"Michaelowa Proposal: Graduation and Deepening"
This is part of a series of proposed frameworks that could succeed the Kyoto Protocol
September 5, 2007
Author: Axel Michaelowa
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Harvard Project on Climate Agreements
Axel Michaelowa proposed to build on the Kyoto framework by deepening and expanding quantitative emission targets. He advocates a global long-term atmospheric stabilization goal of 550 parts per million to be achieved through quantitative, legally-binding, country-specific targets. Countries with emission commitments could engage in international emission trading. Developing countries would take on emission targets through a graduation mechanism: as their per capita emissions and per capita GDP exceed certain thresholds, they would have to take on more and more ambitious targets. Upon graduating to a higher threshold, a country’s target would tighten to match that of countries with similar emissions and income profiles. Before exceeding the threshold for initial quantitative targets, developing countries could implement nationwide CDM projects that use an estimate of national business-as-usual emissions as its baseline. This would effectively transform CDM from a project-based approach to a policy-based mechanism. In addition, Michaelowa proposed that emissions from international transport, gases creating ground-level ozone pollution, and carbon sequestered in oceanic, biologic and geologic sinks be accounted for in the global greenhouse gas target.
This proposal rests on the existing multilateral policy foundation established by the Kyoto Protocol, and is thus recognizable and salient to many stakeholders. The single global concentration stabilization goal provides a long-term focal point that can help channel negotiation efforts and investments in climate-friendly R&D. It also promotes cost-effectiveness through international emissions trading and the expanded, nationwide CDM. Developing country accession through the graduation mechanism represents the differentiation in responsibilities embodied in the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.
While this proposal allows international emission trading, it does not provide mechanisms that can insure against unexpectedly high costs, such as a safety valve, emission banking and borrowing, etc., which could help prevent non-compliance and non-participation. The graduation index treats countries with high income but low emissions and with low income but high emissions the same, which may not be fair. The proposal does not address the fundamental problem with the Kyoto agreement – the weak incentives for participation. Under the proposed second period commitments, nearly three-quarters of the emissions abatement effort in the industrialized countries (Annex I) would have to take place in the United States. After U.S. rejection of the Kyoto Protocol, it is not evident that the United States would accept such an ambitious commitment. It is also not clear that developing countries would find the graduation mechanism appealing. Finally, this proposal does not appear to provide sufficient incentives for compliance.
- Michaelowa Proposal (27K DOC)
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