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The death of the legally binding treaty?

The full implications of the deal that was struck on Friday will emerge over time as the many details still to be agreed are negotiated, but the first reactions have been of alarm and disappointment. Some of the initial disappointment was caused by President Obama’s description of the result as a separate deal between the United States, Brazil, India, South Africa and China. The alarm derives from the fear that this spells the end of the treaty led approach to combating climate change.  

It is, it is now clear, a wider agreement and has been introduced, though not without resistance, to the COP plenary deliberations. There are still though, some radical implications for the global climate regime.

On the positive side, a deal has been done that both China and the US have agreed to. On the negative side, the price of that agreement is likely to be the more ambitious mitigation effort.   

A key casualty of the last minute negotiations was the mandate given to a working group under the long term cooperative action track to propose a new architecture for 2013 that would take the form of a legally binding treaty. For the EU, which is already committed to legally binding caps, this was a central ambition. But when India proposed to remove it from the mandate, Chancellor Merkel of Germany failed to defend it and it was dropped from the mandate. Some EU officials now fear that the way is open for the abolition of the treaty-based, top down, binding caps that have been fundamental to the multilateral UN approach. 

It remains open to countries to run domestic cap and trade schemes, but it is hard to see cap and trade flourishing globally, the certainty on the carbon price that business has been asking for in order to plan and invest is unlikely in the near term and the need for more ambitious mitigation will not be served by this deal.

Why did this happen? According to diplomatic insiders, China played a key wrecking role. If Copenhagen was about getting the US into the deal, by 2020 China and India were likely to be under pressure to take on legally binding targets. Rather than see that happen, China preferred to destroy the architecture. 

A top down regime with ambitious targets is a stimulus to effort. The best that can be hoped for now is a much less challenging bottom up approach of incremental efficiency and aggregated emissions savings. The one thing that is undisputed as the delegates vacate the Bella Centre, is that this is not enough to keep global average temperature rise below 2 degrees centigrade.

For an analysis of lessons to be learned, see Simon Zadek's latest post here

 

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匿名 | Anonymous

中国的“破坏策略”恐将适得其反

那么,世界其他国家将如何应对中国从法律层面阻止签订世界范围内进一步减排的合约?

每一个国家的温室气体排放都应当减少,当然不仅仅限于此次讨论范围,还应当包括网络贸易和国际运输业所产生的排放量。

这将一直以来被视为“国家消费者”的中国显得更加“绿色”。可以使世界各地的消费者改变他们以往的消费模式——帮助中国减少30%-40%的排放量(该比例依据其出口贸易额而定)。可持续发展理念必须成为消费者购买因素中的首要条件,并且,这一理念也应当在价格上得到体现。

中国社会的许多“恶性群体事件”也将停止——这些事件往往是由于严重缺乏职业健康、安全保障或者强制收购土地所导致——而且,中国作为原材料供应地的声誉也将在世界范围内有所提升。

China's wrecking tactics will backfire

So, how should the rest of the world react to China's success in preventing legally binding agreement to make deep cuts ("ambitious" is diplomatic language for doing little) around the world?

Each nation's green house gas emissions ought to be estimated not only as now but also to include emissions from net trade and international transportation.

This would paint China in greener colours as a nation of consumers. It would enable consumers elsewhere to modify their patterns of consumption - helping China reduce its emissions by 30%-40% (the proportion attributable to its exports). Sustainability must be paramount in consumer purchasing descisions - and this should be reflected in price.

Much of China's social unrest would also stop - that which is attributable to poor health and safety at work and compulsory purchase of property - and China's repute in countries which supply it with raw material will improve.