Chapter 13: Deepening international collaboration
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13.1 International public funding for mitigation
13.2 International public funding for adaptation
13.3 International trade in emissions rights
13.4 Price-based sectoral agreements for the trade-exposed, emissions intensive sectors
13.5 Climate change and trade policy
13.6 International aviation and shipping
13.7 Forestry-related emissions
13.8 Enforcement mechanisms
International trade in permits lowers the global cost of abatement, allows greater flexibility for developed countries in meeting their commitments, and provides a financial incentive for developing countries to take on commitments.
Trade in emissions rights is greatly to be preferred to trade in offset credits, which should be restricted.
A global agreement on minimum commitments to investment in low-emissions new technologies is required to ensure an adequate level of funding of research, development and commercialisation. Australia’s commitment to support of research, development and commercialisation of low-emissions technology would be up to about $2.8 billion in 2007—or more than $3 billion per annum by the time the proposed International Low Emissions Technology Commitment took effect in 2013.
An International Adaptation Assistance Commitment would provide new adaptation assistance to developing countries that join the global mitigation effort.
Early sectoral agreements would seek to ensure that the main trade-exposed, emissions-intensive industries face comparable carbon prices across the world. These would include international civil aviation and shipping.
A WTO agreement is required to support international mitigation agreements and to constrain unilateral action against countries thought to be doing too little on mitigation.
It would be neither desirable nor feasible for each country separately to pursue national emissions-reduction targets. It would not be desirable because lower-cost abatement options would be forgone, and higher-cost options accepted. It would not be feasible, for there would be no incentive for developing countries to participate in strong mitigation, and they would not. These are two fatal flaws.
No ambitious system of emissions allocation among nations will work unless it allocates entitlements rather than actual emissions. And mitigation efforts will not fully succeed without international public funding to develop and to transfer new technology as quickly and widely as possible. This chapter covers key aspects of international collaboration, from international public funding to emissions trading, to policy frameworks for particular sectors, trade rules and enforcement mechanisms.
13.1 International public funding for mitigation
of the weaknesses of the world’s response to climate change to date has been the limited extent of international public funding for mitigation. Levels of energy research and development, critical to enable the world to make the transition to a low-emissions future, have actually fallen over time.(1)
Figure 13.1 illustrates the case of the United States, the world’s largest investor in research and development. The lack of increase in energy research and development can be explained partly by the limited mitigation efforts seen so far (resulting in little indirect inducement of research and development). Nor has the issue been an important part of the public discussion. Research and development are barely mentioned in either the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or the Kyoto Protocol.
[Figure 13.1 Energy research and development expenditure by the public and private sectors in the United States]*
Source: Kammen & Nemet (2005a).
Unlike research and development, technology transfer features prominently under the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol. However, the unquantified assurances given in these treaties have not been translated into action. Some technology transfer has occurred under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism, but nothing on the scale required to underpin broad-based mitigation in developing countries. The Global Environment Facility, a multilateral agency which has been designated as the ‘financial mechanism’ for the UNFCCC and a number of other environmental conventions, has been an active player in technology transfer, but on a limited scale; on average less than US$1 billion a year (including co-financing) was allocated to climate change projects between 1991 and 2004 (IPCC 2007).
recently, low-emissions technology research and transfer have received increased attention, with support from prominent economists(2)
and political leaders. Venture capital funds are also starting to invest in renewable energy (Pontin 2007). In February 2008, the US, UK and Japanese governments announced the establishment of ‘a multibillion-dollar fund to accelerate the deployment of clean technologies and help the developing world deal with climate change’ (Paulson et al. 2008). The three countries have committed about US$1–2 billion each to what is now called the Clean Technology Fund, to be administered by the World Bank. The G7(3)
has issued a call to ‘scale up investment in developing countries to support them in joining international efforts to address climate change’ (AFP 2008). In the last few years, a number of collaborative initiatives have been launched to develop and transfer clean technologies (Box 13.1). The World Bank and regional banks have announced a new focus on energy efficiency and clean technologies, including renewable energy, with commitments to lend US$1–2 billion a year each (IPCC 2007). Australian governments have started investing in research and development on carbon capture and storage, and to a lesser extent in research on renewables. A number of Australian companies are investing large amounts of risk capital raised for the purpose in deep geothermal technologies.
Widespread adoption of national emissions goals, as advocated in Chapter 12, would not obviate the need for international public funding for mitigation. To the contrary, provision of such funding will be critical to the global endeavour to live within a tightening carbon constraint to correct for international market failures relating to public goods and missing markets:
Expenditure on the research, development and commercialisation of low-emissions technologies has significant international public good characteristics, as it can benefit all nations and its rewards cannot be fully captured by private investors. Delivering this international public good will be critical for lowering abatement costs and increasing confidence that the mitigation task is a feasible one. Indeed, some have argued that international climate change mitigation policy should be predominantly about the development and provision of low-emissions technologies (Schelling 2002; Barrett 2003). This view underestimates the importance of price signals for providing incentives for change, and for inducing technological change (Köhler et al. 2006). No amount of technological innovation will make some potentially important emissions-reducing technologies competitive with unmitigated release of emissions to the atmosphere. Geosequestration of emissions from fossil fuel combustion is an important example: coal-fired generation will always be more expensive with geosequestration than without it. Nevertheless, deep cuts in global emissions will require the development of new energy technologies, and international externalities in research and development provision will require international public funding.
