About the Conference
Background of the Workshop | Objectives of the Workshop | Contents and Topics of the Workshop
Background of the Workshop
The Kyoto Protocol came into force on February 16, 2005, ninety days after Russia’s formal ratification of the treaty was deposited with the Secretary-General of the UN. The Protocol’s entry into force makes the emissions targets defined for the 2008-2012 period by more than 30 developed countries, including the EU, Russia, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland, legally binding. However, the Protocol comes into force without commitments from some major players, most importantly the United States and several key developing countries. In addition, the Protocol contains commitments only through 2012, thus implying that new negotiations will be necessary for the post-2012 phase.
The US decision not to ratify the Protocol, and the implications of this decision, have clearly weakened the Kyoto Protocol and undermined its environmental effectiveness. At the same time, it is generally acknowledged that the Kyoto Protocol is only a first step towards the broader aim of minimising the danger of climate change. Climate change can only be effectively defeated if a large number of countries, including the major CO2-emitters, co-ordinate their efforts to reduce GHG emissions.
A new, more effective policy architecture is therefore required to involve the key countries in an international effort to control climate change. The next round of climate talks after the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is to begin soon, and represents an opportunity to increase the incentives for all countries to participate in climate change efforts .
Objectives of the Workshop
The aim of this workshop is to provide an overview of the potential directions that climate policy could take in the next decades, by highlighting the key issues in the ongoing debate: in particular, the difficulties arising from the fact that the Kyoto Protocol contains no commitment from some major emitters - most importantly the United States and several key developing countries - and that it specifies commitments only through 2012. Indeed, given these difficulties, the Protocol is not adequate to effectively control climate change.
This workshop wants to shed light on potential future developments in international climate policy, by starting from the lessons that can be learned from the past. Alternative policy architectures and participation scenarios will be analysed and their interdependencies thoroughly explored.
In particular, new ideas and approaches to an effective climate policy are expected to be presented and discussed. An important aim is to find out whether alternative climate policy schemes have advantages over the current approach to global warming or whether the current policy architecture could be improved to come closer to the final goal of a global climate policy. Insights should be provided in order to clarify where research issues and themes should concentrate. Moreover, building upon positive experiences from previous workshops organised by FEEM and Stanford University, the dialogue between European and U.S. research should be further enhanced.
Contents and Topics of the Workshop
The conference will deal with the climate policy “visions” which could dominate the economic scenario over the next decades. The presentation of potential future policies will start from a review of the strengths and weaknesses of the Kyoto Protocol approach to the political and economic control of global climate change. The discussion will be focused on improvements to the Protocol and on alternative proposals. New strategies to design the post-2012 climate policy post-2012 are also going to be discussed.
We will thus analyse both the schemes that build directly on the basic architectures of the current Kyoto framework and those that depart in varying degrees from the present approach. A number of policy architectures have been proposed that advocate a different type of commitment than the current one (policies and measures, e.g. innovative combinations of command-and-control and market instruments, rather than binding quantitative emissions targets) or a different negotiating process than the one implemented until now (national pledges rather than internationally-negotiated commitments). In addition, proposals differ extensively, as some continue to stress the current objective of a global process, while others suggest a different negotiation forum including a smaller group of participating countries. Differences in scope can also be identified with respect to the overall nature of the different proposals, as some provide a comprehensive picture of a possible future regime whereas others focus on the specific issues of a future climate policy framework, suggesting for example the type of emissions target or the criteria for differentiating commitments that should be used beyond 2012.
Within the discussion, special attention will be paid to strategies on the involvement of key countries currently outside of the international climate efforts. In particular, we will verify how to provide incentives to come closer to the overall target of a global solution of the climate change challenge. The necessity of involving the US is obvious, as without this country’s contribution, no effective emission control can be achieved. In addition, the involvement of large developing countries is a crucial dimension of climate policy, especially in the long-run.