By David Hodgkinson
The world is not organised to deal with the climate change problem. Climate change is a global problem, but there is, of course, no global government with the interests of the earth as a whole at heart. Rather, there are sovereign states, the interests and concerns of which are very different.
This difference is recognised in one way by both the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol. The UNFCCC states that “developed” and “developing” states have “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” in dealing with climate change. Under the UNFCCC, it’s clear that developed countries “should take the lead in combating climate change” and its effects.
These are very successful treaties – at least in terms of signatories. There are 194 state parties to the UNFCCC. And there are no legally binding limits on emissions for those parties to it (which might help to explain its success).
There are 191 state parties to Kyoto. Parties to that treaty in general agree to reduce their overall emissions either individually or jointly by at least 5 percent below 1990 levels in a first commitment period from 2008 to 2012.
Under Kyoto, only developed states have mitigation targets. Those targets owe less to climate change science than they do to the quality of the negotiating teams of state parties to Kyoto.
Against this background, at Durban last year – at meetings of parties to the UNFCCC and Kyoto (COP 17/CMP 7) – did the planet benefit? What was actually achieved? Was it enough to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the global warming limit adopted by parties to the UNFCCC? And what are the implications for Doha (COP 18/CMP 8) and beyond?…
…Perhaps momentum favours a “bottom-up” outcome. Perhaps, at some point post-Durban, post-Doha, we will see a shift away from a top-down, “Kyoto-style” architecture for international climate action, to a more bottom-up approach.
Eric Posner and David Weisbach (of the University of Chicago Law School) talk about “the futility of addressing poverty, past injustices and climate change in a single negotiation (which is what the UNFCCC and Kyoto seek to do). … No principle of justice requires that these problems be addressed simultaneously or multilaterally.”
There are, however, problems with even these approaches, and the aviation industry provides a good example…
Continue reading at Reuters…