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Major Boost For Ghana Vegetables, Fruits Farmers; MWW to Invest in Northern Ghana

Francis Npong, Bolga, Upper East


CEO, SADA Alh. Gilbert Iddi (3rd from left) conducts MWW Rep Francisco Stargardter (3rd from right)round manago plantation as he explains EU fruits, vegetables specification to farmersThe Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) has provided hope and a brighter future for northerner sector vegetable, fruits and legumes and root crops farmers, producers, and marketers after it had been able to woo one of United Kingdom’s biggest handlers of freshagricultural produce companies, Minor, Weir and Willis Ltd (MWW) into its operational areas.The company with many subsidiaries in about 40 countries in Europe andAfrica would not only partner with the local farmers to produce fresh fruits, and vegetables for European market but would also provide technical expertise and invest heavily in infrastructure development in the area.The managing Director of Oxford Fruit Company, a subsidiary of MWW Ltd Mr. Francisco Stargardter who visited some local vegetable and fruit farmers in northern and Upper East regions described the zone as ideal place for fruits, vegetable and root crops production. “The zones are ideal place for fresh vegetable produce and we will like to invest in chemical free vegetables, butter nuts and roots crops and fruits production because we have the biggest for our produce already in Europe, Africa and Carribean”, he said.Under the invitation of SADA, the field visit in the regions was for the management of the companies to explore the possibilities of collaboration and partnership in fresh agriculture produces such as mangos, butter nuts squash, vegetables and root crops production.Established in 1963 and located in Birmingham at the heart of the UK’s road and rail networks, the company specialized in the procurement of produce from around the world for sale in UK, Europe and Africa, the company sources over 100 agriculture products from than 40 countries and work closely with British vegetables, fruits and butternuts growers to feed the market which was readily available. According to the managing Director, the MWW group incorporates associates produce companies in the UK, Spain, Holland and Germany. These include growers, wholesale, and catering suppliers and marketing companies, through which they can supply produce across Europe.He assured northern farmers of a world class service in the procurement, supply and distribution of certified seed crops, technical expertise to help them meet the international or European standards for fresh agriculture produce. The company who promised to work in partnership with its suppliers and customers would also be dedicated to the continuous improvement and development of products and sources to meet the demands of an increasingly sophisticated market.The Managing Director discouraged the massive and continuous uses of agro chemicals which he said was harmful to human health and was not acceptable in European market.The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) Alhaji Gilbert Iddi stated that the establishment of SADA marks the turning point not only for agriculture but also infrastructure development in its operational area.He said that SADA had moved into action, focusing on market led agriculture that seeks to expand the market for the agriculture produce particularly fruits, vegetables, and root crops from the regions.SADA he disclosed was also sourcing advance irrigation technologies to encourage dry season farming to make the regions all year farming destination.Alhaji Iddi told the Enquirer after conducting investors from the United Kingdom’s most popular fruits and vegetable producers and marketing Company round SADA supported vegetables and fruits farmers in parts of northern and Upper East regions that, SADA would turn the agriculture into a fruitful venture that would attract more youth idling in southern sector into agriculture.He disclosed that SADA was piloting butter nut squash cultivation, a dry season crop that needed little but effective and efficient irrigated land to produce. The crop which does well in hot weather takes only 90 days to plant and harvest. The crop does not also need chemicals to or fertilizers to grow but just water and hot weather and northern sector provides an ideal condition for the cultivation butter nuts squash which was in hot demand in European market.SADA, the CEO told the Enquirer would also invest heavily Northern sector of Ghana which covered about 65 per cent of the total landmass of the country is said to be disease prone, poverty stricken with high maternal and infant deaths, lack basic infrastructure that forced the sizeable number of the youth to migrate from the areas to southern sector in searching for none existing jobs.According to the CEO, SADA was poised to transforming the area under its jurisdiction and was leaving no stone unturned to ensure massive development of the area.“By the time we are done the youth not like to make move out of the region because the potentials and opportunities will be huge to sustain them”, Alhaji Iddi told the Enquirer.SADA was partnering with EDIF, NRGP, MiDA and other developmental agencies to provide a long term solution to solution the regions deprivation. “We want to bring the youth back to the region to engage in activities that will give them both long and short term benefits. That is why SADA is bankrolling the pilot project butter nuts squash cultivation and funding irrigation projects and supporting local farmers with technical expertise and high but short term yielding crop varieties”, he said.
a women in Upper East region irrigates her land for butter nuts squash cultivationButter nut squash is a wild fruit which takes less efforts and investment to produce as it does not demand too much water, or the use of agro chemicals. The crop which was said to have improved the livelihoods of most European farmers takes only ninety days to mature in a hot but less raining zones being its ideal environment. The crop which is also said to have some medicinal values has ready market internationally and was already in high demand. It was said to have turned agriculture in Brazil to flourishing business venture.It is against this background that the SADA was bankrolling the pilot cultivation of the crop in its operational area which indicates a positive response. The Upper East Regional Minister Mr. Mark Wayogo who hailed SADA for bringing the investors to explore investment possibilities invited investors to in irrigation project to support the dry season farming to make the regions self food sufficient and improve the livelihoods of farmers.

CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS LAUD GOVERNMENT, CARE INTERNATIONAL FOR CLIMATE ACTIONS


Section of CSOs member reviewing ALP

 

 

The Civil Sociaety Organisations (CSOs) have commended the government for constituting climate change department within the ministry of Environment, Science and Technology to handle climate change related isssues and prompting the parliament to constitute parliamentary select committee on climate change to be responsible for reviewing, recommending and initiating climate change resilient policies and programmes.

 

They also commended Care International for taken lead role in championing climate change issues in Africa.

The constitution of a parliamentary select committee and special department on climate change would further the education and formulation of climate change resilient policies and programmes to help the poor and vulnerable communities adapt to theeffects of climate change and climate variabilities.

 

The civil society organisations commended the government during a two-day climate change adaptation learning programme (ALP) review meeting organised by Care International Ghana held in Tamale.

The meeting which brought togather civil societyorganisations working in environment, food security, water and sanitaion, community development and capacity building organisations across the country reviewed climate change adaptation learning programme being implemented by Care International Ghana through partner organisations, assessed climate change situation and it impacts on livelihoods.

 

They also reviewed and evaluated food and water situation, and how far agriculture sector fared for the past five years in the wake of climate change and climate variability impact on livelihoods on the poor.

Members of the CSOs pointed out that a step by Ghana government to constitute parliamentary select committee to champion climate change issues in country was an indication that the nation’s leadership had recognized the need for comprehensive policy and programme on climate change to reduce it's impacts on livelihoods.

The coordinator for Youth Volunteers for the Environment (YVE), Mr. Lovans Owusu-Takyi who also commended the government for the move said the climate change was a threat to sustainable livelihoods and development and needed attention.

 

He said that the effects of climate change were greater and disasterous and that any action by the government to deal with the issue should not be politicised.

Addressing participants, the manager of Care Adaptation Learning Programme for Africa, (ALP), Mr. Romanus Gyan explained that ALP is a life changing programme that seeks to build the capacities of vulnerable communities and households to adapt to the effects of climate change and climate variability.

 

He said that the programme was using what he called “community based adaptation approaches” which centered on four key elements including promoting climat resilient livelihoods strategies, building capacities of local NGOs and local public institutions, disaster risk reduction strategies and addressing underlying causes of vulnerability through social mobilization for empowerment and advocacy to influence quick policies implementations and interventions.

The Manger told the Enquirer in an interview that climate change does not only needs cash but governmental and individual and corporate institutional actions. He said “Coping with effects of climate change will demand support and willingness and result oriented adaptation and mitigation measures to reduce the impact of climate change on people’s livelihoods”.

 

He said that, it is against this background that, CARE International Ghana has introduced the Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) in northern and Upper East Regions of Ghana to support rural but poor and vulnerable women to cope with the effects of climate change and climate variability.

 

The Adaptation Learning programme, which is currently running in five communities in these regions, also seeks to empower women in micro financing activities to reduce their vulnerabilities and expand economic viable ventures within these areas to support people’s livelihoods improvement.

 

The programme manager said that, ALP is expected to cover about ninety rural communities in the two regions of Ghana targeting about 5,400 poor rural women to help transformed rural economies to better the livelihoods of rural dwellers and at the same time cushion them against the effects of global warming.

 

 Example of Vulnerable, poor people to climate change. 

 
 

Climate Change Vulnerability Needs Multi-facets Approach

“The green frogs, no, toads that used to hop from one corner of our garden just around our backyard there are no more. There were some wild birds that gave no rest in our rice farms. These rodents we used to see were admirable and beautiful with colourful feathers but they are no more. Where did all these animals go?” This was a recount of events of nature by  a 75 year  old women and a mother of six,  Kwajin Meinbah, based at Tatale in the Zabzuzu/Tatale District of the northern region ofGhana.

 

She’s no more into farming but now waiting impatiently to join her ancestors she told me with a forced smile that revealed her fallen teeth.   Afarmer? I asked childishly.

 

“Oh, boys of these days, look, I never allowed my husbands, to beat me in farming, the secret was that I used to supply some of my husbands, seeds of maize and rice because I was an aggressive woman farmer who wanted to portray that the difference between women and men is very thin. I supplied paper, okra, groundnuts and garden eggs freely to my fellow women. While I was still active, I never bought or begged for these ingredients until I left farming”, she said.

 

Swinging her right hand back and forth, Madam Meinbah who spoke passionately about farming and hardworking never failed to hit at me “you, modern children, you think farming is a bad thing it is because you are all lazy, and your cures will be poverty, hunger and starvation”.

 

She never stepped in a classroom before and therefore did not have formal education but that does not mean she could not reason. She said in 70s, when “fertimiza”, (chemical fertilizer) was introduced some farmers including herself spoke against the use of that white man thing. “Well, some accepted and used it and the very first time, they got bumper harvest and became vulnerable to the “fertimiza” afterwards and that caused serious loses, the beginning of their food insecurity”.

 

She explained that when farmers began using chemical fertilizers, they noticed some changes, strange things, the green frogs, earth worms, and wild birds were reducing in population but they claimed it was a sign of the anger of the Gods. “Each day people picked and threw or buried about three frogs in their farms and it became topical issues for discussion. This happened when “fertimiza” became popular among farmers”, she recounted.

 

Madam Meinbah narrated that in 1986, rains failed the farmers seriously and that brought famine to the country the following year (1987). And this was the year Ghana witnessed serious food crisis, untold hardship, and economic breakdown.

 

“Some of us (women farmers) could not cope after the crisis and have to abandon farming as a career to assist our husbands to feed the household. This brought our farming career to a halt” she lamented.

 

Her testimony depict the impact of climate change on vulnerable people particularly women and children. Madam Kwajin is part of the vulnerable and disadvantaged persons in society who are hard hit by the impacts of climate change.

 

At that year it was not only food supply that was affected, water supply was hard hit, there was also health crisis, and mass exodus of the youth from Ghana across the boarders particularly to Nigeria, minimal conflicts emerged over resources among the people in some part of the country. Rare Signs of climate change began in Ghana and parts of Sahara Africa region in 1986 but as it were the governments at the time never planned to putclimate resilience policies and programme to support the people to cope with the impact.

 

After this drought, Ghana had not been able to catch up with food security. Food had always been in short supply afterwards, the never ending water crisis also popped out and women and children continue to walk for kilometers to access drinking water for household chores, no alternative energy policies had been effectively implemented to stop the indiscriminate felling of trees, and youth migration from rural communities to urban centers in search for non existing jobs has become a usual phenomenon.

 

This is because agricultural lands no long support lucrative or profitable farming, the rainfall patterns had changed (now few rain drops), unpredictable weather patterns, flooding and unbearable heat continue to be recorded, and poverty, hunger, starvation and deprivation had gone pass their peak.

 

The country, according to the Ghana Wild Life department had also lost significant number of wild animal species, such as green frogs or toads, earth worms and other soil manipulating living organisms because of ever increasing temperatures and flooding.

 

Now the government had realized the need for green economy as she struggles to cope with the unemployment and development, hence the development of climate change policy framework.

 

Like Madam Meinbah who couldn’t tell the whereabouts of all these beautiful birds, butterflies, worms and green frogs that beautify the environment at her youthful days, so is my question, who caused climate change?

 

So tackling climate change would not only need cash but governmental and individual actions, support and willingness, and result oriented adaptation and mitigation measures to reduce the impact of climate change on people’s livelihoods.

 

It is against this background that Care International’s Climate Change Adaptation and Learning Programme (ALP) which seeks to increase the capacities of vulnerable communities and households to adapt to the effects of climate change using what they called community based adaptation approach is laudable.

 

The community based adaptation hinged on four key elements; promoting climate resilient livelihoods strategies, building capacities of local NGOs and local public institutions, disaster risk reduction strategies and addressing the underlying causes of vulnerability through social mobilization for empowerment and advocacy to influence policies implementations.

 

Until we are able to take the needed actions, developed the needed development plans, and generated legal frame works to support the implementation of climate change resilience plan actions, we will continue to witness, mass extinction of animal species, wild plants, water crisis, youth migration, conflicts, disasters and food crisis. That is why the fight against climate change, or tackling climate change needs multi-facets approach.  If we cannot bring the green toads back to Madam Meinbah’s backyard, we can prevent the crawling lizard from vanishing into thin air through climate resilience policies and programmes.

 
 

Aftermath of Durban conference: CARE demands immediate review of “Green Fund establishment”

 

Francis Npong, Accra-Ghana,  Officials of CARE International are unhappy with the outcome of the just ended Climate

 

Mr. Baba Tuahiru addressing participants during the workshop

Change negotiation Conference (COP17) held in Durban, South Africaand demanded immediate review. According to the organization, though the parties agreed on the establishment of “Green Fund” at the last minutes before the end of COP17, the source(s) of the fund was/were not established.

This, CARE said would not only make the implementation of climate actions difficult but would render the ‘binding agreement’ in the Kyoto Protocolineffective. The organization however demanded immediate review to establish sources of funding to “Green fund” to finance effective climate change campaigns the world over.

A Coordinator of CARE Ghana, Mr. Baba Tuahiru who expressed the opposition of the organization was addressing experts and some members of civil society organizations operating in Ghana during a day’s workshop on climate change adaptation experiences in Ghana.

The workshop which was organized by “Building Capacity to meet the climate change challenge (B4C) project” being run by the University of Ghana in collaboration with CARE International Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP), Ghana Wildlife Society, Centre for African Wetlands and the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology held at the Centre for African Wetlands Auditorium at the University of Ghana reviewed the just ended COP17 and discussed climate challenges arising in Ghana.

Mr. Tuahiru stated that the feet dragging by developed countries to support by ratifying Kyoto Protocol document to make it binding to deal with climate change was unfortunate. “it is unfortunate that developed nations were unwilling to support Kyoto Protocol to make it binding on parties though they are aware the impacts of their activities on developing countries”, he said.

“To avoid blames, a green fund was established but there was no source(s) of funding and that will make the realization of that fund difficult”, he stressed. Climate Change, Mr. Tuahiru pointed out does not affect developed nations alone and that the economic meltdown in developed nations given rise to youth uprising was partly because of climate change. He however, urged developed nations to develop their own adaptation programmes, and integrate them into their development plans, build climate resilience projects to reduce the effects global warming their people.

He said that CARE was collaborating with a number of organizations in some African nationsto implementation Adaptation Learning Programme aimed at integrating climate change policies in people’s daily activities.

Professor Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu of the University of Ghana addressing participants during the workshop

The University of Ghana’s B4C project Director Professor Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu disclosed that the University of Ghana through B4C project would soon rollout climate change courses to build capacities of people in Africa to help cope with climate change effects.

She said the project would also support the first 15 students that enrolled into the programme as parts of the university’s plans to support the continent to cope with development challenges rises as a result of climate change. The institution Prof. Ntiamoa-Baidu hinted would also undertake research to determine the level of climate change effects on livelihoods and development.

She appealed for partnership and collaboration to help them train human resources to build climate change resilience projects to support the livelihoods of the poor and vulnerable within the Africa continent. Some of the topics discussed during the workshop includes building capacity for the climate change challenge B4C project, Climate change adaptation through integrated water resources management in the three northern regions of Ghana, lessons from conservation agriculture practices, climate change and health in Accra project, climate change and food security in the Afram Plains in Ghana , importance of technology in climate change adaptation and sharing information on water management systems and livelihoods project under the global water Initiative among other topics. The workshop also proposed capacity building for government and policy makers and implementers, building climate change resilience projects, integration of climate change into national development plans and programmes and equipping rural dwellers the necessary knowledge and technologies to improve agricultural practices, forestation and forest conservation and the use of efficient energy technologies as a way forward to the adaptation of climate change in Ghana.

 

CARE Ghana Schools MPs On Climate Change

 

Francis Npong, Accra

Ghana’s Parliamentary (MPs) Select Committee on Environment have been urged to discuss dispassionately the policies and programmes on climate change resilience to help Ghana to cope with the effects of climate change.


The Country Director of CARE Ghana, Mr. Phil Christensen who urged the MPs when he addressed them during a capacity building workshop organized by CARE Ghana in Accra, however expressed worry over the feet dragging by developed nations to act on the Kyoto Protocolto drastically reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

The workshop was aimed among other things to educate Members of Parliament (MPs) on climate change, environmental issues, empower them to make strong cases for climate change resilience policies and programmes in Ghana. It was also aimed at getting the MPs interested in climate change and environmental issues, the need to have climate change integrated into the national development planning.

According to Mr. Christensen, the failure of the developed nations to lead ways to emission reduction poses potential severity of future impacts of climate change not only on the developing nations but also developed nations at large.

“The responsibility to resolve the climate change crisis lies on the doorsteps of the developed countries since they are the historical source of emission of greenhouse gases and enjoined by the UN Convention on Climate Change to support developing countries to adapt to the effects”, he stated.

These gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), Methene (CH4) and Nitrous Oxide (N2O) produced as a result of human activities have the ability to trap infrared radiation (sun’s energy) which reflects in the form of temperature. The addition of these gases however increases the earth’s surface temperature, sea level water, precipitation, drought and floods among other things according to scientists hence climate change.

The Director of CARE Ghana stressed that Africa, which was already saddled with development challenges would be over stretched by the additional burdens of climate change which signs are clearly showing on the continent in trying to cope with its effects.

He warned that failure by the developing countries to take what he termed “community based adaptation initiative” that seeks to develop and strengthen the capacity of the people, empower them to analyze and manage climate risk would plunge the continent into serious difficulties.

The Members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Environment led by Honourable Raymond Tawiah, MP for Yelo-Krobo Constituency expressed worry over what they described as strict conditions or terms often attached to donor funds to developing countries.



According to the MPs, this dictates do not allowed the beneficiary nations to invest in their priority development areas of interest. “This is keeping us where we are today in terms of development”, they said. The MPs also expressed fears that the climate change financing would also not help achieve it intended purpose if strict conditions are placed on the use of such funds by developing nations.

They promised to support climate change activities after realizing the devastating effects of climate change of livelihoods. They also promised to lead advocacy for climate change resilience policies to help Ghana cope with the effects of climate change.

Energy and Climate Change Expert form the Environmental protection Agency (EPA) Mr. Tutu Benefoh who facilitated the workshop said that evidence abounds in Ghana that temperatures in all ecological zones were raising, whereas the rainfall patterns have become erratic. The country over the years he said have been witnessing long drought, thunderstorm, and flooding, food insecurity because the agriculture sector had been hard hit by climate change.

Agriculture, Mr. Benefoh said which is the mainstay of the people has declined from 51% to 36% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The sea levels rise of 2.1 mm per year over the last 30 year currently causes erosion up to 3 meters every year He therefore appealed to the governments, NGOs and international bodies to work together reduce the climate change impact on the poor and vulnerable in society through climate change resilience policies, and infrastructure.

 

Global Warming 'Comfirmed' By Independent Study


The Berkeley Earth Project has used new methods and some new data, but finds the same warming trend seen by groups such as the UK Met Office and Nasa.

Weather station at airportWeather stations are giving a true picture of global warming, the group found

Related Stories

The Earth's surface really is getting warmer, a new analysis by a US scientific group set up in the wake of the "Climategate" affair has concluded.

The project received funds from sources that back organisations lobbying against action on climate change.

"Climategate", in 2009, involved claims global warming had been exaggerated.

Emails of University of East Anglia (UEA) climate scientists were hacked, posted online and used by critics to allege manipulation of climate change data.

Fresh start

The Berkeley group says it has also found evidence that changing sea temperatures in the north Atlantic may be a major reason why the Earth's average temperature varies globally from year to year.

The group includes physicist Saul Perlmutter, a Nobel Prize winner this year

The project was established by University of California physics professor Richard Muller, who was concerned by claims that established teams of climate researchers had not been entirely open with their data.

He gathered a team of 10 scientists, mostly physicists, including such luminaries as Saul Perlmutter, winner of this year's Nobel Physics Prize for research showing the Universe's expansion is accelerating.

Funding came from a number of sources, including charitable foundations maintained by the Koch brothers, the billionaire US industrialists, who have also donated large sums to organisations lobbying against acceptance of man-made global warming.

Start Quote

Our biggest surprise was that the new results agreed so closely with the warming values published previously”

Richard MullerBerkeley group founder

"I was deeply concerned that the group [at UEA] had concealed discordant data," Professor Muller told BBC News.Saul Perlmutter

"Science is best done when the problems with the analysis are candidly shared."

The group's work also examined claims from "sceptical" bloggers that temperature data from weather stations did not show a true global warming trend.

The claim was that many stations have registered warming because they are located in or near cities, and those cities have been growing - the urban heat island effect.

The Berkeley group found about 40,000 weather stations around the world whose output has been recorded and stored in digital form.

It developed a new way of analysing the data to plot the global temperature trend over land since 1800.

What came out was a graph remarkably similar to those produced by the world's three most important and established groups, whose work had been decried as unreliable and shoddy in climate sceptic circles.

GraphThe Berkeley group's record of global land temperature mirrors existing ones closely

Two of those three records are maintained in the US, by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa).

The third is a collaboration between the UK Met Office and UEA's Climatic Research Unit (CRU), from which the e-mails that formed the basis of the "Climategate" furore were hacked two years ago.

"Our biggest surprise was that the new results agreed so closely with the warming values published previously by other teams in the US and the UK," said Professor Muller.

"This confirms that these studies were done carefully and that potential biases identified by climate change sceptics did not seriously affect their conclusions."

Since the 1950s, the average temperature over land has increased by 1C, the group found.

They also report that although the urban heat island effect is real - which is well-established - it is not behind the warming registered by the majority of weather stations around the world.

They also showed that in the US, weather stations rated as "high quality" by Noaa showed the same warming trend as those rated as "low quality".

'Time for apology'

Professor Phil Jones, the CRU scientist who came in for the most personal criticism during "Climategate", was cautious about interpreting the Berkeley results because they have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

"I look forward to reading the finalised paper once it has been reviewed and published," he said.

The findings so far provide validation for Phil Jones, targeted during the "Climategate" affair

"These initial findings are very encouraging, and echo our own results and our conclusion that the impact of urban heat islands on the overall global temperature is minimal."

The Berkeley team has chosen to release the findings initially on its own website.

They are asking for comments and feedback before preparing the manuscripts for formal scientific publication.

In part, this counters the accusation made during "Climategate" that climate scientists formed a tight clique who peer-reviewed each other's papers and made sure their own global warming Professor Phil Jonesnarrative wasProfessor Phil Jones the only one making it into print.

But for Richard Muller, this free circulation also marks a return to how science should be done.

"That is the way I practised science for decades; it was the way everyone practised it until some magazines - particularly Science and Nature - forbade it," he said.

"That was not a good change, and still many fields such as string theory practice the traditional method wholeheartedly."

This open "wiki" method of review is regularly employed in physics, the home field for seven of the 10 Berkeley team.

Bob Ward, policy and communications director for the Grantham Research Institute for Climate Change and the Environment in London, said the warming of the Earth's surface was unequivocal.

"So-called 'sceptics' should now drop their thoroughly discredited claims that the increase in global average temperature could be attributed to the impact of growing cities," he said.

"More broadly, this study also proves once again how false it was for 'sceptics' to allege that the e-mails hacked from UEA proved that the CRU land temperature record had been doctored.

"It is now time for an apology from all those, including US presidential hopeful Rick Perry, who have made false claims that the evidence for global warming has been faked by climate scientists."

Ocean currents

The Berkeley group does depart from the "orthodox" picture of climate science in its depiction of short-term variability in the global temperature.

The El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is generally thought to be the main reason for inter-annual warming or cooling.

But by the Berkeley team's analysis, the global temperature correlates more closely with the state of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) index - a measure of sea surface temperature in the north Atlantic.

There are theories suggesting that the AMO index is in turn driven by fluctuations in the north Atlantic current commonly called the Gulf Stream.

The team suggests it is worth investigating whether the long-term AMO cycles, which are thought to last 65-70 years, may play a part in the temperature rise, fall and rise again seen during the 20th Century.

But they emphasise that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) driven by greenhouse gas emissions is very much in their picture.

"Had we found no global warming, then that would have ruled out AGW," said Professor Muller.

"Had we found half as much, it would have suggested that prior estimates [of AGW] were too large; if we had found more warming, it would have raised the question of whether prior estimates were too low.

"But we didn't; we found that the prior rise was confirmed. That means that we do not directly affect prior estimates."

The team next plans to look at ocean temperatures, in order to construct a truly global dataset. 

Source: BBC 

 

STAKEHOLDERS REVIEW GHANA'S CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY FRAMEWORK

Francis Npong, Wa, Upper West

Mr. Philip Acquah in suit explaining a point to some participants

Ghana has less than nine years to build climate change resilience, adaptation and mitigation measures to be able to withstand the looming devastating effects of climate change and global warming.

The member of the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Roaster of Experts, Mr. Philip Acquah who gave this warning pointed out that the country which was currently grappling with the burden of poverty, environmental degradation, food insecurity is prone to erratic rainfall, floods, droughts and diseases and would need an action plan to be able to cope with the effects of global warming which was rare by 2020.

Mr. Acquah who was leading discussions on a three- day civil society capacity building on climate change and review of the national climate change policy framework document currently ongoing here in Wa, the Upper West Region stated that there would be no more time for Ghana and for that matter countries in Sub-Sahara region to build capacities of their people to deal with the effects of climate change if it was not done now.

The workshop organized by the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MEST) in collaboration with CARE International Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP) and KASA and brought together representatives from civil society organizations in the three regions of Ghana was to enhance civil society capacity to understand the causes, impact and response measures to climate change. It was also to provide a consultative platform for civil society to discuss and input the national climate change policy framework to make its implementation easy.

The member of UNFCCC roaster of experts described climate change as a threat to Ghana’s development process and would need both the long and short term mitigation and adaptation policies and programmes to be able to cope with the effects of climate change.

The Advocacy manager of CARE International, Mr. Baba Tuahiru explained that Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP) is part of the organization’s resolve to increase the capacity of vulnerable households in sub-sahara Africa to adapt to climate variability and change.

The programme, he said which develops and applies innovative approaches to community basd adaptation to generate best practices models is aimed to empower communities and civil society organizations to have a voice in decision making on adaptation to climate change and also to influence national, regional and international adaptation policies and plans.

Mr. Tuahiru explained that ALP which is being implemented in 40 communities in Ghana, Niger, Mozambique and Kenya also promotes rights and responsibilities and empower people in the most vulnerable socio-economic groups to take action and raise their voices in local, national, and international planning and policy-making processes on adaptation and mitigation of climate change.

A Director in-charge of KASA programme CARE International Mr. Zakaria Yakubu said that the development of national climate change framework was to create a more coherent, equitable and integrated society to deal with the effects of climate change on development and livelihoods.

He said that the policy framework was also to ensure a climate resilience and climate compatible economy while achieving sustainable development and equitable low carbon economic growth for Ghana.

He called for effective collaboration between the government and civil society to ensure the successful implemtation of climate change policy to reduce poverty, hunger and prepare the people to adapt coping strategies for a better livelihood.

 

Nine Rat Hunter In Court For Bush fire Offences

Francis Npong, Tamale: The presiding judge of the Tamale Magistrate Court, His Worship Gabriel Mate-Teye has issued a stem warning to politicians, opinion leaders, and chiefs in the Metropolis who for wants of popularity would try to influence judiciary system to desist or face the law.

The judge who was emotional charged issued this warning when nine persons arrested and charged with unlawful and negligently causing damage contrary to section 12 of the 172 Act 29/60 of the criminal code appeared before him to answer these charges brought against them by the officials of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The nine persons include six juveniles were arrested by the Tamale police somewhere in January 2011 for setting fire to the bush that destroyed a 36 acre cowpea farm at Nyamelga, a farming community on the Salaga road.

Though the pleas of the six juveniles were not taken the court however granted to reappear in court on the 16thMarch 2011 to enable the court making arrangement to hear the case of these under aged children in camera as stipulated by the law.

Two of remaining three pleaded guilty to the offence and would be sentenced on the 21st when they reappear before it.Before adjoining the case to 16th and 21st of this month respectively, the judge, His Worship Gabriel Mate-Teye who commended EPA officials for resisting pressures and influences for bringing the case before the court observed with concerns the negative effects of rampant bushfire in the northern region saying his outfit would deal drastically with any persons brought before it on charges of setting fire to the bush.

The nine accused persons were on hunting expedition at Nyamalga, a community near Tamale metropolis where they allegedly set fire to the bush which subsequently destroyed a 36 acre cowpea farm, according to the prosecutor Inspector Johnson Keremeng.He said on the 22nd day of January 2011, the northern regional director of the EPA lodged a complain to the police that some were burning people’s farms in search for rates.

The police quickly dispatch a patron team who arrested the suspects at the scene.Some rates which were tended in court as evidence were retrieved from the accused persons. The police the prosecutor said also retrieved 25 bicycles, and a motor bike which the suspects claimed ownership. The judge however adjoined the case to 16th and 21st of this month and issued warning to people to desist from acts that turned to influence judiciary system or justice.

Desert March Thretaens To Swallow Northern Ghana



From: Francis Npong, Tamale

The kind of ecological calamity that sent Ethiopia and Sunden’s Darfur from relative food sovereignty to food scarcity may pretty soon fall on Ghana’s lot, as Sahara Desert has continued to turn the northern parts of Ghana into wasteland and marches violently and unstoppably southwards.

According to environmental experts, about 35% of the total land mass of the country has already been swallowed by the advancing desert and the three northern regions, Upper East, West and Northern, which together constitute about 40% of the total land mass of the country are the worst affected area.
It is estimated that the 8.2 million hectares of the closed forest of the country have been depleted leaving a current level estimated at 1.9 to 2.0 million hectares.

This experience has also taken a heavy toll on the economy. For instance, in 1998, the total estimated annual loss due to environmental degradation amounted to GH¢41.7 thousand, representing 4 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.

The three northern regions which fall under the savannah zone cover 55% of the country’s land mass in 1972 and had been expanded to 58.1% by 2000.
Documents at the forestry departments stated that the forest cover of northern zone constituted about 41,600km in 1952, which represent about 46% of the total land area of the three regions, but the unregulated exploitation of these resources to meet the economic needs of the growing population of the people and livestock have reduced the forest cover of the land to semi-desert and wasteland.
 
Though desertification was arguably the first environmental issue to be recognized as taking place on global scale Africans countries have placed their focuses on physical infrastructure development to the detriment of environment which is now catching up with them. Land degradation, through sand wining, tree felling, bush burning and construction has turned the vegetation cover in Northern Ghana into waste and semi-desert land aggravating poverty, hunger and starvation, diseases, and youth migration, armed robbery among other social vices.
 