International trade in emissions rights will be critical for providing incentives for developing countries to participate, but it will take several years even after a new international agreement is reached for the necessary international markets to develop. In the interim, developing countries will face a problem of ‘missing markets.’ Developed country governments and international development finance institutions will need to step into the breach to provide developing countries with financing to kick-start the move to a low-emissions future (Carmody & Ritchie 2007). Such financing would provide critical technology—existing and new—to support the transition to a low-carbon economy, but could extend beyond the energy markets to other areas such as reducing deforestation.
much public funding for research, development and commercialisation of low-emission technologies would be required? One estimate of global energy research and development needs for a stabilisation goal of 550 ppm carbon dioxide equivalent is in the order of US$30–100 billion per year until stabilisation (Kammen & Nemet 2005b). Another estimate for the same stabilisation level calls for annual spending of US$50 billion per year by 2050 compared to an estimated US$10 billion today (Bosetti et al. 2007).(4)
Although some of this research and development will be provided by the private sector, in general these estimates understate the required public funding. They only cover energy research and development, and neglect technology transfer or other public financing for developing country mitigation. These estimates model requirements for stabilization at 550 ppm carbon dioxide equivalent, a level that may not do enough to reduce the risk of dangerous climate change. Stabilisation at a lower concentration level will require faster and greater development and uptake of new technology, and thus larger, earlier expenditure. The International Energy Agency (2008) examined the energy technology requirements for reducing global emissions by 50 per cent by 2050. It concluded that ‘a massive increase of energy technology Research, Development and Demonstration … is needed in the coming 15 years, in the order of US$10–100 billion per year’ (IEA 2008: 1).
Looking beyond research and development to the financing needs of developing countries, the UNFCCC estimates that by 2030 additional global investment and financial flows of US$200 billion annually would be needed, with flows to developing countries in the order of US$100 billion annually to finance mitigation that leads to constraining emissions at 2030 to current levels (UNFCCC 2007b). While the bulk of these investment flows are expected to come from the private sector, until international carbon markets are established there will need to be greater reliance on public sector funding.
Encouraging adequate global funding, ensuring equitable burden sharing, and deterring free-riding all contribute to making a strong case for embedding commitments to the international funding of climate change mitigation in an international agreement.
Such a commitment would apply only to high-income countries. This is consistent with the UNFCCC principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibility’. It would reflect the burden the UNFCCC places on developed countries to meet mitigation costs in developing countries, and also the Bali agreement to scale up developing country mitigation action on the back of increased incentives from developed countries.
The Review therefore proposes that high-income countries support an International Low Emissions Technology Commitment. This would require high-income countries to allocate a small proportion of GDP above a threshold to such purposes. They would commit to a specified funding level, but would retain flexibility in the use of funds. Funds could be spent domestically or abroad, through national or collaborative ventures.
Eligible expenditures under the Commitment would include public funding on low-emissions research and development; public funding on technology commercialisation (at a discount of, say, 2:1 or 3:1); and public funding to kick-start the mitigation efforts of developing countries, for example through technology transfer and support for reduction in forestry emissions. Much of the spending will be in high-income countries since that is where the technological breakthroughs are more likely to be made. A significant portion would be in developing countries, especially prior to the establishment of international carbon markets.
Funding commitments would apply as a percentage of GDP above a certain threshold level of per capita income. The threshold for funding commitments could coincide with the threshold for classification in the high-income group of countries, so that a country just entering the group would initially have only minimal funding commitments.
The recommended size of the International Low Emissions Technology Commitment will be considered in the Review’s final report. As a broad illustration of magnitudes, take an annual global amount of US$100 billion and the World Bank high-income threshold of US$11 000 per capita. Then for 2007 GDP levels (at then current exchange rates) under this formula, the 50 richest countries (accounting for two-thirds of global GDP) would have contributed on average 0.24 per cent of their GDP to the Commitment.
Australia’s 2007 share under the above formulation would have been $2.8 billion, or 0.26 per cent of GDP. Australia would commit the public sector (federal or state) to spend at least this amount on research, development and commercialisation of new low-emissions technologies. It could acquit the commitments at home or abroad.
