177 STC 07 E bis- CLIMATE CHANGE: THINKING BEYOND KYOTO
PIERRE CLAUDE NOLIN (CANADA)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
II. UPDATE ON THE CLIMATE CHANGE DEBATE
A. ACKNOWLEDGING GLOBAL WARMING AND HUMAN INFLUENCE
III. BEYOND KYOTO
A. THE POSITION OF THE UNITED STATES
1. The debate is over: climate change is real. It has been confirmed by the most knowledgeable scientific minds of our planet, and these are not the people who warned us about the fake "Millennium Bug". The solid scientific evidence of human responsibility is so abundant that there is a tangible dramatic mood swing in world public opinion. Even yesterday's sceptics are turning into highly alert champions of urgent action to tackle this immense problem. If the Earth warms up by more than 2°C in the course of the 21st century, which is very plausible, climate change would become unmanageable and any human efforts would be void.
2. Climate change has become a consistent theme in international political discourse, no longer solely the concern of a small group of activists but a mainstream issue. It is critical that the NATO Parliamentary Assembly continues to keep this issue on its agenda, and contributes, within its competence, to the global efforts on this front. Climate change will affect, and is already affecting, nearly all areas of our lives, including security and the geopolitical situation. It is expected to cause further redistribution of wealth and a subsequent migration of people. Some regions that have always been on the periphery of the world, such as Greenland or Siberia, may become strategically important. Canada is already having certain sovereignty issues with the United States over sea passages through the Canadian Arctic. The conflict in Darfur is said to be "the first climate change war" stemming from years of droughts and subsequent food shortages in the region.1
3. In April 2007, a group of eleven most senior retired US admirals and generals, including Gen. Anthony Zinni, a former Commander in Chief of US Central Command, and Gen. Gordon Sullivan, a former Army chief of staff, published a study on the threat that climate change poses to US national security. The group urged world leaders to take immediate action to tackle climate change. As Gen. Zinni put it: "We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today, and we will have to take an economic hit of some kind. Or, we will pay the price later in military terms. And that will involve human lives. There will be a human toll.2" This view was also supported by many influential policymakers, such as Mrs. Margaret Beckett, who, in her then capacity as the UK's Foreign Secretary, urged the UN Security Council to address the climate change issue because of its serious implications for international peace and security.3 Mr. Jock Stirrup, chief of the UK defence staff, stated that calculation of the effects of climate change must become a feature of military planning, because countries weakened by these effects are more vulnerable to exploitation by armed groups4.
4. The Science and Technology Committee has been constantly following the climate change debate for many years, including preparing reports on the Kyoto Protocol back in 1998 and 2002, and a report on the effects of global warming for the Arctic region in 2005. The current report aims to provide an update on the climate change debate, including new developments in acknowledging climate change as well as mitigating it and adapting to it. The Report will also look at ways to strengthen existing efforts to respond to the challenge of global warming, especially after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
II. UPDATE ON THE CLIMATE CHANGE DEBATE
A. ACKNOWLEDGING GLOBAL WARMING AND HUMAN INFLUENCE
5. In 2007, the most powerful message concerning the menace of climate change came from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),5 which published its Fourth Assessment Report "Climate Change 2007" (4AR). The first part of the Report released in February 2007 sent a strong signal to policy-makers, warning that the climate is changing more rapidly than previously expected, and that this change is "very likely" (i.e., 90% certainty)6 to have been caused by human activities. New scientific data confirms that global warming is "unequivocal". According to various scenarios, our planet will warm from 1.8-4.0°C in the course of the 21st century, causing the sea levels to rise 0.18-0.59 metres. The IPCC also predicts that the Arctic Ocean will become almost entirely ice-free during summer. Typhoons and hurricanes will become more severe and heat waves more frequent. By 2050, water availability is projected to increase by 10-40% in wet areas, and decrease by 10-30% over some dry regions. Even if greenhouse gas emissions were stabilised, global warming would still continue for decades7.
6. The second part of the 4AR, finalised in April 2007, revealed startling consequences of global warming for humanity and nature. Among other things, the second report warned, that:
- Approximately 20-30% of plant and animal species are facing the risk of extinction if increases in the global average temperature exceed 1.5-2.5°C.