The UN conference on desertification in 1977 in Nairobi and later in 1994, the UN convention to combat desertification was opened for ratification by countries in which Ghana in 1996, December 27, ratified the convention but had failed in implementation of environmental laws.
 
Several factors were responsible for the desertification and deforestation in northern Ghana. The regions carry about 80% of the nation’s livestock,74.4%, Northern region 43.4% and Upper East 36.5%. an area of with a low rainfall between 645mm and 1250mm per annum and a long dry period of six to seven months and without irrigated grazing lands the consequence of this high livestock population has put pressure on the limited land resources, which sometimes generated conflicts between the owners of the livestock and farmer lands.
 
The rampant and uncontrollable bush burning for the purpose of either farming or hunting has been a constant culture of the people in these parts of the country and this had destroyed limited organic matter suitable for crop production hence food scarcity, hunger and starvation and increased poverty level.
 
A sizeable number of trees are felt every day for the purposes of charcoal burning or firewood and construction works have also aided the speedy advance of desertification and deforestation in the north.
 
The effects of desert encroachment in the Northern Ghana are alarming. Changes of rainfall patterns and climate in recent times have devastated the lands leaving several kilometres of scorched farmlands, leaner livestock, dried dams, and rivers impoverishing the population.
 
Already, poverty, hunger, diseases and unemployment have begun to force hundreds of the youth from Upper East, West and Northern regions to urban centers as a result of the loss of agricultural farm lands to desert encroachment, turning the marginal area of the regions into wastelands.
 
It for this reasons that experts at a four-day environmental workshop organised by the Rural Media Network (RUMNET) under KASA project, an environmental mechanism put in place by development partners including CARE International, The Netherlands Development Agency (SNV), and Inter-Church Co-operation for Development (ICCO) called for urgent measures to curb environmental degradation.
 
The programme which seeks to increase civil society involvement in attaining Natural Resources and Environmental Governance (NRE) was to enhance the capacity of civil society organisations to carry out effective advocacy on the conservation of natural resources. The participants were selected from civil society and media organisations from the Upper East, West and Northern.
 
The Northern Regional Director of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in an interview Mr. Iddrisu Abu lamented that the rate at which the desert was moving into the country. He said the desert keeps advancing southwards from the boundaries at the speed of 0.8 kilometres per annum.
 
The situation he said has assumed such a magnitude that the minimum vegetation cover in some communities in Upper East region has already fallen below 5% as against the total ecological cover to support life. He desert could be felt at Garu, Zongoiri, Zebila, Paga, Nangodi and Tungu in the Upper East region.

 

Fierce Battle Over Shieni Iron Ore Concession in Ghana

Francis Npong, Tamale

One of the finest and in large commercial quantities of iron ore deposit has been discovered at Shieni in the Zabzugu/Tatale District of the northern region.

According to various geological surveys, Shieni Iron Ore have potentials to open up national economy, improve investment and development and reduce poverty level significantly among the people if opened.

This however strike the paramount chief of Tatale traditional area, Obore Gariba Yankosor to make a passionate appeal to the government through the northern regional minister Mr. Moses Bukari Mabengba to expedite action on the exploration of Shieni iron ore to create jobs to the teaming unemployed youth of the area.

The iron ore which is said to be in commercial quantity was discovered in early 1960s but left unattended to by the governments. The geological survey on the resource indicated that it contained one of the finest iron ore reserves in the sub-Sahara Africa and could be mined for the next 100 years continuously.

The paramount chief who underscored the need to tame the youth said the process could only be possible if they were engaged in productive ventures.And that the youth at Zabzugu/Tatale would remain at home if the mines at Shieni Hills is opened.

The paramount chief made the appeal when he received a research finding on Shieni Ore conducted by Inland Ghana Mines Limited.The chief wonders why the government remain silence the iron concession though several survey findings pointed to the fact finest minerals whereas poverty, youth unemployment was at the highest level.

The deputy northern regional minister Sam Nasamo Asanbigi who lauded Inland Ghana Mines for taken the initiatives to explore Shieni iron ore said that opening the mines at the area would offer jobs to the people.

He lamented that though the region was sitting under resources its people were wallowing under poverty and that exploring shieni iron ores would received the necessary support from the government because it would support the government agenda of job creation and development.

The minister however appealed to the mineral commission to expedite action on the exploration of shieni iron ore to bring the needed development to the deprived district.Zabzugu/Tatale district is one of the deprived distrct assemblies in Ghana with bad roads, lack of portable drinking water, poor sanitation drainage, lack of electricity among other social infrastructures.

The district aslso accounted for the large number of unemployed youth flooded in cities and towns.Underscoring the importance mining at the district the deputy minister said this would bring the youth back home thereby reduced drastically social vices street children pose to cities development.

The country Director of Director of Inland Ghana Mines Limited Mr. Amos Owusu Boateng has disclosed that exploration of Iron Ore at Shieni Hills has potentials of turning the deprived district to a better and development endowed one.

He said though the people were sitting on abundance and quality natural resources they continued to wallow under abject poverty. This is because no attention had been given that resource after its discovery in early 1960s.

The director said that their geological survey result on shieni iron ore deposit indicated that it contained one of the quality iron ore discovered in the sub-Sahara AfricaThe company, he said took the initiatives to explore the resources particularly in the northern region as parts of efforts to open up the area for investment to facilitate the development and reduce poverty the people in the region.

Mr. Boateng said that their analysis on the stones at Sheini Hills indicated that the area was rich in iron ore and that they were also traces of other minerals including diamond, bauxite, manganese, silica, clinker (cement stones). 

“Our analysis of the stones indicated traces of manganese, diamond, bauxite, silica and clinker (stone for cement production)”, he disclosed.   
 He appealed to the government, and mineral commission to support the company to open the mines to provide job opportunities to the people.

 

Ghana Launched Sustainable Land, Water Management Project

By; Francis Npong,

The Ministry of Science and Technology (MEST) has launched 8.15 million US dollars new environmental project in Tamale aimed to reduce land degradation and improve biodiversity conservation in northern Ghana.
The project dubbed Ghana sustainable Land and Water Management Project (SLWM) is part of efforts by the Ministry of Environment Science and Technology (MEST) and for that matter the Ghana government to demonstrate improved sustainable land and water management practices to reduce land degradation enhance maintenance of biodiversity in micro-watersheds and strengthen spatial planning for identification of linked watershed investments.
With the funding support from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and World Bank (WB), the new environmental project which seeks to introduce new agricultural technology for adoption to improve land and water management to reverse desertification, land degradation and water pollutions would benefit the Upper West, East and Northern regions.
The project, according to the Executive Director of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Mr. Daniel Amlalo represents a comprehensive approach to sustainable land and watershed management and would combine what he termed “soft and hard” investments at the community level to manage and maintain ecological infrastructure with planning activities to be integrated into water and flood management in northern Ghana and agro-agricultural zones.
Mr. Amlalo who was speaking during the official launch of the project explained that the sustainable land and water management project is a five year Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and World Bank assistance under both Land Degradation Focal Area (LDFA) which is contributing $ 7.15, million, and Biodiversity Focal Area (BFA) $1 million while the Ghana government would contribute in kind an estimated amount of $7.8 million as part of her efforts to help deal with land degradation, loss of biodiversity and protection and maintenance of watersheds under the new project.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Enquuirer, the Technical Director at the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MEST) Dr. Nicholas Iddi explained that the new project is not would only maintain watersheds and fights desertification and land degradation but also would work toward economic transformation to facilitate development and reduce extreme poverty in northern Ghana.
He said that the project is also taking onboard the ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Forestry commission (FC), Wildlife Division, and District Assemblies as partners or implementing agencies to achieve the desire result.
The challenges of desertification, land degradation and drought while real, are solvable but would need not just multi-million dollars projects but the commitment of implementing agencies to implement the project fully.
The launch of this so-called comprehensive project will definitely not open up northern Ghana or help transform the area if strategies used to implement similar projects aimed to transform the area were not changed.
Most of these projects though are good failed because the implementing agencies do not involve community members whereas most strategies and technologies introduce are either expansive to adopt and manage or could not be fused into indigenous existing technologies. It is hoped this project would take into consideration the existing indigenous technologies and integrate it into the new project plans, and involve community members to make it community own. 

Desert March Threatens to Swallow Northern Ghana

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Climate Change Models

 

Climate Change Diplomacy

Katharina Höne, Jovan Kurbalija, Christiaan Sys

 

Lecture 1 (part 1): Climate Change: Definitions, Causes and Effects

 

This first part of Lecture 1 aims to provide clear and concise definitions and descriptions of the main phenomena involved in climate change. Annotated links are provided to websites offering more in-depth and scientific analysis. We then look at some of the effects of climate change on human society and activities. Most of the issues introduced in this lecture will be re-visited at later points in the course.

 

1. Climate Change - Introductory Remarks

1.1. From weather to climate

Weather is short-term changes in temperature, rain and sunshine, wind and humidity. Short-term can refer to a few days, a week, a season, or even several years. Europeans tend to think of weather in terms of seasonal changes. In some other continents, changes between years are more important than seasonal variability. In Australia, for example, droughts and good years alternate in multi-year cycles driven by the El Nino Southern Oscillation

The word climate describes the "aggregate or totality of the weather of a particular place or area over a protracted period, conventionally over an interval of at least 30 years" (Matthews, 2001, p. 94). Climate change refers to observable changes in the delicate balance between temperature, rain and sunshine, wind and humidity; "changes in the mean and/or the variability" of the properties of climate (IPCC, 2007b, p. 30).

Weather and climate are complex chaotic phenomena that are very difficult to predict. Weather models nowadays are likely to be useful for less than a month. Climate models - models that start with a 30 year time span - are even more difficult to design and manage. Essentially, we test their capacity to predict by asking them to predict the past. Those that perform best in this way are deemed viable for predictions about the future. Nevertheless, the whole methodology is fraught with (inevitable) uncertainties.

1.2. Climate change: a scale-dependent phenomenon

We can observe climate at a global, regional, local, or even micro level. It all depends on the scale we chose. While the global climate changes in one direction, it may change differently at lesser scales. For example, we may say that the global climate is warming, however this does not mean that the warming occurs everywhere, or to the same degree. In fact, not all regions will warm equally, and rainfall patterns will also change. Thus, equating climate change with global warming may be misleading.

According to models proposed in a recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, the surface air temperature will increase in all regions and seasons. However, “[w]arming is especially pronounced in high northern-latitude regions in the boreal winter and in southern Europe and parts of central and northern Asia in the boreal summer. Warming is less than the global average in southern parts of Asia and South America, Southern Ocean areas (containing many small islands) and the North Atlantic” (IPCC 2007c, p. 149). Another example of the varying effects of global climate change in different regions is the changes in precipitation. Looking at the last hundred years, we can observe that precipitation has increased significantly in the eastern parts of North and South America, northern Europe and north and central Asia. On the other hand, the Sahel, the Mediterranean, southern Africa and parts of southern Asia have seen a decline in precipitation (IPCC 2007b, p. 2).

1.3. Climate change: a natural phenomenon since time out of mind

Neither the solar system nor planet Earth is perfect: inherent irregularities have repeatedly affected the earth's climate in abrupt and rapid fashion. The long transformation of African apes into humans may have been climate-driven. The emergence of "civilisation" - the advent of modern homo faber and his transformation of the environment - has been linked to "the long summer" that the world has experienced during the last 15 000 years, following a series of brutal Ice Ages during which homo sapiens sapiens barely survived.

Only now are we beginning to unravel the impact of climate on the rise and wane of civilisations across continents, or on mass migrations that have shaped history. Far more than kings and battles, weather and climate have sealed humanity's fate in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

1.4. Climate change: also an anthropogenic phenomenon

Far from being the hapless victims of climate change, we have recently become aware that we may be major participants in the process. Climate change is also anthropogenic, or man-made. In fact we may be one, or possibly a major, cause of climate change as we observe it today.

It is well established that human activities create micro-climates (the climate - temperature or humidity for example - close to the surface of a relative small area of land). Urban areas, for example, tend to be hotter than their surroundings, an effect often referred to as the “urban heat island.” Even gardening techniques create micro-climates on a very small scale (BBC, no date). Such micro-climates exemplify an anthropogenic influence on the climate which is limited to relative small areas.

What is certainly new is the realisation that we may have a significant impact on the climate worldwide. This enhanced understanding has come with our ability - obtained in the last 50 years only - to monitor and to model the climate on a global level. Please note that anthropogenic climate change is a collateral (unintended) effect of otherwise justifiable human activities, which makes addressing the issue more complicated.

As we shall spend the rest of this course dealing with anthropogenic climate change, at this point we simply refer you to the 2007 Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for further information.

 

2. Causes of Climate Change

The most crucial change in climate, which in turn triggers a number of other changes, is a warming of the biosphere (the parts of the earth's surface, waters and atmosphere which support life). In its 2007 report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that warming is happening and that the amount to which this occurs cannot be attributed to natural causes alone. It is estimated that over the past century and a half, the earth's mean surface temperature has increased by about 0.5 to 0.6 degrees Celcius.

The so-called greenhouse effect is the mechanism that keeps the troposphere (the lower atmosphere) at a steady temperature suitable for life. The greenhouse effect is an imperfect metaphor for a naturally occurring effect that traps warmth from the sun within the atmosphere of the earth - very similar to a greenhouse. As radiation from the sun enters the earth's atmosphere part of it is absorbed by the earth, thereby warming it, and part of it is reflected back into the atmosphere. A change in this balance is called forcing.

This radiation from the sun is trapped in the lower part of the atmosphere by greenhouse gases. The most important greenhouse gases are:

·         Water vapor (H2O), which causes about 36-70% of the greenhouse effect on earth. (Note that clouds typically affect climate differently from other forms of atmospheric water.)

·         Carbon dioxide (CO2), which causes 9-26% of the greenhouse effect. It is produced by burning fuels, during cement and lime production, and is emitted by animals and plants (i.e., it is of biological origin) but may also come from geologic phenomena like eruptions. CO2 is massively absorbed by the oceans and deposited at the bottom.

·         Methane (CH4), which causes 4-9% of the greenhouse effect and is mostly of biological origin; the product of bacteria. Livestock are big producers, but also marshes, paddy crops, and melting permafrost.

·         Ozone (O3), which causes 3-7% of the greenhouse effect.

·         Other gases (including chlorofluorocarbons), which have a marginal effect.

The gases are listed above in order of importance, which refers to a combination of the strength of the greenhouse effect of the gas and its abundance. Almost all of these gases have always been found in the atmosphere, in varying concentrations. Ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica tell us how the concentrations have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years.

The following websites provide useful, interactive graphics and animations on the greenhouse effect, global warming and climate change:

·         BBC Weather Centre (greenhouse effect animation)

·         The United States Environmental Protection Agency (kid's site on global warming)

·         Department of Geography of the University of Oregon (climate change animations covering a wide range of phenomena).

 

3. Causes of Anthropogenic Climate Change

CO2, methane, ozone and other gases have increased markedly in the last 150 years. This change has been linked to human activities: economic growth, population growth, and changes in life-style. The single largest cause is the increase in CO2 levels due to emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement manufacture. Another factor still being researched which needs to be taken into account is aerosols: minute particles suspended in the atmosphere. Depending on their size, structure and surface, most aerosols exert a cooling effect (Slanina and Davis, 2008). Other human-related factors such as land use, ozone depletion, animal agriculture and deforestation, also affect the climate (Wikipedia, 2008a).

 

4. Effects of Climate Change

In this part of the lecture we move to more uncertain terrain. Predictions of the effect of climate change range in wide spectrum from high scientifically-proven probability to pure speculations. The question of possibility and uncertainty and their influence on diplomatic activities will be discussed in the second lecture. Remaining aware of the uncertainty factor, here we address those effects which are discussed in the IPCC report (2007a). Discussion of the effects of climate change will continue throughout the course.

4.1. Sea level rise

Sea level rise is one of the most vivid and the most frequently reported effects of climate change. Small island states are the most vulnerable to sea level rise; some of them such as Maldives and Tuvalu face the risk of complete submersion. Besides small island states, the rising sea level may affect coastal areas worldwide; a population of close to 700 million people.

The sea level has been rising at a rate of around 1.8 mm per year for the past century, mainly due to human-induced global warming. This rate is increasing; measurements from 1993-2000 indicate a mean rate of 3.1 mm per year. The main cause of the rising sea level is the melting of polar icecaps (Wikipedia 2008b). For more information on sea level rise please consult the Wikipedia article on "Current sea level rise" and The Guardian, "Global warming: Sea level rises may accelerate due to melting ice sheet".

4.2. Fresh water

Climate change is likely to affect the flow of fresh water for human settlements and agriculture. Glacial melting leads to flooding as a short-term consequence and water shortage as a long-term consequence. These developments are already visible. For example, the glacial melt in the Himalayas has caused increased flooding in China, India and Pakistan. The reduced availability of fresh water will also be caused by climate-driven droughts, increased evaporation and changes in patterns of rainfall and runoff.

In some regions, such as the Middle-East, the already existing problem of water scarcity will be further aggravated. This could trigger numerous further social consequences, including armed conflicts over access to fresh water (UNDP, 2007, p. 95).

4.3. Forests

Deforestation is both a cause and an effect of climate change. Deforestation reduces the availability of CO2 sinks: areas such as forests which remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Major forested areas of the planet such as the Amazon absorb a considerable quantity of anthropogenic CO2. As these areas are deforested, more CO2 remains in the atmosphere. On the other hand, climate change also increases deforestation through droughts and changes in the eco-system.

 

4.4. Ocean acidification

Ocean acidification refers to the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth's oceans (in other words, an increase in the acidity of the ocean water). This is caused by the absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere: an estimated 50% of man-made CO2 is absorbed by the oceans. Although the natural absorption of CO2 by the world's oceans helps mitigate the effects of anthropogenic emissions of CO2 on climate, the resulting decrease in pH will have negative consequences, primarily for oceanic calcifying organisms (Wikipedia, 2008c).

4.5. Food supply and security

Generally speaking, the effects of global warming on food production will be negative, with the ultimate result of undermining food security for millions of people, as well as our capacity to eradicate hunger. However, there will be significant variations across and even within countries. According to the UNDP Human Development Report for 2007/2008, "climate change will increase the risks to and reduce the productivity of developing country agriculture. In contrast, production could be boosted in developed countries, so that the distribution of world food production may shift. Developing countries are likely to become more dependent on imports from the rich world..." (UNDP, 2007, p. 90). Whereas conditions for agriculture may change in a favourable way in some western countries such as the United States, climate change poses a serious risk to agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. Areas affected by drought are likely to expand by 60-90 million hectares.

 

4.6. Energy use

Energy use and climate change interplay in a number of ways. Modern energy systems are dependent on the combustion of oil and coal, two major generators of CO2 emissions. On the other hand, energy sources such as hydropower and wind power are highly dependent on the natural environment; therefore our ability to produce energy using such sources is affected by changes in climate. Increasingly, it seems that the objectives being pursued by climate change policies are directly opposite to those of certain energy policies. It is obvious that the increased demand for fossil fuel energy is incompatible with the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Some innovative solutions aim to solve the energy problem through the development of alternative and renewable energy sources. This approach may offer a "double dividend": both a reduction in CO2 emissions and a decrease in energy costs.

4.7. Health

According to the IPCC report (2007a), climate change will affect human health through changes in temperature, exposure to extreme events, access to nutrition, air quality, and in other ways. Climate change will impact health most strongly in poor countries, especially in Africa, mainly through the intensification of existing epidemics. For example, the spread of malaria is directly linked to three climate-related factors: rainfall, temperature and humidity. Other climate-sensitive diseases include dengue fever and cholera.

4.8. Migration and population displacement

The environmental decline and internal instability in states following from the effects of climate change will result in the movements of people. Farmers will move in search of cultivable land (and this in turn may lead to further deforestation). Those unable to survive in rural areas will flock to urban areas, resulting in increased pressures on city infrastructures. Still other people will be forced to move because of an increased risk of flooding, or in the most extreme situations, because their island homes have been submerged due to sea level rise. Migration will in turn have consequences on the environment as displaced people will increase demands on food resources, water and fuel (Elliott, 2004, p. 209). Population growth will exacerbate these problems.

 

4.9. Biodiversity

Loss of biodiversity includes both the mass extinction of species and the loss of genetic diversity within species. According to the IPCC report (2007a), 20-30% of plant and animal species are likely to be at increased risk of extinction if global average temperature increases exceed 1.5 - 2.5 degrees Celsius. The risk for species will come through changes in their ecosystems such as droughts, loss of coral reef systems and loss of wetlands. Human activity is responsible for the current extinction rates that appear to have accelerated beyond their natural level. Despite the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity, there appears to be little improvement in these extinction rates.

 

5. Conclusion

This first part of our first lecture has outlined some of the main issues surrounding climate change diplomacy. We have tried to show the high level of complexity of managing climate change policy issues, related to the interplay of causes and effects. For example, current energy use is a major cause of climate change (combustion of fossil fuels), but also affected by climate change. In Part 2 we will briefly trace the origins of the current public debate on climate change.

 

References

BBC. (no date). Weather. Microclimates [online]. Available from:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/features/understanding/microclimates.shtml [Accessed 22 May 2009].

Elliott, L. (2004). The global politics of the environment (second edition). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC]. (2007a). IPCC fourth assessment report: Working Group I Report “the physical science basis” [online]. Available from:
http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-wg1.htm [Accessed 22 May 2009].

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC]. (2007b). Climate change 2007: Synthesis report [online]. Available from:
http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr.pdf [Accessed 22 May 2009].

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC]. (2007c). IPCC fourth assessment report: Working Group II Report “impacts, adaptation and vulnerability” [online]. Available from:
http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-wg2.htm [Accessed 22 May 2009].

Matthews, J. A. (ed). (2001). The encyclopaedic dictionary of environmental change. London: Arnold.

Slanina, S. and Davis, W. (2008). Aerosols. In: C. J. Cleveland (Washington, D.C.: Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and the Environment) (ed.). Encyclopedia of Earth. Available from:
http://www.eoearth.org/article/Aerosols [Accessed 22 May 2009].

United Nations Development Programme [UNDP]. (2007). Human development report 2007/2008. Fighting climate change: Human solidarity in a divided world [online]. Available from:
http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_20072008_EN_Complete.pdf [Accessed 22 May 2009].

Wikipedia. (2008a). Climate change [online]. Available from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change [Accessed 22 May 2009].

Wikipedia. (2008b). Ocean acidification [online]. Available from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_acidification [Accessed 22 May 2009].

Wikipedia. (2008c). Current sea level rise [online]. Available from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_level_rise [Accessed 22 May 2009].

Climate Change Diplomacy

Katharina Höne, Jovan Kurbalija, Christiaan Sys

 

Lecture 1 (part 2): Evolution of Climate Change Diplomacy

 

Before discussing international treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol and current public debate on climate change, we need to trace the origins of this debate. The second part of Lecture 1 outlines the evolution of the climate change debate through the last 40 years. Being aware of this evolution will help us understand current debates, the positions of main actors and the limitations of some policy approaches. We begin by taking a closer look at the larger environmental debate which provided a framework for the debate on climate change. In addition, we analyse the development of the international response to this debate, leading eventually to the Kyoto Protocol. This process will culminate in the Copenhagen negotiations in December 2009.

 

1. The Emergence of Environmentalism

The concern most people share about the environment today is a relatively new phenomenon. Words like "ecology" or "environment" took on their modern meaning in the 1960s (Brenton, 1994, p. 15). In that decade, "new environmentalism" emerged, mostly in Western countries. Generally, this greater concern for the environment is said to have been triggered by what is called the "post-material value shift" (for a critique of that theory see Garner, 2000, p. 16).

Brenton (1994, p. 22) identifies three reasons for the emergence of environmentalism in the 1960s. First, the growing level of material affluence triggered a change in people's preferences. Material consumption was no longer seen as the ultimate goal because the standards reached were already quite saturating. Instead, especially for the younger generation, preferences shifted to also include non-material factors. For a growing number of people economic growth was no longer the ultimate goal. It needed to go hand-in-hand with the preservation of the environment.

Second, younger generations of Western societies started creating a counter-culture, questioning long-held values, particularly materialism concerned exclusively with economic growth. The third factor is linked to the idea of a shrinking planet. Pictures of the earth from outer space brought the fragility of the earth and the oneness of mankind into the consciousness of growing groups of society. The metaphor of "spaceship earth" entered the public debate and the interconnectedness of everything living on earth was brought to people's attention.

This general concern about the environment covered a wide range of local and global problems, from dumping waste to the use of pesticides in agriculture. Rachel Carson's famous book Silent Spring (1962), for example, sparked intense discussions on the use of pesticides.

The growing concerns mainly centred on the detrimental influence of human activities on the environment. These concerns were echoed in political spheres: between 1970 and 1972, fourteen environmental ministries or agencies were established in industrialised countries; in 1972 the first national "green party" was formed in New Zealand and other countries were quick to follow (Brenton, 1994, p. 19). Climate change only entered public debate in the 1980s; nonetheless, the debate has been influenced and framed by the already present general concern with preserving the natural environment and minimising negative human impact.

 

2. Timeline: The International Response: International Conferences, Treaties and Institutions

The following timeline shows how the international debate on climate change developed from a purely scientific concern to a political question, and how international treaties and institutions emerged as a response (adapted from Brenton, 1994, pp. 163-171 and New Scientist, 2006).

 

1957/58

As a result of the International Geophysical Year, the theory of climate change is given more serious attention and research funding.

 

1960s

Scientific evidence shows that the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere has risen (10% higher than in pre-industrial times).

 

1972

The first global conference on the environment, the “Conference on the Human Environment,” is held under the auspices of the United Nations in Stockholm and results in the creation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Climate change is barely mentioned.

 

1979

The first World Climate Conference is held in Geneva (organised by UNEP and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)). It describes a plausible link between burning fossil fuels and the warming of the lower atmosphere; takes note of an increased proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere (15% higher than in pre-industrial times); and describes climate change as a major problem requiring governmental attention.

 

1987

Scientific workshops are held under the auspices of UNEP and WMO in Villach (Austria) and Bellagio (Italy). Scientists reach the consensus that global warming is indeed very plausibly happening.

 

1987

The World Commission on Environment and Development (founded in 1983 under the auspices of the UN and led by former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland) publishes its report “Our Common Future,” demanding a balance between economic development and the protection of the environment. As a result, the concept of “sustainable development” starts taking root in public discussions.

 

1988

The UN (WMO and UNEP) sets up the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to bring together scientific research on climate change. 

 

1991

The Global Environmental Facility is established as a joint initiative of UNEP, UNDP (the United Nations Development Programme) and the World Bank to provide funding for projects to improve the environment, especially in developing countries. Climate change is one of the six focus areas.

 

1992

The UN Conference on Environment and Development is held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and sees s tates agree that the earth’s warming, resulting from the emission of greenhouse gases, needs to be countered . The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is signed .

 

1997

The Kyoto Protocol is negotiated to specify the agreement reached under the UNFCCC. For the first time, industrialised states agree to cut back their greenhouse gas emissions by a specific percentage.

 

2002

The EU, Japan, and other states ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Russia and the United States remain outside of the treaty.

 

2005

The Kyoto Protocol comes into force, following Russia’s signature of the treaty. The United States continues to remain out of the treaty.

 

2007

The Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC concludes that: “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea level” (IPCC, 2007).

 

2009

Through his first actions in office, US President Barack Obama emphasises the new American commitment to combat climate change.

The fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC will be held in Copenhagen in December. Here, the follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol will be negotiated.

Looking at the rise of environmentalism and the emergence of wide public concerns about the state of the environment, we can see that this was predominantly a phenomenon of Western societies. This is important to keep in mind during later discussions on the different positions of states within the debate and the divide between developed and developing countries. It is also important to note that concerns specifically about climate change entered the general public debate on the state of the environment relatively late. Looking at the development of the international response to climate change in the above timeline, three points are evident:

1.     the first nascent international reactions were of a purely scientific nature;

2.     the international community of states responded by forming new international bodies; and

3.     the most important treaty to raise the issue of climate change to the forefront was the UNFCCC of 1992.

 

3. Conclusion

Now that we have briefly examined key concepts of climate change, some of the effects of climate change, and the evolution of the climate change policy debate, it is time to look at various issues in more depth. The key for handling climate change issues is a comprehensive cognitive and conceptual "toolkit" to help us navigate complexity and, whenever possible, harness it. Therefore, before we go on to examine concepts and issues in more depth, in Lecture 2 we provide a set of "cognitive tools," to help thinking about climate change.

 

References

Brenton, T. (1994). The greening of Machiavelli. The evolution of international environmental policy. London: Earthscan.

Carson, R. (1962). Silent spring. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Garner, R. (2000). Environmental politics: Britain, Europe, and the global environment. Basingstoke: Macmillan.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC]. (2007). Climate change 2007: Synthesis report. Summary for policymakers [online]. Available from:
http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr_spm.pdf [Accessed 22 May 2009].

New Scientist. (2006). Timeline: Climate change [online]. Available from:
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn9912 [Accessed 22 May 2009].

The graph shows the development of the discussion and international action on climate change. Emphasis is put on the interconnectedness between scientific developments and the international political debate and action. The boxes above the timeline refer to the scientific developments while those boxes below the timeline represent the international activities on climate change. Green arrows represent a transfer of knowledge while red arrows indicate political activities.

1957/58

As a result of the International Geophysical Year, the theory of climate change is given more serious attention and research funding.

Scientific evidence shows that the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere has risen (10% higher than in pre-industrial times). New ways of mathematical modelling allow for new simulations of the climate system. Atmospheric scientists are increasingly able to secure funding for climate modelling.

1960s

Scientific evidence shows that the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere has risen (10% higher than in pre-industrial times). New ways of mathematical modelling allow for new simulations of the climate system. Atmospheric scientists are increasingly able to secure funding for climate modelling.

1979

The first World Climate Conference is held in Geneva (organised by UNEP and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)). It describes a plausible link between burning fossil fuels and the warming of the lower atmosphere; takes note of an increased proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere (15% higher than in pre-industrial times); and describes climate change as a major problem requiring governmental attention.

1987

Scientific workshops are held under the auspices of UNEP and WMO in Villach (Austria) and Bellagio (Italy). Scientists reach the consensus that global warming is indeed very plausibly happening.

The First Assessment Report of the IPCC published in 1990 lays the scientific basis for the UN conference in Rio 1992) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Subsequent IPCC Reports are published in 1995, 2000 and 2007.

2007

The Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC concludes that: “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea level”.

1972

The first global conference on the environment is held under the auspices of the UN (although climate change is hardly mentioned). As a result of the “Conference on the Human Environment” in Stockholm a UN specialised organisation for the environment is founded (UNEP).

1972

As a result of the Stockholm Conference, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) is founded.

1987

The World Commission on Environment and Development (founded in 1983 under the auspices of the UN and led by former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland) publishes its report “Our Common Future,” demanding a balance between economic development and the protection of the environment. As a result the concept of "sustainable development" starts taking root in public discussions.

1988

The UN (WMO and UNEP) sets up the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to bring together scientific research on climate change. Its First Assessment Report lays the scientific basis for the UN conference in Rio (1992) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

1991

The Global Environmental Facility is established as a joint initiative of UNEP, UNDP (the United Nations Development Programme) and the World Bank to provide funding for projects to improve the environment, especially in developing countries. Climate change is one of the six focus areas.

1992

The UN Conference on Environment and Development is held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and sees states agree that the warming of the earth, resulting from the emission of greenhouse gases, needs to be countered. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is signed.

