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New compromise needed

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The Brookings Institute has argued that four steps are needed to break the UN climate negotiations impasse:

1. A much smaller group of nations should strike a deal.

Brookings proposes that the ‘Major Economics Forum’ (MEF), which is made up of 13 countries responsible for 81% of global carbon dioxide emissions since 1990, would be an excellent forum for negotiation. Other smaller groups like the G-7, or even the G-2 of the US and China could strike a deal. In doing so they would likely inspire other countries to take action.

2. Country emissions should be measured in a fairer way.

Traditionally emissions have been measured by directly aggregating the levels of CO2 produced in a nation’s geographical area. However, Brookings highlights that when a country’s manufacturing and mining are outsourced or shipped overseas, it is too easy for some countries to show improvements while driving up the industrialized nations emissions.

Glen Peters at the CICERO Institute in Norway has pioneered ‘consumption-based’ emissions accounting, which holds those who get the benefit from the product responsible for emissions generated all along the chain of manufacture, transport and sale of their purchases. This fairer accounting system helps China somewhat, as they are ‘the workshop of the world’. It does not much affect US accounting.

3. A deal should be based on fairly sharing the amount of emissions scientists believe is acceptable.

Brookings holds that to be acceptable to developing countries, the deal struck between MEF countries must be based on the core principles of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed in 1992: equity, responsibility and capability. These principles can be used to divide up the global carbon budget share that the MEF countries currently use. This should ensure that wealthier and higher polluting nations are expected to do more than poorer and lower emitting ones.

4. The deal struck in the small group should be brought back to UNFCCC.

Wealthy nations who are not members of the MEF should be expected to comply nearly immediately with the scheme; poorer nations may need assistance and substantially more time in order to build their capacity to monitor emissions and calculate them by the consumption based approach. The world’s least developed countries should be given a very long time to meet any obligations.

Adapted from a press release by Emma McAleavey.

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