International climate policy post-Copenhagen is in crisis. In order to keep the global mean temperature rise below 2 °C by the end of the century, a resolute course must be set in the international climate process within the next few years. The German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) recommends that in order to revitalise the multilateral climate process, policy-makers and civil society in Europe take on a self-confident leading role in global alliances with selected ‘climate pioneer’ countries and that more intensive support be provided for civil society initiatives.
The following recommendations are directed primarily at the German Government in light of its role in the international arena, particularly within the European Union (EU), at intergovernmental level via its bilateral and multilateral cooperation, and in the United Nations context.
Revitalising multilateral climate policy
The WBGU considers it necessary to replace the consensus principle – which impedes the decisionmaking process – with a majority-based system of decision-making in the context of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It is essential to safeguard the key successes achieved in the UNFCCC process. This applies, not least, to agreements on adaptation to the climate change already taking place in particularly at-risk developing countries. However, Germany’s commitments largely consist of funds already earmarked for climate protection and development cooperation, which undermines the credibility of pledges of support and weakens the developing countries’ trust in the climate process. The EU should offer to endorse a second Kyoto commitment period even though this strand of negotiations under the UNFCCC has not yet produced a legally binding treaty, and notwithstanding the possible departure from the Kyoto process of some countries which are currently bound by reduction commitments. It should propose to cut its own greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 30 % by 2020 from the 1990 baseline. The WBGU proposes a worldwide debate at the highest political level and within European civil society on how ambitious actions on climate can be implemented with a view to achieving compliance with the 2 °C guard rail affirmed in the Copenhagen Accord.
Strengthening Europe’s credibility through good practice
The EU should develop its 20-20-20 Agenda into a 30-20-20 Agenda by committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 % by 2020. The aim of 100 % energy provision from renewable sources for Europe by the year 2050, combined with a pro-active energy efficiency strategy, could give international climate policy fresh momentum, and put Europe’s competitiveness on a sustainable footing at the same time. To speed up strategic innovation processes and to cut the costs of Europe’s energy system, the WBGU recommends a Europe-wide system of feedin payments for renewable energies. This would target financial support on locations with the best availability of each renewable resource. To develop future energy supply structures, the WBGU proposes the launch of a European initiative that builds on the objectives of the Lisbon Strategy. The implementation of a high-tech strategy – specifically, a renewables-based energy supply system for Europe combined with a new ‘SuperSmart’ grid – could demonstrate that economic efficiency and climate protection are by no means mutually exclusive. Initiatives launched by cities and municipalities in climate alliances, along with engagement by the business community and civil society organisations involved in climate-friendly transformation, should receive more attention and support from policymakers at national and supranational level, in the WBGU’s view.
Sub-global alliances of climate pioneers
At present, the US and China are blocking each other – and therefore the global climate policy process as well. Europe can help to break this deadlock by exploring the option of sub-global climate alliances without the ‘G2’. To that end, a pilot coalition should be set up, involving an ambitious group of key countries such as India, Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan and the Maldives, representing various thematic areas such as forest conservation, infrastructural development, expansion of EU emissions trading, expansion of renewables, improving energy efficiency, and adaptation. This alliance, in the WBGU’s view, should form privileged partnerships and thus become a self-confident driver of a new type of climate multilateralism, in a role similar to that once played by the six core countries of the European Economic Community. The pilot coalition would also signal that it believes in and supports a rapid transition to a climate-friendly world economy, thereby encouraging competition in the field of ‘green innovation’. At the same time, the EU should encourage joint action on the individual thematic areas via education, research and technological cooperation with selected countries. As examples, the WBGU proposes three specific thematic alliances: (1) an alliance with key forest countries, (2) an alliance in the field of climate-friendly infrastructure, and (3) an alliance focussing on the expansion of the EU emissions trading scheme into new geographical areas.
Download the entire policy paper by the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) "Climate Policy Post-Copenhagen: A Three-Level Strategy for Success"
The above is a WBGU policy paper co-authored by Prof. Dr. Dirk Messner. Professor Messner is the Director of the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) and Vice Chairman of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (Wissenschaftliche Beirat der Bundesregierung Globale Umweltveränderungen - WBGU).
This special report is licensed under a creative commons license.
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