Climate change is a global challenge and requires a global solution. Through analysis and dialogue, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions is working with governments and stakeholders to identify practical and effective options for the post-2012 international climate framework. Read more


Statement: Bangkok Climate Change Talks

Statement of Elliot Diringer, Director of International Strategies
Pew Center on Global Climate Change

April 4, 2008

The Bali agreement was a major step forward, and while the Bangkok talks managed to keep the momentum going, they also underscored the enormous challenges ahead. The aim remains a new global deal in 2009, but it’s hard to leave Bangkok confident that deadline can be met.   

As might be expected at the start of a new negotiating round, it seemed at times that parties were moving backwards, reverting to the hard lines and rhetoric that lead nowhere but stalemate. Thankfully by the end they were able to agree on a work program to move the negotiations forward this year, including workshops on such key issues as adaptation, technology, finance, and sectoral approaches.

While the United States’ refusal to negotiate a binding emissions target remains the single largest obstacle to an effective climate agreement, U.S. negotiators did put forward a number of pragmatic suggestions for structuring the negotiations. Hopefully this new, more constructive approach will make it easier for the next administration to negotiate an agreement setting fair, effective, and binding commitments for all major economies.

It’s clear that all eyes are on the upcoming U.S. election. And there’s every reason to expect that, whatever the outcome, the prospects for U.S. action will be far stronger. But that alone will hardly guarantee a new global agreement in a matter of months. Other parties will have to show new flexibility and a greater willingness to act if there is to be a deal in Copenhagen.

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

**This brief background paper was released on March 30, 2008 at the UNFCCC Bangkok Climate Talks**

Since climate change first emerged as an international issue in the late 1980s, a recurring policy question has been whether to address it on a comprehensive or a sector-by-sector basis. In recent years, sectoral approaches have received renewed attention and are among the options proposed for the post-2012 period.

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

Download the full paper (pdf)


Further Reading:

International Sectoral Agreements in a Post-2012 Climate Framework
Working Paper, May 2007


Articles & Testimony


Congressional Testimonies

History of International Negotiations

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.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
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. Currently 191 parties, including the US, have ratified the UNFCCC.

UNFCCC First Ten Years: A Report of the UN Secretariat

Kyoto Protocol
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 has 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.

Conference of the Parties (COPs)

COP 21 Paris
November 30 - December 12, 2015

COP 20 - Lima, Peru
December 1 - 12, 2014

COP 19 - Warsaw Poland
November 11 - 23, 2013

COP 18 - Doha, Qatar
November 26 - December 7, 2012

COP 17 - Durban, South Africa
November 28 - December 9, 2011

COP 16 - Cancún, Mexico
November 29 - December 10, 2010
The Cancún Agreements import the essential elements of the Copenhagen Accord into the UNFCCC, including mitigation pledges and operational elements such as a new Green Climate Fund for developing countries and a system of “international consultations and analysis” to help verify countries’ actions. Agreement hinged on finding a way to finesse the more difficult questions of if, when, and in what form countries will take binding commitments. The final outcome leaves all options on the table and sets no clear path toward a binding agreement.

COP 15 - Copenhagen, Denmark
December 7-18, 2009
A new political accord struck by world leaders at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen provides for explicit emission pledges by all the major economies – including, for the first time, China and other major developing countries – but charts no clear path toward a treaty with binding commitments.

COP 14 - Poznan, Poland
December 1-12, 2008
Governments resolved in Poznan to shift into “full negotiating mode” in hopes of delivering a comprehensive new climate change agreement in December 2009 in Copenhagen.

COP 13 - Bali, Indonesia
December 3-15, 2007
In tense and chaotic talks that ran a full day longer than planned, delegates to the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali remained far apart on fundamental issues but in the end agreed to launch a loosely framed negotiating process with the ambitious goal of achieving a new global climate agreement in 2009.

COP 12 - COP/MOP 2
November 6-17, 2006
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.

COP 11 - Montreal, Canada
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.

