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
Adaptation to Climate Change: International Policy Options
Prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change
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.
Download entire report (pdf)
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).
United Nations Climate Change Conference
COP 12 and COP/MOP 2
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.
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.
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.
Further background on the Nairobi conference is available at the UNFCCC Secretariat website.
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).
Download the article (PDF)
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...
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.
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
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.
Read related content on the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee's Climate Conference.
February 8, 2006
Contact: Katie Mandes, (703) 516-0606
PEW CENTER ON GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE RELEASES FIRST COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH TO CLIMATE CHANGE
All Sectors Must Share in Solution
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Pew Center on Global Climate Change released the first comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. The Agenda for Climate Action identifies both broad and specific policies, combining recommendations on economy-wide mandatory emissions cuts, technology development, scientific research, energy supply, and adaptation with critical steps that can be taken in key sectors. The report is the culmination of a two-year effort that articulates a pragmatic course of action across all areas of the economy.
The report calls for a combination of technology and policy and urges action in six key areas: (1) science and technology, (2) market-based programs, (3) sectoral emissions, (4) energy production and use, (5) adaptation, and (6) international engagement. Within these six areas, the Agenda outlines fifteen specific recommendations that should be started now, including U.S. domestic reductions and engagement in the international negotiation process. All the recommendations are capable of implementation in the near-term.
The report concludes that there is no single technology fix, no single policy instrument, and no single sector that can solve this problem on its own. Rather, a combination of technology investment and market development will provide for the most cost-effective reductions in greenhouse gases, and will create a thriving market for GHG-reducing technologies. To address climate change without placing the burden on any one group, the report urges actions throughout the economy.
“Some believe the answer to addressing climate change lies in technology incentives. Others say limiting emissions is the only answer. We need both,” said Eileen Claussen, President of the Pew Center.
Emissions in the United States continue to rise at an alarming rate. U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have grown by more than 18% since 1990, and the Department of Energy now projects that they will increase by another 37% by 2030.
Joining the Pew Center at the announcement were representatives from the energy and manufacturing sectors. Speaking at the release were: David Hone, Group Climate Change Adviser, Shell International Limited; Melissa Lavinson, Director, Federal Environmental Affairs and Corporate Responsibility, PG&E Corporation; Bill Gerwing, Western Hemisphere Health, Safety, Security, and Environment Director, BP; John Stowell, Vice President, Environmental Strategy, Federal Affairs and Sustainability, Cinergy Corp., Ruksana Mirza, Vice President, Environmental Affairs, Holcim (US) Inc.; and Tom Catania, Vice President, Government Relations, Whirlpool Corporation.
While actions are needed across all sectors, some steps will have a more significant, far-reaching impact on emissions than others and must be undertaken as soon as possible.
- A program to cap emissions from large sources and allow for emissions trading will send a signal to curb releases of greenhouse gases while promoting a market for new technologies.
- Transportation is responsible for roughly one-third of our greenhouse gas emissions, and this report addresses this sector through tradable emissions standards for vehicles.
- Because energy is at the core of the climate change problem, the report makes several recommendations in this area: calling for increased efficiency in buildings and products, as well as in electricity generation and distribution. Incentives and a nationwide platform to track and trade renewable energy credits are recommended to support increased renewable power. In recognition of the key role that coal plays in U.S. energy supply, the report calls for the capture and sequestration of carbon that results from burning coal. Nuclear power currently provides a substantial amount of non-emitting electricity, and is therefore important to keep in the generation mix. The report recommends support for advanced generation of nuclear power, while noting that issues such as safety and waste disposal must also be addressed.
- While most of the recommendations focus on mitigation efforts, the report acknowledges that some impacts are inevitable and are already being seen. As a result, it proposes development of a national adaptation strategy to plan for a climate-changing world.
- Finally, despite the importance of efforts by individual countries on this issue, climate change cannot be addressed without engagement of the broader international community. The report recommends that the U.S. participate in international negotiations aimed at curbing global greenhouse gas emissions by all major emitting countries.
Other recommendations include: long-term stable research funding, incentives for low-carbon fuels and consumer products, funding for biological sequestration, expanding the natural gas supply and distribution network, and a mandatory greenhouse gas reporting program that can provide a stepping stone to economy-wide emissions trading.
The full text of this and other Pew Center reports is available at http://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.
In a major address before the UN Security Council on February 6, 2006, Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-Indiana), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called for the United States to return to negotiations under the Framework Convention on Climate Change to achieve a comprehensive international approach to global warming. He said a "roadmap to this outcome" is contained in the recent report of the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico convened by the Center.
