the Nairobi conference is available at the UNFCCC Secretariat website.

Early Observations on the European Union’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Trading Scheme

As of February 2006 161 countries had ratified the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which entered into force on February 16, 2005 (United Nations 2006). The Protocol signifies broad international agreement that the developed nations should take the lead in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the bulk of which have been emitted from the industrialized world.
The European Union’s leadership in the climate change arena was evident before the Protocol formally went into force. In 2000 the European Union (E.U.) initiated the comprehensive European Climate Change Program. A cornerstone of this program is the Greenhouse Gas Emission Trading Scheme, or the E.T.S. (European Union 2003), which was launched in 2005 and is the most ambitious emissions trading system ever established.
This paper describes how the E.T.S. is working thus far and it also asks what U.S. policymakers can learn from the E.T.S.’s early implementation as they develop climate change policies in the United States. The greenhouse gas reduction plans implemented across the E.U. necessarily vary because each Member State’s regulatory, historical, political, and economic circumstances are unique and because each country has a different emissions goal under the E.U.’s climate change burden-sharing agreement. These sundry approaches offer a diverse range of experiences to draw on as U.S. policymakers try to craft greenhouse gas regulatory schemes at the state, regional, and national levels.
Any evaluation of the E.T.S. must be regarded as preliminary as it went into effect little more than a year ago. Still, the E.U.’s policies represent the most ambitious effort in the world to address climate change and, as such, it makes sense for U.S. policymakers at all governmental levels to understand the practical details of the European experience to date. And to the extent that U.S. policymakers would like to link domestic market-based programs with trading opportunities elsewhere in the world, it helps to appreciate the ways in which the design of domestic programs can facilitate or hinder that end.
This paper is organized as follows: (a) background on the European Climate Change Program; (b) general observations about the E.T.S.; (c) E.T.S. National Allocation Plans; (d) allowance trading in the E.T.S.; and (e) linking the E.T.S. with projects and programs outside of the E.U. Many sub-topics are treated within these broader categories, including but not limited to: the use of so-called “project-based” mechanisms (the Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation); costs and benefits of greenhouse gas reductions; allowance price caps; non-E.T.S. greenhouse gas reduction measures; competitive effects; and, centralized vs. decentralized government control.
This research is supported by, and it has been completed in collaboration with, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. The author acknowledges the invaluable support of Patrick J. Roach, who provided expert research assistance and whose thoughtful, knowledgeable input has greatly enriched all aspects of this work. Appendix A lists the E.T.S. experts who provided interviews, information, and/or comments. Without their gracious help this paper would not have been possible. Pew Center staff provided insightful questions and comments.
This paper does not give a detailed overview of the E.T.S. Readers seeking more background information on how the program works may consult either the Pew Center’s recent paper on this topic (Pew Center on Global Climate Change 2005) or the European Commission’s internet sites on the European Climate Change Program (http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/climat/eccp.htm) and the E.T.S. (http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/environment/climat/emission.htm).

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Reaching Too Far?

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It is a cruel paradox that the world leader working hardest to rally an effective global response to climate change is denounced at home by both left and right as a climate laggard. By now British Prime Minister Tony Blair knows, better than any politician, the rocky shoals of the climate debate, for he keeps running up on them. On both the domestic and international fronts, the prime minister has set high ambitions, only to fall short. While overzealousness may play its part, there is a larger lesson for Blair and the world: tackling climate change is an extraordinary challenge...

an analysis of international climate policy by Elliot Diringer, Director of International Policy--Appeared in The World Today, June 2006
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Connecting the Dots: Elements of an International Approach to Climate Change

CONNECTING THE DOTS: ELEMENTS OF AN INTERNATIONAL APPROACH TO CLIMATE CHANGE

SPEECH BY EILEEN CLAUSSEN
PRESIDENT, PEW CENTER ON GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE

CONNECTING THE DOTS ON CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE
CALIFORNIA CLIMATE ACTION REGISTRY
DANA POINT, CALIFORNIA

APRIL 20, 2006

Thank you very much. I am delighted to have the opportunity to be with all of you in this beautiful place. So many of the presentations I make are in poorly lit hotel ballrooms that I am practically beside myself having this chance to speak outside.  I think it is quite appropriate to give a talk on climate change and to have the whole thing conditioned on the two words: “weather permitting.” 

I also like your conference theme: “Connecting the Dots on Climate Change,” and it got me thinking..

Connecting the dots on climate change or any other issue that demands long-term, strategic thinking requires that people understand how to draw a straight line. And, in Washington, it is widely believed that a straight line is the shortest distance between two elections. 

But we are in California, and that made me wonder whether you should have called this conference “Connecting the Droughts." Of course, for opponents of action on this issue the preferred approach is “Connecting the Doubts.” But raising questions about the science of climate change is a strategy that doesn’t appear to be working any more, given the widespread consensus among scientists that we have a real problem on our hands. 