There is a strong argument for a steep ramping up of funding given the urgency of mitigation, the fact that research and technology transfer will bring about a permanent reduction in mitigation costs, and the need to induce developing countries to participate. Commitments might come down in future years as and when market mechanisms become effective and technological breakthroughs are made.
countries would need to agree to and comply with the commitments that would be expected from them under the next climate agreement in order to be able to qualify as recipients of funds under the Commitment.(5)
For the least developed countries, the expectation would only be to put in place a carbon penalty on large emissions-intensive export industries (see section 13.4). Most other developing countries would be expected in addition to take on one-sided targets (see section 12.3).
funding for the Commitment is secured would be left to individual governments. Countries with an emissions trading scheme or carbon tax could choose to earmark a portion of permit sales revenue or tax revenue towards this commitment.(6)
Expenditures under the Commitment would not be restricted to the stationary energy sector. It would also cover transport, and various forms of biosequestration: research into increasing carbon content of soils, forestry management, and the use of algae for biosequestration (section 3.6.1). It would also cover research into geo-engineering (section 3.6.2).Box 13.1 International research and development and technology transfer initiatives
In recent years, a number of international technology-related initiatives have been launched. Many of them are in need of additional funding. They would all be eligible for funding under the Review’s proposed International Low Emissions Technology Commitment.
The Generation IV International Forum is a multilateral partnership fostering international cooperation in research and development for the next generation of nuclear energy systems.
The Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum is focused on the development of improved technologies for the separation and capture of carbon dioxide for transport and long-term safe storage.
The Methane to Markets Partnership focuses on advancing near-term methane recovery and use of methane as a clean energy source.
The International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy provides a forum for its member countries for advancing policies, common codes and standards, as well as developing demonstration and commercial utilisation activities related to hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.
The mission of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership is to ‘contribute to the expansion of the global market for renewable energy and energy efficiency’. The partnership’s broad membership includes national governments, business, development banks and non-government organisations.
The Asia–Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate brings together governments and companies from Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States to collaborate on the development, deployment and transfer of cleaner and more efficient technologies (section 11.1).
13.2 International public funding for adaptation
Adaptation means different things for different countries. For most poor countries, an important response to the adaptation challenge is economic growth (Schelling 1997), which puts greater resources at the disposal of both citizens and governments to respond to climate change. Economic growth will also take people out of the sector that is most vulnerable to climate change—agriculture. Trade liberalisation will help countries adjust to shifting production opportunities, and will spread globally and render more manageable the shocks to food supplies that will come with climate change. Better education will help people in poor countries acquire the information they need to adapt. All of these are core development assistance matters that would benefit developing countries even if there were no climate change, but that will also help them to adapt to climate change.
It makes no sense to force an artificial division between the adaptation and development agendas. There is no need for a new adaptation architecture. The challenge is rather to make the existing aid architecture work better, and fully incorporate adaptation considerations into decision making.
A number of adaptation funds have been established under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, but they are quite small (Box 13.2).
The non-aid policies of developed countries are also important for helping developing countries adapt. For example, developed country policies that promote free trade, especially but not only in food, and the flow of unskilled labour, can be expected to help them to adapt. Developed country policies on security and peacekeeping will also be important to help developing countries adapt if, as some predict (Collier et al. 2008), climate change leads to increased civil conflict.
The movement of people resulting from climate change could eventually be massive. While most of it is likely to be internal, it could spill over national borders. Australia’s Pacific island neighbours are already seeking assistance for moving sections of their populations that are experiencing sea-level rise and salt water inundation. To date, the focus has been on the small island countries of the South Pacific. In the event, the numbers of people involved will be much greater in Papua New Guinea and eastern Indonesia. While at some point it might be necessary for larger developed countries to create special classes of entry and residence visas for residents of climate-affected nations, a more immediate response would be to increase the adaptive capacity of small developing countries. For example, countries such as Australia and New Zealand could have a role to play in helping to improve labour mobility in the region. This would create international private-sector networks (a diaspora), which in turn would help the Pacific island countries to adapt and to diversify their risk.
Given the range of adaptive responses, it is difficult to calculate the adaptation cost of climate change even in one country, let alone across the world. The World Bank (2006b) estimates the incremental annual costs of adaptation to projected climate change to be in the range of US$10 billion to US$40 billion per year, of which about a third is associated with public finance.
It would be desirable for developed countries to make a quantified commitment to providing adaptation support to developing countries. Some would argue that such a commitment would represent compensation to developing countries for damage done through ‘greenhouse pollution’ inflicted by developed countries (Oxfam 2007). Whether or not this ‘polluter pays’ argument were accepted, an International Adaptation Assistance Commitment would provide developing countries with an assurance that they will receive support in adapting. Both the new mitigation and the adaptation commitments proposed by the Review would give developing countries incentives to participate more fully in the international climate change regime. Access to such funding should be conditional on developing countries fulfilling reasonable expectations on their contribution to mitigation efforts. Note that, as set out in Chapter 12, participation conditions would be minimal for the least developed countries.
