Press Release: Pew Center Report Urges Reliance on Strong National Programs

For Immediate Release:
November 15, 2000, 10:00 a.m.

Contact: Katie Mandes, 703-516-4146
             Dale Curtis, 202-777-3530

"Meaningful" Compliance System: A Key Test for Global Climate Negotiators
Pew Center Report Urges Reliance on Strong National Programs

Washington, DC - The success and credibility of any global climate agreement will depend in large measure on whether it has provisions to ensure "meaningful compliance," according to a paper issued today by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

As Parties to the Kyoto Protocol gather in The Hague, November 13-24, in an effort to finalize rules for implementing the treaty, a central issue is how to guarantee that nations comply with their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This presents a complex challenge because the economic and social behaviors that drive anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are linked to so many facets of modern life. Another concern is the nature of multilateral agreements, where compliance is more often a matter of will than of compulsion.

"Traditionally, international agreements have had weak or ineffective compliance systems because of sovereignty concerns," said Eileen Claussen, President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. "There are ways, however, to encourage meaningful compliance so that reduction targets are actually met by the broadest number of Parties."

"The importance of countries actually complying with their emissions targets cannot be overstated," added Claussen. Furthermore, "the damages from non-compliance-even if later remedied-can be a loss of the trust and good faith that underpins international agreements. The approach to compliance described in this report is preferable to ensuring compliance by making the rules weaker."

National Programs at the Core of Meeting International Commitments

The new Pew Center report was authored by two experts, one in the field of international compliance and enforcement-Eric Dannenmaier, Director of the North-South Center Environmental Law Program-and the other in economics-Isaac Cohen, President of INVERWAY, LLC and former Director of the Washington Office of the UN Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean. The report examines some of the principles and strategies that can help ensure compliance with the international climate change treaty. The report concludes that:

  • National compliance systems should be promoted as a principal means to ensure compliance with the Kyoto Protocol or any future climate change agreement and should seek to balance market-based instruments with strong enforcement;
  • National compliance with international climate change agreements must be verifiable to ensure credibility, and monitoring and verifying compliance with the Kyoto Protocol can benefit significantly from integrating existing national compliance systems into the international system; and
  • Broad participation in any climate change regime is as important as meeting the commitments of the agreements themselves; the Kyoto Mechanisms-International Emissions Trading, Joint Implementation, and the Clean Development Mechanism-can play an important role in boosting both participation and compliance.

A complete copy of these and other Pew Center reports can be accessed from the Pew Center's web site,

About the Pew Center: 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 a nonprofit, non-partisan and independent organization dedicated to providing credible information, straight answers and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change. Eileen Claussen, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, leads the Pew Center. The Pew Center includes the Business Environmental Leadership Council, a group of large, mostly Fortune 500 corporations all working with the Pew Center to address issues related to climate change. The companies do not contribute financially to the Pew Center; it is solely supported by contributions from charitable foundations.