Bali: A mandate to avoid dangerous climate change Media Release

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

1 Kevin Rudd, "An Action Agenda for Climate Change", Annual Fraser Lecture, 30/5/07, repeated by him during the leaders debate 21/10/07.

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