The entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol is a step towards containing the climate change threat at a manageable level. However, it is only the first step. The ultimate goal of all climate activities must be to ensure that the Earth’s global average temperature stays below a 2 degree centigrade warming compared to pre-industrial times.
WWF puts forward nine more crucial steps for all actors in the international community to make the Kyoto Protocol actually work and continue the momentum to counter the threat of climate change.
The nine steps present a road map for the coming three years. These steps are the condition to successfully implement the Kyoto Protocol, increase climate protection after the first Kyoto period ends in 2012, increase support for vulnerable communities and the protection of ecosystems and habitats (adaptation) and increase the number of countries with measurable and credible climate targets.
Why do we need to act now?
The scale and the urgency of the problem have been established. Dying ecosystems, increased intensity and frequency of heat waves, droughts, storms and other weather disasters as well as crop failures and freshwater scarcity are likely to be the result of such an unprecedented increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. This threatens tens of millions of people with increased risk of hunger, hundreds of millions with increased risk of malaria, millions with increased flooding and billions with increased risk of water shortage.
The damage falls largely on the poorest and developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and parts of SE Asia and Latin America. For entire regions and for nations such as the Small Island Nations, this is a matter of pure survival. To illustrate the threat of climate change, think of the more than 100 million people, mostly in poor communities in developing countries, living within 1 meter of sea level.
What will change now because Kyoto is entering into force?
Reduction of climate changing emissions becomes a priority for the vast majority of the world.
Most industrialised countries are legally obliged to reduce their emissions by 2012 to clearly defined levels. (see full list of commitments at the UNFCCC website )
The emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases will be priced and the infrastructure created so they can be traded. The first carbon markets are appearing predominantly in London and other EU capitals.
Companies operating in Kyoto countries will have to factor the cost of CO2 into their operations. This includes American companies with facilities in Kyoto countries.
A set of three international mechanisms to trade emission reductions comes into force: The Clean Development Mechanism accounts for investments in projects that reduce CO2 emissions in developing countries; Joint Implementation accounts for such projects in industrialised countries; and emissions trading allows for the trading between industrialised Kyoto countries.
The compliance system becomes operational, thus ensuring commitments are met. No more voluntary agreements – the world has moved to mandatory approaches to tackle the climate change issue.
A series of actions are needed now to both ensure the Kyoto Protocol is a success and to set the world on the right path for the future.
MORE AMBITIOUS POLICIES- Industrialised nations have to strengthen their policies to reduce emissions and meet Kyoto targets.
The Kyoto Protocol requires “demonstrable progress” by 2005 by all industrialised countries. Most of them will have difficulty in proving this progress since they are not on track to meet their moderate obligations for 2012. These governments have to adopt new policies to reduce coal and oil consumption, increase renewable energies and rapidly expand and remove barriers to technologies that increase energy efficiency as key climate policy measures. These are measures that will also contribute to energy security, reduced energy import bills and domestic job creation via new technologies and market opportunities.
Global electricity production accounts for about 37% of all energy-related CO2 emissions. The electricity sector has vast possibilities to reduce its emissions quickly, cost-effectively and efficiently by switching from inefficient and polluting coal and oil to natural gas, co-generation and ultimately to renewable energies. WWF has published scenarios for a number of countries including the US, the European Union and many of its member states, Australia, Japan, the Philippines and Thailand, to show how the power sector by a mixture of de-carbonisation policies could drastically reduce CO2 emissions. In addition, about 1.6 billion people who have no access to electricity services deserve a clean and reliable option for their livelihood. Decentralised power generation, hybrid systems and off-grid solutions have already been proven to work in many developing countries and are key to reducing local air and water pollution.
MAKE EU EMISSIONS TRADING A SUCCESS - EU governments have to ensure that emissions trading is a success.This means that the targets for reducing emissions have to be honest and strong – they must be ambitious enough to achieve the needed emissions.
To date, only the European Union has introduced a meaningful emissions trading system. However, the so-called National Allocation Plans (allocating emission reduction permits to specific industry sectors and installations) have very weak caps and restrictions. Incentives for clean energy thus are small and create little pressure for companies to reduce their emissions and make the switch from coal to clean. The EU must strengthen the national plans considerably for the formal phase that starts in 2008, after the current pilot phase already underway. In addition, the EU should negotiate with other partners such as Canada, Japan, Russia and possibly certain US states to ensure maximum compatibility of the various systems.
SUPPORT FOR CLEAN AND EFFICIENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR DEVELOPING COUNTRIES – International finance and credit institutions must ensure clean technology solutions for developing nations.
