International

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

 

Press Release: Pew Reports Examine Sectoral Agreements and Policy Commitments in a Post-2012 Framework

Press Release
May 14, 2007

Pew Center Contact: Katie Mandes, (703) 516-4146

PEW CENTER EXAMINES SECTORAL AGREEMENTS AND POLICY COMMITMENTS AS ELEMENTS OF A POST-2012 CLIMATE FRAMEWORK

New Reports Build on Recommendations of Climate Dialogue at Pocantico

New reports released today by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change explore two approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions that could be part of a new multilateral climate agreement – policy- based commitments and international sectoral agreements.

The new reports elaborate on two of the options recommended by the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico, a group of senior policymakers and stakeholders from 15 countries convened by the Pew Center. The group’s report, International Climate Efforts Beyond 2012, calls for engaging all major economies in the post-2012 climate effort through a flexible framework allowing countries to take on different types of commitments.

International Sectoral Agreements in a Post-2012 Climate Framework,by Daniel Bodansky of the University of Georgia School of Law, examines the option of negotiating one or more intergovernmental agreements to reduce emissions from specific sectors, such as electricity, transportation, or energy-intensive industries. Policy-Based Commitments in a Post-2012 Framework, by Joanna Lewis and Elliot Diringer of the Pew Center, looks at the option of policy-based commitments, in which developing countries commit to emission reduction policies other than binding economy-wide emission targets.

“We need an international framework that commits all the major economies to strong, effective action but lets them pursue the strategies that work best for them. That’s the core message from our Pocantico dialogue,” said Pew Center President Eileen Claussen. “Sectoral agreements and policy commitments could be key elements in a flexible but integrated framework ensuring that all the major economies contribute their fair share.”

The new reports envision sectoral agreements and policy commitments as potential elements in a balanced package of post-2012 commitments that likely would include economy-wide emission targets for some countries. Other potential elements identified in the Pocantico dialogue are agreements to facilitate technology development and access and to support adaptation efforts in countries highly vulnerable to climate change.

The paper on sectoral approaches discusses the benefits and challenges of structuring climate agreements around discrete sectors and the different forms they could take, such as emission targets, technology standards, or performance standards. It concludes that sectoral agreements can contribute to the post-2012 effort by helping to defuse competitiveness issues, particularly in energy-intensive manufacturing industries; by targeting technology and financial assistance in sectors such as electricity where it may be most critical; and, in sectors such as the automotive industry, by catalyzing broad technology transformations through agreements among a small number of key countries

The second paper describes an approach in which developing countries commit to implement national policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions but are not bound by economy-wide emission limits. Such policy commitments could include energy efficiency goals or standards, renewable energy targets, or measures promoting sequestration in agriculture or forestry. This approach would allow countries to tailor commitments to their domestic needs and circumstances and could be coupled with policy-based emissions crediting or other incentives. The paper emphasizes the need for reliable quantification of emission results and concludes that a policy-based approach is viable only if other parties see the commitments as credible, concrete contributions to the global effort.

To link to these reports, please visit our International Policy page.

Policy-Based Commitments in a Post-2012 Climate Framework

Policy-Based Commitments in a Post-2012 Climate Framework

Prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change
May 2007

By:
Joanna Lewis and Elliot Diringer, Pew Center on Global Climate Change

This paper elaborates on the concept of policy-based commitments as one component of a post-2012 climate framework. As conceived here, the policy-based approach would be an avenue for developing countries in particular to put forward national policies of their choosing as contributions to the global climate effort. These policies could vary widely in scope and form, from economy-wide energy efficiency goals to sector-specific standards or reforms.

Press Release

Download entire report (pdf)

Elliot Diringer
Joanna Lewis
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International Sectoral Agreements in a Post-2012 Climate Framework

International Sectoral Agreements in a Post-2012 Climate Framework

Prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change
May 2007

By:
Daniel Bodansky
University of Georgia, School of Law

In recent years, sectoral approaches have received renewed attention and are among the options proposed for the post-2012 period. In its report, International Climate Efforts Beyond 2012, the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico identified sectoral approaches as one of the potential elements of the future international climate change effort. This paper examines the broader policy and structural questions relating to the development of sectoral approaches at the international level—in particular, sectoral approaches taking the form of inter-governmental agreements.

Press Release

Download entire report (pdf)

 

Related Reading:

Background Note on Sectoral Approaches for a Post-2012 International Climate Framework
March 2008

This background paper helps clarify different types of sectoral approaches under discussion and how they might fit into a post-2012 international climate framework.