Excerpt from Senator Lugar's address:
"...[Fossil fuel] dependence also presents huge risks to the global environment. With this in mind, I have urged the Bush Administration and my colleagues in Congress to return to a leadership role on the issue of climate change. I have advocated that the United States must be open to multi-lateral forums that attempt to achieve global solutions to the problem of greenhouse gases. Climate change could bring drought, famine, disease, mass migration, and rising sea levels threatening coasts and economies worldwide, all of which could lead to political conflict and instability. This problem cannot be solved without international cooperation.
The time is ripe for bold action by the international community because much has changed since talks first began in 1992 on what became the Kyoto treaty. For one, China and India, who won exemptions from the treaty’s emission-cutting requirements, have enjoyed rapid growth. They are now much greater sources of greenhouse gases than anticipated, but also far stronger economies, more integrated into the global system.
Our scientific understanding of climate change has also advanced significantly. We have better computer models, more measurements and more evidence -- from the shrinking polar caps to expanding tropical disease zones for plants and humans -- that the problem is real and is caused by man-made emissions of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide from fossil fuels.
Most importantly, thanks to new technology, we can control many greenhouse gases with proactive, pro-growth solutions, not just draconian limitations on economic activity. Industry and government alike recognize that progress on climate change can go hand in hand with progress on energy security, air pollution, and technology development.
A roadmap to this outcome is contained in a recent report from the Center, a non-partisan organization, which assembled representatives from China, India and other countries and from global industrial companies, as well as from the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff. This diverse group agreed on the need for fresh approaches beyond Kyoto. They said the U.S. must engage all the major economies at once, including India and China, because experience has shown that countries will not move unless they can be sure their counterparts are moving with them.
The United States, the world’s richest country and the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, should seize this moment to make a new beginning by returning to international negotiations in a leadership role under the Framework Convention on Climate Change. I believe that the United States is prepared to do that. Our friends and allies should embrace this opportunity to achieve a comprehensive international approach to global warming...."
Full text of Senator Lugar's address to the Security Council
More on the report of the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico
Additional resources on international climate policy, including text of the Sense of the Senate resolution, S. Res. 312 (pdf), proposed by Senator Lugar with Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-Delaware), calling for U.S. participation in international negotiations under the Framework Convention on Climate Change
Climate change is a global challenge and requires a global solution. Greenhouse gas emissions have the same impact on the atmosphere whether they originate in Washington, London or Beijing. Consequently, action by one country to reduce emissions will do little to slow global warming unless other countries act as well. Ultimately, an effective strategy will require commitments and action by all the major emitting countries.
The international response to climate change was launched in 1992, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, with the signing of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Convention established a long-term objective of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere "at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system". It also set a voluntary goal of reducing emissions from developed countries to 1990 levels by 2000 - a goal that most countries did not meet.
Recognizing that stronger action was needed, countries negotiated the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which sets binding targets to reduce emissions 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The Protocol entered into force on February 16, 2005, which made the Protocol's emissions targets binding legal commitments for those industrialized countries that ratified it (the United States and Australia have not ratified it). In addition, the market-based mechanisms established under the Protocol, including international emissions trading and the Clean Development Mechanism, became fully operational with the Protocol's entry into force.
Attention now is turning to strengthening the international framework for the years following the Kyoto Protocol's initial commitment period (2008 - 2012). The overriding challenge is to forge an agreement that includes all major emitting countries - both developed and developing - and begins signficant long-term reductions in global emissions. In 2003, we engaged more than 100 experts, policymakers, and stakeholders from nearly three dozen countries to address this issue. This initiative continues with the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico, a series of off-line discussions among 25 senior policymakers and stakeholders from 15 countries exploring options for next steps in the international climate effort. The final report of the Pocantico dialogue was released on November 15, 2005.
Eleventh Session of the Conference of the
Parties to the UN Framework Convention on
Climate Change (COP 11)
First Meeting of the Parties to the
Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 1)
November 28 - December 10, 2005
In two weeks of talks, delegates to the UN Climate Change Conference in Montreal concluded the decade-long round of negotiations that launched the Kyoto Protocol and opened a new round of talks to begin considering the future of the international climate effort.
The meeting was a historic first – it served both as the 11th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 11), and, following Kyoto’s entry into force in February, as the 1st Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 1).
Key outcomes of the Montreal conference included decisions by the COP/MOP finalizing the Kyoto “rulebook” and strengthening the Clean Development Mechanism, and a pair of decisions to consider next steps – one under the Protocol, launching negotiations toward new binding commitments for Kyoto’s developed country parties; and another under the Framework Convention, opening a nonbinding “dialogue on long-term cooperative action.”