7. It has to be pointed out that, since its first report in 1990, IPCC has been remarkably good at projecting the future. The published conclusions of 4AR have received considerable attention, including from the leaders of major powers. However, even the alarming conclusions of the 4AR were seen by a number of experts as somewhat "watered-down" and too conservative. The New Scientist journal and other credible sources identified a number of serious challenges largely overlooked by the Report:
- Many glaciologists disagree with the Report's modest predictions concerning the sea level's rise. 4AR assumes that thick ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica will melt steadily, while glaciologists warn that ice sheets will fracture and break up as they melt. Subsequently, seawater will penetrate these glaciers and accelerate melting dramatically. These developments would cause sea levels to rise by metres and not centimetres in the course of the century. Such disturbing conclusions are supported by respectable scientific institutions, including the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, the British Antarctic Survey and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.8 Elliot Morley, MP, UK Prime Minister's Special Representative on the Gleneagles Dialogue, testified to the members of the STC that the melting of Greenland and Antarctic ice could potentially raise sea levels by 12 metres.9 If that happened, more than 600 million people would have to abandon their homes.10 Poor countries are most at risk.
8. The publication of 4AR has considerably weakened the stance and numbers of global warming sceptics, but the alternative approach aimed at explaining (or denying) climate change still exists. One of the most popular arguments used by sceptics is the possible impact of cosmic radiation on our planet's climate. This hypothesis states that interstellar cosmic rays are to a large extent responsible for creating the Earth's cloud cover, which protects the planet from overheating. Increased solar activity, on the other hand, reduces the intensity of cosmic radiation and, consequently, weakens the cloud cover. A group of solar physicists led by Henrik Svensmark from the Danish National Space Centre claim to have determined the correlation between the decreased cosmic ray intensity during the last century and the rise in average temperatures. Therefore, sceptics maintain, global warming is not a man-made effect. However, the majority of climate change scientists do not believe that the impact of cosmic radiation on global warming is significant. Nevertheless, this theory was used by Chinese and Saudi Arabian government delegations to the IPCC and contributed to soften the language of the 4AR, replacing the original "extremely likely" (95% certainty) with the mere "very likely" (90%) when determining the scope of anthropogenic influence.16
9. Recently, the very cornerstone of the sceptics argumentation - that increased solar activity is to blame for climate change - has been challenged. New research by representatives of the Science and Technology Facilities Council in the UK and World Radiation Centre in Switzerland has shown that solar activity has, in fact, been declining for the last two decades and thus cannot account for recent rises in global temperatures. According to Mike Lockwood, one of the authors of the study, "if they (solar factors) were really a big factor we would have cooling by now". Even if there is a lag between the changes in solar activity and consequent changes in the Earth's global temperatures, scientists would have noticed a decline in temperatures by now. Yet, it is obvious that our planet is still warming up. The findings of the study also refute the above-mentioned "cosmic rays" theory by showing that cosmic radiation is actually increasing since the mid-1980s.17
10. The credibility of sceptics' arguments was also seriously harmed by reports that some industrial companies are funding a number of scientific organisations and researchers. Most recently, it was discovered that ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil and gas company, has given millions of dollars to various think-tanks that challenge the existence of global warming. According to the Royal Society, Britain's leading scientific academy, in 2005 alone ExxonMobil distributed more than US$2.9 million to at least 39 groups that have "misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence". Most of these groups were funded by ExxonMobil for many years in a row.18
11. In addition to 4AR, a number of other recently published authoritative and rigorous documents add to an increased understanding of the climate change issue. These documents include:
- The Stern Review, written by the former chief economist of the World Bank, Sir Nicholas Stern, for the UK government. The Review warned that if no action is taken, there is likelihood that in the 21st century the average temperature will rise by more than 5°C, compared to pre-industrial times. This rise would be roughly equivalent to the transition from the last ice age to our era. The Review, which focused mainly on economic effects of global warming, concluded that climate change will bring dire economic consequences, comparable with the world wars and the Great Depression in the 20th century. The Review estimated that, due to climate change, the world would be losing at least 5% (in the worst case scenario - even up to 20%) of its GDP each year.19 By contrast, mitigation efforts, such as partial decarbonisation of power and transport sectors, investment in renewable energy and ending deforestation, would only cost 1% of global GDP each year. Therefore, it is economically more reasonable to engage in mitigation activities than to cope with consequences.20
- The US inter-agency Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) was tasked by the Administration to produce a series of more than 20 Synthesis and Assessment reports (SAPs) to study areas of uncertainty about global climate change. The first SAP was released in May 2006. This report virtually resolved the discrepancies between data that showed substantial warming of the planet's surface, while satellites could not detect any signs of warming. These discrepancies were used by sceptics to challenge the very fact of global warming and the role of humans in it. The new data, however, proves that the surface and lower layers of the atmosphere have warmed, while the stratosphere has cooled. The CCSP experts also confirmed "clear evidence of human influences on the climate system21". The rest of CCSP SAPs are expected to be completed in 2007 and 2008.