While adaptation assistance would, by its nature, be categorised as official development assistance, developed countries would need to ensure that funding to meet their share of the International Adaptation Assistance Commitment was additional to rather than substitutive of existing aid programs.
Many developing country governments are not aware in detail of what the main impacts and risks of climate change will be in their countries. This knowledge is the starting point of adaptation, and needs to be created locally. The importance of research for effective adaptive responses suggests that a priority for international funding should be a collaborative climate change impact and adaptation research endeavour. Australia could usefully play a leading role in the development of a system of international climate change research, as it did in the development of the established system of international agricultural research (the Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research). The research contribution that Australia might make to this international objective will be elaborated in the Review’s final report.
Australia’s international adaptation response will be focused on our region, and in particular our near neighbours, through the South Pacific and Papua New Guinea,Timor-Leste and Indonesia. The 2008–09 AusAID budget announced regional adaptation funding of $150 million over three years to be focused on the Pacific island countries. Priority areas include improved scientific understanding of climate change impacts, strategic planning and vulnerability assessment, and financing for the implementation of priority adaptation measures.Box 13.2 Adaptation funds under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol
The Least Developed Countries Fund
was established to assist least developed countries (as defined by the United Nations), of which there are 49, to design and implement National Adaptation Programmes of Action. It is funded through voluntary contributions, and pledges amount to US$120 million (GEF 2008b). Australia contributed $7.5 million to the fund in 2007.
The Special Climate Change Fund
is designed to complement other funding and, while mitigation activities are within its scope, its top priority is adaptation. It is funded through voluntary contributions, and pledges currently total US$60 million (GEF 2008a). Australia is not currently a contributor to this fund.
The Adaptation Fund
was established under the Kyoto Protocol. This fund has only just become operational. The fund is financed through a 2 per cent levy on certified emissions reductions (CERs) traded through the clean development mechanism. It receives secretariat services from the Global Environment Facility and the World Bank has been invited to become the trustee. The majority of its board members come from developing countries. Initial funding is unlikely to be available before 2010 (World Bank 2008b), when it is estimated that revenue from the levy will total US$80–300 million per year (UNFCCC 2007b).
13.3 International trade in emissions rights
13.3.1 Benefits and risks
Trading between countries in emissions rights is an integral part of the Review’s approach to mitigation. The agreed emissions targets would need only to hold in aggregate for the world, not at the level of each country. Some countries could emit above their allocations, buying emissions rights from other countries that in turn remain below their allocations. Indeed, it would be a natural development for countries with comparative advantage, after taking the external costs of emissions into account, in production of emissions-intensive goods, to purchase permits in international markets alongside exporting large amounts of the goods.
International trading has several advantages.
- It reduces global abatement costs by ensuring that the cheapest abatement opportunities are sought out first, wherever they occur. Cost savings are greater when there are wide differences between participants’ target commitments and abatement options, as is likely in a scheme with broad coverage. Estimates of aggregate cost reductions from global trade are in the range of 20–80 per cent (Stern 2008).
- A broader market can reduce price volatility, dilute country-specific shocks and provide greater certainty about domestic costs of meeting a target. This makes it easier to agree on and adhere to national emissions commitments.
- The tendency for trade to lead to convergence of emissions prices across countries will provide a level playing field for trade-exposed, emissions-intensive industries.
- Most importantly, the revenues from international trade provide financial incentives for developing countries to take on commitments. Developing countries, many of whom have cheap abatement options, can expect to reduce their emissions below their allocations, and sell the freed-up emissions rights. This is the principal direct incentive for developing countries to take on national targets, and requires developed countries to be willing to act as purchasers.(7)
International emissions trading also carries risks. Linking internationally is a form of shared sovereignty, which will imply some loss of control over aspects of mitigation policy. Fully linking into international markets means that the speed and amount of domestic economic adjustment are determined to a significant degree by the international price. Smaller countries, such as Australia, would lose control of the domestic price of carbon. While in general free trade is welfare promoting, for a government-created market, there is the risk that the resulting price might be too high or low relative to domestic perceptions of the optimal rate of mitigation. Linking can also be a cause of price volatility, for example if there were external policy instability. Risks can be reduced by limiting trading, as discussed below.
From these considerations, it is clear that the spread of international emissions trading offers great opportunities, but needs to be managed in a judicious and calibrated manner. Fully linked international markets are likely to emerge only over time.
Bilateral and regional trading and other forms of cooperation are natural stepping stones towards greater international integration. Such links are already being considered between existing and proposed emissions trading systems in Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, but could also occur between developed and developing countries. Links between individual developed and developing countries, or among groups of countries, will be easier to achieve than comprehensive global integration, and can build on established relationships. Developed countries will need to show leadership in their regions (see Box 13.3 in section 13.7 for potential for links between Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia).
