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A New Global Climate Change Treaty – Can Humanity Deliver? Our Challenge after Durban for 2015 Jonathan Boston School of Government Victoria University.

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Presentation on theme: "A New Global Climate Change Treaty – Can Humanity Deliver? Our Challenge after Durban for 2015 Jonathan Boston School of Government Victoria University."— Presentation transcript:

1 A New Global Climate Change Treaty – Can Humanity Deliver? Our Challenge after Durban for 2015 Jonathan Boston School of Government Victoria University of Wellington Speech at the University of Otago 14 March 2012


3 Some Quotes If we don’t succeed, we run the risk of failure. George W Bush It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it. George W Bush

4 The Nature of the Problem “Climate change, and what we do about it, will define us, our era, and ultimately the global legacy we leave for future generations” Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General, 2007



7 Some Quotes Roger Revelle & Hans Suess: “… human beings are now carrying out a large scale geophysical experiment of a kind that could not have happened in the past nor be reproduced in the future. Within a few centuries we are returning to the atmosphere and oceans the concentrated organic carbon stored in sedimentary rocks over hundreds of millions of years.” Roger Revelle & Hans Suess, Tellus, 9, 18-27 (1957) Rick Perry (Governor of Texas): Climate science is a “contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight.” Human-induced global warming is “a scientific theory that hasn’t been proven.” (August 2011 )


9 Durban Conference – COP 17 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (1992) – Conference of the Parties (COP) – 17 th COP in Durban, South Africa, late 2011 Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (DPEA) – A new climate treaty – to be agreed by 2015 and come into force by 2020 – Common rules for all

10 The Problem “Climate change is a diabolical policy problem. It is harder than any other issue of high importance …” Professor Ross Garnaut (ANU) … a ‘super-wicked’ problem: 1.Complex and controversial 2.All solutions are problematic 3.Delay is costly 4.Those most responsible have least incentive to solve it 5.Weak central control or enforcement mechanisms


12 Obstacles to an Effective New Treaty 1.Collective action problem 2.Powerful interests; big fossil-fuel sectors in key countries 3.Path dependence and long-lags 4.Geo-political constraints and tensions 5.US – an unwilling participant in international treaties 6.Climate scepticism 7.Divisive policy issues 8.Global financial crisis 9.The human condition 10.UN decision-making processes

13 What follows … 1.The science of climate change 2.The international policy framework 3.The Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (DPEA) – The long-term goal – Burden sharing and fairness – Policy instruments – Legal form and broad participation 4.The Way Ahead: Making Progress 5.Conclusion

14 Do we see the big picture? Vitruvian man (Da Vinci) recreated on melting ice by artist John Quigley (from Chapman)

15 The Scientific Evidence “ The outsider to climate science has no rational choice but to accept that, on the balance of probabilities, the mainstream science is right... We will delude ourselves if we think that scientific uncertainties are cause for delay. Delaying now will eliminate attractive lower-cost options … To delay is to deliberately choose to avoid effective steps to reduce the risks of climate change to acceptable levels”. Ross Garnaut, Garnaut Climate Change Review (Australia) (Draft Report, 2008, pp.1-2)




19 The Scientific Evidence Summary from IPCC 1.The planet is warming 2.The most likely explanation is the large-scale emission of GHGs by human beings 3.More warming is very likely 4.Warming will continue for more than an 1,000 years – given the long lags in the climate system and the carbon cycle 5.Most of the consequences will be negative; they will be of growing severity and duration; some will be irreversible

20 The Scientific Evidence Main ‘reasons for concern’: 1.Risks to unique and threaten systems 2.Risks of extreme weather events 3.Distribution of impacts and vulnerability 4.Aggregate impacts 5.Risk of large-scale singularities or discontinuities – abrupt changes







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28 The International Policy Framework 1.Phase 1: The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – Key objective – to ‘prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system’ … but what does this mean? 2.Phase 2: Kyoto Protocol negotiated under the UNFCCC in 1997 – came into effect in 2005 – first commitment period (CP1): 2008-12

29 Kyoto Protocol - Strengths 1.Provided a spur for domestic action 2.Established the essential elements of an effective mitigation framework, including: – Common accounting rules – Regular reporting and verification – Market mechanisms – Responsibility targets or quantified emission limitation or reduction objectives (QELROs) for all developed countries

30 Kyoto Protocol - Weaknesses 1.Based on an arbitrary division between developed and developing countries, and failed to recognize and anticipate huge changes in the global economy 2.Lack of symmetry contributed to the US deciding not to ratify Kyoto, thereby undermining the Protocol’s credibility and effectiveness 3.Only limited emissions reductions during CP1

