Climate targets – should they be met at home or where it is cheapest?
This paper, by German analysts Jochen Luhmann and Wolfgang Sterk, is worth reading for several reasons. One is that it contains a very careful, interesting, and scrupulous discussion of the process by which overly economistic understandings of efficiency have corrupted the notion of emissions targets, and in so doing allowed the carbon marketeers to claim the high ground — as if “offsets” and similar approaches should properly be unrestricted.
Another — and this is the key point here — is that the analysis is then extended to explain, in more formal terms than we ourselves have ever done, the notion of “negative emissions” that underlies the GDRs responsibility and capacity approach to Annex 1 emission targets.
For example, in reference to the UN Secretariat’s 2007 report on the investment and financial flows necessary to combat climate change, Luhmann and Sterk note that:
The difference between the Reference scenario and the Climate protection scenario in the Secretariat’s Report amounts to 21.7 Gt CO2eq for the Southern countries by 2030. The emissions of the industrialized countries stood at 18.7 Gt CO2eq in the Kyoto basis year of 1990. Financing all the reductions required in the South solely by means of funds mobilized on the emissions trade market, however, would mean that the industrialized countries would have to commit themselves to reducing their emissions by 2030 by significantly more than 100 percent in comparison with 1990: in order to do no more than create sufficient demand for the 21.7 Gt reductions in the South on the emissions trade market the industrialized countries would have to commit themselves to a reduction of 116 percent compared to 1990. In addition to this, according to the Secretariat’s figures, 10 Gt of domestic reductions would be required, corresponding to a reduction of 53.5 percent compared to 1990. The total reduction required of the industrialized countries would therefore come to around 170 percent. That is logically not impossible if “their” is correctly understood as a possessive pronoun. It would be impossible to achieve this target only if “their” is understood in a territorial sense. In the world of realpolitik, however, in which all the industrialized countries outside the EU have so far not been willing to commit themselves to reducing their emissions by 2020 by 25–40 percent, which the IPCC has calculated as necessary, such figures appear at best utopian.
This is definately for climate politcy only, but, that said, it is highly recommended, and extremely relevant.