- In November 2006, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published its State of the Arctic report. This report, conducted by an international group of twenty scientists, updated the 2004 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. The report showed convincing evidence of a sustained period of warm temperature anomalies in the Arctic, including continued reduction in sea ice extent and widespread changes in arctic vegetation. The extent of recent changes in the Arctic climate seems to be greater than observed in the 20th century. However, the report also indicated that "certain elements may be recovering and returning to recent climatological norms (for example, the central Arctic Ocean and some wind patterns)".22
B. MITIGATION AND THE KYOTO PROTOCOL
12. Of all multilateral frameworks designed to mitigate the effects of global warming, the Kyoto Protocol is the most renowned. The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change entered into force on 16 February 2005, after the decision of the Russian Federation to join. More than 160 countries are currently party to the Protocol. Kyoto requires developed nations to reduce their greenhouse gas23 emissions by at least 5% below their 1990 levels.24 Since the emissions of these gases in most industrialised countries have further increased in the 90s, the Kyoto targets are actually much higher by now. The Protocol is not ratified by the world's largest emitter - the US (more than a quarter of world's emissions) - while the second largest - China - is considered a developing country and therefore not obliged to reduce its emissions. The implementation of the Protocol is being routinely reviewed in annual conferences, organised under the auspices of the United Nations. The most recent conference took place in Nairobi, Kenya, in November 2006, bringing together nearly 6,000 participants including some 100 ministers and 2,300 government officials. The next round of talks will take place in Bali in December 2007.
13. If a country is unable to transform its industry to emit less carbon dioxide, it still has three alternative ways of reaching its Kyoto targets:
- "Emission trading", i.e. buying "carbon credits" from another developed country which is more successful in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. A number of national, multinational (such as the European Union Emission Trading Scheme, ETS, which accounts for two-thirds of global carbon trading) or even sub-national (such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative of northeastern US states) trading mechanisms have been launched in recent years, but the global carbon market is yet to be established. According to the estimates of Sir Nicholas Stern, the value of carbon credits in circulation is about US$28 billion, and will reach US$40 billion by 2010.25 The neo-liberal tradition maintains that, through carbon trading schemes, the forces of capitalism will drive industry to become 'greener'. The analysis of trends taking place in Europe, however, shows that carbon markets so far are not very effective, because allocations of ETS are too generous, the prices of carbon units are too low, and because of the possibilities offered by the Clean Development Mechanism. Besides, by excluding the developing world, the Protocol does not, in fact, diminish the volume of greenhouse gases in our planet's atmosphere, since the emissions by China, India and Brazil continue to increase at a rapid pace. Furthermore, Kyoto covers only emitters from industry, while, for example, in the United Kingdom, two-thirds of the emissions come from households and transport,26 sectors that are exempt from any carbon caps.