1997

The Kyoto Protocol is negotiated to specify the agreement reached under the UNFCCC. For the first time, industrialised states agree to cut back their greenhouse gas emissions by a specific percentage. In 2002, the EU, Japan, and other states ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Russia and the United States remain outside of the treaty. In 2005, the Kyoto Protocol comes into force, following Russia’s signature of the treaty. The United States continue to remain out of the treaty.

Conferences of the Parties (COPs) were established under the UNFCCC. COPs take place once a year and last for two weeks. Past meetings have been of crucial importance in moving the legal framework of the UNFCCC forward. Important COPs include: COP 1 (1995), where the “Berlin Mandate” was agreed; COP 3, which led to the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol; COP 6 (2001), which fleshed out the mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol; COP 7, with its decisions known as the Marrakesh Accords which further specified rules under the Kyoto Protocol; the COPs in Bali (2007) and Poznan (2008), which paved the way for negotiations on a post-Kyoto treaty which should be concluded at the 15th COP in Copenhagen.

December 2009

In December 2009, negotiations (the 15th Conference of the Parties) will be held in Copenhagen to establish a follow-up treaty to the Kyoto Protocol.

mid 1980s

A combination of factors leads to greater attention for the problem of climate change: The 1980s saw some unusual weather phenomena, such as a heat wave and drought throughout North America in 1988. At the same time the scientific consensus was getting stronger

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Climate Change Diplomacy

Katharina Höne, Jovan Kurbalija, Aldo Matteucci, Christiaan Sys

 

Lecture 2: Climate Change: A "Cognitive Toolkit"

 

Each global policy area develops a shared reference framework: terminology, vocabulary, a set of values, perceptions of cause-and-effect relationships, institutions and specific legal regulations, and modes of reasoning. In diplomacy and policy processes, the reference framework shapes how we see particular issues; and even more importantly, what actions we eventually take.

It is essential for a diplomat working in a particular policy area to have a full understanding of the reference framework for that field: the underlying resoning and logic behind the prevailing views and approaches. A good understanding of the reference framework will help the diplomat to reconcile different point of views and to see innovative options and possible solutions where others see limits and red lines.

Climate change diplomacy poses some challenges above and beyond those of typical diplomatic activities. Climate change is highly complex: it cannot be understood through a strict approach focussed on coherence, non-contradiction, and consistency. To quote the great atomic physicist Niels Bohr: "Profound truths are recognised by the fact that the opposite is also a profound truth, in contrast to trivialities where opposites are obviously absurd" (Rozental, 1967, p. 328). The characteristics of flexibility, openness and readiness for the unexpected, and being innovative, are essential for diplomats in this field.

Furthermore, a diplomat needs to be emotionally free of any single narrative even when defending his/her country's interests. For in the end, a diplomat must often negotiate a compromise – and later defend it at home.

Lecture 2 offers a cognitive toolkit – a set of "thinking tools" - to help the climate change diplomat navigate through the avalanche of information and fast-shifting conceptual discussions on climate change. The toolkit does not contain ready-made solutions. Instead, it attempts to explain the existing reference framework, and more: it offers tools to help the diplomat think outside of this framework. Practically speaking, the cognitive toolkit will help diplomats to engage in debate, argue in favour of their positions, and find creative solutions for overcoming stalemates in policy discussions and eventually reaching compromises acceptable to all negotiating parties.

Although we lay out the main elements of the cognitive toolkit in this lecture, it is an underlying, "horizontal" element of the complete course. Each week we will introduce reflections and elements which fit into the toolkit. In particular, we will focus on linguistic aspects of the climate change policy process, such as definitions and the use of specific terminology. These will be highlighted within the text materials as separate text-boxes titled “cognitive toolkit.”

 

1. Natural and Anthropogenic Causes of Climate Change

One of the most frequently debated, and most controversial, questions in climate change diplomacy is the cause of climate change. The question is an important one because identifying the specific causes of climate change leads us to specific policy responses and choices.

Sceptics argue that climate change is mainly a natural phenomenon, and the most radical sceptics suggest that we cannot, and should not, interfere with natural climate change. These views either deny any relevance of anthropogenic causes, minimise their importance, or argue that climate change is so complex that it is difficult to identify specific anthropogenic causes. Climate change sceptics tend to oppose policy action in the field of climate change.

The BBC (2007) offers an excellent overview of the arguments of climate change sceptics and scientific counter-arguments, under the heading "Climate scepticism: The top 10." We recommend that you read this short article now, to get an overview of this debate. You may also be interested in viewing a short excerpt from the BBC World Hardtalk interview with Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who has been a determined critic in the climate change debate.

Today, it is clearly established that both natural and anthropogenic factors contribute to climate change. However, many related issues remain unresolved, including the extent of the impact of those two factors and their interplay. Resolving those issues will remain high on the agenda of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and consequently, important in climate change diplomacy. In our cognitive toolkit, an understanding of the current debate on causes of climate change plays an important part in developing effective argumentation and persuasion. The question of scientific uncertainty with regard to the causes of climate change and its impact on climate change diplomacy will be discussed in the next section.

 

2. Dealing with Scientific Uncertainty and the Precautionary Principle

Scientific uncertainty has been an underlying theme in the climate change debate. Although the latest IPCC report (2007) resolved some uncertainties, other uncertainties regarding the scientific basis of climate change predictions remain. Our knowledge of the climate system and how it works is still far from perfect. Predictions are based on mathematical models of the climate, which depend on collected data; by their very nature these models are imperfect. To provide just a couple examples, it is often impossible to predict exactly how certain rates of greenhouse gas emissions will change the concentration of the atmosphere and how the climate system as a whole will respond. Also, some processes of the greenhouse effect are still not properly understood, such as the impact of aerosols on climate change.

The following resources will help you to better understand the use of climate models and prediction. We recommend that you follow the links and study both of these now.

·         Begbroke Science Park of Oxford University provides a good interactive presentation on the Basics of Climate Prediction.

·          

·         On page 99 in Chapter 1 of the 2007 IPCC report you will find a pictorial overview of how the models used by the IPCC have become more and more complex over the last few decades, taking into account an increasing number of crucial factors.

Scientific uncertainty complicates the climate change policy process. How can the climate change diplomat work in an environment so filled with uncertainty? What tools can he or she use to effectively deal with this situation?

First, it is important to remember that life is full of uncertainty. Provisional certainty is only obtained through trial and error – and may only last until the next trial. Climate change in particular is about the future of the environment and mankind: we have to expect abundant uncertainties in all departments. Decisions need to be taken, and uncertainty is part of the game. However, uncertainty should not be a bar to decision, although the issue should first be studied until residual uncertainties have been minimised. Uncertainty is also no bar for withholding actions – if the circumstances so suggest.

The diplomat must also be aware that there are many political uses of uncertainty. Action may be stopped on the grounds that when in doubt, it is better to abstain. On the other hand, those wishing to block or delay action may claim that more research is needed before a decision can be taken.

The precautionary principle is the main policy instrument for dealing with uncertainty. The core of this principle is the idea that the lack of scientific certainty should not prevent action towards avoiding possible negative developments. The precautionary principle has led to numerous debates which encompass ethical, policy, legal, scientific and other considerations. It is one of the core conceptual issues of the climate change debate, and it is also used in numerous other policy areas (e.g., security, food safety, health).

Cognitive Toolkit Box

"Principle" vs. "approach"

Even formulating the precautionary principle was controversial during the negotiations at the Rio Earth Summit (1992) and subsequent meetings. Some parties, including the United States, argued for the use of the softer term "approach" instead of principle, suggesting that the term "principle" implies legal obligations. A compromise solution was found through the diplomat's favourite tool of constructive ambiguity. While the principle is included within the Rio Declaration (United Nations, 1992) as Principle 15, the word "approach" is used within this principle:

Principle 15: In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall be not used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.

The precautionary principle was introduced in international policy by the 1982 United Nations Charter for Nature. Since then it has been included in:

·         numerous conventions and declarations, including the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (1987), the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (1992) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992);

·          

·         court judgements of the International Court of Justice, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the World Trade Organization Appellate Body;

·          

·         policy documents such as the 1998 Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle (Science and Environmental Health Network, 1998).

The European Parliament has made intensive use of the principle, adopting 27 resolutions between 1992 and 1999 with explicit reference to the precautionary principle (European Commission, 2000). The principle was also used within the Lisbon Treaty, which (providing Ireland ratifies the treaty) should become the de facto European Union constitution.

Although widely used, expressions of the precautionary principle vary from one policy document to another, reflecting various interests and approaches. On one end of the spectrum, we have the so-called "hard definitions" which specify unconditional use of the precautionary principle. The clearest example is found in the 1998 Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle (Science and Environmental Health Network, 1998):

When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not established scientifically. In this context the proponent of the activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.

According to this expression of the principle, the requirement for scientific proof of harm is quite weak. More significantly, the burden for proof is placed on the proponent of the activity rather than those likely to be harmed. For example, the developers of a coal power station must prove that their activities will not harm the environment: practically speaking, an impossible requirement to fulfil.

At the other end of the spectrum we find "weak" expressions of the principle such as Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration (United Nations, 1992):

In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.

This formulation specifies that a potential damage must be "serious or irreversible" in order for the precautionary principle to apply, and includes cost considerations for preventive actions. Another 20 or more formulations fall in between these two extremes, varying around a few elements including the level of scientific certainty (cause-effect link), type of potential damage/threat, burden of proof and cost of preventive action.

The precautionary principle is an important part of both policy processes and public debates on climate change. In our cognitive toolkit, it is one of the most important tools, and requires delicate and careful use. At this point, and throughout the course, we must make sure that we fully understand both the concept of the precautionary principle and its various uses and misuses in policy processes.

Cognitive Toolkit Box

The Precautionary Principle in Language

The gist of the precautionary principle appears in numerous common sayings, starting from the ancient maxim of medicine: "first, do no harm" through to aphorisms such as "better safe than sorry," and "look before you leap," and phrases such as "caution in advance" and "informed prudence."

 

3. Equity versus Efficiency

The issue of balancing equity and efficiency is at the core of the climate change debate. In short, the question is whether climate change policy and action should focus on finding the "right" solutions from the point of view of ethics, or simply aim for the most practical and efficient solutions, regardless of historical responsibility.

We all agree that mankind should reduce the output of greenhouse gases and all citizens of the world should converge towards "responsible" emissions. However, this is easier said than done. The big question is not so much what has to be done, as who should do it? Or to be more precise, who should carry the burden of climate change activities? Some issues and questions involving equity and efficiency include:

·         Greenhouse gases are long lasting. What has accumulated in the atmosphere goes back to the Industrial Revolution. Developed countries benefited. Should they not then carry the largest burden when it comes to addressing climate change? And if they do, should this be the burden of the nation or of the specific industry?

·          

·         Developing countries need to industrialise to get themselves out of poverty. Should they not bear a smaller burden when it comes to reducing climate change, in accordance with their capacities? Surely the West can more easily afford the costs of addressing climate change than developing countries?

·          

·         Developed countries produce far more greenhouse gases than their share of the world population. Should we apportion emission rights based on population (CO2 per capita)?

There are no logical solutions to these conundrums. It is not always clear which side of the argument is fair, nor will ethics always determine a solution. Climate change diplomats will need to make difficult policy choices taking both sides of each narrative into account, and look for innovative options offering “win-win solutions” (e.g., the development of alternative energy sources). Of course, power will come into the picture, and we should expect hard bargaining from different points of view.

For representatives of small states, however, the power of persuasion is the only available tool. A firm grasp of the issues involved with both equity and efficiency will be essential for forming strong arguments. As part of our cognitive toolkit, the arguments surrounding equity and efficiency are complex - because they involve ethical, economic, policy, legal, management, scientific and other aspects - but essential to master.

 

4. Perfect versus “Good Enough” Solutions

Climate change negotiations have focused on looking for the "perfect solution" to climate change issues; a solution which should be both global and legally binding. Let's begin by looking at the global aspect. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is structured in a global fashion: all countries are expected to participate. Its underlying assumptions are that (a) global problems require a global solution; (b) global compliance is necessary to avoid the "free rider" problem (benefitting without contributing to the solution).

Climate change is not the only policy area where a global solution is deemed to be a prerequisite for progress. Global trade negotiations, centred on the World Trade Organisation Doha Round, have been in the public focus recently. In both cases – climate change and global trade - success has been slow in coming: global approaches require consensus, and consensus is difficult to obtain. The differences in positions taken by the various countries are too great for a substantive compromise to emerge rapidly.

Could alternate policy tools and approaches help in designing the climate change policy architecture? Possible alternate tools to supplement the global and inter-governmental processes include regional and bilateral agreements and initiatives by "coalitions of the willing," including private companies and other non-state actors. Currently, a diversity of climate change initiatives is visible at the national level. For example, in the United States, some states such as California, faced with a restrictive climate change policy on the federal level, have developed local initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Such approaches, which we may refer to as “good enough” solutions, may advance the struggle against climate change even when the global framework is lagging behind.

The second aspect of the "perfect solution" is that it should be a legally binding instrument, which would specify both rules and enforcement mechanisms. Negotiating such an instrument, as seen in the Kyoto process, requires much time and energy. Perhaps some other forms of cooperation, such as voluntary cooperation by individuals and states, are alternate paths forward? Could these complement the global approach? While the global approach advocated by the UNFCCC remains the "main show in town," different approaches both in scope (regional, national, legal) and in enforcement status (voluntary initiatives) should not be discarded while we wait for the "perfect solution." Awareness of these approaches, their strengths and their limitations, is an important part of the cognitive toolkit of climate change diplomats.

 

5. Using Analogies

Analogy is the systematic comparison between two or more structures or things, where we infer that because these things are similar in some respects, they will probably agree in other respects also (Merriam-Webster, 2008). Analogy is a basic part of our reasoning process. It allows us to make predictions, provide explanations and structure our knowledge.

We frequently use analogies when we face a new issue or policy challenge. Analogies relate a new problem to existing experience. However, analogies tend to highlight similarities and mask differences. Analogies are a powerful cognitive tool which should be used with great care. Diplomats should have a good grasp of the technique - and the hidden dangers - of analogy.

The 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (the "Montreal Protocol") provides a good example of how analogies have been used in the climate change debate. The Montreal Protocol is considered one of the major successes in environmental diplomacy because it curbed the emission of gases and halted deterioration of the ozone layer. Because of its success, many people involved in climate change diplomacy have employed an analogy with the Montreal Protocol to build a case for a similar approach to dealing with climate change. The common element between the two fields (ozone depletion and climate change) is that both deal with the environment and atmospheric changes caused by human activity. However, differences are numerous. The main difference is that the Montreal Protocol addressed a single specific issue - ozone depletion – which has a clear cause-effect relation and low scientific uncertainty. The climate change regime must address a far more complex field with implications in economic, social, legal, development and other areas. In addition, the climate change regime has to deal with a much higher level of scientific uncertainty.

The analogy between the Montreal Protocol and the climate change regime is not applicable overall. However, we can still apply some specific lessons from the Protocol’s success in dealing with ozone depletion to the climate change regime. Other examples of the use of analogies in climate change diplomacy will be presented later in the course.

 

6. Use of Numbers in the Climate Change Debate

Mark Twain popularised the phrase attributed to Benjamin Disraeli: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics" (Wikipedia, 2008). This phrase reminds us of the persuasive power of numbers and the fact that statistics can be selectively used to support just about any argument.

 

In the field of climate change, we are often confronted with numbers and statistics, most often in connection with emission targets. For example, the Toronto Conference on the Changing Atmosphere (1988) recommended a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2005. However, significantly, the target of 20% does not indicate a frame of reference or a base year from which it is to be calculated.

The Kyoto Protocol, on the other hand, does provide a base year of 1990, calling for reduction by 2008-12 in overall emissions of six greenhouse gases to at least 5% below 1990 levels. The IPCC has estimated that to stabilise concentrations at 1990 levels (let alone to reduce them to 5% below 1990 levels), emissions would need to be reduced by over 60% for CO2, by 15-20% for methane and by 70-80% for nitrous oxide (Elliott, 2004, pp. 81-88).

At the G8 Summit in Hokkaido in July 2008, G8 countries agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by the year 2050. The value of this agreement was, however, questioned when Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda was unable to answer journalists' questions about the base year for calculating the 50% reduction. When asked if 1990 was the base year, Mr Fukuda responded: "This 50% reduction is 50% in the light of the recent situation. Various numbers are suggested as the base year and these may change at any given moment" (Blair, 2008). Similarly, a recent statement by UK Climate Change and Energy Secretary, Ed Miliband, increasing the current UK reduction target for 2050 from 60% to 80% (Anon., 2008), does not refer to a base year either.

Numbers and statistics are often used in negotiations and policy debates as a powerful tool for persuasion. We tend to consider numbers as "facts" that cannot be questioned. However, as the preceding examples show, statistics are often vague and ambiguous, and sometimes misleading. These examples also show that the products of diplomatic negotiations can be incomplete, with issues intentionally left unresolved (the base year for calculating reductions, for example), when the negotiating parties are not ready to commit to precise and functional solutions. A good understanding of statistics is an important element in the cognitive toolkit for climate change diplomats.

 

7. Temporal Aspect

All human endeavours take place through time: past, present and future. In the field of climate change, the temporal aspect has high policy relevance. Past developments are used to shape future actions. For example, the Kyoto Protocol recognises that developed countries created a lot of pollution while industrialising, in the past. Based on this observation, it suggests that developing countries just beginning to industrialise should not be restricted by a climate change regime. The Kyoto negotiations use this principle to distinguish between the situation of developing and developed countries.

The rights of future generations, a concept mentioned as early as 1972 in the Stockholm Declaration, are frequently evoked during climate change negotiations. This concept can be illustrated by the Native American saying: "We do not inherit the earth from our Ancestors; we borrow it from our children." While the question of the rights of future generations has a strong moral and emotional resonance, efforts to make it operational in policy processes have not been successful. A few attempts have aimed at creating a body to "represent" future generations. For example, in the 1990s Malta proposed to convert the dysfunctional UN Trusteeship Council (used to help former colonies gain independence) into a guardian for future generations (Stahn, 2008). Malta also proposed the establishment of an Ombudsman for the Future Generations. These proposals did not receive a strong following.

Although the value of respecting the needs of future generations seems self-evident, in practice it is not as simple as it may sound. As the rights of future generations are likely to remain high on the diplomatic agenda, Aldo Matteucci has provided a critical analysis of this concept in the text box below. This analysis provides challenging views which aim to trigger in-depth discussion and help us to sharpen our argumentation on this important issue in the climate change debate.

Rights of Future Generations: A Critical Analysis

Aldo Matteucci

Few arguments touch an emotional chord in our minds as that of the "rights of future generations"– the idea that we have to do well by our children. Does this concept stand up to scrutiny?

  • Assume I hold something "in trust" for Generation X and hand it over, unsullied. Generation X, however, will be saddled with the same condition, for Generation Y is already waiting. And generation Z after that. Which generation should have climbed Mount Everest – given that one can only climb it once for the first time? Salting away a nest egg “for a rainy day” means foregoing its use altogether, for it may rain harder tomorrow than today, and I may need it more then, than now. Use postponed is used denied.
  •  
  • Kant formulated the "Golden Rule": "Do onto others…". The economist Paul Samuelson retorted: "Don't do onto others… they may have different tastes." By treating future generations as if they were us projected into the future, we are implicitly imposing our values on them. It is paternalism.
  •  
  • What's in there for us? Future generations inherit it all from us for free. They need not compensate us for our generosity, after all, we can't take it with us. This creates a strong bias in their favour – an intractable externality. A good example of the conundrum is the issue of unique game parks in Africa. Conservationists have long argued that they should be preserved untouched as "inheritance of mankind" and that indigenous use for grazing or meat should be prohibited. This view imposes costs on the indigenous people (who are left without their livelihood) without compensating them. If mankind is so keen to preserve the wilderness, why does it not pay the indigenous people to steer clear of it? As I said 35 years ago: Conservationism – the last stage of imperialism.
  •  
  • How do we limit current use? Assume that, in order to preserve the "rights of future generations" we limit resource use to "maximum sustainable use." This means very low-density use. Who is to have access to the resource today? If only 1% are to use it, who will be the lucky ones? The current owners? What if the current owners stole it? The super-rich?
  •  
  • Why sacrifice now, when in the future they’ll be better off? Development benefits future generations – just as we benefit from the Industrial Revolution. Should the 19th century have also burdened itself with the concomitant cost of pollution? Is it not something we can take care, now that we got the benefits of it?

The reality is, life is full of irreversible choices, and it is wishful thinking that we can avoid taking them. Heraklitus said: "You cannot step into the same river twice."

The choice must be based on the balance of benefits and costs as we see them now. Clearly, we should avoid actions which benefit neither us nor the future (wastefulness). But these are the easy choices – hardly worth mentioning. True choices have to balance costs and benefits the best we can.

Knowledge doubles every five years – and the process is speeding up. So we are polluting and creating climate change. We are also providing future generations with tools to deal with the matter. This is no guarantee that they will succeed. Opportunity is all there is on offer.

 

8. Development Aspects in the Climate Change Debate

Almost all aspects of climate change have some development relevance: it is clear that climate change and related activities influence development issues, and that development impacts the environment. We have already looked briefly at the differing positions of developed and developing countries in the climate change debate, related to equity and efficiency, and the temporal aspect. In the eyes of developing countries, the industrialised world is chiefly responsible for current environmental problems and should therefore take the first steps to mitigate them. Developing nations frequently accuse the developed world of "environmental colonialism:" denying the developing world its right to development under the pretence of protecting the environment. An understanding of the interrelation between climate change policy and development is an important part of the cognitive toolkit for climate change diplomats.

Protection of the environment has been an integral part of the development process since the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio in 1992. Principle 3 of the Rio Declaration (United Nations, 1992) states that "the right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations." In its Principle 7, the Rio Declaration introduced the idea of a differentiated responsibility for developed and developing countries. In other words, developed nations accepted a larger responsibility "in view of the pressures their societies place on the global environment and of the technologies and financial resources they command."

Clearly, development, however desirable, has potentially dire environmental consequences. The concept of sustainable development posits that the relationship between the environment and economic growth does not have to be a "zero-sum game." This term is frequently associated with the Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future (United Nations, 1987), known as the "Brundtland Report." The report attempts to reconcile Third World development with environmental protection. It defines sustainable development as "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

During the Kyoto and other climate change negotiations, several specific areas of the development aspect of climate change emerged, including:

·         Reduction of greenhouse gases and development. Developing countries will not be required immediately to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because this would hamper their future development. However, they will be asked to reduce the rate of increase in the short-term perspective and to guarantee a proper reduction in the medium and long-term perspective. Negotiations will center around percentages and time frames for this process to be implemented.

·          

·         Support for developing countries in the adaptation process. Developed countries must facilitate the transfer to developing countries of affordable technologies to reduce emissions, such as solar power and carbon capture. Developing countries will also need financial support in order to adapt their economies. Global financial schemes must be developed in order to provide necessary financial support.

·          

·         A more specific issue centers on the protection of tropical forests. Deforestation causes an estimated one fifth of all greenhouse gas production. Because making use of their forests is currently essential for many developing economies, developed countries will need to offer assistance and support in replacing forest-damaging activities with other, more environmentally-friendly, economic activities.

Climate Change and Food Security: Are famines a matter of 'insufficient food supply'?

For discussion on climate change and food security, it is useful to refer to Amartya Sen's (1981) study on the causes of four post-war famines. He shows that poverty (and administrative incompetence) was the root cause of famine, not lack of available food. Well before food physically runs out, social factors like unemployment and abject poverty create famine. Hence, focusing on food supply problems cannot be divorced from issues of poverty; a factor sometimes overlooked in general discussion on food security as well in the analysis of the link between climate change and food security.

For the climate change diplomat, it is important to keep in mind that most of the interplay between climate change and development can be viewed in the context of broader social and economic development. The UN Millennium Development Goals read like a list of possible climate change impacts.

 

9. Conclusion

In this lecture we have laid out the fundaments of a cognitive toolkit for climate change diplomats. We will be adding to the toolkit throughout the course. But why are these cognitive tools important?

We believe that the cognitive tools will help you to understand the "stories" that underlie climate change negotiations. Generally speaking, our perception of reality is shaped by stories. Mankind tells stories to itself – that's the way we make sense of reality. Depending on which point of view is chosen, or which interests are foremost on the story-teller's mind, stories may vary fundamentally. None is necessarily wrong, but their usefulness varies. These stories vie for broader acceptance and thus social legitimacy. Whoever controls "the story" also controls the framework of a negotiation and – to a good extent – the outcome. Soft power is much about controlling the story.

The first step in developing a story is often "naming," which includes not only definitions but also the underlying ideas behind those definitions. The cognitive toolkit introduces you to key names in various climate change stories through definitions and explanation of concepts such as uncertainty, the precautionary principle, development and other issues. Naming and determining the reference framework for policy action are closely related. Naming may be the result of skilful manipulation of ignorance for political advantage. In diplomatic discourse, the proper naming of a problem and the choice of a correct reference framework to underlie the negotiation can do much to facilitate and shape the outcome.

For, once a reference framework is in place, it will generate its own momentum, and point to a preferred set of possible solutions. Hearing the different voices and their different stories, and verifying the appropriateness of the naming and the choice of reference framework is a critical task of the decision-maker. Climate change diplomats should be keenly aware of the reference framework, understand it, and keep a critical distance from it. Occasionally, they may be able to influence outcomes, or in rare situations, change the paradigm. In every case, the diplomat must be fully aware of the reference framework underlying the process. The cognitive toolkit aims to help the diplomat gain this awareness. Good luck!

 

References

BBC. (2007). Climate scepticism: the top 10 [online]. Available at:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/629/629/7074601.stm [Accessed 8 December 2008].

Anon. (2008). Tougher climate target unveiled. BBC News [online], Thursday October 16 2008. Available from:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/7673748.stm [Accessed 9 December 2008].

Blair, D. (2008). Divisions emerge over G8 climate change goals. Telegraph.co.uk [online], July 9 2008. Available from:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/3346748/Divisions-emerge-over-G8-climate-change-goals.html [Accessed 9 December 2008].

Elliott, L. (2004). The global politics of the environment, second edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

European Commission. Directorate-General for Health and Consumers. (2000). Press release: Commission adopts communication on precautionary principle [online]. Available from:
http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/health_consumer/library/press/press38_en.html [Accessed 8 December 2008].

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC]. (2007). Historical overview of climate change. In: Climate change 2007: The physical science basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Panel on Climate Change [online]. Available from:
http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-wg1.htm [Accessed 9 December 2008].

Merriam-Webster Online. (2008). Analogy [online]. Available from:
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/analogy [Accessed 9 December 2008].

Rozental, S. (ed). (1967). Niels Bohr: His life and work as seen by his friends and colleagues. Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing Company.

Science and Environmental Health Network. (1998). Wingspread conference on the precautionary principle [online]. Available from:
http://www.sehn.org/wing.html [Accessed 8 December 2008].

Sen, A. K. (1981). Poverty and famines: An essay on entitlement and deprivation. New York: Oxford University Press.

Stahn, C. (2008). The law and practice of international territorial administration: Versailles to Iraq and beyond. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

United Nations. (1992). Rio Declaration on Environment and Development [online]. Available from:
http://www.unep.org/Documents.multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=78&ArticleID=1163 [Accessed 8 December 2008].

United Nations. General Assembly. (1987). Report of the world commission on environment and development [online]. Available from:
http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/42/ares42-187.htm [Accessed 8 December 2008].

Wikipedia. (2008). Lies, damned lies, and statistics [online]. Available from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lies,_damned_lies,_and_statistics [Accessed 9 December 2008].

Climate Change Diplomacy

Katharina Höne, Jovan Kurbalija, Christiaan Sys

 

Lecture 3: State Actors in Climate Change Diplomacy

 

The previous lectures have set the scene of the climate change debate by showing its complexity and by providing a toolkit to help us during the lectures to come. In this lecture, we focus on the national actors involved in climate change diplomacy.

 

1. Multiple Channels of Communication and New Actors

Throughout our discussion on actors, we will focus on multiple channels of communication in modern diplomacy. Keohane and Nye (1977) describe “multiple channels” as one of the main characteristics of a complex interdependence in the modern world. The term refers to the emergence of new actors in international relations, such as the business sector, non-governmental organisations, individuals, and professional organisations. Among the new actors, they include domestic government departments; these departments (such as finance, trade, environment, and health) establish international contacts directly with their counterparts in other countries, bypassing the traditional interstate channels of ministries of foreign affairs and other diplomatic networks. Climate change diplomats must be aware of multiple channels of communication and must utilise a new set of skills for dealing with, for example, academics, business people, and civil society.

 

2. The Current Actors

Climate change affects everyone. This fact means that everyone, to some extent, is interested in the policy discussion on climate change. In this lecture on the actors involved in climate change diplomacy, we start by listing all those potentially concerned. We start with individuals and families, as decisions on climate policy will likely affect their ways of life. Diplomats involved with climate change must keep in mind that the views of individuals will be more important than they are in traditional diplomatic negotiations (e.g., UN global policy regulation) where one cannot easily establish a direct link between outcome of negotiations and consequences on the lives of individuals.

The next important players are various forms of official and unofficial social organisations. Here we include local authorities who act under the slogan “think globally, act locally.” Local authorities, understood as sub-state organisations, include communes, cities, and federal entities. For example, the states in the United States are local authorities for the purpose of our discussion. States play an extremely important role in counter-balancing federal policy in the field of climate change. California and other states have had their own initiatives in the field of climate change. As well, various forms of international cooperation (associations of cities and of other local authorities) act in the field. Some local authorities, such as the Canadian province of Quebec, have extensive diplomatic networks with representation in Brussels, Paris, Washington, and other centres. Within these networks, local authorities maintain a dialogue on climate change.

Beside official sub-state entities, other non-state actors operate in the field of climate change policy. We will discuss these in Lecture 4. This group includes non-governmental agencies, consumer associations, members of the business sector, and academic organisations. Most of these non-state actors are highly mobile policy players, easily shifting their activity from local to international levels. For example, Greenpeace operates both on local and international levels. The business sector lobbies both national governments and international bodies. Academic institutions cooperate on the global scale.

States are significant actors in climate change policy making. Among many of the traditions said to have ended in the last twenty years, one frequently mentioned is that of national states. Many have argued that the role of national states has changed because of changes in the nature of problems they have had to address. Environmental issues in general and climate change in particular are often cited as policy issues that cannot be resolved on a national level. Elliott’s view is illustrative (2004, p. 109):

Global environmental problems increasingly call into question the adequacy and authority of the state, the reality and utility of sovereignty as a fundamental international norm, and the nature of international governance which the state and sovereignty engender. It is not simply that the unilateral state cannot meet the challenges of global environmental change through self-help when the causes of that change lie outside its borders. It is that the state itself – its autonomy, capacity and legitimacy – is being eroded, or at least challenged, by the very nature of environmental problems which do not respect territorial borders.

However, despite all the changes in international relations, states are still the central actors in international affairs and they are not going to disappear. Some even argue that states will regain their pre-eminent positions in international relations, especially after the latest financial crises, which were the result of the idea of a “minimal state.” While we should be aware of these broader discussions in the following pages, we will focus on the role of the state in climate change negotiations.

Cognitive Toolkit Box

Most of us have a mindset fixed to a certain physical location. We belong to a national state and we expect to spend our life at a particular location. We also expect that our fellow-nationals occupy certain territorial locations. Many wars have been fought for each meter of national territory. Culture develops around the idea of national states, including national myths, legends, and questions of pride.