COP 10 - Buenos Aires
December 6-17, 2004

COP 9 - Milan, Italy
December 1-12, 2003

COP 8 - New Delhi, India
October 23 - Novomber 1, 2002

COP 7 - Marrakech, Morocco
October 29 - November 9, 2001

COP 6 BIS - Bonn, Germany
July 16-27, 2001

COP 6 - The Hague, The Netherlands
November 13 - 24, 2000

In a preview of a tough year ahead, governments meeting at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru, went 30 hours over deadline to hammer out a modest set of procedural steps, and made no real progress on the larger issues looming as they work toward a new global climate agreement next year in Paris.

About International

Climate change is a global challenge and requires a global solution. Through analysis and dialogue, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions works with governments and stakeholders to identify practical and effective options for an international climate framework.

C2ES engages with international policymakers in the United States and other key countries; regularly convenes informal discussions among climate negotiators; and organizes conferences, workshops, and briefings on international climate policy developments.

To learn more about the latest news regarding the global climate change negotiations, see our resources for the international talks that culminated in a new climate agreement reached in Paris in 2015 and signed in 2016.



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


2020 Country Emissions Targets

International Emissions Targets



Kyoto Target 2008-2012

Pledged targets under the UNFCCC [1]


8% above 1990 levels

5% below 2000 levels by 2020

15%-25% below 2000 levels by 2020 under different conditions of a global agreement that stabilizes GHG levels


6% below 1990 levels

17% below 2005 levels by 2020

European Community

EU-15: 8% below 1990 levels

EU-27: 20% below 1990 levels by 2020

30% below 1990 levels by 2020 if comparable and adequate actions by other countries


8% below 1988 levels

Part of EU

Czech Republic

8% below 1990 levels

Part of EU


8% below 1990 levels

Part of EU


6% below average1985-1987 levels

Part of EU


8% below 1990 levels

Part of EU


8% below 1990 levels

Part of EU


6% below 1988 levels

Part of EU


8% below 1989 levels

Part of EU


8% below 1990 levels

Part of EU


8% below 1986 levels

Part of EU


6% below 1990 levels

25% below 1990 levels by 2020 on condition of fair, effective international framework with ambitious targets by all major economies

New Zealand

Remain at 1990 levels

10-20% below 1990 levels by 2020 if comprehensive global agreement


Remain at 1990 levels

15-25% below 1990 levels by 2020; range depends on accounting of forestry sector and actions by all major emitters

United States


In the range of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, in conformity with anticipated legislation


5% below 1990 levels

5% below 1990 levels by 2020, to be replaced upon EU accession (1 July 2013)


10% above 1990 levels

Same as EU target


8% below 1990 levels

Same as EU target


8% below 1990 levels

Same as EU target


1% above 1990 levels



30% below 1990 levels by 2020

40% below 1990 levels by 2020 as part of a global and comprehensive international agreement


8% below 1990 levels

Same as EU target


Remain at 1990 levels

20% below 1990 levels by 2020 under certain conditions

United Kingdom

12.5% below 1990 levels

Same as EU target



5-10% below 1990 levels by 2020, conditional on access to carbon markets, technology and capacity assistance, as well as clarity on accounting rules for forestry and land-use



15% below 1992 levels by 2020



36.1-38.9% below business-as-usual projected emissions level in 2020



20% below business-as-usual projected emissions in 2020, projected from 2007 levels, requiring international support



40-45% reduction in CO2emissions per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) from 2005 level by 2020

Costa Rica


Carbon neutral by 2021



20-25% reduction in emissions per unit of GDP (excluding agriculture sector) from 2005 level by 2020



26% below business-as-usual projected emissions in 2020



20% below business-as-usual projected emissions in 2020

41% below business-as-usual projected emissions in 2020 with international support



30% below business-as-usual projected emissions in 2020, subject to provision of adequate support

Korea (Republic of)


30% below business-as-usual projected emissions in 2020 (4% below 2005 level)



7-11% below business-as-usual projected emissions in 2020

16% below business-as-usual projected emissions in 2020, contingent on legally binding global agreement

South Africa


34% below business-as-usual projected emissions in 2020

42% below business-as-usual projected emissions in 2025, extent of implementation dependent on level of support

Marshall Islands


40% below 2009 levels by 2020 (CO2 only)



Carbon neutrality by 2020

Antigua and Barbuda


25% below 1990 levels by 2020


European Community

Kyoto Target [2] 2008-2012

EU Climate and Energy Package Effort Sharing targets for 2013-2020 [3]