To stay below an average 2 degree Celsius global warming, the total global emissions of CO2 have to peak in the next one to two decades and decline thereafter. This will mean that rapidly industrialising nations like China, India, Brazil and South Africa will need to develop in a less carbon-intensive way – using less fossil fuel to achieve economic growth. This is possible but support is crucial. Export credit agencies and international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank must promote and support technologies and infrastructural investments to reduce CO2 emissions in those countries. Many developing countries such as China are already taking significant steps in this direction by adopting renewable energy policies and fuel efficiency laws for cars. Such initiatives are needed on a large scale, and Europe must take the lead in making this happen.
CLEAN ENERGY MUST BECOME CORE BUSINESS – Countries must adopt all the needed policies and structures to develop renewable energies and energy efficiency.
Renewable energy has the potential to power the world more than fifty times over. Biomass and wind energy are becoming cost-effective as we speak. Renewables offer great potential to create and safeguard jobs - a WWF study on biomass identifies an employment potential of 170,000-290,000 full-time jobs in the OECD countries from this renewable energy source alone. In Spain, Germany and Denmark, ambitious renewable energy policies have provided about 250,000 new jobs already.
The energy efficiency potential is huge and still mostly untapped in industrialised countries: from production to use, more than 90% of energy is still being wasted. There are no technical or financial barriers, only infrastructural and educational barriers that must be removed to exploit the vast potential for energy conservation and efficiency. In order to meet increased power demand in industrialised countries, building new power stations is about 6 times more expensive than saving the same amount of energy with more efficient appliances.
Governments need to reduce the current level of global subsidies for fossil fuels of over €200 billion and foster strong standards for energy conservation and renewable energies.
DENIAL IS NOT AN OPTION - USA and Australia need to cut emissions too.
The United States and Australia must adopt binding national caps to reduce their emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. WWF calls on all countries that have ratified Kyoto to exert all possible pressure on both these governments to contribute meaningfully and to work closely with the various progressive stakeholders and business actors in the countries that are willing to move pro-actively.
HELP THE POOREST TO DEAL WITH CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS – The international community must gear up support for the poorest countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.
The majority of developing nations, the poor Least Developed Countries (LDC), will not have to accept emissions targets in the near future. Their emissions levels are negligible and the need for impact management and adaptation to the impact from climate change has the utmost priority.
In these countries, all existing planning tools and development strategies should take into account the impacts of climate change and factor strategies in to deal with the inevitable impacts. In fact, all countries must have the tools for adaptive planning at their fingertips. These include land use planning for agriculture and forestry, better health care and coastal planning for settlements, water reserves and buildings, as well as technological planning. Funding for adaptation in LDCs should come from industrialised countries. Of course the best adaptation strategy is to cut emissions.
COMMIT TO THE 2 DEGREES CELSIUS CEILING - All governments, international political bodies and industry groups need to commit themselves to keep the world below the dangerous ceiling of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) warming of global average temperature compared to pre-industrial times. This is the crucial tipping point for the environment – crossing it would have devastating impacts for people and wildlife.
The European Union has recognised this again in their Environment Council in December 2004. So have business players such as BP.
Science indicates that the 2°C ceiling translates into a required reduction in global emissions of up to 50% by mid of this century, and about 80% in industrialised countries in the same period. This is in stark contrast to the current average annual increase of emissions by 1-2%. While changing the trend is not a small task, it appears not only necessary, but also possible and certainly desirable to take immediate action.
NECESSARY: these reductions are necessary to save the world from dangerous climate change.
POSSIBLE: many technical and economic analyses show that these reductions are possible if the world community works together in true solidarity.
DESIRABLE: they are desirable since the large move to new technologies will stimulate business and industry development and help to target development needs in poorer countries.
PLAN FOR THE NEXT DECADES - The ‘Kyoto Club’ needs to think ahead to create critical mass for ambitious targets after 2012.
The Kyoto Club, an unofficial name for the countries who have ratified the Protocol, should form a strong coalition and agree on a way forward after the first period of the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012. The infrastructure – from mandatory caps to emissions trading to compliance to accounting standards – included in the Kyoto Protocol must serve as the base for any future regime. The principle of multilateral negotiations in the context of the Kyoto Protocol needs to be maintained, strengthened and defended against the Bush administration – Kyoto parties should by no means accommodate an unwilling Bush administration by buying into its ineffective proposals such as voluntary agreements.
Jennifer Morgan, Director, WWF Climate Change Programme, +49 160 907 49 807, firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephan Singer, Head, European WWF Climate Change Programme, +32 496 55 07 09, email@example.com