Some authors, such as Trausti Valsson in, How the World Will Change with Global Warming, propose a provocative view. Valsson, for example, argues that we should abandon the fixation on national territories and become more open to human movement. Most migrations have resulted from climate change. Valsson argues that we will have to migrate towards cooler areas as result of global warming. In his view, the main migration destination will be the polar circle, toward northern Canada, the Scandinavian countries, and Russia. With global warming, these regions will become inhabitable. Valsson does not see this change negatively. He even suggests the term “positive impact of climate changes.”

While academics can afford “thinking out of the box,” even when it is highly controversial, we do not often hear such arguments in policy circles. Accordingly, a statement from Maldivian President Mr. Mohamed Nasheed attracted considerable attention. He suggested that in the face of climate change and the gradual disappearance of the Maldives, Maldivians should seek some other solution, including collective migration to some other country (such as India). To make it possible, he suggested the establishment of an investment fund for the purchase of land for use in need of collective migration. However, in a more recent interview Nasheed emphasised that simply moving people cannot be the real solution. "Even if we go, I always think where would the butterflies go? Where would the sounds go?" (Barkham, 2010).

 

3. National Coordination

Given the complexity of climate change issues, national coordination is extremely challenging. The main challenge is how to accommodate various interests and views in national platforms for climate change negotiations. The position of a state depends on several variables that shape its interests and the role it plays in negotiation; these variables include domestic economic and political interests, and domestic ideological currents. In Western liberal democracies, for example, policy decisions are the result of complex interactions between elected officials, civil servants, interest groups, and public opinion. Another variable that affects the position of a state is the cost/benefit ratio that a particular climate change policy poses to a country. The anticipated economic cost of compliance with any climate change policy may differ widely from country to country and will be a major issue in climate change negotiations. A final variable that may affect a state’s position is the associated international political and diplomatic configuration.

 

Traditionally, the ministry in charge of environment and natural resources coordinates climate change negotiations, while national delegations consist of scientists and specialists who understand climate change issues. Negotiations focused on scientific arguments. Currently, the situation is changing. Many countries are in transition from the “scientific” to a “policy” phase of climate change negotiations; scientific arguments remain important, but climate change diplomacy is now more concerned with socio-economic policy issues. It requires a new set of skills in negotiation and policy coordination. Current trends will also affect national coordination, which may move to higher political bodies (office of prime minister) or involve the creation of a national structure (committee) that would include concerned ministries, such as foreign affairs, trade, and investment. As well, national negotiation teams will require negotiator-scientists with strong diplomatic skills and professional negotiators with clear understanding of climate change and its consequences.

Given the multi-disciplinary nature of climate change diplomacy and the high diversity of actors and policy fora, it is particularly challenging to achieve policy coherence. This is a management challenge that will require many governments to have a flexible form of policy coordination, including horizontal communication among different ministries, the business sector, and other actors. Traditional governmental hierarchy may be an obstacle to the development of such flexible coordination.

“Diplomacy” among Different Professions

One of the main challenges in any specialised international negotiation is communication among different professional cultures, specifically between diplomats and experts. Communication is particularly complex in climate change negotiation, where many professions, including diplomats, climatologists, economists, computer specialists, and others vie for attention. A French specialist in negotiation describes it in the following way: “On each side of the table, national culture and organizational culture unite while professional cultures divide. Across the table, the situation is the opposite: national culture and organizational culture divide whereas professional culture may facilitate communication and agreement” (Faure, 1999). The challenge of inter-professional communication stands out in an examination of language use. Each profession develops a particular language that both simplifies communication within the professional group and serves to protect “turf.” A climate change diplomat must be aware of the challenges of inter-professional communication.

 

4. Coalitions and Groupings

With almost 200 states and numerous other actors involved in global negotiations, the only way to reduce the complexity of the negotiation process is to form coalitions or other groupings of states. On a practical level, coalitions reduce the number of proposals discussed or requests to speak, but also help strengthen positions.

Climate change negotiations see the creation of various formal and informal groupings. Let us start with the groupings specified by the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992). The Framework Convention places all countries in three groups:

·         Annex I (OECD countries and economies in transition);

·         Annex II (OECD countries only);

·         Non-Annex I (primarily developing countries).

These three groups of countries constituted the formal structure during the Kyoto Protocol negotiations (1995-1997). More important than this formal classification of participating states was the existence of major coalitions (Depledge, 2005). The main broad coalition was the Group of 77 developing countries; an umbrella coalition active in the overall UN-system. Within the Group of 77, we find various sub-coalitions. Some of them have had opposing views on climate change negotiations. Developed states, on the other hand, are organised in the Umbrella Group. The following examples also show how important the coordination role of international organisations and other bodies can be.

4.1 The Group of 77 and Its Sub-Coalitions

The Group of 77 (G-77) is the main coalition of developing countries in the UN system. China often allies itself with the Group, which numbers 132 members. The G-77 formed in 1964 during negotiations on a “New International Economic Order” explicitly to counter the might of the developed world. This goal, combined with persistent inequalities and the development and equity dimensions of climate change, are carried through to a deep North-South divide that permeates every aspect of climate change negotiations. The G-77 has always perceived climate change as a developmental issue, involving equity as the fundamental principle for addressing it. A basic position of the G-77 is that the developed countries must cut their own emissions before requiring the developing countries to do so. The G-77 also emphasises the need for financial assistance and technology transfer. Many G-77 members find themselves disadvantaged in bilateral exchanges, and value the protection that rule-based institutions can offer. They have tended to be suspicious of market mechanisms, seeing these as possible loopholes for evading commitments. North-South relations in the climate change regime are characterised by generalised and mutual mistrust.

While G-77 members broadly share common principles, their national circumstances vary considerably. This disparity is visible in its sub-groups, which include the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), newly industrialised countries (some of which work together as the BASIC bloc of states), least developed countries, and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) formed in 1990 specifically to lobby on climate change. It now consists of some 43 low-lying or small island states, most of them also G-77 members. Members are among the most vulnerable to climate change, and argue forcefully for strong commitments to reduce emissions. The formulation of their position was the so-called Toronto target, which proposed a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of 20% by 2005. Small states lack human and financial capacity to participate fully in global climate change negotiations. Lack of capacity is partially compensated through cooperation with environmental groups and non-governmental organisations, such as Greenpeace and the Foundation for Environmental Law and Development; these provide them with scientific and technical legal expertise in the negotiation process (Newell, 2000). However, within the UN system, AOSIS has seen some diplomatic success: a 2009 General Assembly resolution (A/Res/63/281) which addressed climate change as a security issue stems from an AOSIS initiative.

Some States are “More Equal”

From an international legal point of view, all states are equal (article 2 of the Charter of the UN). Clearly, however, some are “more equal.” The first inequality is a difference in classical elements of power (military, economic, population). Nauru and the United States may be legally equal, but the difference between the two countries is noticeable. At this point, we will not discuss substantive inequalities; however, we will highlight negotiation inequality, which is particularly noticeable in complex negotiations such as climate change. Small states cannot afford to follow complex negotiations due to both financial and human constraints. Delegations from small states are usually small, lacking expertise for negotiating highly complex climate change issues. The position of diplomats from small states is illustrated by testimony of one small state negotiator of the Kyoto Protocol: “Our delegation in Kyoto, there were two of us. And the first person . . . didn’t really know about the negotiations. So I was alone, running backwards and forwards, making contacts. . . . It was a lot of work. . . . It’s difficult” (Depledge, 2005, p. 28). In addition to the lack of capacity to cover major events in negotiations, small states often cannot afford participation in the preparatory process, which is sometimes crucial for shaping decisions adopted at the meetings. Small states usually lack institutional infrastructure, including embassies in the decision-making posts and policy think tanks. Figure 1 illustrates the problem of negotiation inequality.

 

Figure 1: Small-state negotiation teams versus the “Team USA”
Source: [Depledge, 2005, p. 29]

Newly Industrialised Countries (BASIC bloc of states). Newly industrialised countries include China, India, and Brazil - but also Mexico, Turkey, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. Their rapid industrialisation has led towards high rates of emission of carbon dioxide. These countries are increasingly pushed to accept targets, but resist these calls because a strong commitment to targets is lacking from developed countries. In November 2009, China, India, Brazil, and South Africa formed the so-called BASIC bloc of states. They were motivated by a commitment to act jointly at the December 2009 Copenhagen Summit. After the summit, the four countries continued to coordinate their views on a post-Kyoto deal.

Least Developed Countries. Least developed countries, located primarily in Africa and Asia, are highly vulnerable to desertification, drought, and extreme weather brought on by climate change, exacerbated by poverty and lack of resources.

Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has opposed strong action to mitigate the effects of climate change. Dependent on the export of fossil fuels, they have resisted the adoption of any action to curb greenhouse gas emissions and have continuously pointed out the economic costs of such action. Some members have been accused of obstructing negotiations. Because of their resistance, the OPEC countries often act as a veto coalition during negotiations. According to Newell (2000), their strategy during negotiations has been to impede progress by referring to the rules of procedure, disputing the minutes of draft texts, and opposing the contributions of environmental non-governmental organisations. As well, OPEC has close links with the fossil fuel lobby, which has supplied OPEC with strategic information and political support during negotiations. OPEC does not negotiate as a group, but coordinates very effectively informally.

Some individual G-77 countries have made specific initiatives in various negotiations. For example, Argentina and Kazakhstan are willing to pursue voluntary commitments. Argentina attempted to insert a clause in the Kyoto Protocol that would have allowed non-Annex I countries (mainly G-77 members) to make voluntary commitments, but this attempt was abandoned in view of maintaining solidarity between the G-77 members.

4.2 Umbrella Group

Members of the Umbrella Group share similar values and principles in climate change negotiations, centred on the pursuit of flexibility and cost-effectiveness. Their national circumstances, however, are very different. Japan, New Zealand, Norway, and Iceland, for example, have far lower emissions per capita and per unit of gross domestic product than the geographically larger and more carbon-intensive economies of Australia, Canada, the United States, the Russian Federation, and the Ukraine. They are also politically diverse. All of them, with the exception of the United States, have ratified the Kyoto Protocol. Some members (e.g., Canada and Norway) are strong supporters of multilateral cooperation on the environment. The Umbrella Group is only a loose coalition, which rarely negotiates as a single entity, as demonstrated during the recent negotiations in Copenhagen, especially in regard to the US role. Future negotiations will show whether this grouping will be rendered irrelevant.

More information on the Umbrella Group and other climate change groupings of states is available on the UNFCCC website.

4.3 Economies in Transition

Economies in Transition, ten former socialist countries from Eastern Europe that are now European Union members, experienced deep emission cuts in the early 1990s, due to economic collapse. Prior to this, they were among the most carbon-intensive economies in the world. The new European Union entrants, who previously negotiated as the Central Group-11, traditionally supported the European Union in climate change negotiations. Unlike other eastern European countries, the Russian Federation and Ukraine are members of the Umbrella Group.

4.4 The European Union

The European Union is an environmental leader, supporting strong commitments and with a traditionally lukewarm attitude towards market mechanisms. The European Union has been a significant global player in the field of climate change, showing commitment especially in contrast to the US under former president Bush. The European Union played an important role in the Bali negotiations and in the overall promotion of climate change issues on the global diplomatic agenda.

In domestic terms, Europe has gone further than many other groupings. In December 2008, the European Parliament and EU Council agreed on the “climate and energy package ”which became law in June 2009. The core of the package can be summarised as the 20-20-20 formula (“triple 20” formula). European Union member states committed themselves, by the year 2020, to:

1.     Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20%, with 1990 as the base year for comparison. This target is more ambitious than the 8% target by 2012, adopted by the European Union in the framework of the Kyoto Protocol. It was hinted that this target could even be raised to 30%, but this is subject to commitments from other developed and more advanced developing countries, such as the United States, China, India, and Brazil.

2.     Save 20% on energy consumption in comparison with current projections for 2020, which emphasises the need for a more rational use of energy.

3.     Increase the share of renewable energies in the overall European Union energy mix to 20%. This issue proved to be the most contentious, because of each state’s particular individual situation. The overall target of 20% will apply to the European Union as a whole and not to every single country, illustrating the principle of burden sharing and differentiated responsibility (European Commission, 2010).

After having made the unilateral commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, Europe is divided over the more ambitious 30% goal. Many Eastern European countries, but also Italy, are worried about the economic consequences of such a step, whereas Western European countries such as the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden take a more positive view. The latter countries argue that it is in the EU’s own interest to move to a 30% target (EurActiv, 2010a; EurActiv, 2010b).

In reaction to the Copenhagen Accord, the EU Parliament passed a resolution entitled “Outcome of the Copenhagen summit on climate change” on 10 February, 2010. The resolution calls for a “new climate change diplomacy” and states that:

·         the Copenhagen Accord is disappointing and the EU regrets the weakness of the Accord;

·         the EU failed “to play a leading role” and was not involved in the final negotiations;

·         The EU failed to speak with a single voice and demonstrate unity.

The resolution is worth reading, especially its description of the “new climate change diplomacy” and the consequences drawn from the failure of Copenhagen.

4.5 The United States

The role of the United States in climate change policy making is crucial: the US is one of the main emitters of CO2 and the main policy player in this field. The Bush administrative had a negative view of climate change policy negotiations. It did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol and it opposed other global initiatives on climate change. In the international community, the United States was considered the main obstacle to the implementation of global climate change arrangements based on the Kyoto Protocol.

With the election of Barack Obama, the United States is changing its position. First, the Obama administration clearly declared its support for climate change policy processes. The main question is how many of his election campaign promises Obama can implement, as he faces powerful limitations. The United States is an oil-based economy and any change will require financial investment and restructuring, with limited funds available for restructuring of the economy to reduce carbon emissions. However, the present financial crisis provides an opportunity for structural changes that would not be possible in normal times. Obama has already hinted that he will try to use the current financial crisis to develop a different car industry. He conditions any financial assistance to the big three car manufacturers (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) on a reorientation towards producing environmental friendly and energy-saving cars.

The new US National Security Strategy intended to replace the Bush doctrine of 2002 includes an interesting shift of perspective regarding climate change. Climate change is listed as one of four main national security threats, alongside nuclear proliferation, Al Qaida, and the global financial crisis (MacAskill, 2010). The strategy stresses that combating climate change must begin at the national level. In terms of global negotiation fora and the commitments expected from developing countries, the report states: “We will pursue this global cooperation through multiple avenues, with a focus on advancing cooperation that works. We accept the principle of common but differentiated responses and respective capabilities, but will insist that any approach draws upon each nation taking responsibility for its own actions” (United States Government, 2010, p. 47).

 

References

Barkham, P. (2010). Maldives president calls for direct action over climate change. The Guardian [online], 29 May 2010. Available from:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/may/29/maldives-president-climate-hay [Accessed 31 May 2010].

Depledge, J. (2005). The organization of global negotiations: constructing the climate change regime. London: Earthscan.

Elliott, L. (2004). The global politics of the environment, second edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

EurActiv. (2010a). After Copenhagen: can the EU revive global climate talks? EurActiv Network [online], 4 May 2010. Available from:
http://www.euractiv.com/en/climate-environment/after-copenhagen-can-the-eu-revive-global-climate-talks-linksdossier-492034 [Accessed 31 May 2010].

EurActiv. (2010b). EU comes up with exit strategy for climate talks. EurActiv Network [online], 10 March 2010. Available from:
http://www.euractiv.com/en/climate-environment/eu-comes-climate-exit-strategy-global-talks-news-325531 [Accessed 31 May 2010].

European Commission. (2010). The EU climate and energy package [online]. Available from:
http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/climate_action.htm [Accessed 31 May 2010].

Faure, G. O. (1999). Cultural aspects of international negotiation. In: P. Berton, H. Kimura, and I. W. Zartman (eds), International negotiation: actors, structure, process, values. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Keohane, R. O. and Nye, J. S. (1977). Power and interdependence: world politics in transition. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.

MacAskill, E. (2010). Barack Obama sets out security strategy based on diplomacy instead of war. The Guardian [online], 27 May 2010. Available from:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/may/27/us-national-security-strategy-report [Accessed 31 May 2010].

Newell, P. (2000). Climate for change: Non-state actors and the global politics of the greenhouse. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

United States Government. (2010). National Security Strategy, May 2010 [online]. Available from:

Climate Change Diplomacy

Katharina Höne, Jovan Kurbalija, Christiaan Sys

 

Lecture 4: Non-State Actors in Climate Change Diplomacy

 

This lecture introduces non-state actors involved in climate change diplomacy, including the media, scientific communities, non-governmental organisations, industry and the fossil fuel lobby, and international organisations. In each case, we look at modes and methods of participation in the policy making process and analyse the level of access and impact of the actor.

 

1. The Role of the Media

The way in which the general public perceives climate change is, to a great extent, shaped by the media presentation of the issue; in particular, by the way the media interprets and simplifies the issue. Furthermore, studies suggest a link between media portrayal of global warming and policy responses (Newell, 2000, p.68). For example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established in 1988, at the height of public concern (and media coverage) regarding global warming. Newell (2000, p.73) presents the argument that the media helped establish climate change as a political issue and that the IPCC was set up as a political gesture because of the perceived need for action.

The portrayal of global warming in the media has changed over time. Initial coverage did not question the science behind climate change. However, starting from 1990, attacks on the global warming hypothesis were increasingly seen in the Western media. Newell (2000, p.79) provides some examples of newspaper headlines casting doubt on the global warming hypothesis:

·         More hot air than facts on global warming (Sunday Telegraph, 1994)

·         The lie of global warming (Daily Telegraph, 1991)

·         Global warming is a load of hot air (Sunday Express, 1991).

It can also be argued that the media does not provide a representative view of the balance within the scientific community: some opinion-makers receive a disproportionate level of attention in relation to the representativeness of the claims that they make. This lack of balance is sometimes referred to as the "balance trap:" the media seeks and presents opposing points of view, regardless of whether they come from reliable or extremist sources (Studelska, cited in Newell, 2000, p.81). As well as misrepresenting the balance of scientific consensus, the media often treats scientific estimations as fact, and presents worst-case scenarios as likely outcomes. The predicted effects of climate change feature prominently in the media and often receive sensationalist coverage.

Reflections on Media Coverage

In 2008, researchers from the University of Oxford's Environmental Change Institute found that the "deliberately contrarian" pitch in tabloid newspapers had negatively impacted on the public perception of climate change (Kiss, 2008). As an example, the report by the researchers criticised Jeremy Clarkson (columnist for The Sun and Sunday Times and presenter of the popular BBC programme Top Gear) for writing in The Sun that "cars do not cause global warming... all along it was bloody sheep and cows" (cited in Kiss, 2008). While the quality press generally reports more accurately on climate change, tabloids have a much wider circulation (circulation of tabloids outstrips circulation of broadsheets by 10 to 1) and therefore potentially have a greater influence on the public.

It cannot be denied that the media has played an agenda-setting role, both direct and indirect, in the climate change debate. Direct agenda setting works in the short term and involves the media's role in politicising an issue by bringing it to the attention of the public and generating an institutional response. For example, the repeated use of alarmist rhetoric in media coverage instils a picture of impending catastrophe in the minds of the public. In the longer term, indirect agenda setting takes place when the media frames and contextualises the climate change debate. For example, the repeated questioning of the scientific consensus, which hinders the general public in forming a clear picture of the scientific situation relating to climate change, contextualises the ongoing debate.

Apart from newspapers, scientific journals such as Nature and Science provide in-depth reporting on the climate change phenomenon. The popular media began reporting on environmental issues long before the scientific community conveyed its concerns in a more formal and documented way. Working Group 1 of the IPCC, for example, only published its first report on climate change in 1990. This brings us to the next of the non-state actors: the scientific community.

 

2. The Scientific Community

The scientific community plays a role in shaping global policy on climate change for a number of reasons. First, there is the perception that the work of scientists will reduce the uncertainty inherent in the climate change debate; this in turn will reduce the political risks that policy makers face. Because of current scientific uncertainty, the promise that future research may offer clearer guidance puts the scientific community in an influential position and assures their continuing input in the policy process.

Climate Gate

In November 2009, just before COP 16 in Copenhagen, the leakage of more than a thousand e-mails sent and received by some of the leading climate scientists in the UK led to renewed debate on the scientific basis of our knowledge on climate change. The e-mails stemmed from the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, led by Professor Phil Jones. The leakage was predominantly discussed at first in web blogs (Crovitz, 2009) before being picked up by major newspapers. Criticism concerned scientific malpractice such as leaving out data and massaging data. The debate centred around an unfortunate formulation in one of the e-mails speaking about “tricks” to hide cooling effects (Hickmann, 2009). Since then, the concerned scientists have been cleared of the accusation of malpractice. However, due to the at times sensationalist and ill-informed media coverage, uneasiness remains among parts of the public concerning the scientific basis of climate change.

 

Also important is the perception of science as a non-political voice in identifying problems and defining realistic societal responses. According to Bolin, former chair of the IPCC, the role of the scientist is "to delineate a range of future opportunities and analyse the implication of development along one course or another [but] not to recommend one or the other" (cited in Newell, 2000, p.48). Similarly, the IPCC website states that IPCC reports should be neutral with respect to policy and should deal in an objective manner with policy-relevant scientific, technical and socio-economic factors, as well as reflect a range of views and expertise (IPCC, 2010b).

The IPCC was established in 1988 under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The IPCC is currently the most important scientific community actor in climate change issues. The IPCC does not, in itself, undertake research or monitor scientific data; its role, instead, is

to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the latest scientific, technical and socio-economic literature produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change, its observed and projected impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. (IPCC, 2010b)

IPCC membership is open to all governments that are member states of either the WMO or the UNEP. Hundreds of scientists worldwide contribute to the work of the IPCC as authors, contributors or reviewers. Governments of member states participate in the plenary sessions of the IPCC where decisions are taken regarding the work of the IPCC, and where IPCC reports are reviewed, approved and accepted (IPCC, no date). Through the plenary session mechanism, the political community is involved in the reporting process which – as a result – has come to involve negotiation and accommodation. The transfer of scientific knowledge is therefore no longer a linear process from the scientific community to the policy making community, but instead a two-way flow with policy-makers and scientists negotiating the final outcome. By accepting the IPCC reports, governments acknowledge the legitimacy of their scientific content.

The work of the IPCC is currently divided into three working groups and one task force. Working Group 1 deals with the physical science basis to climate change, Working Group 2 with climate change impact, adaptation and vulnerability, and Working Group 3 with mitigating climate change. The Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories is chiefly concerned with finding a method to calculate and report on national greenhouse gas emissions and removals (IPCC, no date).

While the IPCC may well be the most influential actor among the scientific community, because of the interplay with government representatives through plenary sessions it is not a scientific community actor pur sang. The IPCC reports are carefully negotiated documents. While the scientists provide the basis for the reports, the final – and sometimes decisive – wording is strongly influenced by diplomats and policy-makers.

In addition, because the IPCC is heavily dominated by scientists who have in the past worked for government-funded laboratories, or who are dependent on government contracts, doubts have been raised about the actual apolitical nature of their advice (Newell, 2000, pp. 40-48).

The “climate gate” incident described above also increased doubts regarding the scientific basis of the IPCC reports, raising questions on accuracy as well as trustworthiness. IPCC Chairman, Rajendra Pachauri recognised the seriousness of the incident, but suggested that the actions of a single member or a small group of members cannot bias the IPCC report as a whole (Randerson, 2009). However, in March 2010, the Secretary General of the UN and Dr. Pachauri asked the InterAcademy Council (IAC) to conduct a review on the preparation process for IPCC reports (IPCC, 2010a).

Apart from the IPCC, various universities, think tanks and research centres are involved with climate change research. A short overview is provided here, with links to their respective websites.

The Woods Hole Research Center conducts research, identifies policies, and supports educational activities that advance the well-being of humans and of the environment. Its mission is to understand the causes and consequences of environmental change as a basis for policy solutions for a better world. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution studies the role of ocean circulation in climate regulation, as well as the impact of changing salt levels. The director of Woods Hole Research Center was nominated by then President-elect Barack Obama to become Assistant to the President on Science and Technology.

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is a Canada-based international organisation engaging on a national and international level with climate change. The IISD is dedicated to identifying and promoting innovative solutions that support the transition to a clean, secure and sustainable future. Their approach seeks to bring together developing and developed country issues; corporate and social needs; energy and environment priorities; mitigation and adaptation strategies; and economic, social and environmental well-being. The IISD has joined other research organisations from around the world to create the Climate Change Knowledge Network (CCKN) which aims to increase the exchange of knowledge and research expertise between developed and developing countries and to make this knowledge accessible to all countries in the world.

Other institutes, foundations and research centres working on climate change include: Kiel University in Germany, the French National Centre for Scientific Research, the Rockefeller Foundation, the World Resources Institute, the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The George C. Marshall Institute, on the other hand, is known for its scepticism towards the mainstream scientific opinion on climate change. Although the Institute agrees that there is sufficient basis for action because the climate change risk is real, it has been strongly associated with attempts to emphasise scientific uncertainty and to prevent regulatory action on global warming. Other institutions expressing sceptical viewpoints include the American Petroleum Institute and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), although it should be mentioned that the latter revised its position on global warming in 2007. The 1999 APPG position statement formally rejected the likelihood of human influence on climate change. The new statement accepts human activity as a contributor to increased CO2 emissions, but it does not confirm its link to climate change.

Overall, the influence that the scientific community exerts in the climate change policy process is enhanced by the current level of scientific uncertainty. The likelihood of an international agreement on climate change increases with greater scientific knowledge, or at least with consensus within the scientific community. The policy community, therefore, depends on the scientific community to confer a degree of legitimacy and authority to the policy process and to help policy-makers decide between different courses of action.

 

3. Non-Governmental Organisations

Having looked at the role of the media and the scientific community, we now turn to non-governmental organisations (NGOs). NGOs contribute to the climate change debate in a number of ways. They have an agenda setting role like other non-state actors, in that they attempt to draw international attention to particular issues. They also provide scientific and technical information to delegations sympathetic to their objectives. During conferences, NGOs provide a reporting service less prone to the bias inherent in national reporting. For example, the Climate Action Network publishes the ECO newsletter to report on various UN-sponsored conferences and the International Institute for Sustainable Development produces the Earth Negotiations Bulletin. Furthermore, NGOs can "name and shame" countries for a particular position they take during negotiations as well as for failure to comply with an agreed regime (Porter et al., 2000, pp.61-69).

The impact an NGO may have depends on a number of factors. For an NGO to have an impact at the highest level of policy-making, it must provide relevant and reliable information and advice to policy-makers. The impact of an NGO also depends on its size and origin. Just as larger states have more influence and power than smaller ones, larger NGOs are more powerful and have better access to decision making circles than smaller NGOs, including those from least developed countries. NGOs may try to increase their impact through lobbying at the national level, even after an issue has been raised to international fora. This may be effective because most national delegations decide on their positions, to a large extent, prior to entering international negotiations. Another way NGOs may exert influence is through cooperative action with small states. For example, some small island states lack the resources to undertake research for policy formation themselves, and are highly dependent on NGOs.

A huge number of NGOs are involved in the climate change process: according to the UNFCCC website, about 1300 NGOs have been admitted as observers (UNFCCC, no date). Clearly, with so many NGOs active, it is essential that they join forces to convey messages effectively. Under initial guidance by the Environmental Defence Fund and Greenpeace, Climate Action Network (CAN), an umbrella group of over 450 non-governmental organisations, was formed to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. CAN coordinates information exchanges and NGO strategy at the international, regional and national level. The organisation has established regional networks as a way of coping with different perspectives in different regions. Because of the size of the network, CAN offers a wealth and breadth of expertise on various aspects of climate change. CAN was particularly active during the negotiations of the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol; the group lobbied extensively for bigger reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Practical Challenges in the Participation of Non-State Actors

Apart from political issues, the participation of non-state actors is challenging to achieve in practice. How can the effective participation of several hundred NGOs be managed? What rules can regulate who is allowed to speak or distribute texts? In the case of national states, participation is easier in practice. As we saw in Lecture 3, national states are organised in various groupings, which reduces the complexity of managing the process, including issues like number of speakers and making amendments on texts. The UNFCC Secretariat made a number of breakthroughs in organising the participation of non-state actors. It conditioned non-state actor participation to their organisation as constituencies. The following constituencies are identified:

  • ENGOs (Environmental NGOs) – consisting of the main proponents of stronger action against climate change (for example, Greenpeace, WWF)
  • BINGOs (Business and Industry NGOs) – representing the interest of oil and other industries who oppose stricter climate change measures
  • LGMAs (Local Government and Municipal Authorities)
  • IPOs (Indigenous People's Organisations)
  • RINGOs (Research-oriented and Independent NGOs).

The division of NGOs into constituencies helped the UNFCC secretariat to facilitate their participation in the climate change policy process. It is considered one of the successful ways to organise the participation of non-state actors in global governance processes.

As well as working within larger groups such as CAN, NGOs work as individual organisations. The following NGOs are some of the most active and well-known in the field of climate change:

·         The International Union for Conservation of Nature works towards including biodiversity concerns in adaptation and mitigation policies and practice, as well as furthering natural resource management strategies that help species and humans adapt to the impacts of climate change.

·          

·         The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) examines the effects of climate change and develops, implements and advocates solutions that protect people, places and wildlife.

·          

·         Greenpeace works to raise awareness about climate change and to "name and shame" governments and corporations in an attempt to persuade them to take action.

·          

·         Other active organisations include the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Union of Concerned Scientists and Friends of the Earth.

Some of the NGOs active in climate change issues are not primarily focussed on the environment. For example, religious groups are voicing their opinions, on both sides of the divide (Goodstein, 2006). When anthropogenic causes and influences on climate change have been established, we are left facing more than just scientific and policy issues: there are also moral and ethical concerns to consider. According to the Environmental Defense Fund (2004), “principles such as stewardship, justice, protection of the weak, inter-generational duty, and prudence, are universal values when responsible scientific study has identified grave risk. Global warming is a universal moral challenge.”

 

4. Industry and the Fossil Fuel Lobby

Because large industries will influence the timing, nature and volume of greenhouse gas emissions for decades to come, governments all over the world require the support and cooperation of industry to successfully combat climate change. Therefore, it is important to analyse the role of industry and business lobbyists in climate change politics, with particular attention to the fossil fuel industry. While some major energy companies have diversified their portfolios to include renewable energies, the vast majority of their revenue still comes from activities that would suffer from emission controls. The scale of current proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is therefore viewed as highly undesirable by the fossil fuel industry. The agenda of the fossil fuel lobby is characterised by highlighting the scientific uncertainty, the damage to the economy that mitigation may bring and the need to include all greenhouse gases (not just CO2) in any policy proposals.

When the representatives of companies which constitute a substantial part of a country's GDP start raising their voices, they will obviously get the attention of policy makers. Compared to other non-state actors in the climate change debate, industrial interests enjoy a number of advantages. First, the structure of the consultation process benefits groups that speak with a unified voice; there are few dissenting voices among industrial interests. Second, the operating scale of the industrial lobby allows them to influence policy wherever their interests are threatened. International business organisations such as the International Chamber of Commerce have a global presence. Third, it is always easier to obstruct international action than to obtain international consensus to act. Finally, the industry lobby has access to immense financial resources, which allows them to argue their case more professionally and effectively by employing the best lobbyists. To put this into context with an example, in 1998 the American Petroleum Institute paid the public relations firm Burston-Marsteller $US1.8 million for a campaign against a proposed tax on fossil fuels. This amount exceeded the combined climate campaign budget of the Environmental Defense Fund, the Sierra Club Natural Resources Defence Fund, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the World Wildlife Fund for the same year (Newell, 2000, pp.96-100).

