Climate change is a global challenge and requires a global solution. Through analysis and dialogue, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions is working with governments and stakeholders to identify practical and effective options for the post-2012 international climate framework. Read more
Statement of Eileen Claussen
President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change
December 16, 2008
Governments resolved in Poznan to shift into “full negotiating mode” in hopes of delivering a comprehensive new climate change agreement a year from now in Copenhagen. What we need is a ratifiable treaty with fair, effective, and verifiable commitments for all major economies, and it is critical that Copenhagen bring us as close as possible to that goal. If Congress moves quickly on mandatory legislation to reduce U.S. emissions, and other countries are open to taking on reasonable commitments, Copenhagen can at a minimum produce a solid framework agreement. That would be a major step forward, and would put us within striking distance of a ratifiable treaty.
By Elliot Diringer
December 12, 2008
This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post.
Many thanks to the Huffington Post and Betsy Taylor for helping to advance an absolutely critical debate on the urgent need for a strong, effective international climate change agreement. In that same spirit, I’d like to clarify for HP readers the views of my organization, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, which I’m afraid Betsy didn’t get quite right. (Click here to access the post by Betsy Taylor.)
First, the Pew Center “press release” that Betsy links to is not a press release, but rather an Associated Press story that quotes the Pew Center’s president, Eileen Claussen. Betsy also links to a Washington Post story quoting me. The stories quote us accurately but, as is invariably the case with daily dispatches, only partially capture the views and intent of the individuals quoted. So please allow me to elaborate.
The Pew Center believes that, for the sake of the planet and future generations, our goal must be a ratifiable treaty establishing fair and effective commitments for all major economies. We also believe it is critical that the UN climate conference in December 2009 in Copenhagen produce an agreement that moves us as close as possible to that goal. How far we can get between now and Copenhagen will depend primarily on two things: how quickly Congress gets on with the job of enacting mandatory legislation to cap and reduce U.S. emissions; and how prepared other countries are to scale up their national climate efforts and translate them into international commitments.
The election of Barack Obama presents an historic opportunity to confront climate change at home and abroad. We must do everything in our power to seize that opportunity. But we also must be realistic. If we set unrealistically high expectations – if we insist that the only “successful” outcome for Copenhagen is a full, final, ratifiable treaty – then we heighten the risk of a major failure that will serve only to set back the process and the politics.
Rather, we must allow for the possibility of an agreement in Copenhagen that, while short of a ratifiable treaty, can capture all the momentum that builds over the coming year and generate further momentum in the months beyond. One possibility is an agreement that lays out the basic architecture of a post-2012 framework, the level of emission reductions to be achieved by developed countries collectively, the types of mitigation action to be undertaken by developing countries, and the types and level of support they can expect to receive. Some might characterize this as pessimism. In our view, it would in fact be a very ambitious outcome putting us within striking distance of a ratifiable treaty. Far from a failure, it would be a striking success.
For those interested in more on the Pew Center’s perspective on this and other climate issues, please visit us at www.c2es.org. We look forward to continuing this dialogue, and to a successful outcome next year in Copenhagen.
Elliot Diringer is Vice President for International Strategies at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
Click here and scroll down to read the side event summary in Earth Negotiations Bulletin.
The event featured perspectives from senior U.S. policymakers and business and NGO representatives on the prospects for stronger domestic climate action in the United States and the implications for negotiating a post-2012 agreement.
- Manik Roy, Vice President for Federal Government Outreach, Pew Center
- Doug Scott, Director, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
- Meg McDonald, Director of Global Issues, Alcoa
- Senior Congressional Staff
- Pew Center Q&A: UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland
- The Road To Copenhagen: A brief article by Elliot Diringer
- Elliot Diringer discusses the Poznan talks on NPR's Science Friday (December 5, 2008)
- Key Poznan Resources and Links
- Background Briefing on UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan
- Article: Climate Policy & A New US President
- Chapter: Key Elements of a Post-2012 Agreement
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change's (UNFCCC) 14th annual Conference of the Parties (COP 14) takes place in Poznan, Poland December 1-12.
Find out more about the conference and UNFCCC negotiations in our Q&A below:
What is the focus of the Poznan conference?
