Future Negotiations: Our View
Many observers believe market forces alone won’t pull us out of recession and that governments must intervene to stimulate growth. We believe the same holds for avoiding runaway climate change. Indeed, we believe that the economic crisis and climate change must be tackled together.
Twenty years of disagreement at the UNFCCC suggests that its agenda lacks an overarching rationale that puts the common good of humanity and of other species above short-term national and economic interests. We believe that future negotiations toward a global climate deal must be guided by clear rational principles that respect the needs of each individual and also protect the environment. These will become the key to international collaboration to cut emissions in time to avoid dangerous climate change. Only when people and business leaders realise that their role in cutting their emissions is vital to their own well-being and that of their children, will they feel obliged to act.
“The evidence shows that ignoring climate change will eventually damage economic growth. Our actions over the coming few decades could create risks of major disruption to economic and social activity, later in this century and in the next, on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century. And it will be difficult or impossible to reverse these changes. Tackling climate change is the pro-growth strategy for the longer term, and it can be done in a way that does not cap the aspirations for growth of rich or poor countries. The earlier effective action is taken, the less costly it will be. Emissions have been, and continue to be, driven by economic growth; yet stabilisation of greenhouse-gas concentrations in the atmosphere is feasible and consistent with continued growth."
(Executive Summary, Stern Review, 2007)
The need for a rational global climate deal
Further fossil-fuelled growth will hasten the onset of irreversible climate change. All nations should therefore give urgent consent to a binding global agreement whose principles combine science and justice and which uses the market to create financial incentives for all nations to avoid fossil fuels. Contraction and Convergence satisfies these criteria.
A logical starting point will be to use the latest scientific understanding to set a science-based target and date for a maximum concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. From this, it will be possible to calculate a finite carbon budget for future global emissions. The key negotiation at the UNFCCC will therefore focus on the principles and timescale through which this budget should be shared internationally.
We have considered many proposed frameworks for cutting carbon emissions. Other pages compare these and explain why we consider ‘Contraction & Convergence’ (C&C), developed by The Global Commons Institute (Meyer, 2000) to be the simplest, fairest, most rational, and politically acceptable basis for a binding global climate treaty. As we will show, C&C has not received the media attention, or clear political backing that it deserves, but we believe its time has come.