Lobbyists often attempt to influence policy-makers at the national level. This way they can deal with one government at a time and establish a relationship with policy-makers. Access in the earliest steps of policy development could prove crucial in influencing the policy that eventually emerges. Governments typically establish a policy position at the national level before the start of international negotiations.

Although the industry lobby tends to speak with a unified voice on climate change issues, we can observe an evolution in their approach and message. The de-activation of the Global Climate Coalition provides a good example. The Global Climate Coalition - one of the early, more vociferous voices against climate change – was a coalition of companies and trade associations that presented the views of industry in the global warming debate and opposed mandatory action to mitigate global warming. The coalition began to fall apart in 1998, when Shell withdrew, announcing that global warming was a problem they should be solving. Others soon followed due to the increased scientific evidence regarding climate change (Revkin, 2009). In its own words, the Global Climate Coalition was deactivated because the "industry voice on climate change has served its purpose by contributing to a new national approach to global warming" (Adam, 2005). More information on the Global Climate Coalition, which was disbanded in 2002, can be found here.

Since then, companies have started to take positive action on climate change for a variety of reasons. The increased certainty about the expected negative effects of climate change and public pressure have stimulated some businesses to improve their corporate image – although we should not underestimate underlying economic motivations.

 

5. International Organisations

International organisations are extremely important players in the field of climate change. Currently, it is difficult to find a single international organisation that is not occupied with the issue of climate change in one way or another. For example, even the International Telecommunication Union has a programme on the influence of ICT on climate change (ITU, 2010). The following international organisations are some of the main players in the climate change policy process.

·         The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is an international treaty which entered into force on 21 March 1994 with near universal membership. The UNFCCC secretariat supports cooperative action by states to combat climate change and its impacts on humanity and ecosystems. The secretariat provides organisational support and technical expertise and aims to facilitate the flow of authoritative information on the implementation of the Convention. The secretariat and its officials were very visible during the Bali negotiations.

·         The United Nations Environment Programme works to facilitate the transition to low-carbon societies, support climate proofing efforts, improve understanding of climate change science, and raise public awareness about this global challenge.

·         The United Nations World Health Organization provides various documents with a focus on the existing and predicted effects of climate change on human health.

·         The United Nations World Meteorological Organization plays an important role in weather and climate observation and monitoring. It helps to increase understanding of climate processes to assist with the development of adaptation strategies and decision-making.

·         The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations highlights some of the most climate-sensitive areas that have an impact on food security: agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

·         The World Bank Group (IBRD and IDA) sees its comparative advantage as helping developing-country partners to grow their economies and achieve the Millennium Development Goals under climate constraints. At the October 2008 Annual Meetings, a Strategic Framework for Development and Climate Change was adopted which recognises the primacy of the UNFCCC process (World Bank Group, 2008, pp. 8-9).

This brings our overview and analysis of the actors involved in the climate change debate to an end. The next lecture will provide an overview of legal and policy instruments in the field of climate change.

 

Reference List

Adam, D. (2005). Oil industry targets EU climate policy. Guardian [online], 8 December 2005. Available from:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2005/dec/08/greenpolitics.europeanunion [Accessed 5 June 2010].

Crovitz, L. G. (2009). Climate of uncertainty heats up. Bloggers peer review scientific 'consensus'. The Wall Street Journal [online], 6 December 2009. Available from:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704342404574578012533089846.html [Accessed 5 June 2010].

Environmental Defense Fund. (2004). Earth’s climate embraces us all: A plea from religion and science for action on global climate change [online]. Available from:
http://www.edf.org/article.cfm?contentid=3780 [Accessed 10 June 2010].

Goodstein, L. (2006). Evangelical leaders join global warming initiative. The New York Times [online], 8 February 2006. Available from:
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/08/national/08warm.html [Accessed 10 June 2010].

Hickman, L. (2009). Climate scientist at centre of leaked email row dismisses conspiracy claims. Guardian [online], 24 November 2009. Available from:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/24/climate-professor-leaked-emails-uea [Accessed 5 June 2010].

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC]. (2010a). Press release: Scientific academy to conduct independent review of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s processes and procedures at request of United Nations and IPCC [online]. Available from:
http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/press/pr-1003210-UN.pdf [Accessed 4 June 2010].

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC]. (2010b). The role of the IPCC and key elements of the IPCC assessment process [online]. Available from:
http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/press/role_ipcc_key_elements_assessment_process_04022010.pdf [Accessed 5 June 2010].

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC]. (no date). Structure [online]. Available from:
http://www.ipcc.ch/organization/organization_structure.htm [Accessed 6 June 2010].

International Telecommunications Union [ITU]. (2010). ITU and climate change [online]. Available from:
http://www.itu.int/themes/climate/ [Accessed 10 June 2010].

Kiss, J. (2008). Tabloids rapped over climate coverage. Guardian [online], Monday April 28 2008. Available from:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/apr/28/pressandpublishing.climatechange [Accessed 1 July 2009].

Newell, P. (2000). Climate for change: Non-state actors and the global politics of the greenhouse. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Porter, G. et al. (2000). Global environmental politics. Boulder: Westview Press.

Randerson, J. (2009). Leaked emails won't harm UN climate body, says chairman. Guardian [online], 29 November 2009. Available from:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/29/ipcc-climate-change-leaked-emails [Accessed 5 June 2010].

Revkin, A. C. (2009). Industry ignored its scientist on climate. New York Times [online], 23 April 2009. Available from:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/24/science/earth/24deny.html [Accessed 5 June 2010].

The World Bank Group. (2008). Development and climate change: A strategic framework for the World Bank Group [online]. Available from:
http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTCC/Resources/FullFrameworkDocument1212008Book.pdf [Accessed 10 June 2010].

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC]. (no date). Parties and observers [online]. Available from:
http://unfccc.int/parties_and_observers/items/2704.php [Accessed 10 June 2010].

Climate Change Diplomacy

Katharina Höne, Jovan Kurbalija, Christiaan Sys

 

Lecture 5: Climate Change: Legal and Policy Instruments

 

Lecture 5 introduces the set of legal instruments (conventions, agreements, protocols) and policy documents (declarations, resolutions) associated with climate change. The text provides a broad overview of the content, functions and relevance of these documents to international policy on climate change. Diplomats involved in climate change negotiations need to understand the broad legal framework and to be able to put each instrument into context. Additionally, it is important to distinguish between those documents that are binding on states and those that have only recommendatory character.

 

1. International Legal Documents

1.1 The Rio conference and the UNFCCC

Following the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm, 1972), the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (also known as the Rio Summit or the Earth Summit) in 1992 was the second global conference entirely concerned with environmental problems, and the relation between those and development issues. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was signed at Rio: the key legal document that can be seen as the basis for all policy on climate change up until today. For the first time, global consensus was achieved on the fact that climate change is a problem to human kind. In a way, the Rio conference served as a much needed deadline for the ongoing talks on climate change and, according to Brenton (1994), the convention on climate change would not have been completed without this kind of external time pressure.

In total, five main documents were negotiated and opened for signature at the Rio Summit:

·         Agenda 21

·         the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development

·         the Statement of Forest Principles

·         the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

·         the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

However, only two of these documents are legally binding on states: the UNFCCC and the Convention on Biological Diversity. 

1.2 The UNFCCC: relevance and criticism

Article 2 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) defines its main objective as

stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner. (United Nations, 1992)

Although consensus on the problem of climate change, its anthropogenic nature, and the need to take counter-measures was formulated for the first time in this document, the objectives were stated in a very general manner. One of the reasons for this general wording was the fact that the convention is legally binding on states.

Many of the principles presented in Lecture 2 (our cognitive toolkit) were used in the convention. For example, Article 3 touches upon intra- and inter-generational equity, the special needs of developing countries, the precautionary principle and sustainable development.

In the UNFCCC, countries agreed to the following commitments (Bodansky, 2001, p. 205):

·         All countries agree to develop national greenhouse gas inventories, to formulate national programs to tackle climate change (mitigation and adaptation), and to cooperate in scientific research, education, training, and public awareness raising.

·          

·         Developed countries (as listed in Annex I of the UNFCCC) recognised the need to return to earlier emission levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gases (preferably by the end of the 1990s) and aim at returning to 1990 emission levels.

·          

·         All OECD countries (listed in Annex II of the UNFCCC) agreed to financial assistance for developing countries with regard to costs of country inventories and reports; costs of mitigation and adaptation to climate change; facilitating, promoting, and implementing technology transfer.

The Convention-Protocol Approach

The process leading to a convention usually begins with several years of multilateral negotiations which aim at building consensus. This consensus is then translated into a treaty, the convention, offering "a general policy framework or a set of goals" (Susskind and Ozawa, 1992, p. 144) and often establishing a basic institutional framework. After the convention is signed, it must be ratified by a specific number of signatories (usually two-thirds) to enter into force.

"Once a convention is signed, the countries involved begin negotiations on one or more protocols – discrete actions directed at achieving concrete objectives (or technical standards) consistent with the convention" (Susskind and Ozawa, 1992, p. 144). So, while the convention is meant to establish a more general approach, protocols to the convention and other legally binding documents, for example, additional agreements linked to the convention, are concerned with details and with implementation. Generally, conventions are open-ended commitments of a qualitative nature; protocols specify quantitatively commitments and time-frames. There are, however, exceptions to this rule. Some conventions such as the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations are very specific. A convention may have several protocols, or a sequence of protocols; and countries may be a party to a convention but not to a specific protocol.

The convention-protocol approach was used for climate change, as it was earlier for other environmental problems such as ozone depletion, acid rain in Europe, and the protection of regional seas (Bodansky, 2001).

1.3 Kyoto Protocol

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol was the first step in making the general stipulations of the UNFCCC operational. However, the Kyoto Protocol itself has been described as ambitious, ambiguous, unfinished business (Oberthür and Ott, 1999, p. 95). In addition, many controversies surround the Kyoto negotiations, especially concerning concrete and measurable issues such as reduction of CO2. In the media, one of the most visible controversies has been the failure of the United States to ratify the protocol.

The core of the protocol is its Article 3, where industrialised countries commit themselves to reducing their aggregated greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5% below 1990 levels in the commitment period 2008-2012. By 2005, the so-called Annex I countries were supposed to have made "demonstrable progress" (United Nations, 1997).

A key principle in the provisions of the protocol is common but differentiated responsibility. In accordance with this principle, only industrialised countries have the obligation to reduce emissions. Additionally, reduction targets and the timetables to achieve them differ from country to country (see Annex B of the Protocol for individual reduction commitments).

Common But Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR)

The phrase common but differentiated responsibility is playing an increasing role in international law. It points to the fact that problems which are a common concern to mankind - such as climate change - affect all and are affected by all nations to differing degrees. Therefore, the responsibilities in producing solutions should also be differentiated. This principle is found in the UNFCCC and in the Kyoto Protocol. With regard to climate change, there are two considerations in the application of the CBDR principle: (a) the cumulative responsibility of countries for the problem (historical as well as current responsibility); (b) the ability of counties to deal with the problem in technical and economic terms.

The idea of common but differentiated responsibility is also reflected in the flexible mechanisms for emissions reduction foreseen by the protocol:

·         Joint Fulfilment ("bubbling"): Groups of Annex I countries may pool together their assigned reduction amounts – prior to ratification – and aim at fulfilling their emission commitments jointly. This mechanism allows the EU, for example, to create a single "emission bubble" (Bodansky, 2001).

·          

·         Emissions Trading: "an Annex I Party may transfer Kyoto Protocol units to or acquire units from another Annex I Party" (UNFCCC, no date).

·          

·         Joint Implementation: "a developed country can receive 'emissions reduction units' when it helps to finance projects that reduce net greenhouse-gas emissions in another developed country (in practice, the recipient state is likely to be a country with an 'economy in transition')" (UNFCCC, no date).

·          

·         Clean Development Mechanism: "developed countries may finance greenhouse-gas emission reduction or removal projects in developing countries, and receive credits for doing so which they may apply towards meeting mandatory limits on their own emissions" (UNFCCC, no date).

Emissions trading, joint implementation, and the clean development mechanism are often referred to as the Kyoto Mechanisms. The protocol does not include specific rules for the mechanisms; they are part of the "unfinished business" referred to earlier. This leaves room for dilution or circumvention of the commitments under the protocol (Oberthür and Ott, 1999). Later, the rules for the mechanisms were specified at following meetings of the parties to the protocol. Similarly, the protocol left the question of compliance open, to be decided at subsequent meetings of the parties (Bodansky, 2001).

 

2. International Policy Documents: The IPCC Reports

The reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are the most widely cited documents on climate change, and generally accepted as representing the scientific consensus in the field. The reports provide a cornerstone for legally binding documents such as the UNFCC and the Kyoto Protocol. The first Assessment Report, published in 1990, provided the scientific basis for decisions taken at the 1992 Rio conference; the second Assessment Report, published in 1995, established the scientific basis for the Kyoto process (Oberthür and Ott, 1999). The IPCC reports do not have legal relevance, but due to the process of their creation and adoption, they assume a special place among policy documents.

So far, the IPCC has produced four Assessment Reports, in 1990, 1995, 2000, and 2007. In this section, we look at how these reports are produced, focussing in particular on the interplay between scientific and diplomatic considerations.

2.1 Preparing the Assessment Reports and the Summaries for Policy-Makers

To begin with, it is important to remember that the IPCC does not do research on its own. Rather, it reviews and compiles existing research through a lengthy process. The authors of IPCC reports work at scientific institutions worldwide. The IPCC does not pay them for their work, and they continue their regular jobs while working on IPCC reports. Face-to-face meetings between the authors are rare. The main task of the authors is to "collect, review, summarise and assess the internationally available peer-reviewed literature" (Depledge and Yamin, 2004, p. 476). Lead authors for each chapter of the report are nominated by governments or by IPCC Bureau members, reflecting a range of scientific views as well as geographical representation.

Draft report chapters are subjected to a two-stage review process. First, drafts are sent to other experts for recommendations. After those recommendations are incorporated, a second review takes place, this time not only by experts, but also by government officials. Guidelines on the preparation of IPCC reports can be found on the IPCC website.

We can observe three important points related to the preparation of the reports:

1.     the process includes a large number of scientists, representing different views and different geographical regions;

2.     government influence is possible; and

3.     the process is rather time-consuming, meaning that reports may already be outdated by the time they are published.

A very important part of each assessment report is the Summary for Policy-Makers. Each of the three IPCC Working Groups (see Lecture 4) prepares a separate report which includes a Technical Summary and a Summary for Policy-Makers. The Summary for Policy-Makers is intended to be understandable for the lay person and is specifically aimed at policy-makers and the media. After the assessment reports undergo the two-stage review process described above, the Summaries for Policy-Makers from each of the three Working Group reports, as well as the Summary for Policy-Makers of the Synthesis Report (a summary of the three reports) are adopted politically.

The most recent Summary for Policy-Makers (IPCC, 2007) is probably the most frequently quoted policy document in the field of climate change. It provides the basis for many decisions and actions. In fact, The Independent (McCarthy, 2007) reported that the 2007 Climate Chance Conference in Bali was postponed by a month so that participants would have access to the essential Summary for Policy-Makers during the talks.

2.3 Criticism - The Hybrid Nature of the IPCC

The hybrid nature of the IPCC – partly political and intergovernmental; partly scientific – has been criticised frequently. The negotiation of the Summary for Policy-Makers provides a good example of the problematic relationship between science and politics, their mutual influence and interdependence. After review, the assessment reports move to a Working Group plenary with scientists and government representatives, where the Summary for Policy-Makers of each report is negotiated. In the plenary, the Summary for Policy-Makers, usually about 20 pages long, is discussed line by line until it is finally approved. Obviously, government representatives follow political agendas when favouring one word or formulation over another. At the same time, the scientists try to ensure that political considerations do not lead to scientifically dubious statements.

On the positive side, this process gives nations "some ownership of the results and, thus, responsibility for reflecting the findings in policies" (Revkin, 2007, p. 3). The Summaries for Policy-Makers are adopted by involved scientists and state representatives by consensus. Therefore, they can be considered a legitimate basis for future negotiations, and the findings are difficult for a state to disavow. On the negative side, the political influence on the reporting of the scientific findings may be significant. The demands of politicians may dilute the report so that the climate change problem appears less serious than it is.

Negotiations over the Summary for Policy-Makers of the Fourth Synthesis Report provide an illustrative example. In almost any policy document, there is a particular word, phrase or sentence which takes a significant amount of time to be negotiated. In this case, it was the word likely, describing a level of probability. The IPCC approached probability and prediction problems by introducing the following likelihood scale:

·         virtually certain: > 99% probability of occurrence

·         very likely: > 90% probability

·         likely: > 66% probability

·         about as likely as not: 33 to 55% probability

·         unlikely: < 33% probability

·         very unlikely: < 1% probability (IPCC, 2005, p. 4).

Not surprisingly, the most controversial sentence during negotiations was: "Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is VERY LIKELY due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations" (IPCC, 2007). The indictors likely and very likely are also used widely indicating the probability of sea level rise, extreme weather conditions and other phenomena in the report.

In sum, although the IPCC reports are widely used in the climate change field, criticism mainly arises around two points: the time-consuming nature of the way the reports are produced and the political influence that seems to be exercised over the Summary for Policy-Makers.

3. Soft Law: Declarations and Resolutions

The term soft law covers various kinds of quasi-legal instruments, which are not formally binding. The term itself is sometimes criticised because it actually is not law, which is, by definition, always binding. In addition to its non-binding character, two more elements of soft law can be identified (Boyle, 1999). It usually consists of general norms or principles rather than specific rules, and it is not readily enforceable.

3.1 General Assembly Resolutions

Most General Assembly (GA) resolutions are international soft law; they are not much more than recommendations. They are non-binding and no enforcement mechanisms exist. However, even though they are non-binding, they serve a role in raising public awareness and building international pressure. A certain moral authority can be ascribed to General Assembly decisions, especially when the debate takes place at a high level.

As far as climate change is concerned, General Assembly resolutions prior to 1992 aimed at building consensus in the run-up to the Rio conference, and preparing for the conference and the UNFCCC. Over time, the quite vague statements in these resolutions became more specific. Here we will look briefly at several of the many resolutions related to climate change.

Resolution 42/186 (1987) established an "Environmental Perspective to the Year 2000 and Beyond," thereby increasing the importance of environmental issues within the UN system. Resolution 43/53 (1988), "Protection of global climate for present and future generations of mankind," initiated by a Maltese proposal, specifically focused on climate change issues. It is interesting to note how the wording of the resolution reflects scientific uncertainty as well as the unwillingness of some states to admit to anthropogenic causes of climate change:

Concerned that certain human activities could change global climate patterns, threatening present and future generations with potentially severe economic and social consequences,

Noting with concern that the emerging evidence indicates that continued growth in atmospheric concentrations of "greenhouse" gases could produce global warming with an eventual rise in sea levels, the effects of which could be disastrous for mankind if timely steps are not taken at all levels, (UNGA, 1988)

Resolution 43/196 of the same year called for a United Nation conference on environment and development to be held no later than 1992 and set the preparatory process in motion. A number of other resolutions endorsed the founding of the IPCC, beginning with resolution 43/53. Resolution 44/206 of 1989 specifically addressed the possible adverse effects of sea-level rise on islands and low-lying coastal areas, supported regional efforts such as the Small States Conference on Sea-Level Rise in 1989 and called for international support for countries most affected by this.

One very interesting recent development is the attempt to link security and climate change. In a draft resolution introduced to the General Assembly in October 2008 (UNGA, 2008), small island developing states, European states and others called for attention to the link between climate change and international peace and security.

3.2 Millennium Declaration of 2000 and the 2005 World Summit Outcome

In 2000, the Millennium Declaration was signed during a high-level ceremony at the UN Millennium Summit. At the core of the declaration are eight goals, to be achieved by 2015:

·         eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

·         achieve universal primary education

·         promote gender equality and empower women

·         reduce child mortality

·         improve maternal health

·         combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

·         ensure environmental sustainability

·         develop a global partnership for development.

These 8 goals are broken down into 21 quantifiable targets that are measured by 60 indicators. With regard to climate change, Goal 7 is of special significance: ensure environmental sustainability. Under this goal, states resolve, among other things, to

make every effort to ensure the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol, preferably by the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 2002, and to embark on the required reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases. (UN General Assembly, 2000).

Like most General Assembly resolution, legally, the Millennium Declaration is non-binding on states. What gives this document special significance, however, is the ceremonial, high-level character of its signing.

A renewed, but still vague, commitment to the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol was made in the Outcome Document of the 2005 UN World Summit: "We reaffirm our commitment to the ultimate objective of the Convention: to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that prevents dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system" (UNGA, 2005). Going beyond the Millennium Declaration, the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document also stresses the need for global cooperation on climate change, especially in the form of enhancing private investment and supporting developing countries.

Nonetheless, we should question the way climate change has been framed in the Millennium Declaration. Among the Millennium Development Goals, climate change appears only as a sub-goal of "environmental sustainability." Furthermore, the document fails to recognise that a changing climate will surely impact on many of the other goals and their achievement. This low priority treatment of climate change among the Millennium Development Goals is surprising.

The Copenhagen Consensus

Interestingly, the recommendations of the so-called Copenhagen Consensus also fail to place climate change as a top priority. This group of economists looked at the world's most significant problems and tried to prioritise them, the basic assumption being that with limited resources, we cannot address all problems simultaneously. At the first meeting of the Copenhagen Consensus in 2004, the economists looked at a list of ten problems facing the world today: civil conflicts; climate change; communicable diseases; education; financial stability; governance; hunger and malnutrition; migration; trade reform; and water and sanitation. They were asked to rank these problems considering this question: "What would be the best ways of advancing global welfare, and particularly the welfare of developing countries, supposing that an additional $50 billion of resources were at governments' disposal?" (Copenhagen Consensus Center, 2004). In essence, this is a cost-benefit analysis. According to the findings, projects to control HIV/AIDS and malaria, and to provide micro nutrients ranked among the first priorities. Policies to counter climate change such as a carbon tax or the emission trading proposed in the Kyoto Protocol, however, ranked last. In their report the group "recognised that global warming must be addressed, but agreed that approaches based on too abrupt a shift toward lower emissions of carbon are needlessly expensive" (Copenhagen Consensus Center, 2004).

An interesting speech by one of the founders of the Copenhagen Consensus approach, Bjørn Lomborg, can be found at:
http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/bjorn_lomborg_sets_global_priorities.html.

The 2009 report on the Millennium Development Goals indicates that many of the goals are threatened by the impact of the economic crisis. For example, the fight against extreme poverty has stalled and positive trends in the eradication of hunger have been reversed (UN, 2009, p. 4).

3.3 The Copenhagen Accord

The Copenhagen Accord, the outcome document of the 15th Conference of the Parties in December 2009, also falls under the heading of soft law because of its non-binding nature. Heads of states came together in Copenhagen with the aim to finalise a binding agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol after 2012. Since no binding agreement could be reached, the text of the Copenhagen Accord was put forward by the US and the BASIC group of countries (China, India, Brazil, and South Africa) on the last day of the conference. However, due to lack of consensus on the document, the text could not be voted on. Delegates simply “took note” of it (Anon, 2009). A list of states agreeing to the accord can be found here.

The accord recognises the need to limit temperature rise to two degrees Celsius, but does not set any specific emission reduction targets. Under paragraph four of the accord, Annex I parties of the Kyoto Protocol commit to voluntary emission reduction for 2020. Moreover, paragraph eight establishes a commitment of developed countries to mobilise jointly USD 100 billion for mitigation measure in developing countries. A full discussion of the Copenhagen Accord, its implications and the way ahead will be part of lecture eight.

 

4. Studies and Other Important Documents: The Stern Review

Policy documents, whether issued by international or national bodies, have the potential to initiate intense discussion. They also shape the way climate change is debated by emphasising specific elements of the problem. The Stern Review of 2006 provides the best recent example of the influence of policy documents. The report emerged from a British domestic debate and was called for by the government of the UK in July 2005. Its focus on the economic impact of climate change and possible policies, both in the UK and internationally, shifted discussion from the problem of scientific uncertainty to that of economic impact. The report was issued at a strategic time, just before the 12th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, held in Nairobi in November 2006.

4.1 Findings

The Stern Review takes a purely economic stance on the required actions and policies to counter the effects of climate change, through a cost-benefit analysis. The review concluded that early and strong action is economically more sensible than non-action. It calls for strong mitigation measures now rather than adapting to the effects of climate change in the future (we will look more closely at the topics of mitigation and adaptation in Lecture 7). The Stern Review does not make use of moral or ethical arguments such as the precautionary principle and the principle of inter-generational obligations. Rather, by employing economic modelling and focussing on GDP-growth, it concludes that the best policy economically is to take strong counter-action now. The review estimates that:

if we don't act, the overall costs and risks of climate change will be equivalent to losing at least 5% of global GDP each year, now and forever. If a wider range of risks and impacts is taken into account, the estimates of damage could rise to 20% of GDP or more. In contrast, the costs of action – reducing greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change – can be limited to around 1% of global GDP each year. (Stern, 2006, p. 1)

4.2 Recommendations

The Stern Review's recommendations - most of them already voiced in other documents, reports, and treaties – are as follows (Stern, 2006):

·         The way we produce energy needs to change.

o    increase in energy efficiency

o    expansion of the use of renewable energy and other low-carbon energy sources

o    implementation of carbon capture and storage

·         Cuts in non-energy emissions will also be necessary.

·         Three general policy strategies are recommended.

o    pricing of carbon

o    support for innovation and deployment of low-carbon technologies

o    actions to remove barriers to energy efficiency

·         An international approach is essential. It should include:

o    emission trading

o    technology cooperation

o    action to reduce deforestation

o    adaptation measures and international financial cooperation on adaptation.

The report also calls for international "long-term goals and agreement on frameworks" and "mutually reinforcing approaches at national, regional and international level" (Stern, 2006, p.1).

What the Stern Review adds to already existing recommendations is a purely economic view, a strong emphasis on acting now, the projection of extremely high costs that inaction might incur in the future (up to 20% of GDP), and the conclusion that action taken now is relatively cheap (around 1% of GDP).

4.3 Critique

Due to its projection of extremely high future costs, the Stern Review was criticised as being alarmist (although the report has also been criticised for underestimating the future costs of climate change.) In addition, the report was criticised for underestimating the cost for mitigation measures taken today and pessimistically overestimating the future costs of damages from climate change and adaptation to the dangers of climate change. Other points of criticism focus on the report's lack of ethical considerations and its uncritical overemphasis of the relevance of GDP-growth. Some critics also pointed to "sloppy mistakes" in the report (for example Lomborg, 2006).

Here, we look in more detail at a single point of criticism: the use of discount rates and the problem of sacrifices to growth for which the report calls. In the mathematical model used by Stern, a choice has to be made on a number of parameters. Generally, we can refer to them as a discount rate. Behind this choice stands the question of how the present is evaluated against the future and vice versa. How much will one dollar invested today be worth in 50 years, and what worth would one dollar invested in 50 years have today? Critics such as Lomborg (2006) point to the fact that the discount rate chosen makes future costs look much more ominous.

In addition, the discount rate makes the cost of timely climate change action appear to be a more desirable investment, when compared to addressing other current development issues. However, if the same discount rate was applied to those competing projects consistently, the Stern argument would disappear. Additionally, Lomborg (2006) points out that in the future, individuals in the developing world will be much richer than today. From this perspective, future adaptation measures seem much more manageable compared to action today.

 

5. Conclusions 

This lecture provided a broad overview of (international) legal and policy documents, including legally binding contractual documents such as the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. The discussion of the UNFCC reporting process illustrated the influence of science on political decisions in the field of climate change, but at the same time, the influence of politics on the way scientific findings are presented. The section on soft law illustrated how international consensus is built-up over time and how soft law can eventually lead to the adoption of legally binding agreements. Whether or not the Copenhagen Accord will serve the same purpose remains to be seen. Last but not least, the final section on the Stern Review reminds us that the controversy over how to approach the problem of climate change is far from settled.

 

Reference List

Anon. (2009). Copenhagen climate deal meets qualified UN welcome. BBC News [online], 19 December, 2009. Available from:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8422133.stm [Accessed 15 June 2010].

Bodansky, D. (2001). International law and the design of a climate change regime. In: D. F. Sprinz and U. Luterbacher (eds). International relations and global climate change. Cambridge: MIT Press, pp. 201-219.

Boyle, A. (1999). Some reflections on the relationship of treaties and soft law. The International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 48(4), pp. 901-913.

Brenton, T. (1994). The greening of Machiavelli. The evolution of international environmental policy. London: Earthscan.

Copenhagen Consensus Center. (2004). Copenhagen consensus: The results [online]. Available from:
http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/Admin/Public/Download.aspx?file=/Files/Filer/CC/Press/UK/copenhagen_consensus04_result_FINAL%5B2%5D.pdf [Accessed 15 June 2010].

Depledge, J. and Yamin, F. (2004). The international climate change regime: a guide to rules, institutions and procedures. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC]. (2005). Guidance notes for lead authors of the IPCC fourth assessment report on addressing uncertainties [online]. Available from:
http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/supporting-material/uncertainty-guidance-note.pdf [Accessed 15 June 2010].

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC]. (2007). Climate change 2007: Synthesis report. Summary for policymakers [online]. Available from:
http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr_spm.pdf [Accessed 15 June 2010].

Lomborg, B. (2006). Stern Review. The dodgy numbers behind the latest warming scare [online]. Wall Street Journal. Opinion Archives, Thursday November 2 2006. Available from:
http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110009182 [Accessed 15 June 2010].

McCarthy, M. (2007). Here it is: the future of the world, in 23 pages. The Independent [London], 19 November 2007, p. 22.

Oberthür, S. and Ott, H. (1999). The Kyoto Protocol. International climate policy for the 21st century. Berlin/Heidelberg: Springer.

Revkin, A. (2007). Melding science and diplomacy to run a global climate review. New York Times, 6 February 2007, p. 3.

Stern, N. (2006). Stern review on the economics of climate change. Summary of conclusions [online]. Available from:
http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/Summary_of_Conclusions.pdf [Accessed 15 June 2010].

Susskind, L. and Ozawa, C. (1992). Negotiating more effective international environmental agreements. In: A. Hurrell and B. Kingsbury (eds). The international politics of the environment. Actors, interests, and institutions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 142-165.

United Nations. (1992). United Nations framework convention on climate change [online]. Available from:
http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/convkp/conveng.pdf [Accessed 15 June 2010].

United Nations. (1997). Kyoto protocol to the United Nations framework convention on climate change [online]. Available from:
http://unfccc.int/essential_background/kyoto_protocol/items/1678.php [Accessed 15 June 2010].

United Nations. (2009). Millennium Development Goals report 2009 [online]. Available from:
http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/pdf/MDG_Report_2009_ENG.pdf [Accessed 15 June 2010].

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCC]. (no date). Glossary of climate change acronyms [online]. Available from:
http://unfccc.int/essential_background/glossary/items/3666.php [Accessed 15 June 2010].

United Nations. General Assembly. (1988). Resolution 43/53. Protection of global climate for present and future generations of mankind [online]. Available from:
http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/43/a43r053.htm [Accessed 15 June 2010].

United Nations. General Assembly. (2000). Resolution 55/2. United Nations millennium declaration [online]. Available from:
http://www.un.org/millennium/declaration/ares552e.pdf [Accessed 15 June 2010].

