Global climate action continues despite UN deadlock – report

Policies to tackle climate change have continued to develop worldwide regardless of the lack of progress at the international climate talks, according to a new report.

The study by the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) focuses on Brazil, China, India, the EU, and the USA.

It says a variety of incentives and progressive policies have emerged during a decade when talks through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) suffered a significant setback.

“In spite of stalemate at the global level, there have been real climate policy accomplishments at the national and subnational levels, particularly in the last decade,” said Thomas C. Heller, Executive Director of Climate Policy Initiative. “Our job now is to learn from and build on this experience.”

CPI’s The Policy Climate report calls on policymakers to learn from past mistakes and to draw up legislation that anticipates the world that is coming. It also calls for greater awareness consideration of development and climate policies side by side.

“The best policy anticipates the world that is coming more than it accommodates the world we now know,” writes Heller in the report’s introduction.

China increased its renewables output by a factor of six and cleaned up its coal industry (Source: Flickr/CDM Photo Contest)

“The future will be one where innovative technologies and wise investment lead to more productive ways to provide food and fuel. This means that in practical politics, climate and development are one and the same. The sooner we realize it, the better the chance we will have to get both right,” he continues.

The UN process failed to agree a global deal on emission reductions in 2009. The talks have since regrouped around the target of establishing a universal binding deal in 2015 that would be enforced from 2020.

Talks on the 2015 deal begin in earnest with a workshop in Bonn starting on April 29.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) has also been established with developed nation targeting $100bn of funding a year for projects to cut carbon and help vulnerable nations to adapt to climate impacts.

CPI’s findings:

CPI says the US has created a “messy but useful” combination of incentives, regulation, persuasion, and innovation at the federal and state level, which has contributed to a recent decline in emissions. Now it must step up efforts while balancing the books, which means finding more cost effective policies

China saved 100 million tonnes of coal by shutting its dirtiest power stations and grew its renewable energy resources by 661% between 2000-2010. Despite this more than two-thirds of the growth in CO2 from the power sector in this period came from China. The country’s competing internal pressures for an “ecological civilisation” and pure economic growth could decide whether it can scale up its efforts.

CPI suggests Brazil could prove to be a good example for other emerging economies. It has slowed deforestation rates significantly with half that deceleration a direct result of policy. Now the country must protect that achievement while also ensuring its growing demand for electricity is met in the most sustainable fashion possible.

With economic recovery paramount, climate policies must now negotiate environment and finance ministries. Emissions are falling. Whether that continues, or indeed accelerates, could depend on how well the green growth message is sold to those holding the purse strings.

CPI praises India’s renewables and energy efficiency policies and its experimentation with different tools. Sound policy ideas must be tailored for India but even then could be derailed by poor infrastructure.

Read more on: China | Climate politics | EU | India | |