Australian Press gets behind Contraction and Convergence (C&C)
September 11, 2007
Contraction and convergence's answer to this problem is that every person should be given an equal share, that is, emissions should be distributed at a national level on a per capita basis.
A per capita allocation is the only allocation principle that is likely to be accepted by India, China, Indonesia and other developing nations with large populations.
THERE are positive aspects to the Sydney Declaration on climate change.
It helps re-establish Australia as one of the good guys working to solve the global warming problem, and essentially re-aligns Australia's position with that of progressive nations including the European Union. Admittedly, much of the declaration simply recommits APEC countries to the principles and aims of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. But this achievement will be warmly welcomed by the international community.
Aspirational targets are also useful in signalling that the 21 APEC leaders now acknowledge global warming is the mother of all environmental problems and must be tackled sooner rather than later.
But we will be sadly and dangerously misled in thinking that aspirational targets, and promoting particular technologies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, provide a suitable framework for the post-Kyoto protocol. In the rush to act, we risk ending up with a new international agreement that fails to address the specific actions needed to actually solve the global warming problem.
First, let's be clear about the problem. Humans are releasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouses gases into the atmosphere at a faster rate than natural processes can absorb them. The global warming problem will be solved when we have reduced the total annual global emissions of greenhouse gases so that their atmospheric concentration is stabilised at a safe level that does not cause significant climate change.
This will not be achieved in the absence of a legally binding international agreement that leads to global greenhouse gas emissions being reduced to a safe level over a time that minimises harm to people and nature. In its absence, national initiatives will not solve the problem. Nor can there by any guarantee that efforts by individuals and organisations to voluntarily reduce their carbon emissions will actually lead to the problem being solved.
Fortunately, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change commits all nations, including Australia, to work together to solve the global warming problem through negotiation of additional agreements.
The Kyoto Protocol is one such agreement committing nations to take some baby steps (albeit important ones) along the road to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (a total of about 5 per cent during the period 2008 to 2012). But governments now need to start negotiating a new post-Kyoto protocol that will solve the global warming problem. What should such a new protocol look like?
The answer is called "contraction and convergence", a framework for crafting a new protocol that forces governments to agree on three vital questions.
First, what is a safe concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases?
Many scientists argue a safe concentration is what it was during the
1960s. Once a safe concentration is agreed on, it is then easy to
calculate the total global amount of greenhouse gases that can be
emitted each year to achieve that target.
The second question that contraction and convergence forces governments to answer is: "When will the total global emissions of greenhouse gases be reduced to the amount needed to maintain
atmospheric concentrations at the agreed safe level: in 2020; 2100;
The third critical question governments must reach agreement on is how the global permissible amount of greenhouse gas emissions will be
allocated between nations. This is the most politically difficult
problem to resolve in negotiating a new international agreement.
Contraction and convergence's answer to this problem is that every person should be given an equal share, that is, emissions should be distributed at a national level on a per capita basis. A per capita allocation is the only allocation principle that is likely to be accepted by India, China, Indonesia and other developing nations with large populations.
Once a new protocol is in place based on the contraction and convergence framework, national governments can then begin the difficult and complex task of negotiating their way through the various implementation issues and working out how to most efficiently and fairly reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to the agreed safe level, such as through a national carbon market. Contraction and convergence does not tell us how to reduce carbon emissions to a safe level, but provides a framework so that all our actions to reduce carbon emissions will count and lead to the global warming problem being solved.
A new contraction and convergence framed international protocol will ensure all nations are working together in a co-ordinated way and that everyone's efforts to reduce carbon emissions make a real difference.
This certainty will be of great benefit to investors, solidify national carbon markets, and encourage the next generation of greenhouse friendly technologies. We can make our personal and organisational contributions to reducing carbon emissions confident that the problem will actually be solved in due course. Without such an agreement, all our individual and collective efforts may be to no avail and we will fail to solve the problem.
However, solving the global warming problem will require a level of international co-operation not seen since the Allied nations' response during World War II. Australia, with the APEC nations, can play a critical leadership role in the international diplomatic campaign that will be needed to secure a new contraction and convergence-framed agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Oz Press C&C at APEC
Brendan Mackey mailto:GCN@igc.topica.com is a professor of environmental science at the Australian National University
Aubrey Meyer mailto:email@example.com dated
Monday, September 10, 2007
Support Grows For Equity-Based Global Warming Plan and Climate Change: Session on future international action
Democracy at the international level – the basis for global climate action.
Talk by Kay Weir, editor Pacific Ecologist, published by the Pacific Inst of Resource Management
Organised by Adrian Macey, Climate Change Ambassador, Environment Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Lambton Quay, Wellington, 16 August 2007.
/ 'Mayor Blair' Anderson ‹(•¿•)›