Cancun for compromise?

In Climate Change, Global Issues on December 11, 2010 at 2:55 am

Hopefully, Cancun doesn't disappoint.

Since Copenhagen didn’t result in much change, how about another C-city: Cancun, Mexico?

After last year’s not-so-impressive gathering to address the ever-pressing issue of climate change, the UN is trying it’s hand at a second round of sanctions that will hopefully fare better. This summit is currently underway, with COP 16 countries talking about everything from carbon taxes to 2020 emissions goals. On the surface, at least, it seems to be a positive step forward.

Copenhagen was, in retrospect, a wonderful step towards cooperation on climate action. But there’s still a lot more to be worked on. Here is what I think is required now for an actual compromise on climate change:

  • Wouldn't want them to do THAT, right?

    Favor rewards vs. penalties: in my previous post, I discussed the carbon market, and how this affects current projects to reduce emissions. The problem is, developed countries break their commitments often and don’t have to worry about repercussions, while developing countries are struggling to uphold these standards without a tangible reward. One proposal being favored currently is starting up a Green Fund that rewards countries monetarily for meeting emissions caps. I don’t think this would be helpful: it would take away any incentive for developed countries to cut down emissions. A better solution would be developmental rewards for jointly-implemented projects. For example, if two countries work together on a project to reduce factory emissions, it could be followed up with a task force, regional organizations or non-profits to create sustainable projects that will continue the trend over a period of 10-15 years. I read recently about a measure under discussion that would pay developing countries to conserve their forests–as long as it is a self-sustaining project that doesn’t link environmental safety to purely monetary gains, I’m all for it. But I still believe non-monetary incentives would allow efficient, sustained emissions measures to be implemented, and would be helpful in the long run.

  • Start now, work out the details later: The Kyoto Protocol (1997) was a very specific document that set out to reduce emissions levels by 5% by 2012. It specifies exactly how the carbon market works, and how each country can either sell off remaining emission quotas or work with another country on implementing a project in its territory reduce both their emissions levels. Even though this wasn’t an extremely detailed document, it was still much more specific than previous legislation passed on the subject, much of which has been legislation in each country to bring about emissions caps. Now that the protocol is coming close to its deadline, it needs to be revised, and debates rage as to how detailed it should be. In my humble opinion, the Kyoto protocol basically gives us the framework we need to continue with the current, relatively successful, system. We don’t need to completely revise it, merely set a higher emissions goal to be reached within the next six years. Starting out a new compromise from scratch would require global sanctions, the extent of which is not on too many world leaders’ priority lists right now. Let’s work with what we have, and modify it so we can be more efficient this time around.
  • Don’t force the third (or second) world: There’s a lot of talk going on about the difference between the first and the third world in terms of climate change. Basically, booming countries like Bolivia and China are hesitant to agree on emissions caps, since it would mean they can’t industrialize and develop as quickly as they would like to. Although I understand it would be ideal to have everyone agree on everything, it isn’t feasible. We would rather be better off to work with them to a level of compromise rather than impose our standards on them. There ARE mechanisms in the protocol to increase cooperation among countries–joint implementation, for example, with China and the US, or US and India, could turn out very favorably for both countries. Pushing these countries will only jeopardize trade. I’d rather see solid compromises rather than forcing them to agree to our standards.
  • Figure out adaptations methods: We talk a lot about prevention through emissions caps and carbon trading, but when are we going to figure out how to LIVE with the phenomenon? I’m personally scared by the idea of seeing the Marshall Islands, and many other areas, wiped off the face of this planet. It’s going to happen in our lifetimes, and the citizens of these countries need to be provided with coping measures for the change. I’d like to see more forethought on adaptation to climate change out of this conference too.
  • More productivity is the current goal.

    Let 2010 be the last straw: We cannot afford any more Copenhagens. Getting so many world leaders together to talk about an issue as pressing as climate change is a feat of grand proportions in itself, and it should not result in nothing. This conference, and any following revisions of it, must be strongly backed by majority of countries in order to work. We cannot wait on the US and China like we did last time. The world isn’t waiting for us to decide–climate change is real and it’s happening. We need to recognize the urgency of this issue, and not bind them to trade negations, developmental policies or any ultimatums of the sort. Although compromise is tough, we need to arrive at one for the greater good.

I hope to read headlines soon about the next successful Cancun protocol! 🙂

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sw33tPandaZ and Sw33tPandaZ, Yes I Care. Yes I Care said: Newest Yes I Care: What I'd like to see happen at the Cancun conference […]

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