Publisher: Ecofys GmbH
What is next after the Kyoto Protocol?
Options for international climate policy post 2012 assessed in PhD thesis
Cologne - On 30 May 2005, Niklas Höhne successfully defended his PhD thesis „What is next after the Kyoto Protocol?” at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands. For the past three and a half years he conducted research on international climate policy post 2012, while working on international climate policy projects under employment of Ecofys. The thesis assesses the options and puts new proposals forward for a future international climate regime after 2012, when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ends.
An impasse has to be overcome to agree on next steps in international climate policy. Developed countries carry most of the historical responsibility for global climate change and should take the first step in reducing emissions. But the USA as the largest emitter have rejected the Kyoto Protocol as such a first step. And developing countries object to restrictions on their emissions, since they are only to a relatively small part responsible for the problem, and point to the USA to act first.
The thesis shows, that steps such as the Kyoto Protocol are very important, if seen in the light of climate stabilization and the necessary substantial greenhouse gas emission reductions. It shows that if emission reductions are postponed 5 to 15 years, more and more impacts are unavoidable or can only be prevented with significantly higher efforts afterwards.
Common but differentiated convergence
In view of this situation the thesis proposes a new simple concept called “Common but differentiated convergence”, which could serve as a conceptual basis for the negotiations. In this system the per capita emissions of developed countries converge to a low level. Developing countries do the same but delayed and conditional to developed country action. The thesis concludes that a system based on these principles but with more stages of participation could accommodate most countries’ concerns.
While a global agreement is out of reach, like-minded developed countries, together with developing countries, could in the meantime pave the way for a global agreement. By demonstrating that reducing and limiting emissions is possible without major negative economic consequences. This leadership by example could encourage other countries to join. In the end, it could be to the advantage of the early acting countries, as for stabilization of the climate, greenhouse gas emissions have to be reduced significantly in the long run.
Ecofys (www.ecofys.com) is a leading company in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency. More than 200 employees in seven countries deliver sustainable energy services and innovations. Ecofys is part of the Econcern group (www.econcern.com), with the mission "a sustainable energy supply for everyone".
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