13% below 1990

 16% below 2005 level


7.5% below 1990

 15% below 2005 level



20% above 2005 level

Czech Republic


 9% above 2005 level



5% below 2005 level


21% below 1990

 20% below 2005 level



11% above 2005 level


1990 levels

 16% below 2005 level


1990 levels

 14% below 2005 level


21% below 1990

 14% below 2005 level


25% above 1990

 4% below 2005 level



10% above 2005 level


13% above 1990

 20% below 2005 level


6.5% below 1990

 13% below 2005 level



17% above 2005 level



15% above 2005 level


28% below 1990

20% below 2005 level



5% above 2005 level


6% below 1990

 16% below 2005 level



14% above 2005 level


27% above 1990

 1% above 2005 level



19% above 2005 level



4% above 2005 level



13% above 2005 level


15% above 1990

 10% below 2005 level


4% above 1990

 17% below 2005 level

United Kingdom

12.5% below 1990

 16% below 2005 level



1. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 2011, FCCC/AWGLCA/2011/INF.1 and FCCC/SB/2011/INF.1/Rev.1

2. The EU-15 nations have joined a "bubble" which allows the joint fulfillment of emissions commitments and preserves the collective emissions reduction goal of 8% below 1990 levels by 2008/2012.

3. The EU’s collective 20% reduction target from 1990 levels translates to a 14% reduction from 2005 levels, split into sectors covered by the ETS (21% reduction) and those not covered by it (10% reduction). These targets apply to sectors not covered by the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), such as buildings, transport, and other commercial activities. The EU ETS applies a sectoral cap and reduction target across the EU countries for emissions from power and heavy industry, and aviation from 2012. The ETS reduction target is 21% below 2005 levels by 2020.



Congressional Testimony of Elliot Diringer - International Climate Change Negotiations

January 24, 2008

Submitted to the United States Senate,
Committee on Foreign Relations

January 24, 2008

International Climate Change Negotiations:
Bali and the Path Toward a Post-2012 Climate Treaty

Mr. Chairman, Senator Lugar, and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify on the recent Bali climate change negotiations and the path toward a post-2012 climate treaty. My name is Elliot Diringer, and I am the Director of International Strategies for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

The Pew Center on Global Climate Change is an independent non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to advancing practical and effective policies to address global climate change. Our work is informed by our Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC), a group of 44 major companies, most in the Fortune 500, which work with the Center to educate opinion leaders on climate change risks, challenges, and solutions.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to commend you and the members of this committee for convening this hearing today. Over the past year, the U.S. Congress has for the first time engaged in a genuine debate over how – not if, but how – the United States should address global climate change. So far, this debate has focused primarily on questions of domestic climate policy. This is a critical first step. But as you know, meeting the challenge of climate change requires global solutions as well, and these are possible only with strong leadership from the United States. The U.S. Senate has a vital role in mobilizing and setting the terms of U.S. engagement in the global climate effort. This committee, with your leadership, can ensure the Senate is well prepared to fulfill that responsibility. We are very encouraged that you are initiating this process with this hearing today.

In my testimony, I would like to address four topics. First, I will offer our perspective on the post-2012 international climate framework – both what it must achieve, and how it should be structured. Second, I will assess the recently agreed Bali Roadmap and the opportunities it presents. Third, I will outline key steps the United States must take to seize these opportunities. Finally, I will suggest a diplomatic strategy working within and outside the U.N. negotiating process, and the potential role of the Bush administration’s major economies initiative.

My key points are as follows:

  • A post-2012 international climate treaty must establish binding international commitments for all the major economies. However, the form of commitment can vary. While the United States and other developed countries should commit to absolute economy-wide emission targets, other forms such as policy-based commitments are appropriate for the major emerging economies.
  • The Bali Roadmap represents an historic turning point in the international climate negotiations. By not excluding the possibility of developing country commitments, it for the first time offers the prospect of a fair, effective, and comprehensive post-2012 agreement.
  • To ensure the Bali Roadmap’s success, the United States must: move as quickly as possible to enact mandatory domestic limits on U.S. emissions; declare unambiguously its willingness to negotiate a binding international commitment; and outline the support it will provide to developing countries if they, too, assume reasonable commitments.
  • In addition, the United States should mount a major diplomatic initiative, working both bilaterally and multilaterally to clarify and advance the negotiating agenda and find common ground. The administration’s major economies process could lay important groundwork with agreement on elements such as a long-term climate goal and an international technology fund.