Daniel Bodansky
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Climate Change Mitigation Measures in the People's Republic of China

International Brief
April 2007

Read full brief (pdf)

China's emissions are increasing rapidly with strong economic growth and rising energy demand. Emissions have grown by about 80% since 1990, driven heavily by increased consumption of electricity generated from coal. Much of China's projected emissions growth will come from coal-fired electricity; in 2006 China installed over 90 gigawatts (GW) of new coal power capacity— the equivalent of about 2 large coal power plants per week.

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Statement: IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, Working Group II

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

Statement by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change

April 6, 2007

The IPCC Fourth Assessment “Summary for Policymakers” Working Group II report represents the IPCC’s strongest statement to date on the impacts of global climate change. Because of a dramatic increase in the number and quality of observations, this report concludes that, “it is likely [better than 2:1 odds] that anthropogenic warming has had a discernible influence on many physical and biological systems.” The report also projects with greater confidence than in the past that many regions, including North America, will experience severe impacts in the future, even for moderate warming scenarios. Particularly vulnerable are low-lying coastal regions worldwide. Many poor countries at low latitudes are also particularly vulnerable because of a combination of strong climate impacts, low capacity for adaptation, and heavy reliance on climate-impacted resources, such as local food and water supplies.

The assessment is based on extensive published, peer-reviewed scientific literature.  Today’s report is the second 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. The first report, released in February 2007, examined the physical science basis for climate change. The third report, to be released in May 2007, will explore the solutions to global climate change, particularly options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Statement by Eileen Claussen, President Pew Center on Global Climate Change

April 6, 2007

This week began with a landmark decision by the US Supreme Court and ended with the release of the IPCC's 4th Assessment on climate change impacts.  Following the Supreme Court's decision, it's clear that EPA has the authority – and should -- regulate CO2, and the IPCC report delivered the strongest statement to date on the consequences of climate change. Taken together with increasing calls from CEOs, states, and the public, the message is loud and clear: Read our lips - We need mandatory climate policy in the United States. 

 

A New Climate Treaty: US Leadership After Kyoto

Spring 2007

By Eileen Claussen, President and Elliot Diringer, Director of International Strategies

This article originally appeared in Harvard International Review

 


 

For years, despite a steady accumulation of science showing the clear and present dangers of global climate change, efforts toward an effective international response have been at a virtual standstill. The principal reason is that the United States has refused to play. But with Washington now seemingly on a course to enact mandatory limits on US greenhouse gas emissions, it is plausible to begin envisioning a multilateral solution to this quintessentially global challenge. It is, in other words, time to contemplate a new climate change treaty.

 

The urgency of the task is irrefutable. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest assessment concluded with 90 percent confidence that human activity is warming the planet and warned of irreversible and potentially catastrophic consequences if emissions continue unabated. Politically as well, the next few years represent a critical window for action. The emission limits assumed by most industrialized countries under the Kyoto Protocol expire in 2012. What momentum the treaty has achieved and the multibillion-dollar carbon market it has spawned may well be lost unless a new agreement can be forged.

Any new treaty will be environmentally effective and politically feasible only to the degree that it successfully engages and binds all of the world’s major economies. Coming to terms with cost and equity while also bridging the gap between developed and developing is an extraordinary diplomatic challenge. Meeting it will require fresh thinking and approaches, a genuine readiness to compromise and a collective political will that, while perhaps emerging, is by no means assured. What is needed above all right now is US leadership, for no country bears greater responsibility for climate change, nor has greater capacity to catalyze a global response.

Responsibility is measured most directly in terms of emissions, and it should surprise no one that history’s greatest economic power is also the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter. By the same token, the tremendous enterprise, prosperity, and technological prowess that have contributed so heavily to the atmospheric burden uniquely qualify the United States to lead a low-carbon transition. Indeed, no nation has done more to advance scientific understanding of the causes and consequences of global warming. But thus far, the US contribution to the global effort largely ends there.

For the first time, however, US politics are beginning to favor real climate action. Even before the recent Democratic takeover of Congress, momentum was building for mandatory measures to reduce US emissions. As on many other environmental issues, individual states are leading the way, with California once again at the forefront. Business leaders, sensing that carbon constraints are inevitable and fearing a patchwork of state rules, are increasingly calling for a uniform national approach. Ten major companies, including General Electric, DuPont, and Alcoa, recently joined with four nonprofits in the US Climate Action Partnership to push for mandatory emission limits. Several bipartisan bills now before Congress would mandate emission cuts of 60 to 80 percent by 2050.

With the enactment of mandatory US measures probably occurring no later than 2010, the global politics of climate change will be thoroughly transformed. Having resolved what it will do at home, the United States will know far better what it can commit to abroad. To avoid losing competitive advantage to countries without emission controls, the United States will have a strong incentive to rejoin and strengthen the global climate effort.

