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Quo vadis, Kyoto? Pitfalls and opportunities

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B. Muller
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This paper was delivered as the keynote address presented at the Civil Society Outreach of the G8 meeting of Environment and Development Ministers, held on the 17-18 March 2005 in Derby, UK. The paper discusses the creation of greenhouse gas emission reductions as an economic good through permit trading schemes. The author proposes that these emissions credits are the most important achievement in the global effort to fight climate change to date.However, the author also notes that the success of emission trading in helping to reduce emissions depends on the participants expecting these markets to be here to stay, and the value of the permits to increase significantly over time. The only reliable way of achieving this is by way of a sequence of ever tightening mandatory caps on permissible emissions, i.e. by continuing the Kyoto regime - possibly with some ‘safety-valves’ such as the introduction of maximum permit prices. In conflict with this, the Bush administration has declared that it will not sign the Kyoto protocol; the world following suit with the Bush administration is what the author defines as the worst possible course of action.The author emphasises that the focus of UK and EU policy should be on taking genuine leadership to continue the Kyoto-track negotiations. The global community needs to recognise that there are differences between the needs and capabilities of industrialised and developing countries, and these must be incorporated into a Kyoto successor architecture. It is possible to construct an environmentally effective follow-up of the Kyoto Protocol in which everyone could meaningfully participate or engage, but only if it is allowed to be sufficiently diverse in character, involving not only the Kyoto architecture, but alternatives to address developing country Parties, and even to integrate willing non-Party actors.In conclusion, the author posits that the key positions in the way forward at the upcoming post-2012 negotiations must be:staunch resistance to attempts to force climate change into a ghetto, ensuring that issues of impacts and adaptation are addressed in such way as to give developing countries confidence in a post-2012 regime, and redeem the promises madekeeping to the Kyoto-track (i.e. differentiated mandatory emission caps & flexibilities)making provisions for ‘as-if-Parties’ (including sub-national actors) who are willing and able to play by the rules of the treaty but have not managed to (or cannot) obtain formal ratification.negotiations for industrialised countriesengaging developing countries by addressing their emissions without imposing additional economic burdens, for example, by giving the Clean Development Mechanism much needed support