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The Different Paths to Climate Protection – Competitive or Complementary?

The Different Paths to Climate Protection – Competitive or Complementary?

7 September 2006

Climate change as a global phenomenon requires global action. The strategies of states are very multi-faceted and variable: next to the Kyoto Protocol (KP), which sets forth binding reduction targets, are a number of initiatives such as the Asian Pacific Partnership agreement for Clean Development and Climate (AP6) with a voluntary, technology-based approach, and the Action Program for climate protection put in place at the G8 Summit in Gleneagles. At the 9th climate talk it was debated whether these varied approaches are effective for climate protection, and to what extent they complement or compete and thus hinder one another.

Stimulating introductions on this topic were given by Dr. Karsten Sach (German Ministry of the Environment), Jennifer Morgan (WWF) and Dr. Hartmut Grewe (Konrad Adenauer Foundation).

A far-reaching consensus arose from the proceeding discussion that there could not be a single path to climate protection. There was also agreement that clear and binding ‘top-down’ reduction targets, like those mandated until 2012 in the KP, cannot be waived in the future. Furthermore, the potential of the carbon market to internalize costs was emphasized. The participants also agreed the binding approach must be applied to more countries in the middle-term while considering the right to development of poor countries. At the same time, a few participants argued that only new, less cumbersome decision-making processes than those set forth by the Climate Convention and the KP can solve the climate problem.

The cap-oriented approach must, however, be complemented by partnerships and technology-based approaches. To this end, the prompt development and diffusion of climate-friendly technology were pointed out to be of special importance. In this context, it was argued that the AP-6 initiative would not threaten the Kyoto process, as the AP-6 initiative has not yet developed political weight and thus is not in direct competition with the instruments of the KP.

Some participants criticized that the different approaches to protect the climate have neither at the international nor on a national level yet been integrated into one coherent policy. Other participants pointed out that the world was still in a “learning phase” with a view to the mechanisms of the KP. Therefore, an integrated approach would currently not be practically or politically feasible on account of its complexity. This stepwise approach was criticized on the basis of the time pressure put on the global community with regard to climate change.

There was strong support of many participants, that both the will of political decision makers as well as the general public must be won for climate protection. To that end, the public was expected to convey the urgency of the problem and to pressure politicians to act. Furthermore, it was pointed out that a change in the behavior of the populations was needed to get a grip on climate change.

Also discussed was the question of whether single nations should take a leading role or if the focus should be on a concerted effort at the international level. In this context, it was pointed out that global players should be more integrated into climate protection efforts. It was also pointed out that Germany could play a leading role due to its upcoming presidency of the EU and as a host to the next G8 summit. The German leadership was criticized especially for its insufficiently ambitious design of the second National Allocation Plan for European emission trading regime. Germany must be asked to create a credible and symbolic policy. But besides this, the importance of the EU to create trust in the market was underlined. Recommended was an offensive ecologically-oriented industrial policy that would improve energy-efficiency and create a framework to successfully introduce climate-friendly technologies into the market.

After ample and lively discussion, these and other questions were pondered over beer and flambé in a nearby restaurant.

Dr. Karsten Sach (Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety)
Jennifer Morgan
Dr. Hartmut Grewe
7 September 2006
Berlin, Germany
Number of Participants