International Efforts Beyond 2012 - Report of the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico

Climate Dialogue at Pocantico

International Climate Efforts Beyond 2012:
Report of the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico

November 15, 2005

Download the entire report in English (pdf).

Now Available in Chinese (4 MB pdf), French (pdf), and Spanish (pdf).

This major report outlines options and recommendations for advancing the international climate change effort post-2012. The report is from the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico, a group of 25 senior policymakers and stakeholders from 15 countries convened by the Pew Center.

Press Release

Background on the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico.

The Climate Dialogue at Pocantico was convened by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change with the generous support of The Pew Charitable Trusts, the United Nations Foundation, the Wallace Global Fund, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

From the Chairs

Some eighteen months ago, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change brought together a select group of policymakers and stakeholders from around the world in the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico, a series of discussions exploring options for advancing the international climate change effort. It was our privilege to chair this group, and it now is our pleasure to present this report of our deliberations.

We do so with a deepened sense of the global challenges we face-and with renewed hope for shared solutions. In our four dialogue sessions, discussion ranged from the intricacies of policy design to more fundamental issues of political and social change. The aim was not a definitive blueprint for action, but rather consensus around a set of approaches that the group as a whole believed worthy of consideration by the broader community. This report, we believe, fulfills that aim. 

Of the many valuable ideas in the pages that follow, two, we believe, are paramount:

  • First, there is ample scientific justification for much stronger action now, and in coming decades, to stem the causes and prepare for the consequences of global climate change.
  • Second, this requires that the world's major economies accept their responsibility to agree and act on fair and effective approaches to curb global greenhouse gas emissions.

Our dialogue concludes at a critical moment. The Kyoto Protocol's recent entry into force is an historic achievement-finally setting governments and markets to the task of addressing climate change. Yet the continued divide over Kyoto bespeaks the extraordinary challenges ahead. Broadening and strengthening the international effort beyond 2012 will require creative new policy approaches building on efforts already underway. It will call as well for far greater resolve from all in protecting the global climate. There is no better time or place to begin than next month in MontrTal, where governments have a crucial opportunity to launch a process toward a new multilateral agreement.

We take heart from the spirit and success of our informal exchange. Participants brought to the dialogue a diverse range of experience and expertise spanning diplomacy, business, policymaking, and analysis. They brought as well a sincere interest in discovering common ground and possible paths forward. By speaking openly and listening, we all learned a great deal from one another, and collectively, our views were broadened and enriched.

As co-chairs of this rich discourse, we are grateful to the participants for their time and for their insights. We also would like to thank JosT Marfa Figueres for his early contributions to this effort. On the group's behalf and ours, we commend this report to you in the hope that it contributes now and in the years ahead to a vigorous and sustained multilateral climate effort.


Eileen Claussen
Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Ged Davis
Managing Director
World Economic Forum

Report Summary

Global climate change represents a profound long-term challenge for governments, business, and society at large. The onset of global warming has made the dangers ever more apparent, and the need for action all the more urgent. There is clear scientific justification for stronger action now, and over coming decades, both to avert the gravest potential consequences of climate change and to prepare for adverse effects that cannot be avoided. The critical question is how best to engage nations and their peoples in a long-term effort that fairly and effectively mobilizes technology and resources to protect the global climate and sustain economic growth.   

Climate change is inherently a global challenge and should be met with a global response. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) establishes a foundation, and fundamental guiding principles, for such a global approach. To effectively advance the climate effort beyond 2012, the international framework must:

Engage major economies—The immediate imperative is successfully engaging the world’s major economies. Twenty-five countries account for 83 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, 71 percent of global population, and 86 percent of global income. There is tremendous diversity within this group. While all should be prepared to commit to stronger action, an equitable approach must be consistent with the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.”

Provide Flexibility—To broaden participation, the multilateral framework must be flexible enough to accommodate different types of national strategies by allowing different types of commitments. Each country must be able to choose a pathway that best aligns its national interests with the global interest in climate action.

Couple near-term action with a long-term focus—Near-term action is urgently needed on three fronts: achieving immediate, cost-effective emission reductions; fostering the development of breakthrough technologies to achieve deeper reductions in the future; and strengthening resilience to the adverse effects of a changing climate. These efforts should be guided to the degree possible by a common view of the long-term objectives.

Integrate climate and development—Countries can contribute to the international effort through actions that serve their development goals while simultaneously delivering climate benefits. In developing countries, efforts will be most successful if complemented by assistance, investment, and access to clean technologies.

Address adaptation—The impacts of climate change are being felt already and are certain to intensify, even if immediate steps are taken to dramatically reduce emissions. These impacts fall disproportionately on the poor, particularly in developing countries. Fairness demands that they be assisted.

Be viewed as fair—A new global bargain on climate change will be possible only if each participating country perceives it to be reasonably fair. This assessment is ultimately a political one. Each country will judge fairness in terms it believes it can defend both to its own citizens and to the global community.

Approaches that might serve as elements of the future international effort include:

Aspirational Long-Term Goal—Rather than attempt to negotiate a quantified long-term target, governments and others should continue to articulate their own visions of a long-term objective. In time, these may coalesce into a more concrete common view informally guiding the international effort.

Adaptation—New assistance could support the development of national adaptation strategies and help highly vulnerable countries cope with urgent adaptation needs. Further steps are needed to discourage investments increasing climate vulnerability and promote those strengthening climate resilience.

Targets and Trading—Emission targets coupled with international emissions trading should remain a core element of the multilateral effort. Future targets could vary in time, form, and stringency. In addition to binding absolute targets, other types could include intensity, “no-lose,” or conditional targets. Other market-based approaches could include a mechanism crediting policy-driven emission reductions in developing countries.

Sectoral Approaches—Commitments structured around key sectors such as power, transportation, or land use could take a variety of forms: emission targets, performance- or technology-based standards, or “best practice” agreements.

Policy-based Approaches—Countries could commit to broad goals integrating climate and development objectives, then pledge national measures to achieve them and report periodically on implementation and results.

Technology Cooperation—Governments could coordinate and increase support for research and development of long-term technologies. Stronger cooperation also is needed to facilitate the deployment of clean technologies in developing countries.

FORGING NEW APPROACHES that draw on these elements will pose extraordinary political, design, and negotiating challenges. Meeting them may require new forms—and new forums—of engagement:

A Dialogue Among Major Economies—On the political front, leaders of the major economies should convene an informal dialogue to seek consensus on the general nature and scope of multilateral efforts post-2012. While this dialogue could be convened within the UNFCCC process, it may be more practical and productive to convene it outside the process, with the understanding that formal agreements would be negotiated under the Framework Convention.

Linking Approaches—Multiple approaches could be pursued in parallel as different groups of countries engage with one another along different tracks. Such efforts could launch action on multiple fronts and yield valuable lessons to guide future steps. But an ad hoc assemblage of initiatives may not produce an overall effort that is sufficiently timely or robust. A more integrated approach could produce a stronger outcome. By linking and negotiating across tracks, governments may arrive at an arrangement flexible enough to accommodate different approaches and reciprocal enough to achieve higher levels of effort. It may help to agree at the outset that certain countries will negotiate within designated tracks appropriate to their circumstances.