In a new report published by the The Forum for Atlantic Climate and Energy Talks (FACET), How to Recover from a Likely Climate Disaster in Copenhagen, Stephan Slingerland argues that the current negotiating position of UNFCCC parties renders it virtually “impossible” to achieve the level of reductions in emissions at Copenhagen that the IPCC has recommended, i.e. a 25 to 40% emission reduction for developed countries and a deviation of 15 to 30% for developing countries from 1990 levels by 2020. Slingerland notes that only the EU is aiming for emissions reductions that are commensurate with those recommended by the IPCC, with the U.S. target only 4% below 1990 levels, and Japan 8% below the 1990 baseline.
Slingerland provides an excellent analysis of the current state of domestic climate policy in several key emitting States, including:
- The United States, which Slingerland argues is more focused on security of energy supply than GHG emissions;
- Japan, which Slingerland indicates is also more focused on energy security, but because of likely future constraints in increase energy efficiency is probably unable to go beyond its modest post-Kyoto target described above;
- China and India. Slingerland notes that China in particular is pursuing an ambitious energy efficiency programs, but prospects for further reductions are probably tied to financial transfers by developed countries, an extremely contentious issue heading into Copenhagen;
- While Russia’s GHG emissions remain more than 30% below 1990 levels due to the economic meltdown in the 1990s, its interest in securing markets for its fossil fuel exports make it likely that it will work to undermine efforts at Copenhagen to substantially reduce emissions.
Given the importance of exogenous policy considerations, including energy security and development, Slingerland suggests that we should attempt to integrate the drivers of emissions into climate change negotiations. This might, include, he suggests, a quid pro quo with major fossil fuel exporting countries, consistting “of a certain degree of security of demand for fossil fuel exporting countries in exchange for a controlled phase-out of fossils in the long term.”
This is an interesting reading for a climate change law course in the fall, and most likely beyond Copenhagen, in that it assesses potential options should negotiations crash and burn at Copenhagen, or more likely, the Parties formulate another tepid response to the looming climate crisis.
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