The Bali Action Plan, adopted by more than 180 countries in December 2007, set an ambitious goal of achieving a new global climate agreement in December 2009 in Copenhagen. The Poznan conference represents the midpoint between Bali and Copenhagen. Governments are taking stock of the progress made since Bali, discussing the proposals that have come forward this year, and adopting a work plan for the coming year. No major formal outcomes are expected. On a more political level, Poznan is a final round of positioning by governments before heading into what is expected to be a period of intense negotiations. Governments will be setting their expectations for what needs to happen next year in Copenhagen.
What are the major issues under discussion?
The Bali Action Plan lays out the key issues to be addressed in a new agreement: mitigation (reducing emissions), adaptation, technology, and finance. Among these, some of the most central issues include: the emission reduction targets to be adopted by developed countries; the types of mitigation actions to be undertaken by developing countries, particularly China, India and other major emerging economies; and the types and level of support to be provided to developing countries for both mitigation and adaptation.
How will the election of a new U.S. president affect the negotiations?
Without the United States at the table and prepared to negotiate, a new international agreement is very unlikely. President-elect Obama has said that when he takes office “the United States will once again engage vigorously in these negotiations, and help lead the world toward a new era of global cooperation on climate change.” The new administration’s ability to negotiate an agreement will depend heavily, however, on how quickly the new President and Congress can enact legislation to reduce U.S. emissions. President-elect Obama is calling for a federal cap-and-trade system to reduce emissions to 1990 levels in 2020 and another 80% by 2050.
What role will the U.S. Congress play in reaching a new global agreement?
Congress plays two critical roles. Congress must enact the mandatory climate legislation that will enable the United States to commit to an international emissions target. And any binding new international agreement must be ratified by the Senate. For those reasons, it will be important for the new Administration to consult closely with the Congress in shaping its negotiating positions.
What are realistic expectations for Copenhagen in 2009?
While there is a strong chance that climate legislation will begin moving through Congress in 2009, final enactment is not likely, which would make it difficult for the new Administration to commit to a specific emissions target in Copenhagen. In that case, Copenhagen is unlikely to produce a full and final agreement that could be submitted to governments for ratification. A more realistic outcome may be an agreement on the basic architecture of the post-2012 climate framework -- for instance, binding economy-wide targets for developed countries, policy commitments for the major emerging economies, and support mechanisms for technology, finance, and adaptation in developing countries. This intermediary agreement could then serve as the basis for further negotiations in 2010 on specific commitments in a full and final agreement.
Key Resources for COP 14
Ad Hoc Working Group on Long Term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
- Expectations of the Chair (Scenario Note) http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2008/awglca4/eng/15.pdf
- As requested by the AWG-LCA, the Chair has prepared a document assembling the ideas and proposals presented by Parties on the elements contained in paragraph 1 of the Bali Action Plan. http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2008/awglca4/eng/16.pdf
- For individual submissions by Parties http://unfccc.int/meetings/ad_hoc_working_groups/lca/items/4578.php
Ad Hoc Working Group – Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP)
- Expectations of the Chair (Scenario Note) http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2008/awg6/eng/07.pdf
Earth Negotiations Bulletin – Resource for daily updates on COP 14
UNFCCC Secretariat Press Page for COP 14
- Poznan-COP 14 Main Page
- COP 14 Summary
- E&E TV: From Poznan to Copenhagen
- Road to Copenhagen Article
- Q&A: Poznan-COP 14
- Elliot Diringer on NPR's Science Friday
- Key Poznan Resources
- Background Briefing PDF
By Elliot Diringer
This article was first published by the Heinrich Böll Stiftung Transatlantic Climate Policy Group.
After years of stalemate in the international climate negotiations, the inauguration of a new U.S. president presents an opportunity for a genuine breakthrough. Both John McCain and Barack Obama support mandatory limits on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and both favor renewed international engagement. But unrealistic expectations about how quickly the United States will move – and how far – could severely damage prospects for any sort of agreement next year in Copenhagen.
