Nov 28, 2007 - 8:59am
The decisions the international community makes in the next few
years will largely determine whether dangerous climate change can be
prevented or not. The upcoming meeting of the UN’s Framework Convention
on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Kyoto Protocol in Bali (3 - 14 December)
will therefore be a critical step in building global action to avoid
dangerous climate change. It is hoped that the conference will deliver a
“mandate” or roadmap to expand and strengthen the international
climate change response within two years.
There is an emerging
scientific and political consensus that global warming of more than 2ºC
(above preindustrial levels) would constitute dangerous climate
change. (Table 1.) As the new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said, “the
IPCC found that the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will
need to be kept between 445 – 490 parts per million, in order to avoid
the most dangerous impacts of climate change.”1
The IPCC has estimated that achieving this target will require global
emissions to peak by 2015 with developed countries as a group achieving
substantial reductions in emissions by 2020. (Table 2.) Indeed, many
scientists are saying that avoiding dangerous climate change may
require stabilisation levels around 400ppm.
To play a leadership role in the Bali, The Climate Institute believes
the Australian Government should support a Bali Mandate that includes:
1. The need to keep global warming below 2ºC.
Beyond avoiding potentially catastrophic and irreversible global
impacts, setting an emission trajectory consistent with avoiding a 2ºC
rise in global temperature is a prudent risk management strategy as it
avoids investment in long-lived carbon intensive capital stock and
would give governments the maximum amount of flexibility in achieving
longer-term emission reductions.
2. Basing the post-2012 agreement should be based on the Kyoto architecture
with industrialised countries taking on absolute emission reduction
targets with timetables. This is critical to the development on an
effective global carbon market.
3. A 2020 target for developed countries. The
Kyoto Protocol’s Ad hoc working group (AWG) on Article 3.9 is focused
on the future of developed nations’ targets to reduce emissions. The
Bali Mandate should strengthen the Vienna 2007 AWG agreement that
achieving the IPCC’s 445-490 ppm scenario requires industrialised
countries as a group to reduce emissions by 25 to 40% below 1990 levels
by 2020. Accepting reduction targets below this level means accepting
major impacts on Australian water supplies and resources, and the loss
of natural systems such as the Great Barrier Reef.
4. Developing country involvement.
Industrialised countries alone cannot bring about the emissions
reductions needed to stabilise atmospheric concentrations at low levels
and there will need to be broader participation in post 2012
commitment periods. The Bali Mandate should establish a working
group to negotiate appropriate mitigation action from developing
countries, based on the principle of common but differentiated
responsibilities, incorporate fair and transparent criteria for
differentiation and graduation from one level of commitment to another.
It will need to review new flexible mechanisms and other
instruments, including policy-based instruments, to provide new
incentives for developing countries to undertake mitigation activities.
5. The establishment of an end date for the negotiation process of 2009.
An end date of 2009 is essential in order to have time to ratify a new
agreement before the Kyoto Protocol first commitment periods ends in
2012. This would provide greater investment certainty in the global
carbon market and ensure a smooth transition between the first and
second commitment periods.
Other critical issues that need to
be addressed in the Bali Mandate is the need for a single, formalised
negotiation track on adaptation and a decision to begin negotiations on
how to achieve emissions reductions from deforestation in developing
countries. Australia and the Kyoto Protocol
Kevin Rudd, "An Action Agenda for Climate Change", Annual Fraser
Lecture, 30/5/07, repeated by him during the leaders debate 21/10/07.