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"Sectoral Approaches for a Post-2012 Climate Regime: A Taxonomy"

Australian PM John Howard opened the Asia-Pacific climate meeting, Jan.12, 2006, in Sydney, Australia. Ministers from Australia, the U.S., China, India, Korea, and Japan met to discuss the Asia-Pacific climate pact.
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"Sectoral Approaches for a Post-2012 Climate Regime: A Taxonomy"

Journal Article, Climate Policy, volume 9, issue 6, pages 652-668(17)


Authors: Jonas Meckling, Former Research Fellow, Geopolitics of Energy Project, 2010–2012; Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, 2009–2010; Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group, 2007–2009, Gu Yoon Chung

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Energy Technology Innovation Policy; Environment and Natural Resources; Harvard Project on Climate Agreements; Science, Technology, and Public Policy



Sectoral approaches have been gaining currency in the international climate debate as a possible remedy to the shortfalls of the Kyoto Protocol. Proponents argue that a sector-based architecture can more easily invite the participation of developing countries, address competitiveness issues, and enable immediate emissions reductions. However, given the numerous proposals, much confusion remains as to what sectoral approaches actually are. This article provides a simple, yet comprehensive, taxonomy of the various proposals for sectoral approaches. Based on the dual criteria of content and actors, three such types are identified and described: government targets and timetables; industry targets and timetables; and transnational technology cooperation. For each of these types, existing proposals and ongoing initiatives are discussed. In a second step, the article analyses the political landscape in which sectoral approaches are being debated, identifying the interests of their key advocates as well as the concerns of their critics. The Japanese government and energy-intensive manufacturing industries represent the main proponents of sectoral approaches to address the problems of carbon leakage and economic competitiveness. Developing countries, on the other hand, are wary of attempts to impose emissions reduction targets on their economies through sectoral target-setting. They, therefore, interpret sectoral approaches as sector-based forms of technology cooperation and technology transfer.


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This article was written during Jonas Meckling's fellowship with the Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group, 2007–2009.


For more information about this publication please contact the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements Coordinator at 617-496-8054.

Full text of this publication is available at:

For Academic Citation:

Meckling, Jonas O. and Gu Yoon Chung. "Sectoral Approaches for a Post-2012 Climate Regime: A Taxonomy." Climate Policy 9, no. 6 (2009): 652-668(17).

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