Towards a Future Climate Policy—From the Kyoto Protocol to the Paris Agreement

Abstract This chapter describes the three main climate negotiation phases between 2005 and 2015 when the Paris Agreement was adopted. During 2005-2009, negotiations aimed at extending the Kyoto Protocol structure. Between 2009 and 2012, the main focus was on restoring confidence in the UN-led climate negotiations after the failure to reach a long-term climate agreement in Copenhagen. The third stage of negotiations resulted in the Paris Agreement and aimed at embedding climate actions in countries’ national socio-economic plans.

Introduction: Aligning Climate Policies with Development Policies

During the negotiations on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol, a critical negotiation factor has been the division of responsibilities between developed and developing countries. According to Depledge and Yamin (2009), the division between industrialised and developing countries has even been the greatest weakness within the international climate change regime. Therefore, after the entry-into-force of the Kyoto Protocol in 2005, the question was raised whether greenhouse gas emission reduction measures would actually need a global support as only relatively few countries are responsible for most of the global emissions (Victor 2006, 2007; Prins and Rayner 2007; Haas 2008; WRI 2005). At least, it may seem easier to negotiate within such a smaller group of countries (see for instance the example of Montreal Protocol negotiations in Chap. 1). As could be concluded from Chap. 3, the Kyoto Protocol de facto created a relatively small coalition of developed countries with quantified commitments, from which developing countries were exempted, although this coalition could not have emerged without the cooperation between developed and developing countries on the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). In 2009, the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate was launched to facilitate a © Springer International Publishing AG 2017

W. van der Gaast, International Climate Negotiation Factors, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-46798-6_5

dialogue on energy and climate change among larger developed and developing countries, thereby potentially limiting the ‘coalition size’ to these countries.1

Nevertheless, it can be questioned whether building such smaller coalitions would be simpler than a global approach, such as argued in Chap. 2 and aimed at under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. First of all, the group of countries with highest greenhouse gas emissions is very diverse; not only are major developed countries (e.g. G-7 countries) among them, with varying interests and profiles, but also rapidly industrialising countries, such as China, India, Mexico, and South Africa. As is explained later in this Chapter, negotiations on a future climate policy regime have made clear that the latter countries have been unwilling to follow a ‘target and timetable’ approach with national, legally-binding targets, which has complicated their joining of a climate policy coalition with such targets.[1] [2] Second, a system with emission reduction commitments for only a particular group of countries can lead to ‘trade leakage’, also called ‘carbon leakage’ (Schreuder 2009).[3] Carbon leakage reduces the effectiveness of a geographically limited climate policy regime as companies can move their business to countries or regions without commitments. As a result, strong action by a limited number of Parties without comparable action by other countries reduces the effectiveness of an international climate policy (Gros and Egenhofer 2010). In light of the above, the framework described in Chap. 1 (Fig. 1.1) for realising a climate policy package with globally supported greenhouse gas emission reduction measures can also be applied for an analysis of ‘post-Kyoto’ climate policy negotiations in this chapter.

The differentiation between roles and responsibilities for developed and developing countries has not become easier over time. While during negotiations on the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol one could argue that developed and developing countries formed two quite distinct groups (especially with a view to historical emissions of greenhouse gases), this point of view turned out to be increasingly difficult to maintain during negotiations on a ‘post-Kyoto’ climate regime. Treating all developing countries as one group did no longer do justice to the wide diversity among them. For example, in addition to the group of small-island state developing countries, which already operated as a negotiation group during the early 1990s (see Chap. 2, Box 2.1), negotiations have increasingly focussed on the position of rapidly growing developing countries and whether or not these countries would still have to be considered ‘real’ developing countries or should join the Annex I group (as in the UNFCCC, see Chap. 3). Moreover, countries differ in terms of their longer term economic, social and environmental priorities.

