Worth the wait
When all is said and done, Copenhagen will almost certainly represent a landmark in the progressive shift to a global low-carbon economy. Whether the final agreement is reached there or 6 to 12 months later is of little consequence, provided clear direction comes in December. We shouldn't forget that the signing of the Kyoto Protocol led to many years of discussion and that the agreement itself was not finally ratified until 2005, some eight years later. Although we cannot wait eight years this time around, a delay into 2010 to allow a more substantive agreement to be reached is acceptable, perhaps even desirable given the current state of deliberations in the U.S. Senate on the cap-and-trade bill.
But much still needs to be achieved in Copenhagen.
First, the delegations must reach agreement on overall structure, by combining the two negotiating tracks (i.e. the Kyoto Protocol and Cooperative Action agendas). In doing so the key elements of Kyoto that lay the foundation for a market based approach need to be extracted and adopted into the new structure. Without this infrastructure the broader premise that carbon markets will be a key component of the solution will have no foundation.
Second, there must be clear recognition that the end-game requires all parties to adopt absolute targets, which means the focus must be on the transition for developing countries from their current status to a future one bound by emissions limits. For some countries such a move can come in the near future, for others it could be many years away. Transitionary financial and capacity building measures will be critical.
Finally, an emissions reduction pathway must be agreed and devolved on a national/regional level.
The reality is that we know what has to be done, we know the timeline we have to do it in and although there remains much room for innovation we also know we have the necessary technology base to deliver the required reductions.
There is no impediment remaining other than self interest and nationalism. These will have to be set to one side in Copenhagen and beyond.
Posted by: Ombudsman1 | November 21, 2009 2:02 PM
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