13.3.2 International trading options
Imposing restrictions on trading allows countries to retain greater control over domestic prices and abatement, although with higher overall costs of complying with a given commitment. Rules for allocating trading opportunities and the profit from price differentials have to be devised in this context. Under the Kyoto Protocol, there are unquantified limits on international trade under the supplementarity principle of Article 17. The greater the trust a country has in the international system, the less it will want to resort to limits. As a result, in Chapter 15, the Review suggests limits in the Australian emissions trading scheme on the use of international offsets, but not emissions permits, from markets that meet quality standards.
Direct trading through private firms provides flexibility and is likely to lower transaction costs, especially when trade involves firms from countries with national emissions trading systems. But trading can also occur through government gateways, which would introduce the option to impose conditions on the use of international payments. For example, to make financial transfers more acceptable in permit-buying countries, buyers could require that the revenue be used for climate- and development-related purposes in permit-selling developing countries. Any such arrangements would be negotiated between the parties involved in trade.
A fundamental prerequisite for selling permits is transparent monitoring that complies with standards accepted by the international community and in particular by the main permit buyers. With international trading, incentives to under-report emissions are heightened. An international authority, possibly under the auspices of the UNFCCC, would have to assess whether minimum standards are met, similar to existing procedures under the Kyoto Protocol.
Each country would be able to determine the countries with which it would trade, to protect the integrity of its own domestic system. The scope for selectivity would, however, be limited by indirect linking. For example, if Australia links to New Zealand, and New Zealand links to other countries, then Australia’s market is effectively also linked to all of New Zealand’s partners. Indirect linking will accelerate the tendency towards a similar permit price across countries.
recommendations for how Australia should go about international linking based on consideration of these general options are provided in Chapter 15.(8)
13.3.3 International offset credits
International trading can also occur in offset credits—that is, emissions reductions claimed where no overall national commitment applies. So far under the Kyoto Protocol, most international trading is in offset credits derived from the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
discussed in Chapter 11, the CDM has facilitated some developing country engagement in mitigation, but suffers from important limitations. Expanding the CDM beyond its project-by-project basis is being considered in the UN process to include programs and possibly policies, or to allow whole sectors of developing countries’ economies to produce offsets. As discussed in Chapter 12, however, broad coverage of emissions sources with a safeguard for developing countries is better achieved through one-sided targets than through an expanded CDM. A one-sided target allows the quantitative commitment to be set according to agreed principles, without the arbitrary exercise of determining counterfactual baselines. And crucially, one-sided targets allow for commitments below business-as-usual emissions that are nevertheless expected to benefit developing countries through sales of freed-up emissions rights, while giving the safeguard of opting out. Ambitious global mitigation will require emissions containment in developing countries in addition to rather than in substitution for emissions reduction in developed countries. This is increasingly recognised internationally, including by the European Union, to date the principal backer of the CDM.(9)
If this framework were adopted, offset mechanisms would only have a role where there were no national commitments, leaving the CDM as a transitional mechanism to apply in countries that did not yet have one-sided targets. To remove any disincentives for taking on national commitments, no new CDM projects should be accepted from countries that are expected to take on targets (see Chapter 15). In addition, implementation rules for the CDM would need to be further strengthened to ensure a high standard of environmental integrity. Buying countries may also decide to place quantitative or qualitative limits on credit purchases.
13.4 Price-based sectoral agreements for the trade-exposed, emissions-intensive sectors
Unless large producers the world over face a similar emissions price, there is a danger of artificial movement of production from countries applying strong mitigation measures to others, with adverse environmental as well as economic effects. The fear of ‘carbon leakage’—a loss of competitiveness and possible international relocation of trade-exposed, emissions-intensive industries as a result of carbon penalties applying in some countries but not others—has been a powerful obstacle to strong domestic mitigation policies in many countries.
This fear can be exaggerated. Firms in different countries face very different cost structures already, in part due to differing government policies. To the extent that firms enjoy rents—and many have recently seen large increases in output prices—firms will be able to absorb carbon penalties without any adjustment at all (Lockwood & Whalley 2008).The chief executive officer of Australia’s largest exporter of liquified natural gas recently drew attention to the inequities that would be associated with Australia but not its gas-producing developing country competitors applying a price to carbon (Voelte 2008). He neglected to mention that differences in royalty and taxation regimes at the margin between Australia and major competitors gave Australia a competitive advantage many times as large as any negative effects of a carbon price, for as far into the future as we can see. Nevertheless, carbon leakage can be a real problem, and one that creates powerful domestic opposition to attempts to impose economy-wide carbon prices.
implementing domestic policies are considering various ways to offset competitive disadvantages to their trade-exposed, emissions-intensive industries—for example, by allocating free emissions permits under emissions trading, or by applying border taxes.(10)
Domestic compensation causes difficulties in implementation of domestic climate policies (see the discussion in Chapter 15). Border tax adjustments, even if compliant with World Trade Organization rules developed for the purpose (section 13.5), can only ever be a backstop to international climate change agreements.