1) The Post-2012 International Climate Framework Must Be Flexible but Binding

The Pew Center’s perspective on the post-2012 climate framework reflects not only our own detailed analysis but also the collective views of an impressive group of policymakers and stakeholders from around the world. As part of our effort to help build consensus on these issues, we convened the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico, a group of 25 individuals from government, business, and civil society in 15 key countries, participating in their personal capacities. The group included senior policymakers from Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, and the United States. It also included senior executives from companies in several key sectors, including Alcoa, BP, DuPont, Exelon, Eskom (the largest electric utility in Africa), Rio Tinto, and Toyota. The group’s consensus report was released in late 2005 at an event in this room hosted by Senators Biden and Lugar. Since that time, we have produced a number of analyses further elaborating on the Pocantico recommendations. I would like to highlight several key points.

Engaging All Major Economies – First, the post-2012 framework must engage all of the world’s major economies. Twenty-five countries account for about 85 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. These same countries also account for about 75 percent of global population and 90 percent of global GDP. The participation of all the major economies is obviously critical from an environmental perspective, as all must take sustained action if we are to achieve the steep reductions in emissions needed in the coming decades to avert dangerous climate change. But the participation of all major economies is critical from a political perspective as well. All have concerns about fairness and competitiveness, and for that reason, none can sustain an ambitious effort against climate change without confidence that the others are contributing their fair share. We must agree to proceed together.

The Need for Flexibility – At the same time, we must recognize the tremendous diversity among the major economies. This group includes industrialized countries, developing countries, and economies in transition. Their per capita emissions, and their per capita incomes, range by a factor of 18. The post-2012 framework must provide flexibility for these widely varying national circumstances. As the kinds of policies that can address climate change in ways consistent with other national priorities will vary from country to country, it also must accommodate different national strategies. To achieve broad participation, a post-2012 treaty must allow for variation both in the nature of countries’ commitments and in the timeframes within which these commitments must be fulfilled.

The Need for Binding Commitments – Allowing diverse approaches does not mean that each country should be entirely free to decide for itself how it will contribute to the global effort. The failure of most developed countries to reduce their emissions as pledged in the U.S.-ratified U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change demonstrates the inadequacy of a voluntary approach. A strong effort – one adequate to the challenge – will be possible only if national contributions are integrated in a common framework and reflected in binding international commitments. As I stated earlier, countries will deliver their best efforts only if they are confident that their counterparts and competitors also are putting forward their fair share of effort. To establish that confidence, there must be some measure of accountability at the international level, and that is best achieved through binding international commitments. If countries are accountable only to themselves, we will not achieve the critical mass of effort needed to deter global warming.

Multiple Commitment Types – A country’s commitment should be of a form appropriate to its level of responsibility and capacity and its national circumstances. For the United States and other developed countries, we believe the appropriate form of commitment is a binding absolute economy-wide emissions target. The United States was the first to advocate the use of targets and emissions trading to address climate change, based on its success in combating acid rain. This market-based approach also is reflected in most of the major bills before Congress aimed at limiting and reducing U.S. emissions. Within the international framework, stronger absolute targets for developed countries are absolutely critical to drive emission reduction and to sustain and strengthen the emerging greenhouse gas market.

We must accept, however, that China, India, and other developing countries are very unlikely to commit at this stage to binding economy-wide emission limits. With standards of living just a fraction of our own, they are fearful of jeopardizing their growing economies, and will have to be persuaded by the example of developed countries that a cap on emissions is not a cap on growth. For now, economy-wide targets are also technically impractical for most developing countries: to accept a binding target, a country must be able to reliably quantify its current emissions and project its future emissions, a capacity that few if any have.

