Analysis: The different paths to climate protection

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

A recent conference held by German think-tank, Ecologic, debated the best means of tackling the problem of global warming, comparing the Kyoto Protocol with other international initiatives such as AP6.

The conference, held on 7 September 2006 in Berlin, included contributions from Dr. Karsten Sach (German Ministry of the Environment), Jennifer Morgan (WWF) and Dr. Hartmut Grewe (Konrad Adenauer Foundation). It concluded that firstly, climate change as a global phenomenon requires global action. At present, the strategies of states are very multi-faceted and variable. 

Alongside the Kyoto Protocol, which sets forth binding reduction targets, there are a number of initiatives such as the Asian Pacific Partnership agreement for Clean Development and Climate (AP6) with a voluntary, technology-based approach, and the Action Program for climate protection put in place at the G8 Summit in Gleneagles. 

It was debated whether these varied approaches are effective for climate protection, and to what extent they complement or compete and thus hinder one another.

A far-reaching consensus arose that there could not be a single path to climate protection. There was also agreement that clear and binding ‘top-down’ reduction targets, such as those mandated until 2012 in the Kyoto Protocol, cannot be waived in the future. Furthermore, the potential of the carbon market to internalise costs was emphasised. The participants also agreed that a binding approach must be applied to more countries in the medium term while considering poor countries’ right to development. At the same time a few participants argued that only new, less cumbersome decision making processes than those set forth by the Climate Convention and the Kyoto Protocol can solve the climate problem.

There was strong consensus among participants that both the will of political decision-makers as well as that of the general public must be won for climate protection. To that end, the public was expected to convey the urgency of the problem and to pressure politicians into action.

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