- "Joint Implementation" (JI), i.e., financing emissions-reducing or emissions-avoiding projects in developed countries, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe. JI credits can be obtained only as of 2008. The main problem is how to determine if an action under JI is "supplemental to domestic actions" and "additional to any that would otherwise occur", as required by the Kyoto Protocol. The possibility of misusing JI was highlighted during the Nairobi conference, when Belarus applied to be included on the list of developed countries and thus become eligible for JI projects. Since Belarus' industry dramatically declined since 1990, this country would not face any difficulties meeting emission reduction targets. On the contrary, it would be able to profit from selling carbon credits. It is also unlikely that the economies of Ukraine and Russia would grow fast enough to approach their 1990 emission levels, enabling these two big countries to sell considerable amounts of the so-called "hot air". Thus, there is a clear need to introduce rigorous safeguards to prevent JI from being abused.
- "Clean Development Mechanism" (CDM) - financing projects in developing countries. The UN expects CDM to fund energy (such as solar or wind power) projects worth more than US$3 billion, averting some 1.8 billion tons in greenhouse gas emissions - more than Japan's annual output - by 2012. Nevertheless, the efficiency of CDM is often questioned. For example, Gujarat Fluorochemical company in India has tripled its profit in one year by selling carbon credits. The extra profit is expected to help Gujarat Fluorochemical fund a new plant for producing Teflon and caustic soda, both polluting substances.27 Some credits earned through CDM are relatively "easy money" that permit industrial nations to pollute more themselves. Furthermore, CDM projects are not distributed equally in terms of geography: African nations in particular do not receive an adequate share of these projects.
14. If the above 'flexible mechanisms' do not help and a country still fails to fulfill its commitments, it faces a penalty of making up the difference plus a penalty of 30% in the second commitment period. Of the NATO countries, Canada finds itself in the most difficult situation in terms of compliance with the Kyoto Protocol. In 2006, the new Canadian government announced that it would postpone action regulating greenhouse gas emissions until at least 2010, because Kyoto targets for Canada were "unrealistic" and "unachievable". Canada's target is a 6% cut compared to 1990 levels, but emissions have risen by 27% since the treaty was signed in 1997. The then Minister of Environment Rona Ambrose suggested that Canada join the six-nation Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (the US, Australia, Japan, China, India and South Korea), which focuses on developing new technologies rather than setting mandatory emission targets. However, in February 2007, the Canadian parliament passed a bill that requires the government to continue implementation of Kyoto targets and to punish companies that over-pollute. Despite that, the debate on this issue is not over yet, as the government remains reluctant to implement the bill.
15. In general terms, the Kyoto Protocol is often criticised for not being ambitious and stringent enough to effectively mitigate global warming. In addition to the above-mentioned drawbacks, Kyoto proved to be rather ineffective for stimulating action at the local level. Countries outside the European Union have been unenthusiastic in fully implementing the pledges made at Kyoto, often using the Bush administration's perceived lack of concern for environmental issues as an excuse. The Nairobi conference did not bring much optimism, revealing substantial disagreements between developed and developing countries as well as, in the words of the UN Secretary General, the "frightening" lack of leadership.28 However, Kyoto was designed to be merely the first step of global mitigation efforts. The international community needs to learn from these lessons when negotiating the replacement of Kyoto.
16. Regarding other multinational initiatives to mitigate consequences of climate change, it is necessary to mention the Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, launched in 2005 by the four biggest coal producers in the world - India, China, the United States, Australia - plus Japan and South Korea. The partnership aims to keep fossil fuel power sources, but wants to make them cleaner and greener in a "pro-growth" and "technology-driven approach". Thus, the Partnership intends to spur knowledge exchange on technologies that can burn coal cleanlier and subsequently reduce GHG emissions. Although the six members of the Partnership account for more than 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 50% of the world's population, it is unlikely that the Partnership will replace Kyoto as a global initiative.29 According to Robert Zoellick, former US Deputy Secretary of State, it could be considered as a "complement, not an alternative, to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol".30 These arrangements, however, might weaken developing countries' willingness to participate in discussions under the auspices of the UN and then further undermine the prospects for a future global climate regime.
C. ADAPTING TO CLIMATE CHANGE
17. Our planet has always had warmer and cooler periods, caused by changes in volcanic or solar activity. Nature has always found a way to adapt to these changes. However, the pace of current warming is unprecedented: graphs depicting it are famously called "hockey stick" graphs due to the skyrocketing increase in temperature and the concentration of CO2 in the second half of the 20th century. The rate of change puts into question nature's ability to adapt.