United Nations. General Assembly. (2005). Resolution 60/1. 2005 World Summit Outcome [online]. Available from:
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United Nations. General Assembly. (2008). Security and climate change [online]. Available from:
htClimate Change Diplomacy

Katharina Höne, Jovan Kurbalija, Christiaan Sys

 

Lecture 6: Climate Change: Levels of Activity – Global, Regional, National, Sub-national, Individual

 

Following our introduction of the main climate change diplomacy actors, in Lectures 3 and 4, in Lecture 6 we discuss their fields of activity and their interactions. Policies and activities to combat climate change can be found at all levels: global, regional, national, sub-national, individual. While dividing activities by “level” is a useful analytical tool, in reality most activities involve considerable interplay among those levels.

 

1. Global Level

It is a truism that climate change is a global phenomenon and, thus, should be addressed on the global level by global action. This reasoning underpins the main climate change policy initiatives, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It is also the reason that we will start our analysis with the global level.

When speaking about climate change policies and actions at the global level, one cannot avoid the term global governance, which tries to capture newly emerging forms of cooperation and policy-making. In 1995, the Commission on Global Governance established a comprehensive definition of the term global governance in its Our Global Neighbourhood report:

Governance is the sum of the many ways individuals and institutions, public and private, manage their common affairs. It is a continuing process through which conflicting or diverse interests may be accommodated and cooperative action may be taken. It includes formal institutions and regimes empowered to enforce compliance, as well as informal arrangements that people and institutions either have agreed to or perceive to be in their interest … At the global level, governance has been viewed primarily as intergovernmental relationships, but it must now be understood as also involving non-governmental organizations (NGOs), citizen’s movements, multinational corporations, and the global capital market. Interacting with these are global mass media of dramatically enlarged influence. (Commission on Global Governance 1995, pp. 2-3).

Generally, this definition is viewed as authoritative, reflecting a changed reality in international relations. It remains up for discussion to what extent the predominance of the nation state has been undermined by emerging global governance structures. Indeed, critics of the concept of global governance stress the fact that the international sphere is still largely dominated by the actions of states.

Global action on climate change revolves around a number of events, including the UN World Summits, and several UN institutions. In the rest of this section we focus on several key events and institutions which shape global action on climate change.

1.1 Global fora for discussion and policy-making: UN World Summits

Among the many global fora for negotiations in general and for environmental issues in particular, the UN World Summits take a special place. Although their impact is often criticised as insufficient, their universality, the inclusion of NGOs, and the wide media and public attention they receive make them highly significant. UN World Summits also tend to generate momentum on certain issues. For example, while the Stockholm conference of 1972 simply marked the beginning of the UN’s involvement in environmental issues, the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro generated massive media attention and brought climate change to the forefront of global environmental discussions.

The Rio conference was one of the largest world summits to date, and it set precedents for the series of UN world summits that were to follow during the 1990s. The conference took place at the highest political level, with 108 heads of states and governments joining the deliberations. Even more novel was the fact that more than 2400 NGOs sent observers to the main conference. The parallel forum for NGOs attracted over 17 000 participants from environmental, development, scientific, women’s and other NGOs. Almost 10 000 onsite journalists transformed the conference into a global media event (Brenton, 1994, pp. 223-4; United Nations, 1997). At the Rio conference, the wide range of actors concerned with environmental issues came together and influenced each other at the global level.

UN World Summits

UN World Summits have the following defining points (Nuscheler, 2000, pp. 641-644):

  1. they take place under the umbrella of the UN;
  2. they are open to all states and usually reach an almost universal participation;
  3. they usually include actors from civil society, often at parallel NGO fora;
  4. they deal with issues of global importance;
  5. as a result, they usually produce declarations and programmes of action, and can eventually lead to binding agreements.

We can identify three main functions of UN World Summits (Fomerand, 1996, p. 361):

  1. information function: creation, dissemination and sharing of knowledge;
  2. monitoring and early-warning;
  3. creating norms.

Important World Summits on environmental issues:

  • 1972: UN Conference on the Human Environment, Stockholm
  • 1992: UN Conference on Environment and Development, Rio
  • 2002: UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), one of the outcome documents of the Rio conference with legally binding character, laid the groundwork for future negotiations on climate change. As we saw in Lecture 5, it includes a very general commitment that can be seen as the framework for future actions. However, we have to ask ourselves critically, is this a significant enough achievement to justify the time-consuming deliberations at the global level? And do global agreements of this kind really bring about more concrete actions at lower levels; especially the national and local levels? With the 'Rio+20' Earth Summit to be held in 2012, these questions gain renewed importance.

Another interesting aspect of the Rio conference and similar international events is their strong learning function. Summits increase awareness about issues and equip actors with necessary understanding of policy aspects (Haas, 1990). The development of the discussion on climate change from the early meetings under the World Meteorological Organization in 1979 through the climate change-related debates in the General Assembly (see Lecture 5), illustrates this process.  

Conferences of the Parties to the UNFCCC

The UNFCCC established a permanent Secretariat and annual conferences, better known as Conferences of the Parties (COP). The formal basis for the COP is Article 7 of the UNFCCC; this article specifies the function of the COP beyond simple implementation mechanisms.

COPs take place once a year and last for two weeks. Past meetings have been of crucial importance in moving the legal framework of the UNFCCC forward.  In a way, the history of the climate change process is built around COPs. Important COPs include

  • COP 1 (1995), where the “Berlin Mandate” was agreed;
  • COP 3, which led to the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol;
  • COP 6 (2001), which fleshed out the mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol;
  • COP 7, with its decisions known as the Marrakesh Accords which further specified rules under the Kyoto Protocol;
  • the COPs in Bali (2007) and Poznan (2008), which paved the way for negotiations on a post-Kyoto treaty;
  • COP 15 in Copenhagen (December 2009), which was supposed to result in an agreement on the post-Kyoto climate architecture. However, the outcome document, the Copenhagen Accord, is non-binding and voluntary in its emission reduction targets.

 

1.2 Global institutions

The emergence of new issues on the international agenda often leads to the forming of various international institutional  arrangements. For example, the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) was founded after the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment in 1972. Another important example for climate change is the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), a functional commission of the UN Economic and Social Council, which was founded in response to the UN Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janiero in 1992. Although the CSD is devoted to sustainable development in general, part of its agenda is concerned with climate change more specifically. Its tasks with regard to climate change are to monitor the implementation of the UNFCCC, to elaborate future actions and policies, and to promote cooperation between different actors – governmental as well as non-governmental – for sustainable development (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2009). The work of the CSD is organised in two-year implementation cycles. In 2006 and 2007 it focussed on energy and sustainable development, industrial development, air pollution and climate change. Some of the topics for 2008/2009 were also related to climate change: agriculture, drought, and desertification. The current cycle focuses, among other things, on transport, chemicals, waste management (hazardous and solid waste) and mining (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2010).

In fact, a good number of UN organisations which are not specifically concerned with environmental issues work towards alleviating the consequences of climate change, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). As we have seen, climate change touches upon a host of diverse issues of concern to many different global organisations, including most of the UN system organizations and bodies.

Climate Change Related Work of UN Organisations (UN System. Chief Executives Board for Coordination, 2008, p. 8).

Focus Areas

  • Adaptation: High-Level Committee on Programmes (established by the Chief Executives Board)
  • Technology transfer: UNIDO, UN-DESA
  • Reduction of emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD): UNDP, FAO, UNEP
  • Financing mitigation and adaptation action: UNDP (World Bank)
  • Capacity building: UNDP, UNEP

Cross-Cutting Areas

  • Climate knowledge (science, assessment, monitoring and early warning): WMO, UNESCO
  • Supporting global, regional and national action: UN-DESA, UN Regional Commissions, UNDP
  • Climate-neutral UN: UNEP
  • Public awareness: UNCG, UNEP

In addition, global financial institutions such as the Global Environment Facility (GEF) are active in the field of climate change. The GEF was jointly established by UNEP, UNDP, and the World Bank in 1991. It is the financial mechanism for a number of multilateral treaties in the environmental realm, including the UNFCCC. Besides climate change, the GEF focuses on biodiversity, international waters, land degradation, sustainable forest management, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.

In the area of climate change, the GEF finances projects in developing and transition countries with grants of varying amounts. In addition, the GEF manages the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) and the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF). Both funds were established under the UNFCCC and depend on voluntary contributions. The LDCF aims to give special support to least developed countries; so far, donor countries have pledged US $194 million for the LDCF (GEF, 2010b). The SCCF was established “to finance activities, programs, and measures relating to climate change that are complementary to those funded by the resources allocated to the Climate Change Focal Area of the GEF and by bilateral and multilateral funding” (GEF, 2010c). Currently, US $129 million are mobilised for the SCCF, however, the yearly demand is $125 million and a waiting list for projects equalling that amount has already been established (GEF, 2010c).

As this example illustrates , funding of the GEF is insufficient for the tasks at hand. From 1991 to 2004 the GEF had a total of US $5.1 billion in grant resources available. On a yearly basis, this amounts to US $ 450 million, which must be shared over six focal areas and 140 countries (Clémençon, 2006, p. 54-5). In the previous replenishment negotiations, 32 donor countries pledged US $3.13 billion for the period between 2006 and 2010 (GEF, 2010a) . However, from the large amount of co-financing which the GEF attracts, most comes from national governments and multilateral development banks, and little from the private sector. In terms of governmental co-financing, critics say that no additional effect is accomplished because this is simply the re-labelling of already committed resources.

The events and institutions discussed above, within the UN system, face the challenges of coordination of actions, avoidance of overlap and the effective use of scarce financial resources. They also interact, and act in coordination with other levels, such as the regional.

 

2. Regional Activities

Although climate change is a global problem, activities leading to crucial solutions also take place at other levels, such as the regional level. These activities can arise from the like-mindedness of states, from sharing similar climate change related problems, or can be fostered through the existence of regional organisations. Usually, when states share a similar perspective and have some institutional arrangement already in place, this will lead to intensified cooperation and the further development of activities on climate change (good examples are the European Union and the Caribbean Community). Activities of regional organisations range from very modest coordination before global negotiations (in order to speak with one voice, to save resources through cooperation, and to increase the potential impact of the position) to very active issuing of policies to be implemented at the national level.

2.1 Regional organisations

The level of authority delegated to the regional level depends largely on the degree of readiness of states to cooperate, and the degree of integration reached by the regional organisation. As an example, we will look in more detail at the climate change activities of the European Union, which is both a specific type of regional organisation (to be more precise, a "supranational one") and one of the most prominent players in climate change negotiations.

The European Union

1) Preparation for global negotiations: In preparing for negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol, EU member states faced the need to coordinate at the European level, as well as establishing national positions. Among other mechanisms, the EU established a special EU Ad hoc Group on Climate Change. This regional coordination resulted in greater coherence of the EU position, which gave it more credibility. However, member states rejected the idea of allowing the European Commission to coordinate the EU position, which would have transferred more rights to the EU level. Instead, EU coordination was conducted by the country which held the EU presidency at the time. (The EU presidency rotates among member states every six months. The country holding the presidency determines the agenda and priorities of the organisations). This was a weak point in the EU structure, leading to changes in the EU's commitment with every change in presidency, from the less-committed Italian and Irish presidencies to the more committed Dutch presidency (Oberthür and Ott, 1999, pp. 65-68).

At the 2007 COP in Bali, the EU spoke with one voice and took a strong position against the US in pushing for deeper cuts in emissions (Howden, 2007, p. 2). But the 2009 climate negotiations in Copenhagen showed that the EU is still not able to act consistently, as a united, global player.

2) Working together on the reduction of emissions: EU member states work together to reduce emissions using the possibility of joint fulfilment ("bubbling") under the Kyoto Protocol, which allows states to pool their emission reductions together and aim at achieving them jointly. In 2000, the European Commission launched the European Climate Change Programme, which aims to lead the EU to the fulfilment of its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. One of its most important elements is the European Union Emission Trading Scheme (initiated in 2005). This scheme created a market price for carbon emissions, allowing European companies to trade in emission allowances. Member states develop plans for emission allowances that are transferred to the companies in those business sectors taking part in the trading scheme. Companies staying below their emission allowances can sell their surplus. Those which cannot stay within the boundaries of their allowances need to purchase additional ones (European Commission, 2008, pp. 6-9).

The Commission designated the three years between 2005 and 2008 as a pilot phase of "learning by doing" (European Commission, 2008, p. 8). Criticism has arisen around the fact that allowances allocated by member states were generally too generous, therefore not resulting in sufficient cuts in emissions.

3) Policy-making: Under the broad umbrella of the European Climate Change Programme, different decisions and directives are issued. Member states are – among other things – required to promote the use of renewable energy sources for producing electricity, to promote biofuels and the use of biomass, and to apply certain energy performance standards for buildings (for a complete overview see European Commission, 2006).

"Policy Shopping" and "Policy Laundering"

Actors in modern diplomacy can be said to "policy shop" between the different levels (a practice which is facilitated by today's rapid Internet-based communications). Through "policy shopping," institutions try to increase their chances of making an impact, or to "take two bites at the cherry." For example, an NGO faced with defeat on the national level may try to re-open an issue on the international level.

Among governments, the practice of shifting focus among different levels is known as "forum shifting" or "policy laundering." For example, a government may try to re-introduce an issue which has been defeated on the national level through international treaties or practice of international organisations. This practice is particularly present in the European Union, where the interplay between national and regional (EU) levels is highly intensive. The debate on "policy laundering" is a very recent one and developed around the question of data protection (for an overview see Hosein, 2004). It might be useful to keep an open eye on this practice with regard to climate change.

It should be added that EU environmental policy and legal regulation in general, and climate change policy and regulation in particular, influence not only EU member states but also non-members, especially candidates for membership. One of the conditions for EU membership is harmonisation of environmental legislation and practice. Such harmonisation with the EU acquis is a complex and long lasting process.

Obviously, the European Union is just one example of regional cooperation. Currently, it is difficult to find any regional organisation and initiative without some discussion or programme on climate change policy.

CARICOM: Regional Cooperation to Combat Climate Change

The Caribbean Community offers another example of regional cooperation to combat the causes and effects of climate change. The following three projects are especially interesting:

  • The Caribbean Renewable Energy Development Programme: mainly financed by UNDP/GEF, the project focuses on removing barriers (lack of legislation, financial, capacity, and information) to the use of renewable energy.
  • Mainstreaming Adaptation to Climate Change: the project focuses on capacity building, to identify climate change risks and reduce vulnerability, to raise awareness and to facilitate project management.
  • Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (as part of the above project): the Centre aims at being the focal point for all climate change issues in the region, coordinating the regional response to climate change, collecting regional climate change data and providing policy advice.

Now, we turn to the national level, which again offers interesting material for analysis of the mutual influences between the different levels of activity.

 

3. National Activities

We often hear debates in international circles on the future of the nation state. In the 1990s, theories of "the end of state" argued that globalisation, shaped by the Internet, and the emergence of global problems would mark the end of the state's role in managing global processes. Such "endism" was naive. The nation state is here to stay.

Moreover, in some respects the importance of states has increased. We can see this especially with recent crises such as the financial crisis and the war against terrorism. On the other hand, while the state is here to stay, it is true that its position has changed. The nation state has become more permeable. For example, global actors can directly support or implement projects at the local level, without necessarily working via national governments. Local actors, for example, environmental NGOs, can organise themselves in international networks and influence the global agenda, thereby cutting across national borders.

Although the dominance of the nation state cannot be ignored, we have to ask whether activities at the national level can work in the absence of activities at other levels – especially the global. When it comes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, this question cannot easily be answered. Because of the so-called "tragedy of the commons," global problems require global solutions. Anything less than a global agreement will not work. However, others argue that sufficiently large states, like the US, Japan, China or the EU, may make a significant impact on climate change through individual emissions reduction measures. Looking at adaptation to the negative effects of climate change, measures by individual nation states seem most feasible, not least because those measures need to be tailored to the specific needs of the countries.

Tragedy of the Commons

The term "tragedy of the commons" (introduced by Garrett Hardin in1968) describes the seemingly inevitable tendency of communities which share a common environmental resource (for example, fresh water resources, arable land, forests, sea) to maximise their own benefits from its usage in a way which leads to overexploitation and the eventual destruction of the resource. Even those communities which would prefer to use the resource in a more environmentally friendly way fail to do so, because they know that the others will continue to maximise their benefits (Greene, 2005).

 

4. Sub-National Activities

Sub-national activities on climate change are important for many reasons:

·         when applied from the bottom upwards, they can serve as role models for policies on the national level;

·         most national policies have to be implemented at the local level. This gives local authorities room for adjustments and changes according to their needs, but also the responsibility for proper execution;

·         certain measures of adaptation are better handled at the local level as they require in-depth knowledge of local conditions and needs;

·         the sub-national level can also be seen as a "testing ground." The response of people and businesses to controversial or innovative policies can be tested and compared on a small scale. Successful strategies might then be copied at the national level (Lutsey and Sperling, 2008, p. 674).

However, there are potential negative impacts of local regulation in the absence of a national framework, including possible lack of coherence among regulations, and the wasting of resources due to duplicative mechanisms (Lutsey and Sperling, 2008).

An interesting and often cited example of sub-national action in climate change comes from the United States. In a number of states, local policies aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the absence of a national policy. California is generally regarded as the forerunner in this effort, with its commitment to bring the state's greenhouse gas emissions down to 1990 levels by 2020, and its greenhouse gas reduction regulations for cars and trucks (Engel, 2006). Another example is the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a coalition of ten north-eastern states and mid-Atlantic states, based on a regional cap-and-trade programme for CO2 emissions from the power sectors. These states committed themselves, first, to stabilise their emissions (Byrne et al., 2007). Now they are aiming at “establishing a multi-state CO2 emissions budget (cap) that will decrease gradually until it is 10 percent lower than at the start” (RGGI, 2010). This should be achieved by 2018. However, local solutions such as this one may not work if the polluters targeted by emissions reduction plans can simply re-locate or avoid the legislation using various loopholes (Bushnell et al., 2008).

Of course, the impact of local emission reduction schemes is insignificant when measured against a global scale. Therefore, in practice such reduction activities remain largely symbolic. However, they have the potential to gain larger relevance through serving as role models for policies at higher levels of governance (Engel, 2006).

A number of climate change activities seem particularly well suited to implementation on the sub-national level. For example, adaptation to the effects of climate change depends on knowledge of local conditions, and thus may be done most effectively at the local level. Similarly, disaster preparedness seems best organised at the level where the effects are going to be felt: locally (Allen, 2006). Financing for these measures might come from the local level itself, but more likely from the national, regional or global levels. The earlier discussed GEF is a good example of a global organisation which provides financial means for local adaptation. 

 

5. Individual Lifestyle Choices

Global opinion polls show that concern about climate change is almost universal and shared by people from developed as well as developing countries (Chicago Council on Global Affairs, 2007). However, general concern does not always lead to the ability and/or willingness to act or to bear costs. For various reasons, there is often a gap between what a person thinks and what a person does.

Greenhouse gas emissions are strongly associated with the lifestyle choices of individuals and with their demands for goods and services. A lifestyle based on environmentally-friendly choices is often associated with a certain level of affluence. Looking more deeply at the matter, the basis for "green lifestyle" choices depends on a number of factors: attitudes (such as norms, beliefs and values); contextual forces (such as available time, monetary cost and availability of resources); personal capabilities (which include skills and knowledge); and habits (White and Wall, 2008, p. 590).

Here, some climate change-conscious lifestyle choices are illustrated.

Low-carbon diet: Food choices in a "low-carbon diet" take into account the emissions of greenhouse gases from the production, packaging, transportation, or disposal of foods. Common decisions include reducing consumption of meat and cheese, selecting locally grown and seasonal foods, and eating less processed and packaged foods. However, it can be difficult for individuals to accurately judge the real emission impact of their choices (Wikipedia, 2009a).

Consumer goods and means of transportation: Individuals may make consumption and transportation choices with the aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In terms of consumer goods, this means avoiding unnecessary packaging and selecting energy efficient technical equipment. In terms of transportation, individuals may decide to use public transportation, bicycles, or walk rather than using a car; or to buy fuel-efficient or hybrid cars.

Carbon offsets: Buying carbon offsets basically means paying for an action that will counterbalance individual greenhouse gas emissions from everyday life. Examples include paying for the planting of trees or funding projects which introduce environmental friendly technologies in developing countries or renewable energy projects (Wikipedia, 2009b). When individuals buy carbon offsets, in essence they are doing the same as states can do through, for example, the Kyoto Protocol mechanisms.

As diplomats, it is important to understand the position of people of one's own country as well as the attitudes and values of people in other countries – whether they are partners or opponents in climate change negotiations. The attitude of the majority will – to varying degrees in different political systems – influence the spectrum of possible positions that can be taken in international negotiations. This is because a negotiation outcome will eventually have to be implemented at the national and local levels. What has been discussed and decided upon at the international level may well lead to higher costs or sacrifices of some other kind for individuals. In addition, it goes without saying that any government wishes to retain the support of potential voters.

Finally, it is important to remember that individual attitudes and priorities can change through education. Numerous campaigns initiated on all levels – global, regional, national, sub-national – by public as well as private actors aim to raise awareness about climate change and to educate individuals on climate change-conscious lifestyle choices.

 

6. Conclusion

Climate change challenges traditional thinking about international relations and the role of diplomacy. As the examples from this lecture have illustrated, climate change related activities take place at all levels: the global, regional, national, sub-national and individual. These levels and their different actors work together and influence each other – both in a bottom-up and a top-down fashion. Successful and effective action on climate change depends on activities on all these levels and on their coordination. 

 

Reference List

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Climate Change Diplomacy

Katharina Höne, Jovan Kurbalija, Aldo Matteucci, Christiaan Sys

 

Lecture 7: Strategies, policies (and some technologies)

 

When the wind changes directions, there are those who build walls and those who build windmills. (Chinese proverb)
(...and the smartest make money talking about both.)

 

If we are serious about dealing with climate change, each of us has to act: governments, international intergovernmental organisations, non-governmental organisations, the scientific community, firms, individuals – and all groups in between. The international community may coordinate the tasks; it may facilitate a consensus about what is to be done; it may create a common vision and adopt conventions and other binding documents to assign the tasks and monitor the outcome; it may provide for a forum to enforce compliance, or settle disputes. However, like the General Staff in a war, it does not fight battles. It sets objectives and estimates needed resources. Others do the nitty gritty work.

A diplomat involved in climate change will participate in this business of coordination and task-allocation. He or she will make undertakings as to what the principal (the government) will do. The diplomat, therefore, needs to know what might be done, and the likely pros and cons of each possible action. This lecture is devoted to clarifying available strategies and policies for dealing with climate change.

 

1. Strategies

The environment, and also our societies, are systems(Wikipedia, 2009). They do not react mechanically (like snooker balls on a billiard table); they react each in accordance with their own unique (non-linear) characteristics. Typically, within a certain range of stress they adjust or adapt; once a threshold is reached, the system will become vulnerableand “flip” into a different behaviour. Then we have a discontinuity. Some of these discontinuities become irreversible: even if the input is reduced, the system will no longer return to its original state. Imagine you have a ball rolling around inside a bowl. If the ball jumps over the rim of the bowl, it is difficult to get it back in. It is also very difficult to predict when a system will flip.

This is, of course, a very coarse-grained view of a system. A truly complex system is not – within itself – inherently homogeneous. Some of its elements may be more vulnerable than others. We may want to limit the stress in order to protect these weaker parts of the system, even though the system as a whole may not yet be in danger. In human societies, some groups are more vulnerable than others.

In addition, all systems are in interaction with other systems. This is especially the case with ecological systems, which are all interconnected. Nature as a whole can be described as a huge, super-complex system of the planet Earth, with inter-linked sub-systems of various domains (water, air, soil, biosphere, and including humanity as a part of it).

Vulnerability

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2001a, p. 6), the term vulnerability describes “the degree to which a system is susceptible to, or unable to cope with, adverse effects of climate change, including climate variability and extremes.” How vulnerable a system is depends – among other things – on the character and magnitude of the occurring change as well as the ability of the system to adapt to that change (IPCC, 2001a, p. 6).

Natural systems at special risk include glaciers, coral reefs and atolls, mangroves, boreal and tropical forests (IPCC, 2001a, pp. 4-5).

The degree of vulnerability of human systems, such as water resources, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, human settlements, energy and industries, insurances, depends on geographic location, time, social, economic, and environmental conditions (IPCC, 2001a. p. 5).

If one wants to protect the integrity of a system (i.e., if one wants to avoid its “flipping” – totally or in part), one may (a) limit - or mitigate - the stress; and one may (b) strengthen the resilience of the system, making it more adaptive. The current climate change policy debate aims to protect the integrity of the natural and social systems through deliberate policies. In this light it views (b) as complementary of (a). Though its approach integrates both strategies, it tends to rely more on directed and deliberate mitigation.

In the following, we will, first, discuss available strategies in broad terms before taking a closer look at policies for mitigation, which are the mainstay of current international efforts.

1.1 Adaptation

The most commonly used definition of adaptation is that provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): “Adaptation refers to adjustments in ecological, social, or economic systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli and their effects or impacts. It refers to changes in processes, practices, and structures to moderate potential damages or to benefit from opportunities associated with climate change” (IPCC, 2001b, p. 879). The important point here, worth repeating, is that adaptation entails adjustment measures that are responsive.

Various types of adaptation can be distinguished, including anticipatory and reactive adaptation, private and public adaptation, and autonomous and planned adaptation (IPCC, 2001b, p. 883). In its 2007 Assessment Report, Working Group II of the IPCC describes the current state of adaptation as follows:

·         adaptation to climate change is already taking place, but on a limited basis;

·         adaptation measures are seldom undertaken in response to climate change alone;

·         many adaptations can be implemented at low cost, but comprehensive estimates of adaptation costs and benefits are currently lacking;

·         adaptive capacity is uneven across and within societies;

·         there are substantial limits and barriers to implementing adaptation. In particular, the report concludes: “Those include both the inability of natural systems to adapt to the rate and magnitude of climate change, as well as technological, financial, cognitive and behavioural, and social and cultural constraints. There are also significant knowledge gaps for adaptation as well as impediments to flows of knowledge and information relevant to adaptation decisions” (IPCC, 2007, p. 719).

Adaptation in the 2007 IPCC Assessment Report of Working Group Two: A Critical Review

Aldo Matteucci

The following is a critical review of some of the statements in the 2007 IPCC report of Working Group Two (impacts, adaptation and vulnerability). You are invited to add your comments and discuss this view critically.

1. Adaptation to climate change is already taking place, but on a limited basis.

This statement may be misleading; it may be more correct to speak of limited deliberate adaptation. Much of adaptation is collateral to economic development, which may have positive - albeit unintended and unrecognised - adaptive effects.

Given that climate change is a recently perceived phenomenon, the observation that adaptation is limited is not surprisingper se. It does not mean that further adaptation may not happen when the challenge is recognised. Nor does the past yield valid predictions as to diffusion rates. Diffusion of adaptive measures might take place very rapidly if the need is perceived or the proper incentives are provided.

On the other hand, even if the climate change challenge is perceived, adaptation may not be needed at present. Dams for higher sea levels will be needed (if at all) say in fifty years. One of the advantages of adaptation is precisely the rapid reaction time.

In addition, we should not overly stress our “limited experience” in dealing with “novel climate change risks,” as if the past is the only source of knowledge. Under stress, rapid “trial and error” may lead to rapid development and distribution of best practices.

2. Adaptation measures are seldom undertaken in response to climate change alone.

What’s wrong with adaptation being mainly a collateral effect of other activities? What counts is that it takes place. This is a matter of structural under-reporting that needs to be addressed; this is not a failure in action, but rather one of identification. Incidental measures may be very effective. For example, better sanitation, as it accrues in the course of economic development, may solve many of the health problems now being associated with climate change threats.

3. Many adaptation measures can be implemented at low cost, but comprehensive estimates of adaptation costs and benefits are currently lacking.

Lack of survey methodology is no bar; it should rather be an incentive to develop it.

4. Adaptive capacity is uneven across and within societies.

This seems self-evident. Both across regions and social groups, such unevenness is to be expected and may be corrected. Uneven effects may be expected also from mitigation. Should mitigation turn out to be inadequate, the most vulnerable groups will suffer first. While vulnerable groups are at the mercy of the effectiveness of global mitigating strategies, adaptation allows targeting for specific vulnerabilities.

5. There are substantial limits and barriers to adaptation.

The “limits” are no stronger than many other limits. There is no attempt, in the report, to see how these limits could be overcome: they are set out as “acts of a malignant God.” In fact, as we will see later, these barriers are mainly the result of poverty. Eliminate poverty, and the barriers tend to disappear.

A careful reading of this part of the IPCC report tends to support the charge of “implicit bias” – the skilful use of arguments and terms to downgrade the importance of adaptive strategies. This might reflect the “think big” bias of any global planning exercise. This attitude is seen in other areas, like the development of water resources. “Big dams” were seen as development’s gift to the thirsty farmland and the maintenance or development of local water sources were spurned as ineffective, until bitter experience with large scale projects forced reassessment.

On the costs of adaptation, the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report of 2001 (2001b, p. 879) states: “The ecological, social and economic costs of relying on reactive, autonomous adaptation to the cumulative effects of climate change are substantial.” Many of these costs can be avoided through planned, anticipatory adaptation. Designed appropriately, many adaptation strategies could provide multiple benefits in the near and longer term. However there are limits to their implementation and effectiveness. Neither the IPCC analysis in 2001, nor that in 2007, substantiated such sweeping claims, nor is there an indication that a deliberate effort has been made to fill the knowledge gap. Rather, the statements betray an implicit bias against autonomous efforts: the fact that they may be “unpredictable” – because not centrally ordered – does not mean that they are not real.

1.2 Economic development

Economic development is often portrayed as the cause of climate change, however this is a one-sided oversimplification. True, economic development leads to massive CO2 emissions, but it is also an important contributor to current efforts at solving the problem. Here, we look in more detail at the importance of economic development for our ability to combat climate change. Of course, a change in our way of thinking about and dealing with natural resources and the environment must go hand-in-hand with continued economic development; perhaps this will be provoked by economic crisis.

Roughly speaking, economic development in itself represents about half of the effort necessary to stabilise CO2 emissions (Socolow and Pacala, 2006). Of course, this is not enough, by a long shot. But this is an indication of the inherent tendency of a growing economy to deal with the issue. And, psychologically, it may be useful to point out that “we are half-way there.” How does economic development contribute to dealing with climate change?

1. Economic development and scientific research yield new technologies. It is roughly estimated that knowledge is doubled every five years. This allows us, first of all, to better assess the evolution of climate change. In fact, it is the economic development of the last 30 years that has allowed us to grasp the phenomenon. Had we “remained stuck” technologically at any level of the past, we would not even begin to grasp the phenomenon (although the phenomenon would have continued, albeit at a slower pace). Energy conservation or alternative sourcing – a mainstay of mitigation – is mainly driven by economic development and scientific assessment of the state of the environment and the various processes influencing it, and so are other “technical fixes,” from carbon capture and transport to carbon sequestration.

2. Possibly the prime contribution of economic development is better and more environmentally inclined education. Education - and closely linked to it, development of science - is probably the major motor of adaptation, as it spreads knowledge to individual actors and leads to further awareness of the environment.

3. Economic development yields the necessary capital for investing in climate change mitigation. A growth rate of 1.5% implies that we will be 4.4 times as rich in 100 years from now; a good starting point from which to finance climate change measures.

