Key Issues

Fairness: Differentiated targets and timetables   |  Targets to include sinks  |  Market-based mechanisms  |   Research, Development, Demonstration, Deployment and Diffusion  |  Technology Transfer  |  Adaptation  |  Finance  |  The Way Ahead: Comprehensive Agreement or Piecemeal Solutions?
GLCA aims to design a framework for a new, practical, enforceable, and international, post-2012 agreement on climate change.  Before a consensus can be reached, a number of critical issues must be discussed.

Fairness Differentiated targets and timetables

It is clear that any climate change agreement will be acceptable and sustainable only if all participating countries believe that it is fair and equitable. Most observers say that requiring all countries to achieve the same percentage reduction in emissions in the same timeframe would be grossly unfair. The principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities,” was established in the Framework Convention. This standard should be employed in designing emissions targets and timetables to ensure an evenhanded solution.

Carbon Sinks

Eighteen percent of global emissions come from land-use changes—a greater share than either global transport or the industrial sector. Most of this is due to deforestation. Addressing greenhouse gas sinks—including potential credits for afforestation, reforestion and avoided deforestation—should be a component of future climate agreements. Improving science and measurement of above-ground and below ground stocks of carbon is an integral part of this process.

Market-based mechanisms

Use of market-based mechanisms are favored by economists and welcomed by industry as they reduce the costs of meeting emissions targets.  The Kyoto Protocol created three distinct flexibility mechanisms to reduce the economic burden of target compliance—joint implementation, the Clean Development Mechanism, and international emissions trading.  The advantages and limitations of these approaches, as well as the employment of a carbon tax, should be considered.

Research, Development, Demonstration, Deployment and Diffusion
Reducing emissions by 60-80 percent of 1990 levels in a cost effective manner will require a great technology revolution.  Solar, wind, biomass, nuclear, hydrogen, and carbon capture and storage technologies need additional breakthroughs that will only be made possible with the infusion of public funds.  Rates of investment in both public- and private-sector energy research and development are lower than other industries, and have steadily declined for twenty years.  Substantial increases in R&D investment—by up to 500 percent of current levels—are essential.
Technology Transfer
Issues of competitiveness and intellectual property rights have impeded the transfer of clean technologies to developing countries. Given the long life of energy infrastructure—many capital investments last up to 40-50 years—it is essential that clean energy technologies are made as widely available as possible. A global research fund should support energy technology research programs for developing nations.
Although the developed world is largely responsible for climate change, the developing world will bear the burden of its effects. It is largely ill-equipped to do so. Early climate efforts focused on mitigation; the next must also address adaptation. Some observers have suggested increasing development assistance to finance adaptation measures.
The Stern Review estimates that confronting climate change will cost about 1 percent of gross world product.  Financing mitigation and adaptation will require additional investment, as well as a redirection of existing capital flows. This should included increased assistance to developing nations to promote clean energy technologies and greater energy efficiency.
The Way Ahead Comprehensive Agreement or Piecemeal Solutions?
Many nations are exploring alternative fora to discuss substantive climate issues, including the Gleaneagles Dialogue. These approaches may emphasize country, sector, policy or measures-based agreements in place of a comprehensive accord.   Smaller agreements offer the potential of early action, and could be included under an umbrella of a climate change agreement at a later date.