The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Main outcome of IPCC and the Rio Earth Summit (1992), and first international agreement on climate Choice between 2 possible options: A global treaty on the atmosphere A treaty focused on climate change General objective: the stabilisation of a GHG concentration at a level that would avoid dangerous interference with the climate Two key priciples: Common but differentiated responsibility Respective capacities.
Not binding, no mandatory limits for GHG emissions. Sole obligation: GHG inventory to be submitted each year. Three important mechanisms: Mandatory protocols Countries divided in Annex I countries, Annex II countries (a subset of Annex I) and developing countries This division has not changed since. COP to be held every year
The Kyoto Protocol Mandatory update of UNFCCC Opened for signature in 1997, entered into force 8 years later Conditions: 55 parties, and 55% of CO2 emissions 176 countries have ratified. Only 37 have to reduce their emissions
General design of the Protocol Fixed term: expires in 2012 Australia and the EU (+ a few small countries) agreed on an extension for the period 2013-2020 General objectives: cut GHG emissions by an average 5% from 1990 (base year) Underpinning principle: common but differentiated responsibility Key characteristics: Distinction between Annex I countries and non Annex I countries Flexible mechanisms Heavy emphasis on mitigation, little emphasis on adaptation
Kyoto and Europe One of the major supporters of the treaty All EU-members’ ratifications deposited simultaneoulsy on 31 May 2002 EU counted as an individual entity Agreed to a cut of 8% from 1990 levels EU elected to be treated as a ‘bubble’, and created an EU Emissions Trading Scheme Differentiated objectives between countries.
Flexible mechanisms Innovative aspect of the Kyoto Protocol Mechanisms relying on the market, rather than on states Highly criticised as paramount of ‘environmental liberalism’ Three mechanisms: Carbon market (‘cap and trade’) Clean Development Mechanism Joint Implementation
The carbon market: The EU Emission Trading Scheme General principle: maximisation of economic efficiency – at the expense of ethics? Industries are given quotas of emission allowances Application of the ‘polluter pays’ principle Scheme started in 2005, all 27 countries take part Problems: Price of carbon highly versatile Covers about half of the EU’s CO2 emissions Too many quotas on the market Third phase 2013-2020, with auctioning and a central authority Crippled with corruption problems
Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Aims to combine development and climate, equity and efficiency Economic efficiency: costs of abatment are cheaper in developing countries Functioning: Alternative to domestic reductions Allow Annex I countries to invest in projects that reduce emissions in developing countries New carbon credits: Certified Emission Reductions (CERs)
Criticism Reality of avoided emissions Principle of additionality Incentive to misrepresent reality Overpricing and overestimation Unlimited credits A country could completely externalise its efforts Transfer of emissions? Development objectives ? Almost no CDM projects in Africa
Joint implementation Similar mechanism as CDM, but in Annex I countries (i.e. In Eastern Europe and Russia) Provides Emission Reduction Units (ERUs), where 1 ERU = 1 ton of CO2 No new credits Long and fastidious process
Some final words Kyoto is an agreement between industrialised countries, where developing countries are mostly oberservers: No limits on emissions Do not benefit from flexible mechanisms Treaty focused on mitigation, not adaptation Kyoto was designed as an experimental protocol, with limited ambitions and a limited timeframe. It was never foreseen that there would be a gap after the end of the Protocol.