Developments in climate negotiations, especially since the COPs in Copenhagen (2009) and Cancun (2010) (see later in this chapter), have shown an increasing interest in embedding climate change mitigation and adaptation actions in national economic, social and environmental planning, especially in developing countries, as climate change mitigation and adaptation have become increasingly interlinked with domestic planning (van der Gaast and Begg 2012). After the failure at COP-15 in Copenhagen to achieve a global climate agreement with quantified emission reduction commitments for a wider group of developed and developing countries for the period beyond 2012, the Cancun Agreements moved the negotiations away from a focus on national, legally-binding emission reduction commitments towards an approach whereby developed and developing countries could pledge (voluntary) emission reductions. Moreover, developing countries’ mitigation actions should be ‘nationally appropriate’[4] (UNFCCC 2011, pp. 7-12) based on ‘low-emission development strategies’ (UNFCCC 2011, pp. 9 and 11, para 45 and 65).

With the decisions at ‘Cancun’, climate negotiations took a turn from legally-binding quantitative commitments to nationally appropriate climate change mitigation actions. This trend was further reinforced by the nature of the COP-decisions at Warsaw (2013), Lima (2014) and Paris (2015), which called upon Parties to formulate (Intended) Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). With NDCs, countries can formulate plans for reaching their national development goals with low emissions and strong climate resilience. While not guaranteeing that these actions taken together will lead to the objective of limiting global average temperature increase to 2 °C or even 1.5 °C (above pre-industrial times levels), as agreed in the Paris Agreement (UNFCCC 2015b), integrating climate policy actions in countries’ national development planning could create additional incentives for countries to take climate measures as these support reaching their national development targets.

The Paris Agreement (UNFCCC 2015b) builds further on the pledge and review approach followed since ‘Copenhagen’ and ‘CancUn’ and therefore on countries’ voluntary actions. The NDCs are subject to regular review after periods of five years. With these reviews it can be checked to what extent all plans together result in a temperature increase limitation of 1.5 or 2 °C. In case of deviations between these temperature goals and the joint results of NDCs, negotiations will focus on increasing countries’ actions on greenhouse gas emission reductions.

In this chapter, these recent negotiation developments leading towards the Paris Agreement are assessed against the three negotiation factors identified in Chaps. 1 and 2 in this book for successful negotiations: i.e. design of the agreement for an effective global climate coalition, a facilitating negotiations process and decisive tactics for changing the course of negotiations. For that, the chapter describes the three main phases of negotiations between 2005, when the Kyoto Protocol entered into force, and 2015, when Paris Agreement was adopted:

  • 1. Negotiations between 2005 and 2009, attempting to extend the Kyoto Protocol structure with broadening quantified emission reduction or limitation commitments;
  • 2. Restoring confidence in the UN-led climate negotiations after the failure to reach a long-term climate agreement at the COP in Copenhagen; and
  • 3. Building on a new climate regime with a turn toward more voluntary climate actions by countries, which became an important input for the Paris Agreement.

  • [1] The Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate contained the following countries:Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the EU, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan,Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russian Federation, South Africa, the UK, and the USA.
  • [2] Although the Chinese President Xi agreed, during a meeting with US President Obama on 12November 2014, to let Chinese greenhouse gas emissions peak by 2030, followed by a greenhousegas emission reduction pattern, a clear emission reduction target was not announced (Vlaskampand Elshout 2014).
  • [3] In the context of climate change policy, two aspects of trade leakage could be distinguished. First,countries with emission reduction commitments would switch from carbon-intensive fossil fuels tofuels with lower carbon content or to renewable energy sources. Due to the lower demand forfossil fuels in these countries fossil fuel prices will go down, which could create an incentive forcountries without commitments to increase their demand for fossil fuels. The greenhouse gasemission reductions achieved because of the commitments would thus be offset by increasedemissions elsewhere. Second, trade leakage can occur if companies decide to shift their productionfrom countries with commitments to countries without commitments (Schreuder 2009; Barrett1997, 2000).
  • [4] Nationally appropriate mitigation actions or NAMAs.
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