As an alternative to binding economy-wide targets, developing countries could be encouraged to make policy-based commitments. Under this approach, countries would commit to undertake national policies that would moderate or reduce their emissions, without being bound to an economy-wide emissions limit. These commitments could be tailored to national circumstances and build directly on domestic policies. China, for example, has domestic energy efficiency targets, renewable energy goals, and auto fuel economy standards, and some version of these could be put forward as international commitments. Tropical forest countries could commit to policies to reduce deforestation. To be credible and effective, policy-based commitments would need to be measurable and binding, with mechanisms to ensure monitoring and compliance.

A third potential element of the post-2012 framework is sectoral agreements, in which governments commit to targets, standards, or other measures to reduce emissions from a given sector, rather than economy-wide. In energy-intensive industries whose goods trade globally – the sectors most vulnerable to potential competitiveness impacts from carbon constraints – sectoral agreements can ensure a more level playing field. Sectoral agreements also may be a practical way to engage developing countries not yet prepared to take on economy-wide commitments. Sectoral approaches are being explored by global industry groups in the aluminum and cement sectors. We believe they also are worth exploring in sectors such as power and transportation, where competitiveness is less of a concern but large-scale emission reduction efforts are most urgent.

In addition to these different types of emission reduction commitments, the post-2012 framework must address technology, finance and adaptation. On technology and finance, it could include two types of agreements: the first, for joint research and development of “breakthrough” technologies with long investment horizons; the second, to broaden access to existing and new technologies by addressing finance, intellectual property rights, and other issues impeding the flow of low-carbon technologies to developing countries. On adaptation, the top priority within the climate framework should be assistance to those countries most vulnerable to climate change for national adaptation planning and implementation. But broader efforts to reduce climate vulnerability also should be integrated across the full range of bilateral and multilateral development support.

I would emphasize again the need to integrate these elements in a coherent framework. An ad hoc agglomeration of nationally defined programs will not produce the level of effort that is needed. Strong global action requires binding international commitments negotiated and agreed as a package. The framework must be flexible enough to accommodate different types of commitments, and reciprocal enough to achieve a strong, sustained level of effort.

2) The Bali Roadmap is an Opportunity for a Fair, Effective Post-2012 Framework

I would like to turn now to the Bali Roadmap adopted by governments at the UN Climate Change Conference last month in Bali. In our judgment, the Bali Roadmap initiates a process that, for the first time ever, offers the prospect of a comprehensive international climate framework of the type I have just described. The process is far less than ideal. However, we believe it is the best that could have been achieved given present political constraints – the first and foremost of these being the unwillingness to date of the Bush administration to negotiate a binding international commitment.

The Bali Roadmap in actuality encompasses two parallel negotiating processes. The first of these was launched two years ago under the Kyoto Protocol. Its aim is to negotiate post-2012 commitments for those countries that presently have binding targets under the protocol. As these countries are highly unlikely to assume new commitments on their own, however, a parallel process was needed to engage the United States and developing countries in the post-2012 negotiations. This second process, under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, was launched in Bali and is called the Bali Action Plan. Although these two processes are not formally linked, the expectation is that they will converge in a comprehensive agreement in 2009, with some commitments established under the Kyoto Protocol and others under the Framework Convention.

In our analysis, the ideal outcome in Bali would have been a negotiating mandate clearly specifying the types of commitments to be negotiated by different groups of countries. The Bali Action Plan, by contrast, is very loosely framed. With respect to mitigation, it calls for “measurable, reportable and verifiable” actions on the part of both developed and developing countries. In the case of developed countries, it speaks of “mitigation commitments or actions,” and identifies emission targets as one option. In the case of developing countries, it speaks of “mitigation actions,” not commitments, “supported and enabled by technology, financing and capacity-building.” The Action Plan specifically identifies sectoral approaches and measures to reduce deforestation as potential mitigation elements. It also calls for the post-2012 agreement to include provisions addressing adaptation, technology, and finance and investment.

In sum, the Bali Action Plan identifies the full set of issues that must be addressed but leaves entirely open the nature of the actions or commitments to be negotiated by any country or group of countries. In this sense, the Bali Roadmap puts no country on the hook for anything. At the same time, however, it lets no country off the hook either. This, in fact, is what is most significant about the Bali agreement. The 1995 Berlin Mandate, which launched the negotiations leading to the Kyoto Protocol, explicitly excluded the possibility of new commitments for developing countries. Up until the Bali conference, developing countries had steadfastly maintained that posture. The Bali Action Plan does not expressly contemplate binding commitments for developing countries; with the United States not yet prepared to negotiate such commitments, developed countries can not reasonably be expected to. But the Bali Action Plan does not explicitly exclude the question of developing country commitments either. This presents a significant opening, one the United States must capitalize on if we are to achieve a fair and effective post-2012 agreement.

