September 25, 2011

Special Issue on INEA: Reconciling Domestic Energy Needs and Global Climate Policy: Challenges and Opportunities for China and India

Carlo Carraro and I have recently edited a special issue of INEA. We collect a set of articles that take stock of the current status of the negotiations and suggest an unconventional, pragmatic way forward.

All the articles recognize that China and India will not enter a textbook-style international climate agreement soon. They are also aware that the future international climate architecture will be fragmented and incomplete at least until 2020. Therefore, the inability to build a large binding agreement with absolute targets is not seen as a tragedy, but rather as a fact that should be considered as a starting point for future steps towards global emission reductions. For this reason all articles take a long-term perspective. As Zhang notes in his article, the real question when dealing with China and India is post‑2020 and not pre‑2020.
In the free-access editorial we trace a well-defined pathway to include China and India in the international effort to control global warming. With a more active participation of the two large developing economies, developed countries would find it hard to avoid a more active engagement and the Gordian knot of climate policy could be cut.

We summarize this pathway through six key messages.

First, at least in the next decade, negotiators should focus more on sustainable development goals than on targets and timetables. 

Second, China and India will have a remarkably different impact on global climate change for several decades to come. At the same time, they follow different development paths and therefore should proceed along different negotiating trajectories.
Third, China may take on absolute emissions caps around 2030.

Fourth, there are many opportunities in China and India to reduce emissions by a large amount, and at low cost, between 2020 and 2050.

Fifth, in order to achieve consensus on very ambitious climate agreements it is necessary to agree on a new shared definition of the “common but differentiated responsibilities” (CBRD) principle.

Sixth, clear rules that deal with the non-compliance of OECD countries with Kyoto and other climate commitments must be established.

Table of contents:

Reconciling Domestic Energy Needs and Global Climate Policy: Challenges and Opportunities for China and India

Guest Editors: Carlo Carraro and Emanuele Massetti

Editorial, Carlo Carraro and Emanuele Massetti
Carbon tax scenarios for China and India: exploring politically feasible mitigation goals, by Emanuele Massetti
Climate agreements and India: aligning options and opportunities on a new track, by P. R. Shukla and Subash Dhar

In what format and under what timeframe would China take on climate commitments? A roadmap to 2050,  by Zhongxiang Zhang

China and India’s participation in global climate negotiations, by Sean Walsh, Huifang Tian, John Whalley and Manmohan Agarwal

September 13, 2011

Technical Innovation, Economic Development and Implications for Energy Use and Emissions

The UNESCO Energy Bulletin has published a longer and more articulated version of the World Bank Development Outreach article on emissions and economic development

Carlo Carraro and Emanuele Massetti. 2011. "Technical Innovation, Economic Development and Implications for Energy Use and Emissions." UNESCO Energy Bulletin, 2(11).

"In order to achieve the target of a 50% reduction of GHGs emissions by 2050 set forth during the G8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy, in 2009, CO2 emissions per capita need to be lower than 1.14 tons in 2050, using 1990 as the benchmark year and assuming that an equivalent effort is undertaken to reduce emissions of all other GHGs. If we consider that in 2005 CO2 emissions per capita were about 4.5 tons and we expect a median future level in 2050 equal to 6 tons of CO2 per capita, we can easily conclude that we are definitely off-track. The historic pattern that links emissions to economic development needs to be reversed."

"Some solutions are already available and a well-crafted climate policy can stimulate their adoption. However, there are limited options available today to invert drastically the relationship between economic growth and emissions."