COMMONS

The road to UNFCCC COP18 and beyond

25 July 2012

Europe should set a target to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% on 1990 levels by 2020 in order to demonstrate political leadership in the run up to UN climate talks in 2015, when political agreement could be reached on a new international agreement to replace the Kyoto protocol

That is the verdict of the Energy and Climate Change Committee who today publish a report looking at the future of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Tim Yeo MP, Chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, said:

"Europe can be proud of the leadership it has showed on climate change: introducing the world’s first emissions trading scheme and keeping the Kyoto Protocol alive when it could have collapsed.

It must now show leadership again by setting a more ambitious goal to bolster the chances of a new agreement being reached in 2015.

The EU’s current 20% carbon reduction target by 2020 is no longer  sufficiently ambitious or challenging and will be easily reached because of the recession.

Twenty fifteen needs to be the year in which an agreement is reached to give the world a fighting chance of keeping temperature rises below dangerous levels."

The Kyoto Protocol created an invaluable architecture for future agreements - including common emissions reporting, accounting standards and a compliance system – but it should not be renewed after its second commitment period finishes in 2020, according to the MPs. Instead, diplomatic efforts should now be focused on reaching a new, and genuinely international, agreement via the promising Platform negotiated last year in Doha.

2015 agreement

The report points out that the global political situation could be favourable to reaching an agreement in 2015, as China will be thinking about its next five year plan and the US could be in a position to introduce measures in Congress. Europe’s influence over future international negotiations would be greatly increased if its own economy was decarbonised more rapidly – and the MPs are calling on the UK Government to argue strongly for this at an EU level.

The distinction between developed and developing countries set out in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol is now out of date. The Department of Energy and Climate Change should support the use of the Human Development Index in future to determine equitably which countries are treated as ‘developed’ – and required to decrease their emissions immediately and which countries are given excess carbon permits until their average earnings come in line with other developed countries.  

Green Climate Fund

Given the severe fiscal constraints in most developed countries, it is politically and economically unlikely that the US $100 billion Green Climate Fund target will be reached by 2020 unless an innovative mechanism is developed to budgetary contributions. The UK should exploit its expertise in financial services to develop innovative mechanisms for levering in more private investment to help achieve the target and make up for the inevitable shortfall in public funds.

The Government should support moves to eliminate the $400 billion of fossil fuel subsidies across the world, while ensuring that this is done in a way that does not worsen fuel poverty. Energy efficiency should be prioritised as a mitigation strategy as it is one of the most cost-effective ways to cut emissions. The Government should also show leadership  by acknowledging  that consumption in the UK and some other developed countries is driving up territorial emissions elsewhere.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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