18. The UNDP's Human Development Report, published in 2006, criticised rich nations for not paying enough attention to dealing with the effects of climate change that either already exist or are likely to emerge in the short term. Rising sea levels, floods, droughts, freshwater losses and other negative effects will particularly harm the developing world, disrupting food production systems and exposing an additional 75-125 million people to the threat of hunger.31 According to lead author Kevin Watkins, "there is a lot of evidence that the droughts in the Horn of Africa this year are connected to climate change[...]. This is not an issue for 50 years down the road, it is an issue for today."32 Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of IPCC, stated "there are already almost as many environmentally displaced people on the planet as traditional refugees. As the impacts of climate change strike home, the numbers are likely to rise considerably, possibly as high as 50 million by 2010."33
19. The authors of the Report believed that adaptation rather than mitigation "ought to be a cornerstone of the multilateral framework for dealing with climate change". Regrettably, international aid for the agricultural sector of developing countries has tangibly declined over the past decade. Multilateral frameworks, such as the Adaptation Fund attached to the Kyoto Protocol (comprising a 2% levy on most CDM transactions) and the Global Environmental Facility, accumulated merely US$20 million and US$50 million respectively, which is "woefully inadequate".34 The World Bank estimated that adaptation efforts would require from US$10-40 billion per year.
20. In March 2007, the G8+5 (G8 + Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa) environment ministers also declared that the global response to climate change must comprise both mitigation and adaptation. Ministers recognised that poor countries are particularly vulnerable and industrialised nations have a responsibility to help them become more resilient. Similar statements were made during the Nairobi conference, which was expected to make adaptation a top priority. However, despite sonorous announcements, very little progress was made, and no concrete initiatives were introduced to raise additional funds.
21. While the Kyoto regime is still in an initial phase of its implementation, there is growing pressure to start negotiations for the extension of the regime after it expires in 2012. There is an emerging consensus that the new framework should take shape by 2009.
22. The role of legislators in charting the post-Kyoto regime is critical. In February 2007, the inter-parliamentary organisation Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE) managed to bring together legislators from the G8 nations + 5 to GLOBE's Summit in Washington. The Summit has sent a strong message to the international community calling for global negotiations on a post-Kyoto framework, which would include emission reduction targets for both the developed and the developing worlds. Although the statement of the GLOBE is not legally binding, it is an extremely significant and encouraging breakthrough, as it showed that representatives from very different countries, such as the US and China, could speak with one voice. The legislators urged their governments to agree on further and mandatory emission cuts and to create a global carbon market.
23. The post-Kyoto debate generally focuses on several key questions:
- Will the US join the framework?
A. THE POSITION OF THE UNITED STATES
24. The US government has been widely and vehemently criticised for its alleged disinterest in tackling global warming. However, the issue is increasingly becoming a priority for the US, and it is a mistake to regard Washington's climate change-related policies in exclusively negative terms.
25. In the 90s, US leaders signed the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the ensuing Kyoto Protocol, agreeing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and 2012 to levels below those of 1990. Despite this, the US government quickly distanced itself, arguing that such an agreement could hurt the US economy. In March 2001, President George W. Bush announced that his administration considered the Kyoto Protocol to be fundamentally flawed and that the US was therefore not going to ratify the treaty. Indeed the US is reluctant to agree on any mandatory emissions limits as long as China and India refuse to face penalties for the greenhouse gases they pump into the atmosphere. The US government believes it can reduce CO2 emissions without painful economic ramifications by promoting "greener" and renewable technologies. However, so far this policy has failed to bring tangible results: CO2 emissions in 2006 dropped only by 1.3% and this was mainly caused by high oil prices and mild weather, which reduced overall energy consumption. Renewable sources still generate only 0.8% of electricity in the United States35.
26. Scepticism towards the United Nations remains strong within the George W. Bush administration. Consequently, it is doubtful whether the US is likely to join any international climate regime that is based on the Kyoto architecture. Moreover, this conclusion is likely to remain valid even if a Democrat wins the 2008 presidential elections. While many Democrats might like to see a unilaterally determined emissions target for the United States, few now favour the ratification of Kyoto. The major reason for this is that the first commitment period is approaching quickly. Complying with the relatively demanding Kyoto target would therefore almost certainly require the US to buy large amounts of emission permits. Hence, joining Kyoto at this late stage would be very costly and would almost certainly face fierce resistance from US energy interests.