Under the Bali Roadmap, this agreement is to be reached at the 15th conference of the Framework Convention parties in Copenhagen in late 2009. We believe that, even under the best of circumstances, this is an extraordinarily ambitious timeline. The reality is that negotiations will not begin in earnest until the United States is prepared to negotiate a binding commitment. Without a change in policy by the Bush administration, this can occur only when a new president takes office in January 2009. Even then, it will likely take the incoming administration a matter of months to appoint senior officials and develop a formal negotiating position. That will leave precious little time to meet the Bali deadline. We believe that as the deadline approaches, parties should revisit and revise it if necessary to allow time for a successful negotiation and avert what would be perceived as a dramatic failure at the Copenhagen conference.

3) U.S. Leadership at Home and Abroad is Key to the Bali Roadmap’s Success

I now would like to outline steps that the United States can take to ensure that the Bali Roadmap leads to a fair, effective, and durable post-2012 agreement.

The success of the Bali Roadmap depends ultimately on the willingness of each of the world’s major economies to assume and fulfill a binding commitment commensurate with its responsibilities and its capabilities. The willingness of other countries to assume such commitments will depend in large measure on the willingness of the United States. As the world’s largest economy and largest historic emitter, the United States has a singular responsibility not only to reduce its own emissions but also to lead the international community in forging an effective global response. To date, the United States has failed to deliver on either score. In our view, the United States must do three things to reverse this record and set the stage for a post-2012 agreement.

First, Congress and the President must move as quickly as possible to enact mandatory domestic legislation to limit and reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. As a founding member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, or USCAP, the Pew Center strongly supports the establishment of a cap-and-trade system as the centerpiece of a mandatory federal program with the goal of reducing U.S. emissions 60 to 80 percent by 2050. We are very encouraged by the progress achieved in the Senate toward enactment of such a program, and are fully committed to working with you and your colleagues towards that end. Domestically, a mandatory market-based program will stimulate technology development and deployment and give U.S. businesses the certainty and incentives they need to reduce emissions as cost-effectively as possible. Internationally, a mandatory domestic target will enable the United States to negotiate with greater confidence and credibility. Having resolved what it is prepared to do at home, the United States will know far better what it is prepared to deliver abroad. And, having taken concrete action to meet its responsibilities, it can more credibly call on other countries to fulfill theirs.

Second, the United States must state clearly and unambiguously that it is prepared to negotiate a binding international commitment. As long as that remains in question, other countries will have a legitimate excuse to avoid negotiating commitments of their own. As I stated earlier, we believe that the United States’ commitment, and those of other developed countries, should be in the form of a binding absolute economy-wide emissions targets.

Third, the United States should make clear the type of support it is prepared to offer developing countries if they, too, assume appropriate commitments. Once we have demonstrated a willingness to reduce our own emissions and assume a binding international commitment, it will be reasonable for us to expect that major emerging economies such as China assume commitments as well. However, it also will be reasonable for these countries to expect that we and other industrialized nations will assist them in fulfilling their commitments. This is in part a matter of fairness, given our greater historic contribution to climate change and our greater capacity to address it. Indeed, we and other industrialized countries agreed in the Framework Convention to assist developing countries in their efforts to address climate change, and the Bali Roadmap identifies such support as an essential element of a post-2012 agreement. However, providing such support is also very much in our self-interest, as we will bear the consequences if developing countries fail to act.

Support can be provided both on a bilateral basis and as part of a post-2012 agreement. A domestic cap-and-trade program, for instance, could allow for crediting of emission reductions in developing countries; additional incentives could be conditioned on the acceptance by developing countries of reasonable international commitments. Congress also could provide tax and other export incentives to support the adoption of U.S. clean energy technologies. A post-2012 agreement could establish an international financing mechanism and address issues such as intellectual property rights. Determining the appropriate forms and level of support requires a far better understanding of developing countries’ needs and the barriers to achieving them. To the degree feasible, however, we believe that support for developing country efforts should take the form of market-based incentives that leverage private financial flows.

