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

Press Release
May 14, 2007

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


New Reports Build on Recommendations of Climate Dialogue at Pocantico

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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