While the two decisions on next steps are not formally linked, the negotiations around them were closely intertwined. The European Union, Japan and Canada, obligated under Kyoto to begin considering new commitments, strongly favored a parallel process under the Convention as a way to engage both the United States and developing countries in future efforts. Some developing countries also actively supported a new Convention process and others agreed on the condition it would not “open any negotiations leading to new commitments.” The United States, not a party to the Protocol, insisted throughout the negotiations that it opposed any new process under the Convention. But in the final hours, as the major developing countries lined up behind the decision, leaving the United States isolated with Saudi Arabia, U.S. negotiators relented.
One notable shift in Montreal was a greater willingness among developing countries to discuss stronger developing country efforts. Several called for new mechanisms or agreements supporting voluntary developing country actions with market or other incentives. Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica won support for a new process to consider approaches to reduce emissions from deforestation. Brazil called for “positive incentives” for forest conservation and other steps to reduce emissions. South Africa, while rejecting absolute targets for developing countries, advocated a “Kyoto-Plus regime” in which developing countries “do our fair share.” Mexico suggested “voluntary commitments” such as national policies and measures or sectoral emission targets.
For many governments, reengaging the United States remained the higher priority. Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, in the midst of a campaign to keep his Liberal government in power, spoke for many when he pointedly criticized the U.S. position to the press, saying “there is such a thing as a global conscience, and now is the time to listen to it.” Former President Bill Clinton, meanwhile, was warmly received when he delivered an unusual surprise address on the final day of negotiations. Clinton, without explicitly addressing the negotiations or the U.S. position, emphasized the economic opportunities in addressing global warming and urged that the same precautionary approach driving the war on terrorism be applied to climate change.
The last-minute shift in the U.S. position may also have reflected mounting pressure from Congress for stronger U.S. engagement in the multilateral climate effort. Two weeks before the conference, Senators Richard Lugar and Joseph Biden, the chairman and ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced a resolution calling for U.S. participation in negotiations under the Convention to establish mitigation commitments for all major greenhouse gas-emitting countries. As the talks were underway, a bipartisan group of 24 Senators wrote President Bush urging that the United States, “at a minimum, refrain from blocking or obstructing” discussions about next steps under the Convention.
Following are summaries of key decisions. Full text of the COP 11 and COP/MOP 1 decisions is available at the UNFCCC website.
Negotiating New Kyoto Targets
As required under Article 3.9 of the Kyoto Protocol, the COP/MOP initiated a process to “consider further commitments” for Annex I (developed) countries for the period beyond 2012, when the first round of Kyoto emission targets expire.
The decision establishes an ad hoc working group open to all Kyoto parties but sets no specific deadline for completing the negotiations. It calls for the process to begin “without delay” and to conclude “in time to ensure that there is no gap between the first and second commitment periods.” The first meeting of the working group will be in May 2006.
The final negotiations on the decision went through the night as Russia, unhappy with how its views had been received in the informal “contact group,” continued to argue in plenary for a procedure allowing non-Annex I countries to take “voluntary commitments.” As a compromise, Russia accepted text in the COP/MOP conclusions referencing its proposal and inviting the President to undertake consultations and report back at COP/MOP 2.
Dialogue on Long-Term Cooperative Action
The COP, in a separate decision, launched a two-year dialogue “to analyse strategic approaches for long-term cooperative action to address climate change.”
At COP 10 in Buenos Aires, parties agreed to hold a one-time Seminar of Governmental Experts to discuss ongoing implementation and future action. The seminar, convened in May, provided the first space within the Convention process for parties to discuss future steps but made no formal report to the COP. The new dialogue advances the conversation to the next stage. It will be a series of up to four workshops led by two co-facilitators, one from a developed and one from a developing country. The facilitators will report to both COP 12 and COP 13.
The dialogue has four broad areas of focus: sustainable development, adaptation, technology, and market-based opportunities. Its aims are to support implementation of existing commitments under the Convention; support “actions put forward voluntarily by developing countries”; and “enable Parties to continue to develop effective and appropriate national and international responses to climate change.” The dialogue explicitly “will not open any negotiations leading to new commitments.”
The United States did not engage on the text until the final day, then agreed with only minor revisions, such as substituting “market-based opportunities” for “market-based mechanisms” and noting in the preamble that “there is a diversity of approaches to address climate change.”
Adoption of Marrakesh Accords
An essential task of COP/MOP-1 was to formally adopt the detailed rules for the operation of the Kyoto Protocol, which had been provisionally agreed at COP-7 as part of the Marrakesh Accords. Formal adoption of the Kyoto rules completed a cycle of negotiations initiated by the 1995 Berlin Mandate, which called for an agreement establishing quantified emission limits for developed countries.