As I noted earlier, the Bali Roadmap presents an unprecedented opening to engage developing countries more deeply in the climate effort. To seize this opportunity, the United States must come forward with an offer that fairly addresses the legitimate needs of developing countries, while being realistic about the nature and level of commitment that can be expected in return.

4) Reaching Agreement Requires a Major U.S. Diplomatic Initiative

We believe that these three steps by the United States – enacting mandatory domestic emission limits, declaring a willingness to negotiate a binding commitment, and offering a package of incentives for developing country action – are essential preconditions for a comprehensive post-2012 climate agreement. But these steps must be accompanied by vigorous and sustained U.S. diplomacy both within and outside the U.N. negotiating process.

Within the U.N. process, the new Ad Hoc Working Group established by the Bali Action Plan must now agree on how it will take up the complex set of issues before it. Despite the tight deadline, it will not be feasible for the parties to go directly to negotiating commitments. First, they must come to a firmer common understanding of the central issues and the options for addressing them. Key among these are different commitment types and their potentials, specific technology needs, and financing mechanisms. The United States should fully engage in the Working Group process and help ensure that it focuses on the right issues in the right order.

Simultaneously, the United States should engage in intensive bilateral diplomacy to better understand the perspectives of other key countries and to seek common ground for a comprehensive agreement. Within the negotiations, issues often are debated only in general terms. To fully understand the concrete needs and concerns of other countries, it is better to engage them one on one. Trust and understanding developed on a bilateral basis will make a comprehensive agreement far more feasible.

The United States also can work outside the formal negotiating process to promote consensus among the group of major economies. The participants in the Pocantico dialogue I described earlier were among the first to urge a high-level dialogue among major economies as a prelude to formal post-2012 negotiations. The goal of the administration’s major economies initiative is to reach consensus among these key countries in 2008 as a basis for a global U.N. agreement in 2009. However, the administration brings to this initiative a specific vision of the post-2012 framework – one based on nationally defined programs, rather than binding international commitments. There was little indication at the first major economies meeting in September that other countries support this approach. Still, by aiming for agreement on discrete elements, rather than a comprehensive approach, the initiative could in the months remaining make a significant contribution. In particular, if the major economies were to achieve consensus on a long-term climate goal, or on an international technology fund, as the president has proposed, these could serve as important elements of the post-2012 agreement envisioned in the Bali Roadmap.

To summarize, I believe the Bali Roadmap presents an historic opportunity to mobilize an effective multilateral response to climate change, and it is incumbent upon the United States to lead both at home and abroad to ensure its success. I again commend the Committee for bringing the attention of the Senate to bear on these critical issues, and I thank you for the opportunity to present our views. I would be happy to answer your questions.

Towards an Integrated Multi-Track Climate Framework

Multi-Track Framework Cover

Towards an Integrated Multi-Track Climate Framework

Prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change
December 2007

Daniel Bodansky, University of Georgia School of Law
Elliot Diringer, Pew Center on Global Climate Change

Press Release


With the approach of 2012, and the expiration of the initial greenhouse gas targets under the KyotoProtocol, governments are grappling with how best to advance the international climate effort in the years beyond. The central challenge is as clear as it is formidable: fashioning an international framework ensuring that all of the world’s major economies contribute equitably and effectively to the global climate effort. 

One way of characterizing the many different proposals put forward by governments, experts, and advocates is in terms of where they fall along a certain continuum: Towards one end are so-called “bottom-up” approaches, which envision the international effort as an aggregation of nationally defined programs put forward by countries on a strictly voluntary basis. At the other end are “top-down” approaches, in which governments negotiate explicit and binding international commitments that in turn shape and drive national policies.1   

This paper suggests a middle course, one that seeks to introduce “bottom-up” flexibility while retaining the cohesion and reciprocity of “top-down.” We call this an integrated multi-track approach.2 In this approach, all major economies enter into commitments aimed at reducing or moderating their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but the type of commitment varies. For example, some countries have binding economy-wide emission targets, as under Kyoto, while others commit to implement national policies such as efficiency standards, renewable energy targets, or measures to reduce deforestation.3 Some, in addition, could participate in sectoral agreements on targets, standards, or other measures addressing emissions from particular sectors.4  