Particularly in California. From the California Climate Action Registry to greenhouse gas standards for vehicles to the governor’s emission targets for the state, California is leading the nation toward real action on the issue of climate change. Getting Washington to do the right thing on this issue remains a major challenge. But California, as it often does, is telling the country, “We can do this—and we must.”

But action at the state level, or even the national level, is just one part of the solution, as all of you know very well. While it is true that California’s emissions are equal to those of Brazil, and U.S. emissions as a whole constitute roughly one-fourth of the world total, climate change is a global problem that demands a global solution. And it is in America’s interests, and in California’s as well, to help frame a set of global solutions that bring all of the world’s major economies to the table, developed and developing countries alike.

And so today I want to talk with you briefly about what has been happening globally to address this issue. I also want to provide some new thinking on how we can move the international process forward, based on a recent set of discussions organized by the Pew Center.

Looking back over the past year or so, it is fair to say that we did make some important progress on the climate issue on the international front. The watershed event, of course, was the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol. By now, we are all quite familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of the Protocol, and I don’t think I need to revisit those here. I will, however, say this: Kyoto establishes the first binding international commitments for limiting greenhouse gas emissions; and it sends a very important signal to the global market that the climate has a value, and that damaging the climate has a price.

That is no small achievement. Meeting Kyoto’s targets will be a major challenge for the countries that have accepted them. But whether they do or not, Kyoto is already a success: it has set them on the path toward serious action on this issue.

But, of course, we still must deal with the bigger challenge: What happens next? Kyoto, as we all know, only takes us to 2012. And, with the United States sitting on the sidelines, and China and India without specific commitments, the Kyoto process is a partial solution at best.

Many of the nations that gathered for talks on this issue in Montreal last November understand this. They understand the need for a process to engage the United States and developing nations in future efforts to reduce emissions; and they understand that the Kyoto agreement by itself is not sufficient.

And so countries agreed in Montreal on a two-track approach to consider next steps. The parties to the Kyoto Protocol began a process to consider a second round of targets for developed countries; and the parties to Kyoto’s parent agreement, the Framework Convention on Climate Change, agreed to initiate a two-year dialogue, which, while explicitly not a negotiation about new commitments, opens a conversation about ways to strengthen and broaden the international effort. The United States adamantly opposed this idea, but relented in the final hours of the negotiation after all the major developing countries signed on and the U.S. found itself isolated. If this dialogue is successful, it may well set the stage for a new round of negotiations down the line.

Of course, the formal negotiations under Kyoto and the Framework Convention are just one part of the international response to this issue. Last year, there was a great deal happening outside of the formal process. At Gleneagles, Scotland, for example. That’s where the G-8 summit was held in June.

Despite the best efforts of British Prime Minister Tony Blair to try and have the G-8 become a force for real action, there were no real breakthroughs. But the Summit did serve to elevate this issue on the international agenda, and catalyzed some very strong statements from the international scientific and business communities urging governments to get serious about climate change. Perhaps the most concrete outcome was the launch of a ministerial-level dialogue—yes, another dialogue—this one among the 20 largest energy-consuming nations. This is the group we need action from, and hopefully the dialogue will lead in that direction.

An additional effort launched last year outside the formal multilateral process was the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. This is an initiative spearheaded by the United States and including five other countries: Australia, China, India, South Korea and Japan. The focus is technology cooperation, with the aim of encouraging public-private partnerships. It made for a good press release at the time, but the proof will be in whether this effort receives any real funding, and whether it results in real accomplishments.

So, if you think about what is happening on this issue at the international level, it is hard to point to anything substantive beyond Kyoto (and, even there, the substance of what is happening is dwarfed by the magnitude and the urgency of the climate challenge).

Climate change is here; it is happening. And every day, it seems, we are learning more and more about how problems such as sea level rise will accelerate in the decades ahead. We need more than dialogue; we need action. And for that, we need real commitments. We need policies and frameworks that put countries on the path to real and long-term emission reduction. And we need to do it in ways that are fair and equitable for all involved.

To figure out just how this might be accomplished, we recently convened a dialogue of our own: the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico. We brought together 25 senior people from government, business, and civil society in 15 different countries for a series of discussions on options for strengthening the international climate effort beyond 2012. Our participants came from the United States, the UK, Germany, Japan, Australia, China, India, Mexico, Brazil, and other countries, and from seven companies, including BP, Toyota, Alcoa, and DuPont.

It was a very diverse group, yet in the end we reached consensus on a set of ideas and approaches for moving the international effort forward. Two of the participants in our dialogue were senior staff to Senators Richard Lugar and Joseph Biden, the chairman and ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The two senators, in fact, hosted the event last November where we released the group’s report. And in February, in an address to the U.N. Security Council, Senator Lugar cited the Pocantico report as a roadmap to a comprehensive international approach to climate change.

