Friday, December 14, 2007

Climate change is not Pop Idol

The New Statesman asks us to 'vote for [our] favourite climate framework'. I think this is not very useful, and commented:
1. Where does it get one say that Kyoto has little 'scientific rigour'? That is not what it is designed for: criticising an apple for not being an orange. (bear in mind questions, too, from Myles Allen et al regarding the use of atmospheric concentration targets in the first place for target setting - ref RealClimate).

2. C&C gets more points for 'simplicity'. Why should 'simplicity' be the right answer to one of the world's most complex problems? Walking around downtown Baghdad calling for peace and brotherly love may be simple, but it is unlikely to solve the problem.
and plan to examine the issues in more detail at Global Deal.


Charlie Kronick said...

Unhelpful? As ever, Caspar, you’re being generous. Poorly disguised puff piece for C&C. What’s simple about C&C is also simple about Kyoto – use markets to attain your targets, whatever they might at the end of the negotiations. Both the contraction and convergence targets are negotiable, not fixed and leave the delivery to trading a global commodity – in this case carbon – in a market over which the poorest have little control. Please cite an example of a single trade in a global commodity – oil, tin, coffee, soya beans, timber, etc, etc – have resulted in a measurable increase in wealth for most communities in the developing world or improvement in levels of livelihood.

The challenge isn’t that we don’t have a decent framework (though we don’t); the challenge is that there is a more or less complete absence of poltical will to set both the objectives and the trajectories for reaching them. Frameworks, policies and measures – all of these might evolve in the iterations that lead up to reaching such an objective. The real fallacy is that an overarching framework (C&C, GDRs or even the Washington Consensus) will deliver desirable outcomes because they’re “good” in themselves…

I’m more cross now than I was before I started writing this!

Oliver Tickell said...

As the originator of Kyoto2 I have to chuck in my view that a good framework is much better than a bad one. The Kyoto Protocol is a bad framework not so much due to its lack of scientific rigour but because of its lack of economic rigour. It is in a sense cap-and-trade but without a firm cap, and with a poorly regulated trade in ill-defined instruments. Of course a host of economists were (and are) saying this but they are routinely ignored. The result is that the KP is inefficient - that is, it achieves meager gains at high cost, and with vast (multi-billion dollar) profits accruing to market operators while leaving the genuine needs arising out of climate change unmet.

As for the lack of political will ... it seems to me that there is a lot of political will to make something happen, but some powerful blocking forces. One problem is the lack of a coherent framework that draws the issues together in a coherent way. Which is of course what Kyoto2 aims to do.

C&C was an adequate response when it was put forward by Michael Grubb in 1990 ["The Greenhouse Effect: Negotiating Targets", International Affairs Vol. 66, No. 1, Jan., 1990, pp. 67-89]:. But no longer. We lack time for the luxury of a system that moves large amounts of money between governments, but provides none with which to directly address the problems of climate change. Why as a UK taxpayer would I want the government to pay loads of money to say Nigeria for carbon permits? I would want that money to go directly to fund adaptation, mitigation, forest and peatland conservation, climate-friendly farming and a decisive shift to a low carbon global economy. That is what Kyoto2 aims to do.