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Shrinking the carbon economy

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  • P. Neuman self only
    ... From: janson2997 To: fuelcell-energy@yahoogroups.com Date: Thu, 05 Aug 2004 10:14:41 -0000 Subject: [fuelcell-energy] Shrinking
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 5, 2004
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      From: "janson2997" <janson1997@...>
      To: fuelcell-energy@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Thu, 05 Aug 2004 10:14:41 -0000
      Subject: [fuelcell-energy] Shrinking the carbon economy
      Message-ID: <cet1ah+okf6@egroups.com>

      Shrinking the carbon economy

      Aubrey Meyer
      Global Commons Institute
      04 August 2004

      The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
      was agreed in 1992. By the UNFCCC's Kyoto Protocol, adopted at the
      third session of the Conference of the Parties, in Kyoto, Japan, in
      1997, the developed countries nations agreed to limit their
      greenhouse gas emissions relative to levels emitted in 1990.

      The objective is, of course, to stabilise the rising concentration of
      greenhouse gas (GHG) in the atmosphere before this
      becomes "dangerous". However, the Kyoto agreement is partial, not
      going far enough to meet scientifically assessed needs for GHG
      emission reductions.

      International convergence
      Unlike Kyoto, Contraction and Convergence (C&C) - the basis proposed
      by the Global Commons Institute (GCI) for international agreement to
      control greenhouse gas emissions � addresses the problem in its

      GHG concentrations have been rising for the last 200 years in
      response to emissions from industry and land use change and are
      influencing global temperature upwards. At present these trends are
      towards dangerous rates of climate change as the emissions accumulate
      in the atmosphere.
      Climate scientists have called for an emissions level that is at
      least 60 percent less than the level in 1990

      The contraction of future emissions globally is required to stabilise

      Climate scientists have called for an emissions level that is at
      least 60 percent less than the level in 1990. This means that, at
      rates to be agreed, an international convergence of future shares to
      this contraction � both gross and per capita � arises by definition.

      With C&C, GCI has formalised the options. An example of this can be
      seen in the diagram.

      Why the delay?
      Since such a process is required to achieve the goal of the UNFCCC,
      and the risks from failure to do this are great, why is there delay?
      Damage from already altered climate is increasingly apparent, and we
      are caught in long-term trends that augur worse to come.
      There is no choice but to substantially decrease dependence on fossil

      The first reason is that the economic wealth and growth we have come
      to take for granted have been dependent on burning increasing amounts
      of coal, oil and gas. The GHG emissions from this � weighed as
      carbon � amount to over 6 billion tonnes a year. This trend continues
      to rise at 2 percent a year, whereas a fall at around 2 percent a
      year is required to lessen danger.

      To deal with this, there is no choice but to substantially decrease
      dependence on fossil fuels by pursuing clean sources of energy such
      as solar and wind power.

      The second reason is that, within this expansion, there has been a
      marked global economic divergence. Two thirds of the world's
      population have only 6 percent of purchasing power in the global
      marketplace. Most of these people are in the poorer countries. Their
      GHG emissions still barely register in the global accounts, and they
      are the most vulnerable to the damage � such as droughts and floods �
      that global climate change brings.

      As trends worsen, the growth becomes increasingly uneconomic. To deal
      with this, the UNFCCC gave rise to a subsidiary agreement � the Kyoto
      Protocol � in which the wealthy countries are required to lead the
      technological changes by example, not require emissions control of
      developing countries, and to assist poorer countries in coping with
      the opportunity costs that climate change is already causing.

      However, the United States, the world's largest emitter of GHGs � 35
      percent of accumulated � has refused to support this agreement. The
      rules are such that now, unless the Russian Federation does support
      it, the protocol will not be ratified.

      Per capita shares
      Under President Clinton the US said that unless the agreement was
      global it wouldn't work. The US Senate unanimously passed the Byrd-
      Hagel Resolution in June 1997 to make the point. Since then,
      President Bush has also accepted arguments saying that controlling
      emissions must be subordinate to the growth of the US economy.
      C&C's main virtues are that it is simple, easy to understand and not

      So in the US and globally, GHG emissions and concentrations, and
      consequential damage, will continue to rise. This is locking us
      deeper into the trends towards dangerous rates of climate change, not
      to mention the trends of increasingly uneconomic growth.

      As early as 1990 GCI proposed the C&C basis to prevent this deadlock.
      We presented the first detailed proposals in 1996 and have sustained
      our effort ever since to increase awareness of C&C. C&C's main
      virtues are that it is simple, easy to understand and not random.

      Governed by the goal of stabilising GHG concentrations in the
      atmosphere, the model will calculate any rate of contraction.
      Applying the simple moral within this logic, the model will also
      calculate any rate of convergence to equal per capita shares

      Backers and advocates
      Encouragingly, the uptake of C&C has grown. The proposal has an
      increasing number of high-level backers and new advocates.
      Institutions such as the European Parliament, the UK's Royal
      Commission on Environmental Pollution, the German Advisory Council on
      Global Change, and large insurers such as Munich Re support and
      advocate C&C.

      Very senior figures in the World Council of Churches and the Anglican
      Communion also positively advocate C&C.

      The Africa Group of Nations led C&C at the UN climate negotiations in
      Kyoto in 1997 and are said to be preparing to present it again for
      the post-Kyoto period.

      In the UK, Parliament is considering draft legislation for the
      application of C&C, and the government has shown increasingly willing
      to consider C&C as the basis of its international strategy for
      avoiding dangerous climate change. These developments are important
      to the run-up to the UK's chairmanship of the next G8, its Presidency
      of the EU, and the UK general election next year.

      Unless we prefer disaster by international bluff and blackmail, C&C
      is what the situation requires.

      Aubrey Meyer is founder and Director of the Global Commons Institute,
      London. Endorsements of C&C can be seen on the GCI website.

      OneWorld Guest Editorials represent the viewpoint of the authors and
      not necessarily that of the OneWorld Network.



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