27. Nonetheless, since June 2005, a new dynamic in the US climate change discussions is emerging and changes in domestic politics could prove to be more important than international factors. In the first instance, growing public awareness on the issue could lead to greater support for US re-engagement in international fora. Secondly, industry and, to a lesser extent, the armed forces, have begun to seriously consider the issue. Finally, initiatives taken by state and local governments could develop into a unified US climate policy.
28. Public demand for action on climate change has already increased as a consequence of growing worries resulting from damage caused by warming and extreme weather events. According to scientific analyses, in 2006 the US had its third warmest year since records began in 1880. Blistering summer heat contributed to the worst fire season on record, with more than 9.5 million acres (38,500 km2) burned through early December. Even the most conservative US projections predict several degrees of warming this century, and possibly much more. A second factor that could amplify US citizens' demands for emissions control policy is the increasing costs of dependence on foreign energy supplies. The security risk associated with dependency on oil imports from the Middle East and other volatile regions is high and could convince the population to reduce the use of fossil fuels. Subsequently, in 2007, for the first time since he took office in 2001, President Bush touched on global climate change in the State of the Union Address, calling it a "serious challenge". Among other proposals, George W. Bush suggested reducing gasoline usage in the US by 20% in the next 10 years, and to increase the supply of alternative fuels in order to reach a production of 35 billion gallons by 2017.
29. Terms like "environmental security" and "energy security" have also entered US defence experts' vocabulary. Even military authorities now officially acknowledge that blind reliance on fossil fuel energy might have dangerous implications for operational flexibility as well as for the armed forces' sustainable development. Striking examples of potential weaknesses are abundant: according to the Triangle Institute for Security Studies, 70% of the freight lifted to battlefields overseas consists of fuel supplies, and the US Army alone spends US$11 billion per year on fossil fuel energy.36 Hence alternative energy options became imperative and mild steps towards self-sufficiency were made. For instance, the US Navy base in Guantanamo has a wind turbine installation that is able to provide up to 25% of its energy, subsequently reducing diesel imports by 650,000 gallons annually.37
30. Finally, climate change is a complex problem that cannot be addressed solely by 'market laws'. So far conventional wisdom seemed to say "let the market do it", no matter how unwilling the market proves to be, and how powerful US oil, gas and nuclear lobbies are. Within the US private sector, investments in renewable energy sources have failed to attract the lion's share of R&D budgets. Nevertheless a demand for federal action on climate change recently came from US companies because they have been disadvantaged by the absence of a clear-cut national policy for controlling emissions. Ten major companies, including General Electric, DuPont and Caterpillar, banded together with leading environmental groups to call for a firm nation-wide limit on carbon dioxide emissions that would lead to reductions of 10 to 30% over the next 15 years. They advocate for an emissions market that could achieve the greatest reduction at the lowest cost.
31. Nowadays it is indubitably American states that are at the forefront of climate change thinking and action. Individual states have been implementing policies to control emissions constituting a "bottom up" development path for federal climate policy. For instance in August 2005 nine northeastern states38 reached an agreement to develop a regional emissions trading programme that would freeze power plant emissions at their current levels in 2009 and then reduce them by 10% by 2020. California has a variety of existing policies and programmes addressing climate change: it has established targets for emissions of 11% below current levels over the next 5 years, 25% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. In addition, a large number of states have adopted regulations to promote the use of renewable energy. At the local level, 212 mayors from 38 states have joined a bipartisan coalition to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
32. In late May 2007, President Bush came up with a new initiative that was widely viewed as an attempt by the US to take the lead in global climate change mitigation efforts. The President suggested inviting, during the course of the year 2008, the 15 biggest emitters of greenhouse gases to a series of conferences aimed at preparing a new framework for global emissions reduction. Although the outlines of this framework are very vague at this juncture, it is thought that it would not include emission caps.