An effective post-2012 climate agreement is impossible without the United States, the world’s largest economy and largest historic emitter. Europe was able to persuade other developed countries to push ahead with initial commitments under the Kyoto Protocol despite the U.S. withdrawal. But there appears very little appetite among those countries to take on new, stronger commitments without the United States, and even less prospect of commitments by the major developing countries.
Fortunately, there is at long last real momentum for stronger efforts to reduce U.S. emissions. While skeptics remain, the political establishment has largely accepted the scientific consensus that human-induced warming is underway and must be addressed. Many states are taking mandatory steps to reduce emissions; 24 states have entered into regional initiatives to establish cap-and-trade systems. Many corporate leaders are calling for mandatory federal action, and Congress is seriously debating the establishment of an economy-wide cap-and-trade system more than twice the size of Europe’s Emissions Trading Scheme.
Coal Initiative Series White Paper:
A Resource and Technology Assessment of Coal Utilization in India
Prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Ananth P. Chikkatur, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
A Resource and Technology Assessment of Coal Utilization in India continues the series of Pew Center papers that explore strategies for addressing CO2 emissions from using coal to provide electricity.
Electricity production in India is projected to expand dramatically in the near term to energize new industrial development, while also easing the energy shortages throughout the country. Much of the new growth in electricity production will be fueled by domestic coal resources; however, there is worldwide concern about increased coal use, as greater carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from coal combustion will exacerbate climate change. At the same time, there are now a number of different existing and emerging technological options for coal conversion and greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction worldwide that could potentially be useful for the Indian coal-power sector. This paper reviews coal utilization in India and examines current and emerging coal power technologies with near- and long-term potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from coal power generation.
Read the full article (pdf)
by Elliot Diringer
This article is draft version of a chapter in the forthcoming book, Development in the Balance: How Will the World's Poor Cope with Climate Change?, to be published by the Brookings Institution Press
A successful post-2012 climate agreement must engage all the world's major economies through a "multi-track" framework allowing different types of commitments for developed and developing countries. The 25 major economies accounting for 84 percent of global emissions are extremely diverse, with per capita incomes and per capita emissions ranging by a factor of 18. Strategies for integrating climate action with broader economic and development agendas will vary with national circumstance. Accommodating these differences requires a flexible but binding international framework integrating different types of commitments, such as economy-wide emission targets, policy-based commitments, and sectoral agreements. Incentives for developing countries, including both market-based schemes and direct assistance, also must be provided. A post-2012 agreement might advance adaptation on two fronts: proactively, by facilitating comprehensive national planning; and reactively, by helping countries cope with the risks that remain. Given the time it will take a new U.S. administration and Congress to establish a domestic climate policy, a detailed post-2012 agreement is unlikely when governments meet in late 2009 in Copenhagen. Instead, governments should aim for consensus on a broad framework and continue negotiating toward specific commitments.
Read full brief (pdf)
India is the world’s fourth largest economy and fifth largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter, accounting for about 5% of global emissions. India’s emissions increased 65% between 1990 and 2005 and are projected to grow another 70% by 2020. On a per capita basis, India’s emissions are 70% below the world average and 93% below those of the United States. As in many other countries, India has a number of policies that, while not driven by climate concerns, contribute to climate mitigation by reducing or avoiding GHG emissions.
For more details on policies and measures related to climate change in India, please read our India Policy Brief (pdf).
Statement of Eileen Claussen, President
Pew Center on Global Climate Change
July 8, 2008
The G8’s endorsement of an aspirational long-term climate goal is a positive step but far short of a solution. While cutting global emissions in half by 2050 probably would not avoid dangerous climate change altogether, it would greatly reduce the odds of catastrophic impacts. And with emissions now rising faster than ever, meeting such an ambitious goal requires an all-out global effort.
But more important than the long-term goal is actually getting the job started, and there the G8 again failed to deliver. Endorsing the use of economy-wide goals to achieve absolute emission reductions is a step forward for President Bush. But what is needed – and what is missing – is a clear declaration by the industrialized powers that they are ready to negotiate strong, binding mid-term targets. That is the kind of leadership it will take to get all the major economies on board an effective, sustained global effort.
More G8 coverage
Click here to listen to an interview with Elliot Diringer, Director of International Strategies at the Pew Center.