The COP/MOP adopted all 19 decisions recommended by COP-7, including:
- Operating rules for the Protocol’s three flexibility mechanisms – emissions trading, joint implementation (JI) and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
- Rules for crediting of domestic sink activities, including reforestation, forest management and agricultural management.
- A compliance regime to review countries’ eligibility to use the Protocol’s flexibility mechanisms, and to impose consequences for non-compliance with a party’s emissions target.
- A detailed system for reporting and review of national emissions.
The only element of the Marrakesh Accords revisited by the COP/MOP was the legal means by which to establish the Protocol’s compliance mechanism. Under Article 18 of the Protocol, any compliance procedures entailing binding consequences must be adopted as an amendment to the Protocol. Prior to the meeting, Saudi Arabia proposed such an amendment. After discussion, however, the COP/MOP decided to initially at least establish the compliance mechanism by decision rather than amendment, and referred the Saudi proposal to the Subsidiary Body on Implementation, which is to report back at COP/MOP 3. Parties also elected members of the facilitative and enforcement branches of the newly established Compliance Committee.
Clean Development Mechanism
A major goal in Montreal was strengthening and streamlining the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism, which allows credits from emission reduction activities in developing countries to be applied toward developed countries’ emission targets.
Responding to concerns from business and from host countries that projects are moving too slowly through the CDM process, the COP/MOP approved steps to clarify rules, speed the development of methodologies, strengthen governance, and provide more funding for the CDM Executive Board. On crediting for early action, the decision allows for projects initiated between 2000 and late 2004 to receive retroactive credits if registered with the Executive Board by the end of 2006. To support the Board’s operation, the decision established a levy on CDM proceeds to cover administrative expenses, and a number of developed countries announced additional voluntary pledges totaling nearly $8.2 million.
The COP/MOP also opened the door for a broader range of potential CDM activities beyond those that are strictly project-based. While specifying that local or national policies or standards do not qualify as CDM projects, the decision allows project activities falling under a “program of activities” to be registered as a single CDM project, provided there are appropriate baseline and monitoring methodologies. This could allow for a so-called programmatic approach, crediting a range of activities such as energy efficiency improvements across a series of entities or an entire sector.
Responding to calls from a number of developing countries, the COP initiated a new process under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) to consider possible approaches for reducing GHG emissions from deforestation.
The decision was prompted by a submittal from Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica stressing the importance of the issue and putting two ideas on the table: an “optional protocol” involving a group of developed and developing countries; and expansion of the CDM to permit crediting of activities to reduce deforestation, which is not now allowed. The submittal was supported by Bolivia, the Central African Republic, Chile, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua.
The COP invited parties to submit views on issues such as additionality, leakage, permanence, and monitoring, and directed SBSTA to report back in two years.
Carbon Capture and Storage
Spurred by a new IPCC Special Report on Carbon Capture and Storage, both the COP and the COP/MOP took steps to consider ways to advance capture-and-storage technologies.
In its guidance to the Global Environment Facility (GEF), which administers assistance to developing countries, the COP asked the GEF to consider and report back on whether and how activities related to capture and storage could be integrated into its funding programs. The COP/MOP asked the CDM Executive Board to consider proposals for new methodologies to allow capture-and-storage projects under the CDM, with a view to presenting recommendations at COP/MOP 2. A workshop will be held at the next SBSTA meeting, in May 2006.
Adaptation Work Program
At COP 10, parties decided to develop a five-year work program on adaptation to be carried out by SBSTA. The five-year program adopted by the COP in Montreal aims to assist parties to improve their understanding of adaptation, impacts, and vulnerability, and to make informed decisions on practical actions and measures. These efforts are to consider not only climate change, but also natural climate variability, a point pressed by the United States.
To help parties better assess their vulnerability, the program is to promote improved vulnerability assessment tools, climate monitoring and projections, and understanding of variability and extreme events. To support adaptation planning and action, the program is to promote analysis and sharing of adaptation measures, research on adaptation technologies, and development of economic diversification strategies. The work will be carried out primarily through workshops, expert groups, and technical papers.
The COP/MOP adopted initial guidance for the new Adaptation Fund established under the Marrakesh Accords, but deferred a decision on who will manage the fund until its next meeting.
Unlike other funds in the climate regime, which are supported solely by developed country contributions, the Adaptation Fund is financed in part by a “share of the proceeds” from the CDM. The issues in Montreal concerned governance – in particular, whether the fund will be managed by the GEF. Developing countries argued that the GEF’s management arrangements reflect its donor basis and therefore are not appropriate for a fund financed through the CDM. The COP/MOP agreed to hold a workshop this spring to consider governance issues and to adopt further guidance at its next session.
Consult additional resources on international climate change policy.