"Beyond Copenhagen: Reconciling International Fairness, Economic Development, and Climate Protection"
Discussion Paper 2010-44, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, Belfer Center
Author: Jing Cao, Former Research Fellow, Environment and Natural Resources Program, 2002-2003
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Harvard Project on Climate Agreements
Time to respond to the severe threat posed by global climate change is running short. Though the most recent international climate negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) achieved some consensus in the form of the Copenhagen Accord, they failed to produce an adequate and legally binding action plan for achieving long-term reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions. Looking beyond Copenhagen, this paper proposes a new architecture for international climate policy going forward. It highlights a top-down, burden-sharing rule that is designed to produce a fair distribution of burdens across countries while also (a) giving priority to economic development and concerns about wealth inequality and (b) achieving emission reductions consistent with holding the expected increase in global average temperature to 2 degrees Celsius. In addition, this paper discusses several key design elements that will be important, especially from the perspective of developing countries, to the success of future international climate negotiations. These design elements include agreements on burden sharing, choice of policy instruments, financial mechanisms and technology transfer, penalties for noncompliance, and linkages between trade and climate change.
Jing Cao, School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University
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