Governments must lead CO2 cutting

19th July 2011

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  • Carbon Trading ,
  • Reporting ,
  • Mitigation ,
  • Central government



Nations must push forward independent carbon cutting approaches to accelerate wider action to tackle climate change, says an environmental think tank.

In its latest report, Oxford University’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment (SSEE) argues that the pursuit of global consensus on emissions targets has lead to policy stagnation, and lags behind what is being achieved by individual countries.

In examining the actions taken since the signing of the Kyoto Protocol and analysing the outcomes of both the Copenhagen (2009) and Cancun (2010) climate change summits, the report concludes that “since the adoption of the agreement thousands of negotiators, meeting at least twice a year, have formed themselves into a negotiating community which is unable to move with the times.”

However, it claims that while negotiations at a global level appear to have stalled, action at national level is progressing, citing a number of UK initiatives, including the pledge to cut emissions by 80% by 2050 and the planned introduction of a carbon floor price.

Similarly the report discusses the Chinese government’s decision in 2006 to reduce China’s dependence on fossil fuels and its consideration of a domestic emissions trading scheme.

While the authors welcome such moves they argue that they are “a long way from what is necessary” and must increase over the coming years to provide the focus needed to push forward a global cut in emissions.

“International climate negotiations can only go so far. Systems, such as pledge-and-review set up in Copenhagen and Cancun, are a useful way forward in the absence of an internationally legally-binding agreement, but individual governments must provide urgent political leadership that is not happening at present,” said SSEE director Sir David King.

“The US, despite some good rhetoric, is still a blocker when it comes to reaching a global agreement, with other nations, namely Japan and Russia, becoming increasingly vocal in their resistance to a second commitment phase to the Kyoto Protocol.”

Putting a significant price on CO2 emissions, increasing research and development investment and encouraging low-carbon development in third-world countries through a global emissions market, are three of the actions the report recommends are needed globally.

“Ideally, we would have a global cap and trade system to engage the business and financial community and generate financial flows from the developed to the least developed world,” explained Dr Kenneth Richards, visiting fellow at SSEE.

“To reach that goal, strong decisive steps are required from key governments to place us on a path to long-term, stable and appropriate prices on greenhouse gas emissions. This will send a clear signal to the corporate sector and stimulate investment to produce innovative solutions.”

Other areas of focus that individual administrations are encouraged to take include limiting deforestation and highlighting the economic and energy security benefits of greater efficiency and innovation.


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