The report lays out key objectives and key elements of an effective post-2012 approach. I’d like to briefly share some of those with you today, and in so doing, draw some interesting parallels with the climate efforts now emerging here in California.

First, while we need a fully global approach to this issue, what is absolutely imperative at this stage is engaging the major economies. That is the first objective. Twenty-five countries account for 83 percent of global emissions of greenhouse gases. This is the core group that needs to act. And it includes the United States, China, India, the EU countries, Russia, Japan and others.

But it is important, at the same time, that we recognize the tremendous diversity within this group. Their per capita emissions range by a factor of 14; per capita incomes by a factor of 18. You cannot ignore these statistics in thinking about who is responsible for climate change and to what degree, as well as who must do what to address it.

This leads to a second principal objective: We need a more flexible framework, one that can accommodate different approaches by allowing for different kinds of commitments by different countries. Nations will work collectively to address climate change only if they can take approaches consistent with their national interests, and these will vary from country to country. So we need a framework that allows for different paths, but at the same time gets us all moving together, in the same direction.

So those are two of the objectives identified in the Pocantico report: we need to engage the major economies; and we need a flexible framework. In considering how we achieve these objectives, the dialogue participants identified six possible elements of a comprehensive, multilateral framework. This conference has adopted the theme of “connecting the dots,” and I believe the six elements recommended by our dialogue can be viewed as dots that have to be connected in order to create a fair and effective global approach.

The first of these is an aspirational, long-term goal. California’s goal of reducing emissions 80 percent by 2050 is an example of this. The EU has established a different type of goal: limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius.

The Framework Convention establishes the ultimate objective: stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that avoids dangerous human interference with the climate. But what does that mean? Many scientists favor limiting atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to no more than 550 parts per million—roughly double the pre-industrial level. And that, in turn, means we need to reduce global emissions by 55 to 85 percent below what is currently projected. The Pocantico group cautions against trying to negotiate a quantified long-term goal at this stage; getting agreement on a specific number would just be too tough. But the report calls on governments and others to continue articulating their own visions of the long-term goal as a way to informally guide and propel the international effort.

The second element that emerged from our dialogue—our second dot to be connected—is adaptation. We know that no country will be immune from the effects of climate change, but it will clearly have a disproportionate impact on people living in poverty in the developing world. And, as we develop global strategies for adapting, we must target the unmet needs of the most vulnerable as a first priority.

An estimated 97 percent of all natural disaster-related deaths happen in developing countries. These countries need help doing two things: they need help recovering from climate-related disasters; and they need help integrating climate risk into their development planning so that over time they become more climate-resilient. This includes investments in safe drinking water supplies, better sanitation, sustainable farming, safer housing. That is what we mean by adaptation, and it has to be a priority for all nations, both individually and collectively.

Next on the list of six approaches laid out in the dialogue is the use of emissions targets and trading. This is the approach Kyoto takes—setting a target for reducing emissions and then allowing companies (and entire nations) to trade emission credits to achieve their targets as cost-effectively as possible. Trading is also an approach that would do wonders for California as your state weighs how best to meet the governor’s targets for reducing emissions. And I was pleased to see that the California Climate Action Team is considering trading as an important element of a statewide program.

Looking globally, the dialogue participants strongly endorsed market-based approaches as a core element of the international effort, but said we shouldn’t necessarily limit ourselves to Kyoto-style targets setting binding absolute caps. Other options could be intensity targets, or so-called “no lose” targets, which would allow developing countries. to sell credits if they do better than their targets but impose no penalty if they fall short.

The fourth element covered by the dialogue is what we call sectoral approaches. The idea here is to structure international commitments around specific sectors of the economy, such as transportation, power, land use, steel, cement—any sector that is responsible for a big chunk of emissions.

Again, California’s approach clearly includes what we would call a sectoral strategy. In the electricity sector, for example, your state has a target to produce 20 percent of electricity from renewables by 2010. In transportation, California has greenhouse gas standards for new vehicles. And for buildings, the state targets the building sector with the most stringent energy efficiency requirements in the nation.

That is a sectoral approach. At the international level, one advantage of this approach is that it may be possible to achieve significant reductions by engaging a relatively small number of countries. Think about cars, for example. An agreement among 15 countries and an even smaller number of companies would cover most of the global market.

Here is another example of a sectoral approach: you focus on an energy-intensive sector, like aluminum or steel or cement production, and you have the major companies involved agree to a set of objectives for reducing emissions, and those objectives, in turn, are endorsed by the governments where the facilities are located. Yet another example would be to establish a set of goals for increasing, maintaining or slowing reductions in carbon stocks in agriculture or forestry.

