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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.

8.1 Alternative Paths Forward

One such forum is the Gleneagles Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development, launched at the G8 summit in July 2005 as an instrument whereby innovative ideas and measures to tackle these issues could be discussed informally among G8 and key developing countries outside the formal structure of the UNFCCC. The Dialogue involves 19 countries – the G8 plus Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland, Spain, South Africa, and South Korea, plus the European Commission. By 2012 these countries will represent between 75-80% of all global emissions. (The recommendations of GLCA will be delivered to the Gleneagles Dialogue as well as to the UNFCCC.)

Many different proposals have been made for partial or early solutions that would not require a comprehensive, overarching agreement. These proposals can broadly be characterized as:

1. Country-based
2. Sector-based
3. Policy-based and
4. Measures-based

The following table gives a few examples of the narrower “systems boundaries” being considered in these proposals.

Table 4: Proposals for Partial Solutions

Such proposals can involve multiple categories. For example, the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate includes six countries of the Asia-Pacific region (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and the US) and the following sectors: power generation and transmission, steel, aluminum, cement, coal mining, buildings and appliances. It also includes an agreement to work toward promoting renewable energy. Thus, it combines elements of country-based, sector-based, and measures-based strategies. Country-based approaches offer a simpler negotiating process and the potential to address a large share of the world’s emissions – but they risk the creation of a two-tier world, dividing the world into those who have a seat at the table from those who do not; and breeding resentment and hostility.

Sector-based approaches can avoid competitiveness concerns by negotiating emissions targets for particular industries, including those located in developing countries – but like the other approaches offer only a partial solution.

Emissions-based approaches offer countries the flexibility to design emission reduction strategies that are most appropriate to their national circumstances. Smaller agreements offer the potential of early action–not waiting until 2012 for effective responses to begin, but starting on whatever is feasible now. If successful, these partial agreements could also be included at a later date under an umbrella of a climate change agreement.

Questions for GLCA:

-Should the focus be on eliminating barriers to a comprehensive agreement or on identifying opportunities for smaller agreements that are complementary to the larger process?

-Should the foundation of a climate agreement be based on emissions reductions or on a set of policies and measures? Is a hybrid of these approaches desirable?

 
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