Friday, June 27, 2008

Report: Breaking The Climate Deadlock: A Global Deal

Jun 27: Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, in Tokyo presented a report to Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda to coincide with the upcoming G-8 Leaders’ Summit at Lake Toyako [See WIMS 6/25/08] entitled, Breaking the Climate Deadlock: A Global Deal for Our Low Carbon Future. The report represents the first phase of the broader "Breaking the Climate Deadlock" initiative launched by Tony Blair and The Climate Group in March this year which aims to help build decisive political support, over the next 18 months, among key countries for a new international climate change agreement that will effectively address climate change beyond 2012.

Written by a group of recognized climate change experts drawn together by The Climate Group and under the direction of Blair, the report has three key objectives: (1.) Create a shared vision of what is needed to avoid dangerous climate change and show how this can be achieved without sacrificing countries’ growth and development aspirations; (2.) Establish the core elements of a global deal that would deliver this vision, in particular to drive the necessary investments in emissions reduction and adaptation; and, (3.) Provide clear, ambitious but achievable goals for G-8 Leaders, which would help ensure agreement on a new treaty in Copenhagen in December 2009. The report is supported by a range of expert briefing papers -- to be launched in the coming month -- that provide detailed background information and analysis on specific issues.

In a foreword to the report, Tony Blair presents perhaps the most politically realistic overview of the difficulties in negotiating an international climate change agreement that has been publicly stated thus far. He says, "But we should be open about the substantial present political risk. There is a danger of a yawning chasm between, on the one side, those in the scientific, NGO, and expert community who want very radical action immediately to cut greenhouse gas emissions; and on the other side, those in positions of political leadership who fear they are being asked for something beyond their power to deliver without damage to economic growth. . .

"Essentially, we are asking North America, Europe and Japan to move from a situation of rising or static emissions in the last 12 years, to a significant, unprecedented cut in the next 12 to allow global emissions to peak by 2020. Some will say that to have a reasonable chance of constraining warming to approximately 2°C, we need greenhouse gas concentration to peak at 500 parts per million by volume (ppmv); some 450 ppmv; some even less [See WIMS 6/23/08, Launch Of; The Red Line For Human Beings]. Some insist that 2020 is the latest peaking moment we can permit, beyond which damage to the climate will become irreversible; some, though generally not in the scientific community, say 2025 or even 2030 may be permissible. . ." Blair points out, "if the US meets the boldest targets for reductions while China continues on its present path, and India follows, the climate will still suffer irreversible damage.

Blair says, "There is also an immense political danger which anyone who has participated in intricate and politically sensitive multilateral negotiations understands. If the Copenhagen meeting happens without a clear political direction already having been given, then it will be a negotiator’s nightmare. What is more, the danger is that countries then approach Copenhagen with minimalist positions, knowing concessions will be dragged out of them; rather than setting out genuinely the maximum that they think they can realistically achieve. The consequence will be an agreement of lowest common denominator, with a hotchpotch of complicated mechanisms that leaves the world little further forward and public opinion disillusioned and dissatisfied.

"There is a different and better way of approaching a global deal. What is essential is that the world, especially the world of business, gets from Copenhagen a clear, unequivocal, radical direction . . . [Blair outlines 9 points around which a deal can be structured, and concludes:] The challenge is not one of will. It is how to get a deal that sets us clearly on a path to a low carbon future; that is fair; and that is do-able. That is radical and realistic. In this report, we describe the elements that could go into such a deal and the thinking behind them."

The °Climate Group is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing business and government leadership on climate change. The organization is based in the UK, the USA, Australia, China and India and operates internationally. It was founded in 2004 by a diverse group of companies, governments and supporters who saw the opportunity to create new momentum in the international effort to stop climate change. The Climate Group works to accelerate international action on global warming with a new, strong focus on practical solutions, and promotes the development and sharing of expertise on how business and government can lead the way towards a low carbon economy whilst boosting profitability and competitiveness. Members include such companies as: Goldman Sachs, Dow Chemical Company, Duke Energy, BP, Google, Johnson & Johnson, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Starbucks, etc.

Access the complete 66-page report (
click here). Access more information on the Breaking the Climate Deadlock initiative (click here). Access the Climate Group website for more information (click here). Access the G-8 Japan Summit meeting website for additional information (click here). [*Climate, *Energy]