avoid the need for second- or third-best domestic and trade solutions, comparable emissions pricing needs to apply to most or all of the main producers in trade-exposed, emissions-intensive industries. Clearly, effective economy-wide commitments for all relevant countries would be the best solution. But not all relevant countries will take on such commitments for the foreseeable future. The most straightforward mechanism to achieve a comparable carbon price is a sectoral agreement that subjects the main producers in each industry to a carbon tax if they do not have an effective national emissions limit.(11)
An agreement about taxes does not itself allow differentiation of commitments between countries (section 12.4), but this is not necessary in the case of the trade-exposed, emissions-intensive sector. Producers are part of a global market, and multinational ownership is widespread. Domestic governments would keep the revenue, giving them a direct incentive to implement the agreement. As foreshadowed above, access to global climate funds for developing countries could be made conditional on their taking part in relevant international sectoral agreements.
a small number of countries would need to be involved in the key industrial sectors to achieve broad coverage. Industries that are often mentioned in the international discussion as candidates for sectoral agreements include iron and steel, aluminium, chemicals, cement, and paper and pulp. The bulk of emissions from developing countries in these sectors arise from just a few countries. To cover 80 per cent or more of developing country emissions in each sector, just three developing countries would need to be involved in iron and steel; four each in aluminium smelting and pulp and paper making; seven in cement production; and nine in chemicals and petrochemicals (Schmidt et al. 2006).(12)
From Australia’s perspective, additional sectors of interest are non-ferrous metals beyond aluminium, alumina, liquefied natural gas (LNG), and the products of sheep and cattle (see Chapter 8).
Price-based agreements would require agreement about the tax rate for countries that were not operating under UN-compliant economy-wide commitments. The tax rate could be predetermined; set as an average of a basket of domestic emissions trading systems; or pegged to the price prevailing in one of the major developed country emissions trading markets (such as the European Union, Australian, or in future North American or East Asian markets).
In some industries, notably aluminium smelting and some steel production, indirect emissions in generating electricity would need to be taken into account. These emissions could be assessed according to a simple and robust approximation, based on the emissions intensity of the systems from which they draw their power, and made subject to the sectoral emissions tax. Indirect or embodied emissions that fell below a threshold would not be considered, in the interest of simplicity.
Appropriate regulatory and governance structures would need to be agreed, starting with a small number of the most important producing countries. Provisions would have to be reviewed periodically and implementation monitored by an international body. A 2013 start date for sectoral agreements should be the goal, directly following the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period. If coordination among candidate countries begins immediately, there is a good chance to have some agreements in place by then.
It would naturally fall to the large producing countries, in particular developed countries including Australia, to take leadership in crafting an agreement among the major producers in each industry sector. To motivate the case for sectoral agreements along these lines, policy makers the world over need to gain a clear understanding that comprehensive emissions pricing for trade-exposed industries is not necessarily to their disadvantage. Production will expand where low-emissions energy sources are available. If production moves elsewhere because doing so is cheaper after carbon is priced, this is economically and environmentally efficient restructuring, and should not be discouraged.
13.5 Climate change and trade policy
The links between climate and trade policy are receiving increasing attention. In December 2007, the Indonesian Government convened the first meeting on climate change of trade ministers from major economies in conjunction with the Bali Climate Change Conference.
Trade barriers to the diffusion of low-emissions technologies, and of goods and services embodying them, reduce their impact. Liberalisation of low-emissions technologies markets can be pursued through both unilateral and multilateral channels (World Bank 2008a). In December 2007, the European Union and the United States introduced a proposal to give priority in the World Trade Organization negotiations to liberalisation of climate-friendly goods and to services linked to addressing climate change (WTO 2008). The principle is a sound one, but liberalisation should be comprehensive. The EU–US list does not include ethanol, an important exclusion, as ethanol production receives large domestic subsidies or protection in many countries, including Australia, as well as the European Union and the United States. Neither does it include motor vehicles, despite the interest that all countries have in rapid diffusion of low-emissions innovations in this sector.
The most contentious climate change issue in trade policy is whether countries should be allowed to impose border adjustments if they introduce carbon pricing ahead of others. Two rationales are suggested for such action. The first is to compensate domestic industries for a loss of competitiveness. The second is to apply pressure to other countries to impose similar policies.
The European Union proposal for the post-2012 EU Emissions Trading System and several of the climate change legislative drafts in the United States have flagged provisions for countervailing tariff measures. Economist Joseph Stiglitz (2006) has endorsed this line of action. Others note that such moves may open the doors to protectionism and trade disputes (Bhagwati & Mavroidis 2007), a view with which the Review sympathises.