33. However, at the most recent G8 Summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, held only a few days after this new US initiative was announced, President Bush agreed to modify his position by acknowledging that the United Nations process is the most appropriate framework to tackle climate change. The United States also joined the offical statement whereby world leaders agreed on the need for "substantial global emissions reductions". President Bush also stated that his country will "seriously consider" matching commitments made by European, Japanese and Canadian leaders to cut their CO2 emissions by at least 50% by 2050. The G8 Summit also concluded that G8 countries are responsible for 43% of world's greenhouse gas emissions.
B. THE INCLUSION OF THE DEVELOPING WORLD
34. The rationale behind the original decision to exempt the developing world from any obligations under Kyoto was based on the notion that it was the rich countries that are responsible for polluting the planet to obtain their current wealth. Kyoto obligations would be an unbearable burden for the economies of developing countries and would prevent them from ever catching up. However, the Rapporteur believes that without engaging countries like China or India, mitigation efforts will not bring desired results. For example, over the period of 1990-2012, rapidly developing Chinese and Indian economies are estimated to release an additional 2.5 billion tons of CO2, while the Kyoto Protocol, if implemented, would only generate 500 million tons of reductions. The International Energy Agency report showed that China's greenhouse gas emissions would surpass those of the US in 2009, nearly a decade ahead of previous predictions.39 Unfortunately, in China's recently announced climate change action plan, Beijing stated it would refuse to accept emissions targets in order to sustainably develop its economy. According to Ma Kai, director of China's National Development and Reform Commission, "the ramifications of limiting the development of developing countries would be even more serious than those from climate change".40
35. The country-based approach of the Kyoto Protocol is fundamentally flawed. While the economic and political arguments of the developing countries are understandable, effectively addressing the menace of global warming is a top priority for the world today. As the environment ministers of the G8+5 countries declared during their meeting in Potsdam in March 2007, "...the world cannot afford that developing countries repeat the mistakes in the development of industrialized countries." The post-Kyoto regime should adopt a unified global approach, aiming to reduce the volume of greenhouse gases on the entire planet, rather than in some countries and regions.
C. FURTHER EMISSION CUTS AND THE POSITION OF THE EU
36. While at the Nairobi conference the parties failed to establish a clear timeframe for negotiations on a post-Kyoto regime, they nevertheless agreed that each country would examine how much more emission cuts they could afford in the post-2012 period.
37. The European Union is probably the most ardent champion of the Kyoto Protocol and its extension. The EU leads the world's efforts in advocating further and deeper carbon emission cuts. As Mr Andris Piebalgs, Commissioner for Energy Policy, put it, Europe seeks to "lead the world to a new industrial revolution: the development of a low carbon economy". The principles of the EU's post-2012 strategy were outlined in February 2005, even before Kyoto entered into force. The European Commission's Communication suggested (i) bringing the developing countries on board; (ii) including maritime transport, aviation and forestry sectors; (iii) investing in R&D of climate-friendly technologies; (iv) continuing use of market-based instruments for reducing emissions, such as the EU emissions trading scheme; and (v) paying more attention to adaptation policies in the EU and globally. The Commission believes that the commitment of limiting temperature increases to a maximum of 2°C above the pre-industrial level is manageable for the European economies.
38. In its follow-up Communication in January 2007, the European Commission came up with a comprehensive package of proposals to address global warming in the context of a new Energy Policy for Europe. The Commission called for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% by 2020 compared with 1990 levels. This proposal was endorsed by the EU leaders at the Summit in Brussels on 8-9 March 2007, despite the fact that Europe is struggling to meet its Kyoto target of 8% reduction by 2012.
39. In terms of concrete actions, the EU intends:
- To create a true Internal Energy Market;
40. Introducing additional ecological taxation is another forceful tool to induce European industry to cut its emissions and move away from non-environmentally friendly goods. This idea is facing resistance from several countries (UK, Ireland and some Central and East European states) that are reluctant to empower the EU with taxation rights. There is also a fear that additional fuel taxes, which are already much higher than in the United States, will reduce Europe's competitiveness. Nevertheless, the Commission and the German Presidency are determined to convince these opponents and to harmonise energy taxes across the EU, because, as EU Tax Commissioner László Kovács put it, "what is at stake is the future of mankind".41
41. The EU's apparent seriousness about climate change can only be welcomed, considering the fact that, with current trends, EU emissions, instead of decreasing, would actually increase by approximately 5% by 2030. Fulfilling its commitments will be a very costly endeavour for the EU (according to a recent study - up to €1.1 trillion)42 and will require a strong political will.
