An umbrella agreement?
Surreal photos in the paper this morning, as Chinese wade waist high through flooded streets in Henan province in China. The surreal thing about it is that despite being deep in flood waters, most of them are still holding up umbrellas. Also in the paper this morning “Insurers facing record payout for natural disasters.” Global losses amount to £31 billion for the first six months of 2021, according to estimates. I think we’re going to need bigger umbrellas.
Meanwhile, on this vexed question I co-sign a letter co-ordinated by the Global Commons Institute, to the Financial Times:
‘In Leslie Hook’s FT article (20 07 21) John Kerry said of climate funding,“President Biden is trying to figure out what to do” adding, “we can’t be doing less than a totally fundamental, basic level of acceptance and responsibility.”
As co-signatories to the Byrd Hagel Resolution, both Joe Biden and John Kerry know this, as the Resolution insisted that all countries had to accept either emissions reduction or limitation commitments. It was passed 95-0 by the US Senate in June 1997.
Later that year, at the COP-3 meeting of the UNFCCC, the resolution fed into what was very widely known as Contraction and Convergence (C&C), which the US introduced into the final debate, supported by China, India and the Africa group of nations, not least if ‘emissions-trading’ was to be included.
As they agreed there was no other way to integrate all the arguments in play, it is fundamental to note that the US delegation specifically accepted the simple basis of ‘entitlement’ as converging on the global per capita average of emissions under a global cap on emissions. They asked the Global Commons Institute (GCI) for support and to demonstrate and advocate this framework as widely as possible, especially in China, which GCI duly did. There was widespread acceptance of this principle after COP-3. It even became the basis of the UK Climate Change Act in 2008.
At COP-15 in 2009 the Chinese government carefully distinguished between actual emissions and emissions entitlements, pointing out that differences between emissions above and below the average could and should as 'credits and debits' be traded or taxed away.
Sadly squandering all these precedents for a sufficient climate framework, we have now wasted twenty four years since COP-3 as the global annual output of CO2 emissions has now doubled to ~14 billion tonnes carbon/year and in John Kerry’s words elsewhere, we are now writing humanity's 'suicide note'.
In his Reith lectures Mark Carney described a C&C approach as the first best option, at the same time adding that it was never going to happen. But that begs a question: if not C&C, what framework will COP26 deliver which is better? Are we to have a comprehensive framework based market, or just another hit-and-miss market based 'framework?'
Colin Challen, Former Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Climate Change
Robin Stott, FRCP FFPH Executive member of the UK Climate & Health Alliance
Bill McGuire Professor Emeritus of Geophysical & Climate Hazards
Aubrey Meyer, Director of the Global Commons Institute
It is very hard to imagine that COP26 will be any different from its predecessors. Perhaps we’ll have to wait for the insurers to go to the wall before ‘sufficient’ action is taken.
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