31 Emissions Trajectories

32 Durban Conference 1.Transition to phase 3 of the international climate policy regime 2.Positive outcomes of conference: – Kyoto kept alive – there will be a CP2 – Agreement on new accounting rules, including land use, land use change and forestry – Launched the Green Climate Fund – Launched negotiations for a new treaty


34 Developed Countries: Unfinished Business 1.Duration of CP2 2.Translation of pledges into multi-year carbon budgets or responsibility targets 3.Which developed countries will take on targets under KP? 4.Carry over of excess units from CP1 5.Ratification process

35 Developing Countries 1.Nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) 2.Biennial reporting 3.International consultation and analysis 4.But no agreement yet on new common accounting rules

36 The Gap Between What is Needed and What is on Offer 1.No agreed date for peaking or a global emissions-reduction target for 2050 2.Not a top-down process; rather bottom-up pledge and review 3.Current pledges fall far short of what is required to meet the 2°C warming cap, by at least 5 gigatonnes CO 2 e in 2020

37 Emission Paths to Stabilization (from Stern Review)

38 The Ideal Model 1.Universal coverage 2.Explicit long-term goals, including a fixed carbon (or emissions) budget 3.A burden-sharing arrangement; most countries would eventually have responsibility targets 4.Right to trade emission units 5.Common accounting rules 6.Periodic review

39 NZZ

40 Towards a New Climate Treaty The long-term goal 1. The case for a 2°C warming cap 2. The case for an even lower cap 3. But how to stay within even 2°C?



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48 Burden Sharing and Fairness 1.UNFCCC principles: equity; common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities; comparability of effort … 2.Various principles of distributive justice: – Polluter pays (historic responsibility) – Ability to pay (or capability) – Equal right to pollute; equal per capita share of the atmosphere – Equal marginal cost – Other principles and considerations 3.Only rough justice possible

49 Estimated Per Capita GHG Emissions - 2012 Source: Garnaut -10 scenario

50 Legal Form and Symmetry 1.‘… an agreed outcome with legal force’ – Consistent with differentiation both in terms of substance and legal bindingness, but – Legal parity or equivalence necessary politically for all major emitters 2.How to accommodate the US? 3.Without the US, any new treaty is unlikely; delays seem inevitable 4.Risk of overshooting 2°C cap

51 The Way Ahead: Making Progress 1.Need progress domestically in many countries if international negotiations are to succeed 2.Need pioneers, leadership and action at multiple levels – governmental, business, civil society, etc. – Research and development – Extending and linking emissions trading schemes – Reducing fossil fuel subsidies 3.Need to mobilize and galvanize global public opinion

52 New Zealand’s Role 1.Take on a responsibility target under Kyoto for CP2 – 20% reduction by 2020 on 1990 levels 2.Incorporate agriculture into the emissions trading scheme (ETS), and improve the ETS 3.Invest in R&D 4.A range of complementary measures


54 Conclusions 1.Tough road ahead 2.But Durban highlights the potential for progress 3.Some positive developments – decarbonisation gathering pace globally 4.We are all in this together – we all have responsibilities




58 Conclusions Mr President, the evidence is there. The damage is being done. … We need a realistic programme of action and an equally realistic timetable. Each country has to contribute, and those countries who are industrialised must contribute more to help those who are not. The work ahead will be long and exacting. We should embark on it hopeful of success, not fearful of failure. … We are not the lords, we are the Lord's creatures, the trustees of this planet, charged today with preserving life itself—preserving life with all its mystery and all its wonder. May we all be equal to that task. Margaret Thatcher, UN speech, 1989


60 Acknowledgements 1.Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade 2.The Stern Review (2006) 3.The Garnaut Review (2008) 4.Dr James Hansen (NASA) 5.Professor Peter Gluckman (AU) 6.Professor Martin Manning (VUW) 7.Associate Professor Ralph Chapman (VUW)

61 Some References 1.Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report (Summaries for Policy Makers from WG1, WG2 and WG3) (Cambridge University Press, 2007) 2.Nicholas Stern, The Economics of Climate Change (Cambridge University Press, 2007) 3.The Garnaut Climate Change Review (Canberra, 2008) 4.Jonathan Boston (ed) Towards a New Global Climate Treaty: Looking Beyond 2012 (Wellington, Institute of Policy Studies, 2007) 5.UNFCCC Reports and Decisions of COP 17

62 Assessing the Costs and Benefits of Mitigating Climate Change Estimates of economic activity per person with and without policy to stabilise emissions at 450 parts per million carbon dioxide, 1950–2100 0 10,000 20,000 30,000 40,000 50,000 1950200020502100 Gross world product per person (US$1990) World gross domestic product per person (historical) No emissions reductions With deep cuts in emission – central estimate With deep cuts in emission – low estimate With deep cuts in emission – high estimate

63 Key Players

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