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Distributive Politics and Global Climate Change October 2007.

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Presentation on theme: "Distributive Politics and Global Climate Change October 2007."— Presentation transcript:

1 Distributive Politics and Global Climate Change October 2007

2 Why Climate Change is so Difficult Not only are there asymmetric distributional consequences associated with climate change mitigation... There is no single criterion for success (as there is in the eradication of a disease). The good may be provided to varying extents, which may entail further distributional conflict. Any substantial effort at global climate change mitigation will require cooperation by countries with heterogeneous interests (i.e., the global North and South).

3 The Kyoto Process, Post-2012 Since 1997, the annual conferences of parties have focused on further developing the treatys flexibility mechanisms, and (until 2005) on securing sufficient participation for the treaty to enter into legal force. Broader issues of sustainable development and the concerns of the global South have been overshadowed by these more immediate concerns. Moving forward, the climate regime must address meaningful participation, by developing parties and by the U.S.

4 The Kyoto Process, Post-2012 Kyotos carbon trading system may yield benefits for the global South, but fundamental distributional conflicts remain. For emission rights to have value, they must be allocated and restricted in some way. This issue, rather than carbon trading itself, poses the greatest obstacle to North-South agreement.

5 Emission rights & fairness claims Any trading system requires a prior allocation of emission rights. Various parties have advanced four alternative models for such an allocation, in the interest of fairness. Agreement on any single model is unlikely, since there is a clear link between parties fairness claims and their economic interests.

6 Model 1: The Kyoto Approach Kyoto is based on a grandfathering approach in which emission reductions are calculated from a baseline (1990). There is no claim that 1990 emissions were fair. Developing countries have no scheduled commitments during the compliance period. Developing countries may receive assistance through the operation of Kyotos flexibility mechanisms.

7 Model 1: The Kyoto Approach Some worries remain: Can a grandfathering approach be fair to developing countries? Will flexibility mechanisms allow developed countries to take credit for emission reductions in the South with the lowest marginal cost, forcing developing states to take more expensive measures later?

8 Implications of the Kyoto Model: (Global CO 2 Emissions – 2000)

9 Model 2: Carbon Intensity Measures emissions in relation to economic output (GDP). Developed by World Resources Institute (WRI). Favored by current U.S. President George W. Bush. Goal is to have strong economic growth with as few carbon dioxide emissions as possible.

10 Model 2: Carbon Intensity Advantages Combines focus on economic growth with a focus on minimizing climate impact. May secure U.S. participation in the short-term. Early action by developing countries may engender greater trust among developing countries. Disadvantages Does not address existing emission levels. Does not address inequalities in consumption. No firm limits on emissions – countries can grow out of mitigation obligations. Does not address exported emissions. – i.e., emissions reductions achieved by offshoring carbon-intensive production.

11 Model 2: Carbon Intensity

12 Model 3: Per Capita Emissions The G-77 countries have developed a model in which emission rights are allocated by the simple rule that all humans have an equal right to the Earths atmosphere. The model is also known as the contract and converge approach. Can be used with an emission trading system to promote efficiency.

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14 Model 3: Per Capita Emissions Advantages Egalitarian Likely to facilitate agreement and participation by developing countries. Can be pegged directly to scientifically-relevant CO 2 levels (in contrast to grandfathering and carbon intensity models) Disadvantages Likely to place severe and immediate obligations on richer countries. Has been a political non-starter when raised as a possibility at previous climate negotiations.

15 Model 3: Per Capita Emissions

16 Model 4: Historical Responsibility Mitigation commitments should be tied to countries overall contribution to climate change – not just current contribution. Like the per capita model (contraction and convergence), historical responsibility enjoys the support of the G-77. The emissions gap between North and South is closing much more slowly when calculated using a historical perspective (e.g., summed emissions since 1950).

17 Model 4: Historical Responsibility Advantages Egalitarian Likely to facilitate agreement and participation by developing countries. Follows the rhetorically powerful principle of polluter pays. Disadvantages Has been a political non-starter when raised as a possibility at previous climate negotiations. Likely to result in particularly strong obligations for early industrializers. Early industrializers were unaware of their influence on global climate change.

18 Model 4: Historical Responsibility


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