The government today released a
report outlining what it wants from a new
international climate deal.
World leaders are due to meet in New York later
this month to add impetus to negotiations, with a deal set
to be agreed in Paris at the end of 2015.
Here’s what the UK is hoping for.
‘Fair’ commitments from all countries
The 70 page document makes it clear that the UK expects all
countries to commit to making emissions cuts. It doesn’t expect all
the commitments to be the same, however.
“Countries will need to make the low-carbon transition in a way
that reflects their national situation, the opportunities available
to them, and both their relative past and future contributions to
climate change”, the report says.
It suggests a three-tiered system where countries make
commitments based on their different levels of economic
development. That wouldn’t be a radical departure from the current
system. The United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has
already enshrined the idea of common but differentiated
responsibilities in a
The world’s most advanced economies should seek to cut emissions
by 34 to 74 per cent compared to 1990 levels by 2030, the report
says. Such cuts should allow governments to keep their commitment
of curbing warming to two degrees above pre-industrial levels. The
report names the EU, US, Japan, Canada and Australia as actors it
expects to adopt policies to meet this goal.
Developing economies are also be expected to make commitments,
though to a lesser extent.
China needs to aim to cut emissions by 33 per cent by 2030
compared to 2010 levels, it says. The report is careful not to
demand this target, however. Instead, the government simply “hope
[China’s] commitment will reflect this”.
India’s emissions “are expected to grow in the near term”, the
report says. But it recommends the country’s emissions peaking
“around or shortly after 2030”.
The report doesn’t outline any specific targets for the world’s
least developed economies. Instead, it says they should seek to
“embark on low-carbon development pathways” with developed
The UK wants countries to set their own targets and choose how
to meet them. Targets will “vary in type (e.g. economy wide
targets, energy intensity targets, sectoral targets) and in the
level of ambition”, the report says.
It says some countries could work towards cutting emissions by a
set amount each year, while others could aim to make their
economies less carbon intensive.
Countries should be encouraged to implement a suite of policies
which suits their specific needs, the report says – from rolling
out carbon trading, to implementing power plant emissions
performance standards and fuel efficiency regulations.
The document also makes it clear the UK wants “a legally binding
deal”. It doesn’t elaborate what form this could take, however.
One option is for it to be an international treaty, like the
Kyoto Protocol that it is designed to replace. The US senate is
unlikely to ratify such a deal, however.
Another option is for the new deal to stay as a non-ratified
treaty, which the US and rest of the world takes as binding even
without Senate ratification. How effective such a deal would be is
Instead, countries may seek a political accord similar to that
signed at a previous meeting
in Copenhagen. That would sidestep the US congress, but may not
be seen as ambitious enough by some actors.
The UK has laid out its expectations, however
vaguely, early on in the negotiation process. Only time will tell
if it manages to get the deal it wants.