D. INCREASING FOCUS ON ADAPTATION
42. The need to increase focus on adaptation efforts has already been discussed in this report. According to the Stern Review, market forces are unlikely to lead to efficient adaptation; thus political will and the involvement of governments are crucial in this regard. The G8 countries in particular were already under a lot of pressure to come up with additional initiatives on this front at the June Summit in Heiligendamm, Germany. A transparent and effective way to raise substantial funds for adaptation could be selling greenhouse production rights at a global auction and using the collected money to help countries adversely affected by global warming. Other suggestions include introducing a levy on Joint Implementation projects, or a special adaptation levy on air tickets (as aviation is a substantial emitter of greenhouse gases), or even a GDP-based levy for industrial countries43. Also, the aid to the communities at risk does not necessarily have to be a financial one: for example, providing reliable scientific assessment of vulnerability, educating local communities or sharing experience to enhance governance.
E. TECHNOLOGICAL SOLUTIONS
43. Efforts to harness technology in order to mitigate the effects of climate change are usually associated with the promotion of alternative, cleaner energy sources, such as low-carbon technologies, renewables or even nuclear energy. While such efforts should indeed be at the heart of the post-Kyoto regime, nature-friendly energy is too broad a topic to be properly covered in this report. Instead, the Rapporteur wishes to briefly discuss another, rather revolutionary technological approach, designed to actually cleanse the atmosphere of superfluous greenhouse gases.
44. If proved feasible, this technology - Carbon dioxide Capture and Storage (CCS) - presents another way of meeting Kyoto targets. Instead of requesting industry to emit less CO2, CCS technology would separate CO2 from industrial emissions and transport it to isolated storage locations (usually underground or in the oceans). There are three major types of CCS systems - post-combustion, pre-combustion and oxyfuel combustion - depending on the type of plant. A number of oil and gas and chemical plants are already using this technology, capturing from 80-90% of CO2. The Third IPCC Assessment Report predicted that CCS would contribute "15-55% to the cumulative mitigation effort worldwide until 2100".
45. However, proper storage infrastructure is yet to be developed. The CCS technology is also very costly at the moment (albeit comparable to the cost of other mitigation methods). There is also a risk of leaks from storage facilities that would severely impact the climate and specific ecosystems. In addition there are certain legal constraints, especially related to ocean storage. All these considerations led the Nairobi conference to recognise that there are too many unresolved issues related to CCS, and that it should be studied further. Nevertheless, it is plausible that by 2008 the potential of CCS will be fully acknowledged, making CCS projects eligible to CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) and leading to a major expansion of the scope of CDM. Investment in CCS R&D is increasing, focusing on reducing the cost of the system.
46. The Science and Technology Committee has always been a believer in international regimes. Despite certain drawbacks, Kyoto is an appropriate forum to discuss future frameworks to address climate change. It is important to realise that there is no 'silver bullet' to it, and that it will require a concerted and comprehensive effort from all nations. The post-Kyoto system must exceed the current framework both in scope and ambition.
47. The new framework should include the following elements and principles:
- Universalisation is crucial, as climate change knows no national boundaries. Bringing the US and Australia to the table is a task of paramount importance.
48. The new regime is likely to be costly and face considerable resistance. Yet, responsible politicians should be united on this outstanding issue. Bold political leadership is needed to address this challenge of the 21st century properly. History shows that concerted actions can be very successful even when it comes to climate. For example, the Montreal Protocol, signed in 1987, was key to saving the Earth's ozone layer. The protocol curbed the use of ozone-destroying chemicals, thereby, as scientists calculated, offsetting 10 years of CO2 emissions. Global warming is the 'inconvenient truth' that we all have to face urgently.