Thursday, May 07, 2015

We'll Always Have Paris: Climate Change Agreement in 2015

Greetings from the at the Australian National University in Canberra, where Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will speak on "The Road to Paris - Efforts to Achieve a New Climate Change Agreement in 2015".  Secretary Figueres started on a surprisingly positive note, saying that preparations for the Paris negotiations are ahead of schedule. Nations are currently working out what measures they can present. Currently there are 38 proposals registered, mostly from developed nations, including the EU and USA.

Secretary Figueres pointed out that Pope Francis and other faith leaders had identified climate change a moral issue. She also referred to the Umbrella Group which is one of the groupings with Australia is notional member of (Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Kazakhstan, Norway, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the US).

Four issues:
  1. How can countries with unique requirements b accommodated?
  2. Less progress on adaption, than reductions. This is a particular for developing nations.
  3. How to deal with emissions from emerging developing nations.
  4.  How will the ecological balance be restored in the next century? The current negotiations, even under the most optimistic estimates will not reduce, let alone reverse, global warming.
  5. Ensure legal basis of Paris agreement. Countries can withdraw from the agreement if they are not meeting their obligations.
  6. "Who is going to pay for this?"
It seems to me that one way to have the negotiations more equitable would be to have emissions measures per capita. Developed nations would therefore have more to do as each of their citizens are causing much more pollution.

It would seem to me that in terms of international enforcement, it would be best to have incentives for business. As an example, products imported from a non-signatory country could be subject to a carbon tariff, whereas those from signatories would be tariff free.

Last month Professor Broome explained how previous climate change negotiations were manipulated by some developed nations who could afford large well staffed negotiating teams, to the detriment of developing nations. I suggest that the Paris meeting should be held on-line, allowing developing nations to pool their expertise and take advice from on-line volunteers.

Secretary Figueres was not what I was expecting for a UN official, being passionate, entertaining and informative. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is in safe hands.

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