As the Director General of the WTO, Pascal Lamy, recently commented, imposing taxes on imports to penalise countries with looser emissions controls would be a ‘distant second-best to an international solution’ on climate change (Point Carbon 2008). The global community has a strong interest in avoiding pressures for border taxes by moving sooner rather than later to the international agreements that avoid distortions in investment and production in trade-exposed, emissions-intensive industries. Nevertheless, if an international solution is not forthcoming, the pressure, and indeed the case, for border adjustments will grow.
Border adjustments could be imposed unilaterally. It is likely that the WTO would be open to the use of certain trade measures in support of climate change objectives (WTO 2008). However, any unilateral adjustments would certainly be appealed. Whatever the ultimate verdict, the case approach would lead to a ‘long period of uncertainty and trade frictions’ (Hufbauer & Kim 2008: 35).
The alternative course of action, recommended by the Review, is to work for a new WTO code on the subject (Hufbauer & Kim 2008). Such a code would provide a framework within which countries could impose border adjustments, and would greatly reduce the likelihood of the imposition of climate change–justified border adjustments degenerating into a trade war. It would give countries the right to impose adjustments on products in relation to competitors that do not impose comparable mitigation regimes (either economy-wide, through national targets (section 12.3), or sector-specific through price-based sectoral agreements (section 13.4). Support for such a code would need to be unanimous. Developing countries have so far resisted modifications to WTO provisions on environmental grounds, but, given combined EU–US leadership, and the strong United Nations role in the emerging international mitigation regime, an agreement should be possible, though it would probably take several years to forge.
Pending such a global agreement (preparatory work on which should be a priority), border adjustments should not be imposed unilaterally by any country, because of the risks they would pose to global trade. Rather, if there is a need for unilateral adjustment (due to an absence of global agreements), as discussed in Chapter 15, domestic payments in WTO-consistent forms should be provided to firms.
13.6 International aviation and shipping
Emissions from international air traffic and maritime transport (known as ‘bunker fuel’ emissions) constitute a relatively small share of global fossil fuel emissions about 1.5 per cent and 2 per cent respectively of global emissions. But emissions from international aviation grew by 2.7 per cent annually over 2000–05, and shipping emissions (which are much more uncertain) are estimated to have grown by 3.1 per cent per year (IEA 2007). Both, and especially civil aviation, are expected rapidly to increase their shares of global emissions as incomes and international movements of goods and people rise under business as usual. At present, emissions from the international aviation and maritime transport sectors are not regulated under the UNFCCC or the Kyoto Protocol, due to difficulties of attribution and concerns about competitiveness.
simplest way to incorporate these two sectors into an international mitigation regime would be to treat them as emissions-intensive, trade-exposed sectors, along the lines discussed in section 13.4. Emissions from these two sectors should be included against national limits.(13)
If not, they should be subject to a comparable carbon tax.(14)
Emissions would be attributed to countries on the basis of fuel purchase. Where a tax was in place, the fuel-supplying country would retain the revenue raised.
Most freight ships are registered in developing countries but owned by companies in developed countries (UNFCCC 2007a). This makes a sectoral agreement particularly important for shipping. Getting broad coverage may be significantly harder than in the case of aviation, because ships can bunker large amounts of fuel, and they have manifold options to refuel. Allowing countries to retain the revenue from the tax would give a positive incentive for enforcement.
For aviation, imposition of a fuel tax might require an amendment to the Convention on International Civil Aviation. Aviation has a range of non-carbon dioxide climate impacts, such as the emission of nitrogen oxides and the formation of condensation trails and cirrus clouds. The IPCC (1999) estimated that total radiative forcing effects from aviation are about 2–4 times greater than those of the carbon dioxide from burning jet fuel alone. Measurement is complex and uncertain, however, and this issue would best be addressed after the establishment of an initial sectoral agreement.
13.7 Forestry-related emissions
Forestry-related emissions (or, formally, land use, land-use change and forestry emissions) include emissions from changes in land use from one category to another (e.g. from forestry to grasslands or vice versa, referred to as deforestation, afforestation or reforestation), and emissions from land use when the category does not change (e.g. when a forest is degraded but stays a forest, generally referred to under the label ‘forest management’). Forestry-related emissions differ in a number of ways from energy and industrial emissions. They are concentrated in the developing world, are difficult to estimate, and can be negative (when a forest grows and carbon is sequestered) as well as positive.
In the last few years forestry-related emissions have, for a number of reasons, received increased attention as a potentially important element of global mitigation, spawning interest in mechanisms for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD).
- Forestry-related emissions are larger than earlier thought. As discussed in Chapter 4, the IPCC (2007) estimates annual global forestry-related emissions currently to be about 17 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions. Although there is a large margin of error around this estimate, taken at face value it indicates that forestry-related emissions contribute more to global warming than the entire global transport sector.
