中国气候变化信息网 China Climate Change Info-Net

Current Location:Home > International News
NGOs in Bangkok climate change talks: Market Yes, Target No for developing countries


Rather than imposing legally-binding emissions cut targets, more actions to improve industries' energy efficiency and more funding through international market mechanism are the answer for most developing countries in fighting climate change under a global framework, some Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are saying at a new round of climate change negotiations being held here through March 31-April 4.

Rising economies inside the group of developing countries like China should not be subject to legally-binding emissions cut commitment, at least at current stage, said William Hare, a political advisor on climate and energy to the Amsterdam-based environmental organization Greenpeace, in an interview with Xinhua on Thursday.

William Hare, who is also an author of the UN climate change assessment report -- the IPCC report, whose scientific conclusions are the foundation of any international treatment on climate change, along with some other 1,200 delegates of governments, international agencies and NGOs from over 160 countries, are attending the five-day Bangkok meeting that on Monday kicked off around of negotiations leading to a new international agreement on global cooperation on climate change.

On the eve of the closing of the Bangkok discussions Friday, delegates were busy drafting a long-term work plan for the implementation of the Bali Roadmap agreed at the UN-sponsored Bali Climate Change Conference last December, to set out rules, procedures and topics for a series of negotiations before they turn out the new pact in Copenhagen, Denmark by the end of 2009.

The Copenhagen agreement hopefully will also define new greenhouse gases (GHG) emission reduction commitments for industrialized countries after 2012, when the first commitment period 2008-2012 of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol expires.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, 38 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including the European Union, the United States, and Japan, are subject to binding national targets on emission reduction by an average 5.2 percent by 2012 from the 1990 level. The United States has rejected to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Developing countries like China, India and least-developed countries, would take domestic actions to join global cooperation action in climate change mitigation and adaptation, by reducing emissions with technical and financing support by developed countries, but are not subject to binding emission cut targets, according to the Protocol.

To William Hare, countries like China, which has to feed one-fifth of the world's population and lower per capita income, should rely more on the international market mechanism like emissions trading, as it is by now most logical and practical in practice in providing funding, to improve energy efficiency overall and reduce emissions. The Clear Development Mechanism (CDM), in which developed countries can invest in sustainable development projects in developing countries and thus produce tradable emission credits, is not working so well, said Hare, because some developed countries are reluctant when talking about investing in developing countries, especially for the United States. "To the United States, investing money in China and other developing countries is like a poison question."

Neither does the prospect look good in the near future for developing countries to seek any direct funding from developed countries.

Under the UNFCCC, there are a few funds operating, such as the newly-adopted Adaptation Fund financed by a 2 percent levy on CDM projects, but the scale is far insufficient to meet the demand.

He personally favored the emission trading system, citing a proposal by Germany that one percentage of carbon emission rights of individual developed countries be auctioned under a UN-mandated mechanism before using the proceeds of the auctioning in funding climate change adaptation or mitigation actions in developed countries.

Rich countries have failed to implement commitments regarding technology transfer and financing for developing countries, developing countries have complained.

Hare hoped that legally-binding commitments for developed countries in financing area could be addressed in the new treaty, though it is expected be difficult.

Greenpeace and other NGOs deem it crucial to reach agreement on deeper binding emission cuts for developed countries in any credible treaty. Most scientists, including Hare, have supported a25-40 percent reduction target from the 1990 level for the developed countries, as the fourth IPCC report suggested in a scenario of cutting GHGs emissions globally well over 50 percent by the end of 2050 to avoid more adverse impacts of climate change.

Some developed countries have tried to ditch the binding national targets for emission cuts. Japan has been pushing for the so-called "sectoral approach", which called on dropping binding national targets, such as the 6 percent cut commitment Japan and its rich friends have made under the Kyoto Protocol, and replacing them with aspirational targets for individual industry sectors like energy, transport, with the government adding the sectoral targets to set a national commitment.

"If you look into Japan's submissions, you see it's actually applying those sectoral targets to developing countries, too." said Hare.

Delegates from other countries said Japan's sectoral proposal, if applied, would benefit itself most, as Japan already had high energy efficiency in many sectors.

The EU, itself having set out an ambitious target of 20 percent average cut by 2020, as a whole, has been calling for capping emission in developing countries.

Developing countries are staunch in rejecting this call. Developed countries, including the EU, have agreed in principle that poverty eradication and sustainable economic development are these nations' priority, but the recognition has not prevented them from demanding bigger share of obligations, including an emission cut target, from their poorer partners.

"No government in Asia could adopt that strategy knowing it would increase, not decrease poverty," said Alan Oxley, Chairman of World Growth, a U.S.-based pro-free-trade NGO.

The World Growth holds that the EU case is based on claims by the British official Sir Nicholas Stern that the cost to developing countries of deep cuts is low. Therefore, the EU argues that unless deep cuts are imposed soon, the poor countries will be hurt most.

According to the research of Professor William Nordhaus at Yale, one of the world's leading climate change economists, the Stern strategy would harshly undermine developing countries' efforts in poverty eradication.

A World Growth report assessed the cost of Stern's claim that deep cuts would only shave one percent of annual economic growth in the world economy over time. It found Stern's one percent cut in global GDP equated to a GDP loss of 15 percent in China, 12 percent in India, 12 percent for ASEAN economies.

Alan told Xinhua that his solution is a market-based approach by encouraging private sector to invest more on clean projects, provided with more incentives from governments, rather than sharp emission cuts.

In that way poor countries will be allowed to pursue high growth economic strategies and reduce poverty. When developing countries become wealthier, they can afford the costs of mitigation and adaptation.

 

Source:Xinhua
Date:Apr 07,2008