For the struggling multilateral process, the United States’ re-entry cannot come soon enough. After President Bush’s outright rejection of Kyoto, other countries rallied around the treaty and brought it into force. But without the United States and Australia, the protocol encompasses only about one third of global emissions. Even if all countries meet their targets, which is unlikely, global emissions in 2012 would still be 30 percent higher than in 1997, when Kyoto was negotiated. While talks on post-2012 commitments have begun, under the treaty’s terms they contemplate targets only for those countries that already have them. European leaders are floating ambitious numbers, but Japan and others have made clear they are not taking on new commitments without movement by the United States and major developing countries. The political reality is that the negotiations are headed nowhere, unless they are somehow broadened or linked to bring in the other major players.

With the United States back at the table, there could be a way forward. Once the largest emitter says it is ready to deal, China and other emerging economies might also be willing. Under this more hopeful scenario, what could a future climate treaty look like? To begin with, it must commit all the major economies. Today, 25 countries account for 85 percent of global emissions (as well as 70 percent of global population and 85 percent of global GDP). Environmentally, no long-term strategy to cut global emissions can succeed without them. Politically, it is imperative that all major economies be on board. All share concerns about costs and competitiveness, and none can sustain an ambitious climate effort without confidence that others will contribute their fair share. This requires binding commitments. But a new treaty should be flexible, allowing countries to take on different types of commitments. Circumstances vary widely among the major economies, and the policies that can address climate change in the context of national priorities will vary from one to the other. Countries will need different pathways forward.

One pathway, to be sure, is the one charted by Kyoto: binding emission targets coupled with emissions trading. Emission targets provide environmental certainty––everyone knows by just how much emissions are to be reduced––while emissions trading harnesses market forces to deliver those reductions at the lowest possible cost. The European Union’s regional trading system and Kyoto’s Clean Development Mechanism (which grants developing countries tradable emission credits for reductions they achieve) have generated over US$30 billion in greenhouse gas trades since their launch in 2005. As the World Bank recently concluded, targets and trading is also critical because it is by far the likeliest means of generating the multi-billion dollar investments needed to drive down emissions in fast-growing developing countries.

A fully global system of targets and trading might appear to be the ideal policy but is politically unrealistic. Developing countries, which cannot as confidently project their future emissions and bitterly oppose any perceived constraint on their growth, are not about to take on quantified emission limits. A more realistic alternative would be policy-based commitments: countries agree to undertake policies that reduce emissions, while also advancing core development objectives such as economic growth or enhanced energy security. China, for instance, could commit to strengthening its existing energy efficiency and renewable energy goals, while Brazil and other rainforest countries could commit to reducing deforestation. Though developing countries would have no binding emission limits, they could participate in trading through a system awarding them emission credits for meeting or exceeding their policy commitments, thus providing a powerful market incentive for robust compliance.

A flexible new framework could include other types of commitments. One promising approach is sectoral agreements: governments commit to targets, standards, or other measures to reduce emissions from a given sector such as transportation or electricity, rather than across the economy. Particularly in industries producing globally traded goods, this would help overcome competitiveness issues by ensuring for a more level playing field. Governments could also commit to joint technology efforts, both to develop long-term breakthrough technologies and to ensure that developing countries have access to them.

Finally, a post-2012 agreement must help poor countries cope with increased flooding, drought, and other inevitable consequences of global warming. It is a cruel irony that these impacts will fall disproportionately on sub-Saharan Africa and other regions that are least responsible for climate change and least able to adapt. Stronger international support for adaptation is not only a moral imperative, but a political necessity.

A new treaty that allows countries different but limited pathways could both build on the Kyoto Protocol and move past it. The natural venue for negotiating such a pact is the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Kyoto’s parent agreement, which has been ratified by virtually every nation––including the United States. The precise form of this new treaty can emerge only through negotiation, as it must be tailored to the specific circumstances of very diverse countries. But the basic elements are clear. They include binding targets for developed countries to curb their emissions and drive the global emissions market, binding policy commitments for developing countries, possibly with sectoral and technology agreements overlaid, and stronger support for adaptation.

As the US climate debate advances, the question of international engagement will inevitably rise to the forefront.Already, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has passed a resolution calling for the United States to negotiate under the Framework Convention to establish commitments for all major-emitting countries. To some, the goal may appear distant, if not wholly fanciful. But if and when the United States is prepared to lead, others, too, will be far better able to muster the necessary political will. Therein lies our only real hope for a new global compact to confront global warming.

by Eileen Claussen, President and Elliot Diringer, Director of International Strategies--Appeared in Harvard International Review, Spring 2007
Eileen Claussen
Elliot Diringer
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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.

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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.

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