4. Economic development strengthens the resilience of social systems and lowers the vulnerability of marginal groups. Famines or diseases are not God-given curses: essentially they are the result of poverty: the lack of economic development (Sen, 2007). Famine is not a problem if a shortfall in production can be offset by the purchase of imports. All that is needed is sufficient income to do so. And for most climate change-related diseases (e.g., water-borne diseases) cures or eradication measures are readily at hand, provided a minimum level of income is available. In other areas cures or remedies are just a matter of prioritising.

In all predictive models of the effects of climate change on society, the role of economic development is conceptually “frozen” at current levels. This is inherent in all projections, for we cannot predict deviations from the current trend of economic and social change. Yet, simply the fact that we can’t imagine its impact does not mean that change will not occur – possibly even in some unexpected way (for example, a break-through in scientific research and technological development).

The inherent bias against the role of economic development spills over into our attitudes towards adaptation. Because adaptation is mainly part of economic development, its importance tends to be undervalued.

 

1.3 Mitigation

Mitigation describes human activities to limit the emission of greenhouse gases or to increase their removal by creating sinks or conserving reservoirs (Depledge and Yamin, 2004, p. 76; an official definition of the terms “sink” and “reservoir” can be found under Article 1 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change).

In the United States, 87% of greenhouse gas emissions are related to energy consumption (U.S. Department of Energy, 2008, p. 1). Exact figures vary somewhat from country to country, but energy consumption produces the majority of greenhouse gas emission all over the developed world. The main areas responsible for the emissions are:

·         transportation: cars, trucks, airplanes, trains and ships (the largest users of energy);

·         electric power generation for residential, commercial activities, and industry;

·         industrial processes (mainly, but not exclusively, the manufacturing sector).

Many mitigation strategies, therefore, focus on energy policy. Components of energy policy aimed at mitigation target:

·         moving from CO2-intensive fossil fuels (coal and oil) to less polluting ones (gas);

·         enhanced use of alternative and renewable energies (hydro, solar, wind, hydro-thermal) as well as nuclear power;

·         improved conservation and end-user efficiency of energy use (energy conservation in buildings, processes, and transport).

Another novel approach is a measure called Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS – including carbon sequestration) which is based on the idea of preventing greenhouse gases from getting into the air. This is not yet a fully tried technology.

Mitigation strategies will need to harness agriculture and forestry practices, either by providing carbon sinks (forests), renewable fuel, or conservation measures.

None of these strategies and approaches alone can make a major contribution in the short term. However, if all are pursued together, a real short-term impact becomes possible. Planned efforts need to supplement adaptation and the effects of economic development.

More generally, we will also need to change human behaviour, as well as strengthen creativity and innovation. How this may be achieved is the subject of the second part of this lecture.

 

2. Changing Human Behaviour

Dealing with climate change is everybody’s business. But how do we get everybody involved and persuade everybody to change their behaviour in order to achieve the overarching goal of managing climate change? Essentially we have the following options:

·         non-economic instruments: more or less subtly, people are told what to do;

·         economic instruments: by using the price mechanism, economic incentives are introduced in order to change people’s behaviour;

·         increasingly, a savvy mix of the two approaches is tried – with remarkable results.

Discussion is ongoing over the relative merits of non-economic and economic instruments to change behaviour. However, neither approach is intrinsically superior. It is akin to a discussion of the relative chances of a lame and a blind person to reach a distant place: they need to go together or fail separately.

2.1 Non-economic instruments

We have a host of non-economic instruments at our disposal. They are listed here in descending order of invasiveness (the degree by which they force change in human behaviour). While studying this list, it is important to keep in mind that in practice most systems use a mix of instruments.

Regulations: The most binding legal instruments are internationally or nationally mandated regulations: prescriptions and prohibitions. Verification, as well as sanctions for non-compliance are inherent in a regulation. All such matters are, in the end, justiciable. Whether only the state, or also other third parties, can sue to secure compliance, or for damages, needs to be specified. Obtaining an agreement on regulations, and even more importantly, securing their legitimacy so as to achieve broad compliance is most difficult and can be quite time-consuming. The more actors involved, the less likely is an agreement that has teeth.

Such regulations may concern outcomes, for example, a ceiling on greenhouse gas emissions, leaving the individual free to choose the most convenient way to fulfil the objective. Regulations may prescribe specific actions. An example is mandatory efficiency levels for a fleet of cars.

Standards: The next, less binding level is that of standards. Standards can be binding or voluntary. Binding standards are de facto legal norms and as such have implementation mechanisms. Voluntary standards deserve special attention because although formally non-binding, they are often efficiently applied in practice. Voluntary standards reflect a broad agreement of interested parties. Compliance is secured through conformity certification by professional bodies and is reputation-driven. Loss of certification is seen as a major blow to a firm’s image. The International Standards Organisation (ISO) has developed practical tools for addressing climate change at four levels (ISO, no date):

·         monitoring climate change;

·         quantifying greenhouse gas emissions and communicating on environmental impacts;

·         promoting good practice in environmental management and design;

·         opening world markets for energy efficient technologies.

“Nudging”: Any choice depends on the context in which it is made. By manipulating the context we can influence the choice, while leaving the actor basically free to exercise his will. This is called “nudging” (Thaler and Sunstein, 2008). What is practiced here is “libertarian paternalism” – the “path of least resistance” is set in such a way as to yield what is deemed to be in the individual’s best interest. The scope of such measures is very ample – a clever choice of non-economic instruments may lead to significant advances in desirable behaviour. Thaler and Sunstein suggest that it is better to leave people to voluntarily make the “right” decision instead of forcing them by sanctioning “bad” behaviour, when one wants to enforce positive change.

Before looking at economic instruments it is also useful to remind ourselves that the term “non-economic” is somewhat of a misnomer. Whether we like it or not, any change implies benefits and costs, so all these instruments yield them. Much of the policy discussion is about estimating their impact.

2.2 Economic instruments

As a general rule of thumb, economic instruments are less constrictive. They are more respectful of individual freedom than non-economic measures, but also less predictable.

We assume actors to be rational and selfish calculators that respond predictably to economic stimuli. Change prices, and the consumers will follow. As the economic system is comprehensive and pervasive, it responds rapidly as all actors can be influenced at once.

While the perception of humans as calculating machines is overblown, economic instruments have a distinct advantage over non-economic ones: by formulating everything in terms of money one is put in the position of quantitatively measuring trade-offs (albeit imperfectly). The disadvantage is the opposite face of the same coin: precisely because the actor is confronted with trade-offs, she/he may surprise the planner and act differently than expected or desired.

Taxes and subsidies: Taxes and subsidies can be used to manipulate prices. If the price of gasoline is deemed to be too low, a tax on its use will reduce demand. If renewable energies are too expensive, a subsidy can make their use more palatable to the consumer.

Note that there is an inevitable redistributive effect in a tax. A tax on gasoline will take relatively more money out of a poor person’s pocket than a rich one. Taxes are seldom fair. The redistributive effect becomes even more intractable if a coordinated effort on a world scale should be mounted. A tax that will move a US consumer significantly will no doubt make an Indian consumer destitute. As easy as it sounds to speak of introducing “carbon taxes,” the reality is hugely complex.

Markets: Prices exist when there are markets: places where property rights are exchanged in terms of money. However, this concept also entails problems.

·         First, there is no price without a market. If water is available to anyone, there is no market for water. Water is free. This is fine, as long as there is enough water to go around. When water becomes scarce and has to be allocated between users, no market exists. A market had to be established first. This means establishing property rights – or exclusion rights.

·         Second, even if a market exists, if the bundle of property rights that defines a good does not include important costs and benefits it is inadequate and distortions occur. Assume there is a market for fresh water (so the water is allocated efficiently at the well). If the bundle of property rights that defines ownership of water does not include the obligation to discharge water into the river only after it has been cleaned, the next user is stuck with my dirty water. So property rights have to be defined well and inclusively.

Creating markets or tinkering with the bundle of existing property rights of an existing market creates massive equity problems. The law is made to protect rights – even “no right” is a right. Dispossession of old rights creates inequities as well as inequalities. Creation of new rights creates windfall gains. This issue is a complex one that does not yield easy solutions.

2.3 Mixed instruments

Establishing a market is not just a matter of establishing property rights. They must have economic value and they must be tradable for a price. This leads to mixed instruments, like cap and trade.

The trade part: traditionally, CO2 has been emitted into the atmosphere in an unregulated fashion. As a first step, one may wish to create a market for such emissions. Property rights are established in form of “emission rights.” If a firm wants to emit CO2 into the atmosphere, it needs to own such rights. Then the have-nots will buy, the haves will sell, and efficiency is obtained all around.

The cap part: Emission rights will need to be limited so as to create a scarcity that yields a price. The state (or the international community) establishes the number of rights by administrative decision - it caps their number and then tightens it - and the emission rights obtain a value. If done cleverly, such a mix of setting the size of the markets administratively and then letting the market work out the details through pricing, can be very successful.

Cap and trade can be practiced within a country, but also internationally. Since climate change is a global problem it does not really matter whether abatement occurs at the place where the pollution is made or elsewhere. However, verifying the authenticity of the offset is far from easy: critical voices are increasing, claiming that the offset is a sham. For historical reasons, pollution is created mainly in the developed countries, while the cheapest abatement possibilities lie in developing countries. The potential for trade is there. If the scheme is to have a significant effect the transfers must involve significant sums – significantly more than current overseas development assistance.

We may think that we have a good handful of powerful instruments at our disposal to help us steer the world on a safer course. Don’t be hoodwinked: reality – and humanity – is more complicated than we think. What seems easy from a distance turns out to be downright impossible from closer up. As they say – the devil lies in the detail. By far the largest issue is that of equity. Some will gain, some will lose. If we try to be fair all around – which is a precondition for legitimacy – we may end up debating matters for a long time.

 

3. Some Instruments Explained

The preceding sections may have seemed a bit theoretical and vague. In this section, we explain some examples of policy instruments, highlighting some of the practical, albeit unexpected, difficulties that arise when introducing them in a global setting.

3.1 Fuel efficiency standards for vehicles

It should be relatively easy for industry to double the fuel economy of vehicles, for example from 13 km/litre to 25 km/litre. As only “fleet-wide” performance is mandated, the fuel efficiency of models within a fleet may vary, provided the overall balance is obtained at the end of the season.

The automotive fleet is expected to reach 2 billion by around 2050 (Socolow and Pacala, 2006, p.54) and the current average use per year is about 15 000 km. Using a simple model, and discounting the possibility of vast technology advances for the moment, it is clear that any positive impact on climate change critically depends on limiting the size of the fleet and the miles driven by each vehicle. This implies the congruent development of not just alternative, but equivalent modes of transport and/or significant changes in life-style (say from sub-urban to urban living).

From the point of view of industrial policy, the existence of fuel efficiency standards creates barriers to new entry. It may also discriminate against firms with a smaller range of models (pity the Ferrari). From the consumers’ point of view, such standards will drive up the price of purchase; together with an expected increase in fuel costs, this translates into higher costs of mobility, despite gains in efficiency. The adjustment burden will fall mainly on the disadvantaged.

3.2 Solar energy

Sun (and wind) are free, clean and renewable. So says the hype. However, the reality of these renewable technologies looks more sobering. To make an impact at the level of a national energy policy, solar power in the United States would have to be increased 700-fold (and wind power 80-fold) by 2056 (Socolow and Pacala, 2006, p.54). Technologies are improving, and we might expect subsidies to help these alternate sources of energy collection become competitive more quickly, with regard to other – properly priced – energy sources. But is this the whole story?

Vaclav Smil (2003) draws attention to the power density of fuel and energy conversion – something that does not receive much attention in the current debate. The power density of petroleum is very high: all its energy is gathered, in the United States, from 30 000 km2. Once extracted, it is burned in power plants for electricity. This highly concentrated power is diffused downward into buildings and homes. The whole transmission and distribution grid is built in this de-multiplying fashion. Commercial activities typically use power densities of 1000 – 10 000 W/m2. Existing techniques convert solar power into electricity at densities of 20 – 60 W/m2. Improvements are not to be expected – this is what the sun gives us. In other words, highly diffused solar power has to be concentrated up for urban use. A newly established solar society inheriting the existing (i.e., power intensive) residential and industrial infrastructures would have to do the very opposite of what is happening now: it would require grids that concentrate diffuse energy as it flows up to the buildings.

This point is not a problem so long as renewable energy sources have only local relevance. Should they have national importance, a redesign of the power grid would become necessary. A similar problem, according to Smil (2003), exists with wind power in the US. The current US grid is built along North-South power-lines. Wind power transmission would have to be East-West.

3.3 Nuclear power

The debate over nuclear power is shrouded in emotionalism. We cannot ignore many important issues such as secure waste disposal, safety, energy cost sunk into the plant or the production of operable uranium, and non-proliferation. However, the controversial nature of many of these factors makes it difficult to usefully assess this energy option.

The International Energy Agency (IAEA) estimates that global electricity generation will double between 2005 and 2030. The part that nuclear energy will play in electricity generation globally is predicted to be between 12.6 and 15.9% (IAEA, 2009, p. 21). If we accept this scenario, it becomes apparent that new power plants will have to be build – also keeping in mind that many of the current plants are near retirement. Moreover, if the aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by using “cleaner” nuclear energy, even more plants will need to be built.

This however is a sensitive issue. The future of nuclear energy will depend on a number of factors (IAEA, 2007, p. 68):

·         intergovernmental efforts to reduce greenhouse gases;

·         national efforts to become independent from imported energy;

·         public perception and support;

·         advancement in technology;

·         continued safety and un-interrupted performance of existing plants.

On a global level, a decision with regard to nuclear energy is yet to be made: nuclear energy is not eligible under the Clean Development Mechanism or the Joint Implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. This means that supporting these technologies in developing countries does not result in greater emission allowances for the financing developed countries. We also need to keep in mind that nuclear energy is a long-term and high-capital investment; the mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol do not provide for the needed long-term investment security (Weisser et al., 2008, p. 470).

 

4. Conclusions

Many socio-economic and legal mechanisms to tackle the issue of climate change are available, and more can be designed, if needed. However, the climate change problem is basically a cultural one, engrained in people’s habits, which are difficult to change.

As we have seen in this lecture, climate change and energy policies are very closely linked. Energy is what makes the world go round. Thus, tackling climate change involves tinkering with, or realigning, the very essence of the way we live. This is what former US President George Bush meant when he declared at the 1992 Earth Summit that the “American way of life” is not up for negotiation. One thing is sure: assessing the best way forward is not going to be easy, given the complexity of the matter, and the many causal and spatial interrelations.

 

Reference List

Depledge, J. and Yamin, F. (2004). The international climate change regime: A guide to rules, institutions and procedures. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC]. (2007). Climate change 2007: Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC [online]. Available from:
http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-wg2.htm [Accessed 20 June 2010].

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC]. (2001a). Summary for policymakers. Climate change 2001: Impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Third Assessment Report, Working Group II [online]. Available from:
http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/climate-changes-2001/impact-adaptation-vulnerability/impact-spm-en.pdf [Accessed 20 June 2010].

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC]. (2001b). Climate change 2001: Impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Third Assessment Report. Working Group II [online]. Available from:
http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg2/index.htm [Accessed 20 June 2010].

International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA]. (2007). Energy, electricity and nuclear power: Developments and projections [online]. Available from:
http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/Pub1304_web.pdf [Accessed 20 June 2010].

International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA]. (2009). Energy, electricity and nuclear power estimates for the period up to 2030 [online]. Available from:
http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/RDS1-29_web.pdf [Accessed 20 June 2010].

International Organization for Standardization [ISO]. (no date). Climate change [online]. Available from:
http://www.iso.org/iso/hot_topics/hot_topics_climate_change.htm [Accessed 20 June 2010].

Sen, A. K. (1981). Poverty and famines: An essay on entitlement and deprivation. New York: Oxford University Press.

Smil, V. (2003). Energy at the crossroads: Global perspectives and uncertainties. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Socolow, R. H. and Pacala, S. W. (2006). A plan to keep carbon in check. Scientific American, September 2006, pp. 50-57.

Thaler, R. and Sunstein, C. R. (2008). Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness. New Haven: Yale University Press.

U.S. Department of Energy. (2008). Emission of greenhouse gases in the United States 2007 [online]. Available from:
http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/1605/ggrpt/pdf/0573(2007).pdf [Accessed 20 June 2010].

Weisser, D., et al. (2008). Nuclear power and post-2012 energy and climate change policies. Environmental Science and Policy, 11(6), pp. 467-477.

Climate Change Diplomacy

Katharina Höne, Jovan Kurbalija, Christiaan Sys

 

Lecture 8: The Road Ahead...

 

We have now covered various aspects of the climate change debate in some depth. Among other things we have looked at cognitive tools, at the roles of state and non-state actors, at legal, economic and policy instruments, and at the interplay of forces at national, regional and global levels. Next, and perhaps most importantly, we need to look at the future of the debate: what will happen from 2012 onwards, when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires? Will states decide to replace the Kyoto Protocol with a new treaty and new institutional arrangements, or will they continue building on the Kyoto system as we have it today? After the Copenhagen negotiations in 2009 and the failure to agree on a post-Kyoto structure, we need to re-evaluate possibilities for and expectations from a global agreement.

 

1. Timeline to Cancún, Mexico (COP 16)

The 13th Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP-13), held in conjunction with the 3rd Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (MOP-3), took place in Bali (Indonesia) from 3 – 15 December 2007. The conference brought together representatives from more than 180 countries along with observers from NGOs, intergovernmental organisations and the media. Its conclusion was the Bali Road Map. The Road Map contains “a number of decisions relating to the various tracks that are essential to reaching a secure climate future” (Witoelar, 2007), among them the launch of a comprehensive process (the Bali Action Plan) “to enable the full, effective and sustained implementation of the Convention through long-term cooperative action” with the aim of reaching an agreement during COP-15, to be held in Copenhagen, 30 November – 11 December 2009 (UNFCCC, 2009a). This negotiation process taking forward the Bali Road Map, undertaken by the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA), was meant to lead to the adoption of an ambitious post-2012 framework to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

A deadline was agreed at Bali for the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP), established in December 2005, to complete its work by the end of 2009. The Bali Road Map also reiterated some decisions taken at the UN Climate Change Conference: the launch of the Adaptation Fund; the definition of the scope and content of the review of Article 9 of the Kyoto Protocol; the reduction of emissions from deforestation; and the transfer of technology (UNFCCC, 2009b).

The Bali Conference was not well received in the media: the impact of 10 000 participants flying to the meeting was heavily criticised; the Sydney Morning Herald added that the air-conditioning system produced the equivalent of 48 000 tonnes of CO2 (Cubby, 2007).

As for the Bali deal itself: to some it was worse than Kyoto. The US had proposed national domestic objectives as a replacement for international commitments on mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, but without targets or dates. The European Environment Commissioner, Stavros Lamas, responded that the Bali deal would be “a roadmap without a destination” (Lamas quoted in Gupta, 2007). It was only after a last-minute US reversal that a deal was reached at all. According to a Guardian columnist, the deal had been the victim of the “two great corrupting forces” of US corporate media and campaign finance (Monbiot, 2007).

In December 2008, the 14th Conference of the Parties met in Poznan (Poland) to hammer out an ambitious and effective regime to combat climate change before the 15th Conference in Copenhagen. It was agreed that an initial draft text to form the basis of the negotiations would be ready for the UNFCCC meeting in Bonn in June 2009. Progress was also made in several other areas of particular importance for developing countries, such as disaster management and the reduction of emissions from deforestation. With regard to technology, the Global Environmental Facility’s “Poznan Strategic Programme on Technology Transfer” was endorsed. This programme strives to increase investment in the mitigation and adaptation technologies required by developing countries. Furthermore, the finishing touches were applied to the Kyoto Protocol’s adaptation fund so that it may start operating in the course of 2009. The adaptation fund will be paid for through proceeds from the Kyoto Protocol’s clean development mechanism as well as through voluntary contributions. No consensus was reached on increasing funding for adaptation through a levy on the other Kyoto instruments, joint implementation and emissions trading. But one of the key achievements was a ministerial round table on a shared vision for long-term cooperative action on climate change. The then UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Yvo de Boer, said

we now have a much clearer sense of where we need to go in designing an outcome which will spell out the commitments of developed countries, the financial support required and the institutions that will deliver that support. (UNFCCC, 2009c)

With regard to industrialised countries’ commitments beyond 2012, the Parties decided that these would primarily be in the form of quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives (i.e., similar to the emission targets the industrialised world took on for the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (UNFCCC, 2009c)).

The December 2009 Copenhagen conference was meant to bring all the above threads together and result in a global agreement on a post-Kyoto structure. The outcome, in the form of the Copenhagen Accord, was disappointing. The document, which was drafted by the US, together with the BASIC bloc of countries (China, India, Brazil, and South Africa), was put on the table on the last day of the conference. Delegates did not vote on the draft; instead, the plenary session of COP16 simply took note of the document. The Accord is non-binding and relies on emission reduction targets that each country sets for itself (paragraph four). Paragraph two states the general aim of keeping global temperature rise below two degrees Celcius.

In terms of financial assistance for climate change, two pledges were made. Developed countries commited themselves to raise USD 30 billion between 2010 and 2012 for new or additional adaptation and mitigation measures in developing countries. Developed countries further pledged to mobilise jointly USD 100 billion from various sources until 2020 “to address the needs of developing countries” (paragraph eight).

Before we look into the possibilities for the 16th Conference of the Parties in Cancún, Mexico, let us take a closer look at the current global binding agreement, the Kyoto Protocol and the related criticism and proposals.

 

2. Criticism of the Kyoto Protocol

There is no doubt that the Kyoto Protocol and the system it established deserve criticism from economic, political, scientific and legal points of view. According to McKibbin and Wilcoxen (2002, p. 51) the Kyoto Protocol is “an agreement that looks strong on the surface but has no viable mechanism for enforcement and does little or nothing to control emissions.” They claim the fundamental principle behind the Kyoto Protocol – the setting of targets and timetables – is economically flawed and politically unrealistic. The Protocol requires developed countries to agree to cut their emissions to a given level by a specified date, regardless of the costs. In addition, there is a major theoretical flaw: scientific uncertainty has not been incorporated in the economic design of the Protocol.

McKibbin and Wilcoxen (2000, pp. 52-59) list some of Kyoto’s deficiencies:

·         Costs, benefits, and uncertainty. Because of inherent scientific uncertainty, it is impossible to predict whether the benefits of action as outlined in the Protocol will be greater than the costs. Supporters of the Kyoto Protocol assert that the benefits must outweigh the catastrophic damage that could follow from climate change. Opponents argue that the costs involved in implementing Kyoto policy are massive, and the benefits uncertain. Both are partly right. Studies have indicated, however, that the Kyoto Protocol would at best only reduce the rate of warming slightly, not avert it altogether. Nordhaus and Boyer (1999) calculated that the cost of implementing the Protocol would be US$716 billion, with the United States bearing two thirds of it. Current estimates (Lomborg, 2008) put the figure at £100 billion (US$137 billion at current exchange rates) annually for the remainder of the century – for a negligible result. Nordhaus has estimated the total cost of the effects of climate change at US$15 trillion (15 000 billion), or 0.5% of the projected wealth generated during the 21st century.

·          

·         International wealth transfer. The trade in emission permits means large amounts of money flowing between nations. Actual sums will depend on the price of a permit and estimates for these differ substantially, ranging from US$10 to US$200 per ton of carbon. Keeping the price per ton of carbon low, for example at US$10, would serve as an incentive for countries to participate. Depending on the price, these transfers could amount to several tens of billions of dollars. If money ends up in the hands of corrupt regimes, without preconditions, the political viability of the scheme will be in question.

·          

·         Enforcement. An effective treaty requires a strong international mechanism for monitoring and enforcement. The development of such a mechanism has been a serious impediment during the COP negotiations. Monitoring and enforcement are of particular importance for the international permit trading system, as violations will not only undermine the goals of the treaty, but also the value of emissions permits, thereby distorting the international permit market. We will return to this later when discussing Kyoto follow-up proposals.

·          

·         Developing country participation. The UNFCCC and Kyoto do not mention how developing country participation will be achieved. Kyoto provides no incentives for developing country participation other than international emissions trading, and this may not be the best long-term strategy. Najam (2007), a convening lead author for the IPCC, said “the Kyoto formula of asking countries to reduce their emissions by a percentage of current emissions will simply not work for developing countries.” Instead he proposes a per capita allocation of emission rights.

While Kyoto has been heavily criticised, we should not forget its positive features. First, as Aldy and Stavins (2007, p. 10) point out, Kyoto is to some degree cost-effective because it is based on market-oriented rules and institutions. The cost-effectiveness is limited mainly because of a lack of long-term targets and developing country participation. The fact that Kyoto is more focused on developed countries sits well with the notion of distributional equity, because industrialised countries have a bigger historical responsibility for causing climate change and are better able to pay the cost of tackling it. Second, Kyoto has managed to keep political attention focused on the issue of climate change, and this is no small achievement.

Before looking at some of the proposals put forward by the academic community, let us consider what might be the main components of a future framework.

 

3. What Should the Future Framework Look Like?

Frankel (2007, pp. 32-41) lists the following essential requirements for any future agreement: more comprehensive participation, efficiency, dynamic consistency, equity, and compliance. Let’s look at these one by one:

·         More comprehensive participation. Developing countries – China and India in particular – says Frankel (2007), will be the biggest sources of emissions in the future. Without their participation, let alone the US, there remains the possibility of emissions leakage, where carbon-intensive industry is moved from countries with commitments to countries without commitments. In addition, the opportunity for industrialised countries to purchase emission abatement from developing countries at low cost is essential to keeping the overall cost down. Victor (2007, p. 132) disputes this, claiming that past research has shown the fears of emissions leakage are largely overstated. Furthermore, he says, a new framework should allow for a “variable geometry of participation” (p. 150). In his opinion, a framework without universal participation, where negotiation focuses on those countries whose cooperation matters most, is to be preferred: the top 25 emitters (with the EU represented as a single bloc of 25) account for 91% of global emissions and negotiations are generally easier to conduct and conclude with fewer parties involved. An example is the proposal by the Canadian prime minister to establish the Leaders-20 group to address a range of transnational issues, including climate change.

·          

·         Efficiency. Efficiency is most closely linked with cost-effectiveness given the long-term uncertainty of economic, scientific and technological developments. This is not currently incorporated in the short-term targets of Kyoto. Draconian cuts in emissions are not a viable option due to prohibitive costs.

·          

·         Dynamic consistency. While targets are required over the longer term, the finite political agenda where governments may withdraw from agreements concluded by a previous administration, make this difficult. Dynamic consistency is needed, but it is also important that the agreement may adapt to future developments, for example increased scientific certainty.

·          

·         Equity. The proposal by Najam (2007) for a per capita emissions allocation has been advanced by India, but according to Frankel (2007) this is not realistic in the short term. This does not, however, detract from the equity issue in general and the need for all countries to share the burden in an equitable fashion.

·          

·         Compliance. Ensuring compliance will be vital for any new agreement. The chances of compliance are likely to improve when the economic cost can be kept to a minimum.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it is indicative of some of the key issues that have to be dealt with in order to come to a satisfactory post-Kyoto settlement. A multi-disciplinary effort has been undertaken (Harvard Project on International Climate Agreements), resulting in proposals that aim to be “scientifically sound, economically rational and politically pragmatic” (Aldy and Stavins, 2008, p. xi).

4. Alternative Proposals for a Post-Kyoto Architecture

While not endorsing a single approach, we might consider the four promising proposals from the Harvard Project below, each with its own advantages and disadvantages (all described by Aldy and Stavins (2008)):

·         “Targets and Timetables:” Building on the foundations of Kyoto, this approach involves a framework of formulas for evolving emission targets for the next century for all countries, to operate in conjunction with a cap-and-trade system. Because most science- and economics-based proposals are not dynamically consistent, this approach has tried to focus on what is politically possible. To allow for more flexibility, the emission targets will be set on a decade-by-decade basis. To make the proposal more equitable and in line with the developing world’s position that the industrialised countries should take the first step, developing countries will not be expected to bear any cost in the initial period. Furthermore, developing countries would not be required to make more sacrifices than industrial countries; differences in income will be taken into account. The formulas to determine future emission targets would be based on three elements: a progressivity factor which requires the industrialised world to make more severe cuts; a latecomer catch-up factor which should ensure that those countries joining later will not benefit by being awarded higher emission allowances; and a gradual equalisation factor which will move all countries towards an allocation of per capita emission targets.

Simulations have shown the total economic cost of this model to be below 1% of gross world product. Countries will also feel that they are only doing their fair share. However, one of the key issues with any targets-and-timetables approach is compliancy – a point not yet adequately covered by this proposal.

·         Linked agreements: This approach proposes a system of linked international agreements over one unified regime to deal separately with the diverse sectors and gases involved. Other components of this architecture could deal with key issues such as adaptation, technological research and development, and geo-engineering and air capture. These separate agreements would entail global standards from which developing countries would not be exempt. Instead they would be offered financial aid to fulfil their part of the deal. Wider country participation may result from this approach as specific incentives can be targeted at each individual agreement. Furthermore, agreements can also be forged to promote the development and transfer of new technologies. One of the major strengths of this approach would be its flexibility, based on several smaller agreements rather than one big one. Should one of the smaller agreements fail, the whole architecture does not necessarily collapse with it. Disadvantages include the significantly higher cost involved in multiple negotiations. Individual negotiations might be complicated if countries raise issues, such as competitiveness, that are not directly linked to carbon restrictions.

·          

·         National carbon taxes: A third framework involves a system of national carbon taxes (based on the carbon content of fossil fuels). The tax would be set by international agreement and revised periodically. Countries would be responsible for collecting the revenues and spending them as they see fit, either to lower other taxes (for example existing petrol taxes, which in some countries are significantly higher than in others) or to fund climate change research and development. Any carbon tax regime would, however, be dependent on a system of monitoring and enforcement. One suggested way of dealing with non-compliant or non-signatory countries could be the imposition of trade tariffs on their exports. The advantage of carbon tax over a cap-and-trade system is that governments will not need to allocate emission permits (which might encourage corruption). Also, it would not require international wealth transfers as the revenues can be kept and spent by the country that generates them. Disadvantages, however, include the need for political will – all too often absent. Another question is how a tax regime will be affected by changes in the economy. Furthermore, can a carbon tax co-exist with a cap-and-trade system? The answer seems to be yes, hybrid systems can work, but the European Union has already gone down the route of a cap-and-trade system, so the question is an important one.

·          

·         Emissions trading: Permit trading systems are already in place. Examples include the EU’s Emission Trading Scheme and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in the northeast of the US. Further systems are likely to appear in Australia, Canada and Japan. Pressure is likely to increase for these separate trading systems to be linked, either directly or indirectly, whereby the permits or allowances of one system are recognised by another. The biggest advantage of this linkage would be cost-savings from an increased pool of available permits, but one of the practical drawbacks would be the problem of harmonisation.

 

5. Lessons from Copenhagen

Many participants had high expectations for the outcome of the Copenhagen conference. The failure to achieve these expectations triggered a change in perspective and expectations for the next Conference of the Parties in Cancún, Mexico. Generally, a global binding agreement seems less and less likely or realistic. Commentators tend to emphasise the need to move forward in those areas were progress seems possible and with those states that are willing to do so.

A recent policy paper of the German Advisory Council in Global Change illustrates this trend. It proposes a three-level approach (GACCC, 2010):

1) strengthening Europe’s credibility as a global leader through the fulfilment of its Kyoto commitments;

2) building sub-global alliances of climate pioneers (countries willing to pursue ambitious emission reduction goals and development strategies);

3) revitalising multilateral climate policy by moving ahead in those areas where progress is possible.

