Who Takes Responsibility for Climate Change? Part III
6: How should the job be done?
Exactly what kind of measures should be implemented to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is up to the governing authorities in a quarter of individual countries to decide. The international climate negotiations nevertheless provide important guidelines on which instruments are to be used in climate work and how the efforts are to be organized between countries.
The Kyoto Protocol of 1997 introduced a system in which countries can use so-called “flexible mechanisms” to implement their climate goals. One of these mechanisms is quota trade between countries. This means that a country that reduces its emissions more than it has to, can sell quotas to countries that have not managed to reduce their emissions enough.
Another mechanism is the ” Clean Development Mechanism ” (CDM). According to it, a developing country that implements a specific project to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions can sell quotas corresponding to the amount of emissions that the project saved. A project can, for example, be to replace a coal-fired power plant with a hydroelectric power plant (dam, etc.).
The system of flexible mechanisms means that countries such as Norway and Australia, which today emit more than they have committed to in the Kyoto Protocol, can still manage to achieve their emission targets by buying quotas from other countries . The quota trade between countries introduced by the Kyoto Protocol has also been used as a model for trade in climate quotas between activities within countries, for example in the EU and in California (USA). Many environmental organizations and some developing countries criticize the flexible mechanisms because they make it possible for rich countries to keep up with their high emissions. But the vast majority of UN countries want to continue the flexible mechanisms in future climate agreements.
In addition to quota trading, other measures have been introduced to enable rich countries to contribute to emission reductions in poorer countries. A system where rich countries can pay developing countries to take care of their forests is being developed under the name REDD + . Norway, for example, is the country that has invested the most money in this work. The Durban climate summit also set up an international fund (Green Climate Fund, GCF) to help developing countries reduce their emissions and adapt to climate change.
The decision from the climate summit in Cancun promises that rich countries by 2020 will contribute a total of 100 billion dollars a year to such measures. Where the money will come from is, for example, unclear. Developing countries believe that rich countries should contribute money directly from their state budgets, while industrialized countries prefer to see private business account for the bulk of the money through investments and quota trading.
7: New attempt at international agreement
Instead of a comprehensive agreement on reduced greenhouse gas emissions, as many wanted in advance of the climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009, the regulations for international climate cooperation have become a patchwork of decisions . At the Doha Summit in 2012, according to APARENTINGBLOG, EU countries, Norway and a few other rich countries accepted that their emissions targets should be part of the Kyoto Protocol . In this way, they became legally obliged to implement the goals they have set themselves. With that, the Kyoto Protocol was extended until 2020 for these countries. Other countries, such as the United States, Russia, China and Brazil, have also adopted targets for emission reductions, but these are not as binding as the targets in the Kyoto Protocol.
However, there is no hope that the UN countries will agree on a more comprehensive, legally binding agreement: In Durban in 2011, it was decided to start a new round of negotiations, where the goal is to reach an agreement that will apply from 2020 and beyond. According to the plan, this agreement will be completed at the climate summit in 2015.
Although the work for an international agreement on emission reductions has continued, negotiations in recent years have shown that it will be very difficult to get all countries to agree on a global distribution of climate efforts. Waiting for an international agreement before deciding to reduce emissions on a large scale in a quarter of individual countries can therefore prove to be a dangerous strategy. If we are to achieve sharp emission reductions in a short time, as the UN climate panel says we need to achieve the two-degree goal , more countries will probably have to increase their efforts on their own without waiting for a complete international set of rules.