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Environmental Policy: Kyoto, Carbon Trading, and California lan/globalwarming/envpolicy.pdf Precautionary Principle • If there is a risk that some action, policy, or event will cause

Mar 21, 2020




  • Environmental Policy: Kyoto, Carbon Trading,

    and California

  • • Why should we be concerned about global warming? What is our responsibility towards the earth and future generations?

    • Can we do anything that would make a difference? Who is responsible?

    • What has been proposed? What measures are already in place?

    • What is the U.S. doing on the national and local scale?

    Major Questions

  • Precautionary Principle

    • If there is a risk that some action, policy, or event will cause harm, we should act to prevent such harm, even if scientific consensus about the hazard has not been reached.

  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

  • IPCC Background • Established by the United Nations

    Environment Programme (UNEP) and World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988

    • Open to all members of the UN or WMO • Does not carry out its own research;

    bases its assessments on peer reviewed scientific articles


  • • Working Group I: Assesses the scientific aspects of climate change

    • Working Group II: Assesses the vulnerability of society and natural systems to climate change; options for adaptation and possible consequences

    • Working Group III: Assesses options for mitigating climate change

    IPCC Background

  • Publications • Authors are nominated by governments or selected

    for their expertise; come from more than 100 countries

    • Approval process for reports: – Reports are sent to experts with “significant

    expertise and publications” in certain fields – Second drafts are sent to governments and all

    IPCC authors for review and comments – Final drafts are presented for approval of their

    general content

    • Approval process for Summaries for Policymakers: – Undergo the same expert and government review – Final drafts are presented for approval on a line-

    by-line basis

  • 4th Assessment Report • “Most of the observed increase in global

    average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.” – AR4, WG I, Summary for Policymakers

  • Source: AR4, WGI, Summary for Policymakers

  • IPCC Emissions Scenarios • A1B (mid-range): Rapid economic growth; global

    population peaking mid-century; rapid introduction efficient technologies; more communication between nations; balance across fossil fuel intensive sources and non-fossil energy sources

    • *A2 (high emissions scenario): nations self-reliant; little cooperation; continuously growing population; economic development regionally oriented

    • *B1 (low emissions scenario): population peaks mid-century; rapid economic change towards services; more clean technologies introduced; convergent world; reduced materialism

  • Source: AR4, WGI, Summary for Policymakers

  • AR4, WG II, Summary for Policy Makers

  • AR4, WG III, Summary for Policy Makers

  • Kyoto Protocol

  • Background

    • Kyoto Protocol to UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992)

    • Negotiated in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997; closed in March 1999

    • Entered into force on 16 February 2005 –Needed at least 55% of Annex I countries,

    accounting for at least 55% of total GHG emissions to ratify (Russia ratified)


  • Background (continued)

    • Objective: “to stabilize the greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”

    • Mandatory emission targets for countries that have ratified the protocol


  • Terminology Greenhouse Gases under Kyoto: • Carbon dioxide (CO2) • Methane (CH4) • Nitrous Oxide (N2O) • Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) • Perflurocarbons (PFCs) • Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6)

    • Annex I countries: developed countries; have GHG reduction mandates; must submit annual GHG inventories – Examples: U.S., Japan, Denmark, Germany

    • Non-Annex I countries: developing countries; no GHG reduction mandates – Examples: China, India

  • Structure • Aim: to reduce emissions of

    participating countries an average of 5% below 1990 levels by the end of the first enforcement period (2008-2012)

    • Limitations range from 8% reductions for the EU to 10% increase for Iceland

    • Three mechanisms to reduce emissions: – Purchase GHG emission reductions from

    elsewhere (carbon credits) – Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) – Joint Implementation (JI)

  • Emission Targets

  • Emissions Trading

    • “Cap and Trade” system • Allows Annex I parties to acquire

    carbon credits from other Annex I parties

    • In practice, countries give carbon credits to individual parties, e.g. power plants

    • Why would you buy carbon credits? • What are possible problems with this


  • Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)

    • Allows Annex I parties to invest in projects in Non-Annex I countries in order to acquire Certified Emission Reductions (CERs)

    • “The CDM is expected to generate investment in developing countries, especially from the private sector, and promote the transfer of environmentally- friendly technologies in that direction.” –

    • What are possible problems with this system?

  • CDM Projects • 813 projects registered to date • Biggest investors: UK, Netherlands,

    Japan •


  • CDM Project Examples • Huitengxile Windfarm

    Project (June 2005) – Sponsoring nation:

    Netherlands – Host nation: China

    • La Vuelta and La Herradura Hydroelectric Project – Sponsoring nation: Japan – Host nation: Columbia – Building hydroelectric

    plant to capture energy from La Herradura river

  • Joint Implementation

    • Allows Annex I parties to invest in emission-reducing projects in other Annex I countries in order to receive Emission Reduction Units (ERUs)

    • Problems with this system?

  • Consequences of Missed Targets

    • Countries must make up the difference plus a penalty of 30% in the next enforcement period

    • Countries are excluded from selling credits in emission trading system

    • No direct fine for non-compliance

  • Is it working?

    • Only came into force in 2005 • No mandatory reporting until 2008 • No need to meet goals until 2012 • Treaty ends after 2012. What

    happens next?

  • Criticisms of Kyoto • Doesn’t do enough:

    – No mandated emission limits for developing countries (even large emitters such as China and India)

    – 5% emission reductions below 1990 levels aren’t large enough to make much of a difference for atmospheric CO2 concentrations; chosen arbitrarily for political reasons

    • Does too much: – Imposes too stringent of regulations on

    developed countries; hurts their economies while allowing developing countries to freely emit

  • But still important…

    • Represents a shared commitment to reduce GHG emissions

    • Establishes the institutions and framework for future, more stringent regulations

  • Allocation

    • Emission limits in the Kyoto Protocol are based on a “grandfathering rule”: countries may emit some portion of what they emitted in 1990

    • What are other options? – Per capita basis: consuming carbon is a

    basic human right and should be shared equally

    – Per capita basis with historical accountability: takes into consideration what countries have emitted in the past

  • U.S. and Kyoto • The U.S. is a signatory to the Kyoto

    Protocol but has not ratified it. Emission limits therefore are not binding.

    • 25 July 1997: before the protocol was finalized, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Byrd-Hagel Resolution, which stated that the Senate did not support signing the protocol (Clinton administration)

  • • Bush has stated that he will not submit the treaty for ratification because he believes China and India should be held responsible for their emissions –Argues that “adhering to Kyoto

    would have wrecked our economy” (“Bush: Kyoto Treaty would have hurt economy,” AP, 30 June 2005)

    U.S. and Kyoto

  • Bush administration • Belief in market mechanisms; refusal to

    implement emission limits on industry • June 2002: US EPA released “Climate

    Action Report 2002” • July 2005: Asia-Pacific Partnership on

    Clean Development and Climate – Together with Australia, India, Japan,

    China, South Korea (account for 50% of emissions)

    – Allows member states to set their own emission goals

    – No enforcement


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