However, the Copenhagen Accord might also present a way forward in the absence of a binding agreement. More than 90 countries, representing more than 80% of global emissions reported their voluntary emission reduction targets as envisaged by the Accord. The commitments made are not sufficient to meet the target of keeping global warming below two degrees Celcius, as stated in the Accord. However, one could argue that the transparency regarding targets and reductions that the Accord includes can help “exposing countries' efforts to public scrutiny and motivating them to follow through” (Roberts 2010).

 

6. Conclusion

Establishing a post-Kyoto agreement will not be easy. We have to evaluate critically where the possibilities for moving beyond the Kyoto Protocol and the Copenhagen Accord lie. What actions are to be taken on what level? Do we need a global agreement? Do we need a binding global agreement? As the above proposals demonstrate, there is no simple answer. While Kyoto may have had its detractors, a magic bullet looks unlikely in the short term. It is therefore up to the policy-makers to negotiate an agreement that is not only politically viable but also efficient in combating climate change. Whichever side of the fence you are on, everyone agrees that Kyoto must have a successor, in one form or the other.

 

Reference List

Aldy, J. E and Stavins, R. N. (eds). (2007). Architectures for agreement: Addressing global climate change in the post-Kyoto world. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Aldy, J. E. and Stavins, R. N. (2008). Designing the post-Kyoto climate regime: Lessons from the Harvard Project on International Climate Agreements [online]. Available from:
http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/files/Interim%20Report%20081203%20Akiko%20v6.pdf [accessed 1 July 2010].

Cubby, B. (2007). Answer to hot air was in fact a chilling blunder. The Sydney Morning Herald [online]. Available from:
http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2007/12/17/1197740183601.html [accessed 1 July 2010].

Frankel, J. (2007). Formulas for quantitative emission targets. In: J. E. Aldy and R. N. Stavins (eds.). Architectures for agreement: Addressing global climate change in the post-Kyoto world. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 31-56.

German Advisory Council on Global Change [GACCC]. (2010). Climate policy post-Copenhagen: A three-level strategy for success [online]. Available from:
http://www.wbgu.de/wbgu_pp2010_en.pdf [accessed 1 July 2010].

Gupta, J. (2007). US throws climate change summit out of gear at last moment. India eNews [online], Friday December 14 2007. Available from:
http://www.indiaenews.com/asia/20071214/86124.htm [accessed 1 July 2010].

Lomborg, B. (2008). Global warming: why cut one 3,000th of a degree? The Times [online], September 30 2008. Available from:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article4849167.ece [accessed 1 July 2010].

McKibbin, W. J. and Wilcoxen, P. J. (2002). Climate change policy after Kyoto: Blueprint for a realistic approach. Washington: Brookings Institution Press.

Monbiot, G. (2007). We’ve been suckered again by the US. So far the Bali deal is worse than Kyoto. The Guardian [online], Monday December 17 2007. Available from:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2007/dec/17/comment.world [accessed 1 July 2010].

Najam, A. (2007). Imagining a post-Kyoto climate regime [online]. Available from:
http://fletcher.tufts.edu/news/2005/04/najam.shtml [accessed 1 July 2010].

Nordhaus, W. D. and Boyer, J. G. (1999). Requiem for Kyoto: An economic analysis of the Kyoto protocol [online]. Available from:
http://www.econ.yale.edu/~nordhaus/homepage/Kyoto.pdf [accessed 1 July 2010].

Roberts, D. (2010). Post-Copenhagen scorecard. Foreign Policy [online], 4 February 2010. Available from:
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/02/04/post_copenhagen_scorecard?page=full [accessed 1 July 2010].

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC]. (2009a). Ad hoc working group on long-term cooperative action under the convention (AWG-LCA) [online]. Available from:
http://unfccc.int/meetings/items/4381.php [accessed 1 July 2010].

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC]. (2009b). The United Nations climate change conference in Bali [online]. Available from:
http://unfccc.int/meetings/cop_13/items/4049.php [accessed 1 July 2010].

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC]. (2009c). Press release: United Nations climate change conference – Poznan, Poland lays foundation for Copenhagen deal [online]. Available from:
http://unfccc.int/files/press/news_room/press_releases_and_advisories/application/pdf/081213_pressrel_cop14.pdf [accessed 1 July 2010].

Victor, D.G. (2007). Fragmented carbon markets and reluctant nations. In: J. E. Aldy and R. N. Stavins (eds). Architectures for agreement: Addressing global climate change in the post-Kyoto world. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 133-160.

Witoelar, R. (2007). The Bali roadmap. Address to closing plenary by his Excellency Mr. Rachmat Witoelar, President, UN Climate Change Conference [online]. Available from:
http://unfccc.int/files/meetings/cop_13/application/pdf/close_stat_cop13_president.pdf [accessed 1 July 2010].

 

Top of Form

 

Ghana launched Sustainable Land, Water Management Project

 

By; Francis Npong, Tamale

The Ministry of Science and Technology (MEST) has launched 8.15 million US dollars new environmental project in Tamale aimed to reduce land degradation and improve biodiversity conservation in northern Ghana.

 

The project dubbed Ghana sustainable Land and Water Management Project (SLWM) is part of efforts by the Ministry of Environment Science and Technology (MEST) and for that matter the Ghana government to demonstrate improved sustainable land and water management practices to reduce land degradation enhance maintenance of biodiversity in micro-watersheds and strengthen spatial planning for identification of linked watershed investments.

 

With the funding support from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and World Bank (WB), the new environmental project which seeks to introduce new agricultural technology for adoption to improve land and water management to reverse desertification, land degradation and water pollutions would benefit the Upper West, East and Northern regions.

 

The project, according to the Executive Director of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Mr. Daniel Amlalo represents a comprehensive approach to sustainable land and watershed management and would combine what he termed “soft and hard” investments at the community level to manage and maintain ecological infrastructure with planning activities to be integrated into water and flood management in northern Ghana and agro-agricultural zones.

 

Mr. Amlalo who was speaking during the official launch of the project explained that the sustainable land and water management project is a five year Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and World Bank assistance under both Land Degradation Focal Area (LDFA) which is contributing $ 7.15, million, and Biodiversity Focal Area (BFA) $1 million while the Ghana government would contribute in kind an estimated amount of $7.8 million as part of her efforts to help deal with land degradation, loss of biodiversity and protection and maintenance of watersheds under the new project.

 

Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Enquuirer, the Technical Director at the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MEST) Dr. Nicholas Iddi explained that the new project is not would only maintain watersheds and fights desertification and land degradation but also would work toward economic transformation to facilitate development and reduce extreme poverty in northern Ghana.

 

He said that the project is also taking onboard the ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Forestry commission (FC), Wildlife Division, and District Assemblies as partners or implementing agencies to achieve the desire result.

 

The challenges of desertification, land degradation and drought while real, are solvable but would need not just multi-million dollars projects but the commitment of implementing agencies to implement the project fully.

 

 

The launch of this so-called comprehensive project will definitely not open up northern Ghana or help transform the area if strategies used to implement similar projects aimed to transform the area were not changed.

 

Most of these projects though are good failed because the implementing agencies do not involve community members whereas most strategies and technologies introduce are either expansive to adopt and manage or could not be fused into indigenous existing technologies. It is hoped this project would take into consideration the existing indigenous technologies and integrate it into the new project plans, and involve community members to make it community own. 

 


Bonn, 17/06/2011. “Yesterday, the ‘First Africa Drylands Week’ ended with a simple, yet new, message: the drylands are areas with great potential for the development and sustainable growth of its populations and nations. We must translate this into reality in economic terms with regard to the costs of inaction in relation to the costs and benefits of action in order to convince treasuries that the drylands should no longer be ‘deserts’ of investment,” Mr. Luc Gnacadja, the UN’s top advisor on land degradation, desertification and drought,

“I am certain that the discussions and field trips this week [in Senegal] have clarified much better than I could ever do in words, that the challenges of desertification, land degradation and drought while real, are solvable,” he added.
Mr Gnacadja was speaking in Dakar, Senegal, at the global observance of the World Day to Combat Desertification, which also ended today. At a parallel event, taking place in Madrid, Spain, world football star Mr Carlos Marchena was designated a Drylands Ambassador of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
The events in Dakar brought together over 100 participants, including scientists, policy-makers and representatives of the international and civil society organizations and community groups, to consider ways to ensure the long-term sustainable management of the forests in the drylands. The Government of Senegal hosted both events, which were organized with the leadership of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in cooperation with the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF).
In its joint press release dispatched from the events, the CPF said the First Africa Drylands Week “demonstrated renewed solidarity and unity throughout the Circum-Saharan region. Scientific and operational partnership, based on comprehensive consultation and inclusive approaches and methodologies between the development and cooperation partners, countries and civil society will reinforce governance systems, including sustainable land management, land tenure and secure livelihoods. Under this framework, individual countries, or groups of countries will be able to develop their own initiatives that will together contribute to successful land management, combat effects of climate change, prevent and combat desertification, conserve biodiversity and mitigate the vulnerability of rural and urban societies and ensure food security for the tens of millions of families, across the Sahara and the Sahel.” The CPF’s 27 partners are among the largest international organizations that focus on forest issues.
More information on the event and potential interviewees, including the comprehensive press kit is available at:http://www.unccd.int/publicinfo/june17/2011/menu.php
 

Bonn, 17/06/2011. “Yesterday, the ‘First Africa Drylands Week’ ended with a simple, yet new, message: the drylands are areas with great potential for the development and sustainable growth of its populations and nations. We must translate this into reality in economic terms with regard to the costs of inaction in relation to the costs and benefits of action in order to convince treasuries that the drylands should no longer be ‘deserts’ of investment,” Mr. Luc Gnacadja, the UN’s top advisor on land degradation, desertification and drought,

“I am certain that the discussions and field trips this week [in Senegal] have clarified much better than I could ever do in words, that the challenges of desertification, land degradation and drought while real, are solvable,” he added.
Mr Gnacadja was speaking in Dakar, Senegal, at the global observance of the World Day to Combat Desertification, which also ended today. At a parallel event, taking place in Madrid, Spain, world football star Mr Carlos Marchena was designated a Drylands Ambassador of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
The events in Dakar brought together over 100 participants, including scientists, policy-makers and representatives of the international and civil society organizations and community groups, to consider ways to ensure the long-term sustainable management of the forests in the drylands. The Government of Senegal hosted both events, which were organized with the leadership of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in cooperation with the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF).
In its joint press release dispatched from the events, the CPF said the First Africa Drylands Week “demonstrated renewed solidarity and unity throughout the Circum-Saharan region. Scientific and operational partnership, based on comprehensive consultation and inclusive approaches and methodologies between the development and cooperation partners, countries and civil society will reinforce governance systems, including sustainable land management, land tenure and secure livelihoods. Under this framework, individual countries, or groups of countries will be able to develop their own initiatives that will together contribute to successful land management, combat effects of climate change, prevent and combat desertification, conserve biodiversity and mitigate the vulnerability of rural and urban societies and ensure food security for the tens of millions of families, across the Sahara and the Sahel.” The CPF’s 27 partners are among the largest international organizations that focus on forest issues.
More information on the event and potential interviewees, including the comprehensive press kit is available at:http://www.unccd.int/publicinfo/june17/2011/menu.php
 

Mineral Commission Frustrating Companies Prospecting Sheini Iron Ore Concession

 

By: Francis Npong, Tatale
The Mineral Commission’s persistent failure to grant prospecting and exploration permit to mining companies willing to work in parts of northern Ghana noted for large deposits of natural resources in commercial quantities is said to be responsible for abject poverty and high unemployment ratio in the area.
 
 
 Investigations by the Enquirer has revealed that the commission is deliberately denying companies keen to extract iron ore deposit in commercial quantities at Shieni in the Zabzugu/Tatale District of the northern region permits at the expanse of people’s livelihoods.
 
Though their reasons for not granting exploration permits to companies to extract this resource discovered between 1964 and 1966 by theGeological Survey Department in conjunction with the Soviet Geological Survey are not known a source within the commission told the Enquirer that their action towards mining companies willing to work in any of the mineral deposits in the region was deliberate and unnecessary frustration.
 
 
“Several companies have applied for licenses to prospect minerals in northern region whose activities could have engaged thousands of unemployed youth, that would have reduced poverty, and conflicts were denied permits with impunity knowing that mining of such resources would open up the area to development and employment”, the source said.
 
 
The source indicated to the Enquirer that some of them are beginning to worry about the development because mining like other regions is one way of bridging the development gap between the north and south.
 
 
A petition dated 22nd December 2010 and addressed to the Deputy Minister for Land and Natural Resources Hon. Henry Ford Kamel, and written by the country Director of Inland Ghana Mines Ltd Amos Owusu Boateng accused the commission frustrating the company’s quest to open up mines at Shieni.
 
 
He alleged in the petition that the commission though was satisfied with their activities at the Shieni concession it was rather making it difficult for the company to begin work though the company was ready to move to site.
 
 
The petition therefore is seeking the ministry’s intervention to prevent the commission from issuing out the license to other companies who have not done anything at the concession to open the mines.
 
 
The country director in a petition also alleged that the commission was rather favouring Emmaland and Cardero Reources who formed alliance to acquire the concession and had moved to the site illegally to conduct some survey after they had already conducted the survey.
 
 
When the Enquirer contacted Mr. Peter Ewua, policy analyst at the commission on phone he declined to comment.
 
 
He rather referred the Enquirer to the CEO of the commission who phone line was off after several attempts for clarification.
 
 
As at the time of filing this story, the commission had not responded to the questionnaire of this reporter.
 
 
Some officials within the commission who allegedly were “pricking” hands within the political circle rather favours cadero companies ltd for their selfish interest according to a source within the commission.
 
 
Zabzugu/Tatale District is one of the deprived districts in Ghana though it has been sitting of iron ore deposit in commercial quantity since 1964.
 
 
Farming is the major stay of the people, trading and fishing is going on a small scale. The Poverty level among the people is very high coupled with high unemployment.
 
 
The district which suffered duly from quality leadership can also boost of deplorable roads, lack of portable drinking water, electricity health posts among other things. This however make living in the district very difficult resulted in the mass movement of the youth from the area to southern sector in search for greener pastures.
 
 
The mines hopefully would open out the economic activities and also see a major boost of infrastructure development but authorities however are paying little or no attention to the project probably because it is situated up north.
 
 
 
Shieni Hills according to research findings by Inland Ghana mines Ltd has one of the finest iron ore in the sub-region. There are also traces of other minerals such as gold, bauxite, silica, manganese and limestone.
 
 
 Despite these minerals availability, the people are wallowing under abject poverty, unemployment, bad roads and lack of other social amenities such as hospitals, electricity, and clean drinking water among other things.
 
 
The officials of the commission seemed to be enjoying the plights of northerners who persistently wallowed under poverty, conflict and living under deplorable conditions.
 
The persistent failure of the commission to grant prospecting and exploration permits to companies determine to extract minerals deposits in commercial quantities particularly the iron ore in Shieni hills is worsening the living conditions of the people at the time farmlands were becoming infertile for crop cultivation.
Stay tuned.

 

Judge Blames Police for Bush fire 

 

 Francis Npong, Tamale
The presiding Magistrate of the Tamale District Court, His Worship Gabriel Mate-Teye has blamed rampant bushfire, wood logging and charcoal burning on Ghana Police Service.
 
 
He said that the continuous burning of bush and indiscriminate felling of trees was because of the failure of the police personnel to enforce strictly anti-bushfire law.
 
He described as disgusting the failure of the police to deal ruthlessly with organized rat hunters in the region who were burning bushes without recourse to danger it poses to environment and property .
 
 
His Worship Mate-Teye who expressed worry about the rampant bushfire, commercial charcoal burning and wood logging activities in the region said that the process was influencing desertification and drought, and posed serious threat to food security and must be stopped.
 
 
The presiding judge said this after slapping a fine of 120 Ghana cedis each on two of the nine rat hunters who pleaded guilty to for unlawful and negligently causing damage contrary to section 12 of the 172 Act 29/60 of the criminal code who appeared before him to answer these charges brought against them by the officials of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
 
 
The Magistrate stated that the rampant bushfire and environmental pollution could be minimized if the police personnel together with officials of the Environmental Protection Agency enforce environmental laws to the later.
 
 
“Often times organized rat hunters who set fire to the bush pass by the police who did nothing to prevent them from going into the buses to cause havoc to environment and farm produces”, he stated.
 
 
The judge said that civil crime would have been reduced to the minimum if the police were serious and strictly enforces and educate people on the laws as enshrined in the law books of the country.
 
 
He warned that his outfit would deal drastically with individuals brought before him and charge with bushfire, tree logging and charcoal burning offences.
 
 
The Magistrate commended the officials of the EPA for resisting influences and pressure from opinion leaders, political leaders and chiefs to bring the case before him for trail.
 
 
He promised to give prominence to cases related to environment and encourage EPA and police to join forces to deal with issues of bushfire, wood logging and charcoal burning.
 
 
The nine persons include six juveniles were arrested by the Tamale police somewhere in January 2011 for setting fire to the bush that destroyed a 36 acre cowpea farm at Nyamelga, a farming community on the Salaga road.
 
 
Though the pleas of the six juveniles were not taken the court however granted to reappear in court on the 16th March 2011 to enable the court making arrangement to hear the case of these under aged children in camera as stipulated by the law.
 
 
Two of remaining three pleaded guilty to the offence and would be sentenced on the 21st when they reappear before it.

 

EPA CONTROLS BUSHFIRES 

 

By; Nurudeen Salifu Dawuni

FRUSTRATION and bitterness could aptly describe the feeling of farmers who lose their farms each year due to bushfires.


The fires are mostly set by game hunters and farmers whose intention it is to clear the old vegetation in preparation for the new one, but this has often led to the destruction of food crops and economic trees, like rice, cowpea, shea nut, dawadawa and mango.

 

Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had on countless occasions spoken against this negative practice, it had rarely made any significant gains towards halting the practice.

 

However, one significant development this year was that the EPA moved from rhetoric to action towards bringing to book the perpetrators of bush fires.

 

It caused the arrest of nine persons who were among a group of 50 that had set fire to farms and bushes in Nyamalga, a community in the East Gonja district, in its quest for game.

 

The nine persons were picked up by the Police Mobile Task Force on the evening of Saturday January 22nd, 2011, following an emergency call made by the Director of the EPA, Mr Iddrisu Abu.

 

As usual, some influential people began to impress upon the officials of the EPA to pardon the nine persons. Unlike many other heads of institutions who would have succumbed to this pressure, Mr Abu and his team shoved off this negative pressure.

 

Consequently, the nine suspects were arraigned before the Tamale district magistrate court, presided over by His Worship Gabriel Mate-Teye.

 

Six of them, who were classified as juveniles, were later bonded by the court for two years to be of good behaviour and avoid participating in any activity that is harmful to the environment.

 

The other three, who were identified as Osman Adam, 18, student, Latif Osman, 20, farmer and Adam Fuseini, 20, electrician, were charged for negligently causing unlawful damage contrary to section 12 and 172 of Act 29/30 of the Criminal Code.

 

The court later sentenced Osman Adam and Latif Osman to two weeks imprisonment, whiles Adam Fuseini, who pleaded not guilty, has his case still pending.
The prosecution of these nine persons should send a signal to all persons in the region that the EPA is ready to bare its teeth.

 

It is heart-warming to note that the judiciary has also thrown its weight behind the EPA in this regard.

 

During the court proceedings, the judge did give a note of caution to persons who engage in bush fires, saying that such people, when brought before the court, would be made to face the music for their actions.

 


He said the court would remain resolute in ensuring that no one gets away with it after causing damage to the environment, which, he noted, was humans’ source of livelihood.

 

Mr Mate-Teye chided some politicians, chiefs, opinion leaders and members of the clergy for attempting to seek reprieve for perpetrators of bush fires, stressing that all must begin to act responsibly in the interest of the state.

 

Apart from the prosecutions, the EPA officials also did the unimaginable this year by moving from community to community trying to stop fires with the help of the community folk.

 

According to the regional director, the decision to embark on this venture followed several calls by community folk to notify the EPA about fires in their communities and their potential to cause havoc.

 

Mr Abu admitted that it was a difficult task trying to stop Harmattan fires, because they spread so fast.

 

He mentioned the unavailability of water as a challenge, but noted that the use of dampened sacks sometimes proved helpful.

 

The EPA, through the Ghana Environmental Management Project (GEMP), also organised a forum for chiefs in the three regions of the north to discuss the bush fire menace and make commitments towards its prevention.

 

Already, some of the chiefs were enforcing a non-burning policy in their respective jurisdictions and this served as an example for others to emulate.
In short, the determination shown by officials of the EPA to control bushfires has been remarkable and worthy of praise.

 

Whiles we commend the EPA for its drive to halt the bushfire menace, all other partners must get on board because bushfires have negative implications for food security and environmental sustainability.

 

Nine Rat Hunters in Court for Bush fire Offences (Enquirer 15 march 2011)

Francis Npong, Tamale

The presiding judge of the Tamale Magistrate Court, His Worship Gabriel Mate-Teye has issued a stem warning to politicians, opinion leaders, and chiefs in the Metropolis who for wants of popularity would try to influence judiciary system to desist or face the law.

 

The judge who was emotional charged issued this warning when nine persons arrested and charged with unlawful and negligently causing damage contrary to section 12 of the 172 Act 29/60 of the criminal code appeared before him to answer these charges brought against them by the officials of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

 

The nine persons include six juveniles were arrested by the Tamale police somewhere in January 2011 for setting fire to the bush that destroyed a 36 acre cowpea farm at Nyamelga, a farming community on the Salaga road.

 

Though the pleas of the six juveniles were not taken the court however granted to reappear in court on the 16thMarch 2011 to enable the court making arrangement to hear the case of these under aged children in camera as stipulated by the law.

 

Two of remaining three pleaded guilty to the offence and would be sentenced on the 21st when they reappear before it.Before adjoining the case to 16th and 21st of this month respectively, the judge, His Worship Gabriel Mate-Teye who commended EPA officials for resisting pressures and influences for bringing the case before the court observed with concerns the negative effects of rampant bushfire in the northern region saying his outfit would deal drastically with any persons brought before it on charges of setting fire to the bush.

 

The nine accused persons were on hunting expedition at Nyamalga, a community near Tamale metropolis where they allegedly set fire to the bush which subsequently destroyed a 36 acre cowpea farm, according to the prosecutor Inspector Johnson Keremeng.

 

He said on the 22nd day of January 2011, the northern regional director of the EPA lodged a complain to the police that some were burning people’s farms in search for rates. The police quickly dispatch a patron team who arrested the suspects at the scene.

 

Some rates which were tended in court as evidence were retrieved from the accused persons. The police the prosecutor said also retrieved 25 bicycles, and a motor bike which the suspects claimed ownership. 

 

The judge however adjoined the case to 16th and 21st of this month and issued warning to people to desist from acts that turned to influence judiciary system or justice.

Fierce Battle Over Sheini Iron Ore Concession

 

Francis Npong, Tamale

 

One of the finest and in large commercial quantities of iron ore deposit has been discovered at Shieni in the Zabzugu/Tatale District of the northern region.

 


According to various geological surveys, Shieni Iron Ore have potentials to open up national economy, improve investment and development and reduce poverty level significantly among the people if opened.

 

This however strike the paramount chief of Tatale traditional area, Obore Gariba Yankosor to make a passionate appeal to the government through the northern regional minister Mr. Moses Bukari Mabengba to expedite action on the exploration of Shieni iron ore to create jobs to the teaming unemployed youth of the area.

 

The iron ore which is said to be in commercial quantity was discovered in early 1960s but left unattended to by the governments. The geological survey on the resource indicated that it contained one of the finest iron ore reserves in the sub-Sahara Africa and could be mined for the next 100 years continuously.

 

The paramount chief who underscored the need to tame the youth said the process could only be possible if they were engaged in productive ventures.

 


And that the youth at Zabzugu/Tatale would remain at home if the mines at Shieni Hills is opened.
The paramount chief made the appeal when he received a research finding on Shieni Ore conducted by Inland Ghana Mines Limited.

 

The chief wonders why the government remain silence the iron concession though several survey findings pointed to the fact finest minerals whereas poverty, youth unemployment was at the highest level.


The deputy northern regional minister Sam Nasamo Asanbigi who lauded Inland Ghana Mines for taken the initiatives to explore Shieni iron ore said that opening the mines at the area would offer jobs to the people.

He lamented that though the region was sitting under resources its people were wallowing under poverty and that exploring shieni iron ores would received the necessary support from the government because it would support the government agenda of job creation and development.

The minister however appealed to the mineral commission to expedite action on the exploration of shieni iron ore to bring the needed development to the deprived district.Zabzugu/Tatale district is one of the deprived distrct assemblies in Ghana with bad roads, lack of portable drinking water, poor sanitation drainage, lack of electricity among other social infrastructures.


The district aslso accounted for the large number of unemployed youth flooded in cities and towns.

Underscoring the importance mining at the district the deputy minister said this would bring the youth back home thereby reduced drastically social vices street children pose to cities development.

The country Director of Director of Inland Ghana Mines Limited Mr. Amos Owusu Boateng has disclosed that exploration of Iron Ore at Shieni Hills has potentials of turning the deprived district to a better and development endowed one.

He said though the people were sitting on abundance and quality natural resources they continued to wallow under abject poverty. This is because no attention had been given that resource after its discovery in early 1960s.

 

The Director said that their geological survey result on shieni iron ore deposit indicated that it contained one of the quality iron ore discovered in the sub-Sahara Africa.

 

The company, he said took the initiatives to explore the resources particularly in the northern region as parts of efforts to open up the area for investment to facilitate the development and reduce poverty the people in the region.

 

Mr. Boateng said that their analysis on the stones at Sheini Hills indicated that the area was rich in iron ore and that they were also traces of other minerals including diamond, bauxite, manganese, silica, clinker (cement stones). 

“Our analysis of the stones indicated traces of manganese, diamond, bauxite, silica and clinker (stone

for cement production)”, he disclosed.   

 He appealed to the government, and mineral commission to support the company to open the mines to provide job opportunities to the people.

The Enquirer Wins Environment Award

Francis Npong, Tamale

The Enquirer has been honored among other seven organizations, institutions and individuals by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for outstanding environmental reporting in northern region during the 2010 Northern Regional World Environment Day celebration held at Duuyin a surburb of Tamale Metropolis.


Reading the citation, the Northern Regional Director of EPA Mr. Abu Iddrisu said the Enquirer has been instrumental on environmental issues and has since published many environmental stories particularly those related to the Ghana Environmental Management Project (GEMP) aimed at reversing the desertification and drought in the region.

 

The EPA Boss praised the Enquirer for what he called responsible environmental journalism and consistently reporting on environmental issues that affect livelihood in the region over the last three years. This he said however distinguished the paper from others.

 
The publications he said had helped community sensitization and education on the environmental management and a wider population in the region. 

 

This is the second award the Enquirer has received within the year in the region for the outstanding performances and accurate reportage on issues of the region. Other media organizations honored include Daily Graphic, Rural Media Network (RUMNET) publishers of Northern Advocate and Radio Justice and Duuyin and Zaazi communities in Tamale Metropolis and Savelugu/Nanton District, Tamale branch of Voluntary Workcamps Association, and individuals who played a crucial role in environmental issues in the region. 

 

According to environmental experts, about 35% of the total land mass of the country has already been swallowed by the advancing desert and the three northern regions, Upper East, West and Northern, which together constitute about 40% of the total land mass of the country are the worst affected area.

 

Though desertification was arguably the first environmental issue to be recognized as taking place on global scale Africans countries has placed their focuses on physical infrastructural development to the detriment of environment which is now catching up with them.

 

Land degradation, through sand wining, tree felling, bush burning and construction has turned the vegetation cover in Northern Ghana into waste and semi-desert land aggravating poverty, hunger and starvation, diseases, and youth migration, armed robbery among other social vices.

 

 
It is against this background that the government of Ghana has initiated Ghana Environmental Management Project (GEMP) as part of efforts to reverse desertification and drought. 

 

According to the Northern Regional Director of EPA Mr. Abu Iddrisu, the rampant and uncontrollable bush burning for the purpose of either farming or hunting has been a constant culture of the people in these parts of the country and this he pointed out had destroyed the limited organic matter suitable for crop production hence food scarcity, hunger and starvation and increased in poverty level among the people. 

 


The Director explained that GEMP currently being supported by the Canadian Government through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to the tune of 7.2 million dollars was not only to reverse desertification but also as climate adaptation and mitigation. 

 


The deputy Northern regional Minister Mr. San Nasamo Asabgi A sizeable number of trees are felt every day for the purposes of charcoal burning or firewood and construction works have also aided the speedy advance of desertification and deforestation in the north. 

 


The effects of desert encroachment in the Northern Ghana are alarming. Changes of rainfall patterns and climate in recent times have devastated the lands leaving several kilometers of scorched farmlands, leaner livestock, dried dams, and rivers ad impoverishing the population.

STAKEHOLDERS REVIEW GHANA'S CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY FRAMEWORK

Francis Npong, Wa, Upper West


Mr. Philip Acquah in suit explaining a point to some participants

Ghana has less than nine years to build climate change resilience, adaptation and mitigation measures to be able to withstand the looming devastating effects of climate change and global warming.

The member of the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Roaster of Experts, Mr. Philip Acquah who gave this warning pointed out that the country which was currently grappling with the burden of poverty, environmental degradation, food insecurity is prone to erratic rainfall, floods, droughts and diseases and would need an action plan to be able to cope with the effects of global warming which was rare by 2020.

Mr. Acquah who was leading discussions on a three- day civil society capacity building on climate change and review of the national climate change policy framework document currently ongoing here in Wa, the Upper West Region stated that there would be no more time for Ghana and for that matter countries in Sub-Sahara region to build capacities of their people to deal with the effects of climate change if it was not done now.

The workshop organized by the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MEST) in collaboration with CARE International Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP) and KASA and brought together representatives from civil society organizations in the three regions of Ghana was to enhance civil society capacity to understand the causes, impact and response measures to climate change. It was also to provide a consultative platform for civil society to discuss and input the national climate change policy framework to make its implementation easy.

The member of UNFCCC roaster of experts described climate change as a threat to Ghana’s development process and would need both the long and short term mitigation and adaptation policies and programmes to be able to cope with the effects of climate change.

The Advocacy manager of CARE International, Mr. Baba Tuahiru explained that Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP) is part of the organization’s resolve to increase the capacity of vulnerable households in sub-sahara Africa to adapt to climate variability and change.

The programme, he said which develops and applies innovative approaches to community basd adaptation to generate best practices models is aimed to empower communities and civil society organizations to have a voice in decision making on adaptation to climate change and also to influence national, regional and international adaptation policies and plans.

Mr. Tuahiru explained that ALP which is being implemented in 40 communities in Ghana, Niger, Mozambique and Kenya also promotes rights and responsibilities and empower people in the most vulnerable socio-economic groups to take action and raise their voices in local, national, and international planning and policy-making processes on adaptation and mitigation of climate change.

A Director in-charge of KASA programme at the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology Mr. Zakaria Yakubu said that the development of national climate change framework was to create a more coherent, equitable and integrated society to deal with the effects of climate change on development and livelihoods.

He said that the policy framework was also to ensure a climate resilience and climate compatible economy while achieving sustainable development and equitable low carbon economic growth for Ghana.

He called for effective collaboration between the government and civil society to ensure the successful implemtation of climate change policy to reduce poverty, hunger and prepare the people to adapt coping strategies for a better livelihood.

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