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Mechanisms of international cooperation
The IPCC, the UNFCCC and
the Kyoto Protocol
Session 6
Introduction
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An apparent paradox
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The action of a single country in the fight against climate
change is meaningless.
At the same time, the participation of some countries is a
necessary condition for a successful agreement.
Problem of the free-rider
How to translate a scientific consensus into collective
action
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Took a long time to build up
Relationship between science and policy
International cooperation on climate change was first a story of
scientific cooperation
The need for international cooperation
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Climate change as a global public ‘bad’
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Climate change as a market failure: global externality
Affects all peoples and all generations, though diversely
The protection of climate can only be provided through
international cooperation
Difficulties of international cooperation
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Tragedy of the commons
Free rider
Need for a global climate regime
Three key mechanisms of
international cooperation
1. The Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change
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Established in 1988 jointly by UNEP and WMO
Open to all member countries of UNEP and WMO
Main task: assess the risks and impacts of climate
change
Main outcome: the Assessment Reports, issued every 5
or 6 years (4 reports so far)
About 2,500 (unpaid) scientists, appointed by their
government: lead authors, contributing authors,
reviewers
Structure of the IPCC
The scientific process
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The IPCC does not carry out any research
The Assessment Reports are just a synthesis of
previously published works
Triple peer-reviewing
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Peer-review at the time of publication of original works
Scientific peer-review by experts
Political peer-review by governments
The reports need to be approved by both all scientists
and all governments: they are bpth a scientific and a
political document
Reports organised on the basis of scenarios
Comments and criticisms
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Highly authoritative, due to intensive peer-reviewing
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Minimal consensus
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But this authority is currently being questioned: ‘climate gate’,
mistake about the Himalaya glaciers, etc.
The IPCC as a political actor
How to address these criticisms?
Can we doubt about climate science?
Are the reports too prudent and conservative?
Scenarios underestimate reality
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Need for revision
Need for a global reform of the IPCC?
2. The UN Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC)
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Main outcome of IPCC and the Rio Earth Summit
(1992), and first international agreement on climate
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Choice between 2 possible options:
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A global treaty on the atmosphere
A treaty focused on climate change
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General objective: the stabilisation of a GHG
concentration at a level that would avoid dangerous
interference with the climate
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Two key priciples:
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Common but differentiated responsibility
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Respective capacities.
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Not binding, no mandatory limits for GHG emissions.
Sole obligation: GHG inventory to be submitted each
year.
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Three important mechanisms:
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Mandatory protocols
Countries divided in Annex I countries, Annex II countries (a
subset of Annex I) and developing countries
COP to be held every year
3. The Kyoto Protocol
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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
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Fixed term: expires in 2012
General objectives: cut GHG emissions by an average
5% from 1990 (base year)
Underpinning principle: common but differentiated
responsibility
Distinction between Annex I countries and non Annex I
countries
Flexible mechanisms
Heavy emphasis on mitigation, little emphasis on
adaptation
Kyoto and Europe
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All EU-members’ ratifications deposited simultaneoulsy on 31 May
2002
EU counted as an individual entity
EU produces about 22% of gas emissions
Agreed to a cut of 8% from 1990 levels
One of the major supporters of the treaty
EU elected to be treated as a ‘bubble’, and created an EU
Emissions Trading Scheme
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France: 0%. No need to cut emissions
Germany: -21%. Has reduced its emissions by 17.2% between 1990
and 2004.
UK: -12.5%. Appears to be on course to meet its target.
Different commitments
Flexible mechanisms
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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
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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:
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Price of carbon highly versatile
Covers about half of the EU’s CO2 emissions
Too many quotas on the market
Second phase from 2012, with auctioning and a central
authority
Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)
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Aims to combine development and climate, equity and
efficiency
Economic efficiency: costs of abatment are cheaper in
developing countries
Functioning:
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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)
Geographical distribution of CDMs
Criticism
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Reality of avoided emissions
 Principle of additionality
 Incentive to misrepresent reality
 Overpricing and overestimation
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Unlimited credits
 A country could completely externalise its efforts
 Transfer of emissions?
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Development objectives ?
 Almost no CDM projects in Africa
Joint implementation
Similar mechanism as CDMs, 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
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Some final words
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Kyoto is an agreement between industrialised countries,
where developing countries are mostly oberservers:
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No limits on emissions
Do not benefit from flexible mechanisms
Treaty focused on mitigation, not adaptation
Role of civil society in international cooperation