What comes after Kyoto? (2)

5 June 2005
Fred Pearce has a first rate piece on the real options under international negotiation. He outlines two main schools of thought:

1. "Equal rights for all"

The formula: each person on earth would have an equal right to emit carbon, so countries would be allocated emission targets strictly according to population. To exceed these tartets, the would have to buy spare entitlements from poor nations and those that had invested in low carbon technologies

Advantages: fairness, and no need for complex negotiations. Fixed emissions targets can be tied to scientific criteria for protecting the climate

Disadvantages: possible incentives for countries to increase their populations

2. "To those that have..."

The formula: targets based on the ratio of national carbon emissions to GDP. Countries might be asked to reduce the carbon intensity of their economies (that is, the amount of wealth produced per unit of greenhouse gas pollution) by some percentage. In 2002, the George W Bush administration set a target for the US of improving its carbon intensity by 18 per cent in the coming decade.

Advantages: a clear incentive for moving to clean technologies while not penalising countries that are efficient at using carbon emissions to create wealth.

Disadvantages: total carbon emissions may continue to rise.

Anyway, RTF article. It helps with moving forward on issues explored in this blog (What comes after Kyoto (1)), forum and debate, and elsewhere.

(Most of the online version of Fred Pearce's piece, published in the 28 May edition of New Scientist, is hidden behind the archive barrier, but see here).


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