The fifth element we have called “policy-based approaches”—we are not talking about quantitative targets here but about having countries commit to specific policies to reduce their emissions. A couple of examples: increasing the use of renewable energy sources; raising fuel economy standards; or expanding the use of cleaner fuels.

The notion here is to encourage countries to integrate climate goals into their development planning and to allow policies to be tailored to specific national circumstances—in much the same way that California has tailored policies such as trading, greenhouse gas reporting, and support for biofuels to this state’s unique objectives and needs. Again, flexibility is key. And California’s embrace of a diverse portfolio of policies could, in fact, be a model for international action.

Last but not least on our list is technology cooperation. While it is clear that existing technologies can give us significant reductions on a global basis, it is also clear that we are going to need new, breakthrough technologies. And there are two ways to do this: first, you use policies and targets to pull climate-friendly technologies to the market; and second, you push the development of new technologies through R&D and related activities. I have talked a lot about the pulling part in my remarks. Technology cooperation starts to get at the need for a push. From fuel cells to biomass, carbon capture and storage, and next-generation nuclear reactors, governments need to work together to coordinate and increase their support for technology development—and to deploy both existing and new technologies in developing countries.

California, again in the lead on these issues, is initiating a coordinated investment strategy to help accelerate the development of climate-friendly technologies, using its public benefit and pension funds and first class universities. And that is exactly the attitude we need among governments—without picking winners, so to speak, we need policies and investments that are targeted and specific enough to give promising technologies a start down the road toward significant deployment.

Those are the six elements of an international approach—the six dots to be connected, as laid out by the participants in the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico.

They are: 1) an aspirational, long-term goal; 2) adaptation; 3) emission targets and trading; 4) sectoral approaches; 5) policy-based approaches; and 6) technology cooperation.

And it is my hope that, as the other dialogues on this issue move forward (I am talking here about the dialogue under the Framework Convention and the G-8 dialogue as well), they will take these ideas and these conclusions to heart.

In closing, I want to say that it occurred to me as I was putting these remarks together that I completely dispensed with my usual overview of the case for action on this issue. And I suppose that’s because, in the course of our Climate Dialogue at Pocantico, there was very little discussion about the need to do something about climate change. On that point, this diverse group of people from around the world, including senior government and business and civil society leaders, was entirely in agreement.

The major resistance to action on this issue, although much diminished, still resides in the same places where it has always been—places where people feel that their profits or their livelihood or their political support will somehow be threatened by the kinds of changes I have talked about today. But we need to make it absolutely clear to these people and others that the changes we are talking about are not only about protecting the climate; they are also about protecting our economies and our competitiveness in the decades to come. To the extent that we make this clear, we will indeed be connecting the dots on climate change and creating the conditions for real solutions to flourish.

So dots all. Thank you very much.

Congressional Testimony of Eileen Claussen: Trading and International Competitiveness

OPENING STATEMENT

HON. EILEEN CLAUSSEN, PRESIDENT
PEW CENTER ON GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE 

At the Climate Conference of
The Energy and Natural Resources Committee
United States Senate

Panel: Trading and International Competitiveness

Washington, DC
April 4, 2006

Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to participate in this conference. The Pew Center works closely with a council of forty-one major companies to advance practical and effective climate change policies. 

I would like to address the issue of the comparability of national efforts by disentangling two distinct but related objectives: (1) achieving adequate action by all major emitting countries, and (2) protecting U.S. firms against competitiveness impacts. 

The first of these objectives is best achieved through multilateral commitments engaging all the major greenhouse gas-emitting nations in a fair and effective long-term effort.   Twenty-five countries account for 83 percent of global emissions.  Engaging these major economies requires a flexible framework that allows different countries to take on different types of binding commitments.  We believe the United States should play a leadership role in developing such a framework.        

But ensuring broad comparability at the national level will not necessarily achieve the second objective:   protecting U.S. firms against competitiveness impacts.  It is not the competitiveness of the U.S. economy as a whole that is at issue.  To the degree that there are competitiveness impacts, they will fall on specific sectors: energy-intensive industries whose goods are traded internationally. These sectors might remain vulnerable even if efforts by all major emitters are broadly comparable, because countries could choose to exempt a given sector from controls, giving that sector an advantage over foreign competitors.

At the international level, one way to ensure a level playing field is to establish multilateral agreements along sectoral lines. These could be one element of the framework I mentioned earlier.

At the domestic level, in designing a national cap-and-trade system, we should set the caps at modest levels, allow offsets, and “grandfather” allowances in a way that protects vulnerable firms or sectors. We could also dedicate funds, possibly by auctioning a portion of allowances, to provide technology assistance to affected industries and transition assistance for their workers.

I would like to note in closing that the single most important step the United States can take to encourage stronger efforts by other countries is to begin in earnest to address our own greenhouse gas emissions. I applaud the Committee for advancing this critical debate.

Thank you.


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