The broad contours of such an approach were outlined in the report of the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico, a group of policymakers and stakeholders from 15 countries convened by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.5 In assessing a wide range of post-2012 options, the group concluded that the major economies, given their tremendous diversity, are more apt to engage in the international effort if given latitude to pursue different policy “tracks.” But the dialogue participants also concluded that the collective effort will be stronger if these multiple tracks are brought together in an overarching framework allowing coordination and tradeoffs among countries:  

[A] purely “bottom up” approach might produce only an ad hoc assemblage of disparate initiatives, with little certainty that the overall effort would be sufficiently timely or robust… Expressly linking approaches may allow for a more robust overall effort. In order for governments and for the private sector to undertake and sustain ambitious climate action, they must be confident that their counterparts are contributing their fair share. An integrated agreement could help provide this mutual assurance. By linking and negotiating across tracks, it may be possible to arrive at an arrangement that is at once flexible enough to accommodate different approaches, and reciprocal enough to achieve a higher overall level of effort.6


This paper elaborates on the rationale for an integrated multi-track approach; draws lessons from other multilateral regimes, including those addressing international trade and other transboundary environmental challenges; and identifies key issues in designing a multi-track climate framework. It assesses three models: an “individualized commitments” approach, which affords countries the greatest flexibility; a “parallel agreements” approach, which provides more structure and integration; and an “integrated commitments” approach, in which countries agree to negotiate within given tracks towards a comprehensive package agreement.

The paper concludes that of the three, the “integrated commitments” model is the one most likely to produce a collective level of effort sufficient to meeting the challenge of climate change. While still allowing countries the flexibility of different commitment types, this approach encourages stronger reciprocity and effort by establishing some agreement at the outset on commitment types, and to which countries they will apply, and by requiring that all tracks be agreed as one comprehensive package.  

There was consensus among the Pocantico dialogue participants—and there is now consensus among most, if not all, governments—that the appropriate venue for developing the post-2012 climate framework is the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). An integrated multi-track post-2012 agreement under the UNFCCC would likely include elements under the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, and, potentially, under new protocols or other instruments. In the present negotiating context, the key to producing such an agreement is a new mandate for negotiations under the Convention—encompassing or linked to ongoing negotiations under Kyoto—with the aim of a comprehensive package of commitments for all major emitting countries.  

See Notes in full report to view references


Dowload the full report (pdf)

Daniel Bodansky
Elliot Diringer

Pew Statement: COP 13 - Bali Roadmap

Statement of Elliot Diringer, Director of International Strategies
Pew Center on Global Climate Change


December 15, 2007


Governments today took a critical step toward an effective global response to climate change. The Bali roadmap leaves open a host of key issues. It doesn’t explicitly nail down the scale of effort needed or the nature of the actions to be negotiated. It puts no one on the hook right now for emission reductions. What’s important, though, is that it lets no one off the hook either. It challenges all governments to confront the tough issues ahead and opens the way for the first time to a comprehensive negotiation of post-2012 commitments.

Two years ago in Montreal, many governments were barely prepared to open an informal “dialogue” on future climate action. Here in Bali, all governments agreed to move past dialogue to negotiations with the very ambitious goal of a new global agreement in 2009. They also implicitly recognized that, in addition to emission targets for developed countries, this agreement will have to allow for other types of commitments for developing countries in order to achieve the broadest possible participation.

With their decisions on adaptation, deforestation, and technology, governments addressed key developing country concerns and laid important groundwork for a post-2012 agreement. Ultimately, these and other elements need to be integrated in a comprehensive package spelling out specific binding commitments for all the major economies. Governments can waste no time if they’re to achieve that between now and 2009.

The critical first step is an unequivocal signal by the United States that it is prepared to negotiate a binding international commitment. Having joined other governments in launching this new U.N. process, the Bush administration must not use its upcoming meeting of major economies to stall or steer countries away from binding commitments. With Congress now well on its way to enacting an economy-wide cap-and-trade system, it’s time for the administration to support mandatory emission limits at home as a foundation for a fair, inclusive, and effective global agreement.

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