- Reducing forestry-related emissions in many instances would be relatively inexpensive. The Stern Review (2007: 245) found that the cost of halting deforestation in eight countries responsible for 70 per cent of forestry-related emissions ‘would amount to around US$5–10 billion annually (approximately US$1–2/tCO2 on average)’. The World Bank (2006a) also found very low potential abatement costs, with dense tropical forests in Latin America cleared for economic gain amounting to just US$1–3 per ton of CO2 released. Not all studies give such low costs. The opportunity cost of preserving forests varies greatly between sites, and is increasing with rising food and energy prices where conversion to crops or oil palm plantations is the competing land use. However, the general message that ‘forestry can make a very significant contribution to a low-cost global mitigation portfolio’ (IPCC 2007: 543) is sound.
- The current international regime gives very limited rewards for reductions in forestry-related emissions, and does little to foster sequestration. Developed countries are required to include emissions from deforestation, reforestation and afforestation (under Article 3.3 of the Kyoto Protocol) and can include other forestry-related emissions (under Article 3.4) if they choose. But most forestry-related emissions are in developing countries. The CDM has no scope for credits gained by reducing deforestation. Credits can be received for establishing forests, but the rules around these are restrictive, and very few forest-related CDM projects have been undertaken.
A number of proposals have been put on the table for tackling forestry-related emissions. They take either a national, a sectoral or a project-based approach.
- The simplest framework for forestry-related emissions in developing countries would be for those countries, like developed countries, to take on national emissions reduction commitments, and include forestry-related emissions in that commitment. If developing countries bring emissions below target, as they would be expected to do, they would be able to trade their excess permits on world markets.
- The sectoral approach would establish separate baselines only for forestry-related emissions. There are a large number of proposals that take such a sectoral approach to reduce forestry-related emissions in developing countries (for a survey, see Hare & Macey 2007). As with the national approach, countries would be rewarded if they achieved or came under their forestry-related emissions targets. The financial payments could be either through a market mechanism or public funding.
- The project approach would work along the lines of the CDM and reward developing countries for reductions in emissions from a baseline at the project level. For example, if a particular at-risk forest were conserved, an attempt would be made to calculate the saving in emissions.
The many arguments against the efficacy of the CDM approach (see Box 11.2) all apply with greater force in the case of forestry, where domestic leakage is a particular concern (Forner et al. 2006). It appears neither desirable nor likely that such credits would gain widespread acceptance in international markets.
Sectoral approaches could be attractive to developing countries opposed to country-wide commitments. The quarantining they would provide of forestry from other emissions is attractive given the many uncertainties around reducing emissions from deforestation, but comes at the price of additional complexity. It is also far from clear which, if any, of the various competing sectoral approaches could command a consensus.
The national approach would require minimal institutional innovation, and is consistent with a simple, comprehensive approach to abatement. Chapter 12 argued that most developing countries should be given one-sided targets. Opt-out provisions could be particularly important for countries that have large forestry-related emissions, presenting potentially large but very uncertain abatement options. Bilateral or regional agreements might be required on the use of trading revenue, for example to allay concerns about displacing rural livelihoods. Averaging over time, and perhaps insurance mechanisms, would be needed to allow smoothing over baseline and commitment periods.
Note that a national approach would not commit developing country governments to introduce a domestic emissions trading scheme. Indeed, applying an emissions trading scheme to the forestry sector would probably not be appropriate for most developing countries. Instead, countries would be well advised to use a mix of regulatory and fiscal measures to increase forest cover.
Whichever approach were taken, any serious national effort to reduce forestry-related emissions would have to overcome three main challenges.
- Forestry-related emissions are difficult to measure. Measuring emissions from forest management and degradation is particularly difficult. Transparent monitoring systems will be essential if claimed emissions reductions are to provide the basis for financial flows. Ongoing emissions from cleared land (e.g. from the burning of dried-out peat) can also be large, but even more difficult to measure.
- Many developing country governments lack the policy mechanisms to effect a reduction in forestry-related emissions. In many countries the government’s control over the forestry sector is limited. Deforestation might be driven by subsistence agriculture or by illegal logging (for a survey of global forestry policy issues and mechanisms, see World Bank 2006a). Governments will need to develop realistic and implementable strategies for increasing forest cover, including through better forest management as well as reduced land clearing, and reforestation.
- Logging is an export business subject to carbon leakage: reducing logging and forestry-related emissions in one country could lead to increased logging and emissions in another. Ultimately, for success, a comprehensive approach covering all major forestry emitters will be critical.
Although most forestry-related emissions are in developing countries, developed countries have a critical role to play. Apart from increasing sequestration within their own borders, they can help with emissions monitoring, and they can guarantee funding to developing countries if emissions reductions are achieved. Most importantly, they can kick-start action on a bilateral basis. Given the contentious and complex nature of the issue, it is possible that a satisfactory agreement on forest-related emissions will be several years in the making. In the interim, bilateral initiatives and regional cooperation will be particularly important. Given the nature of its neighbourhood, it stands to reason that Australia’s regional initiatives will have a focus, albeit not exclusive, on forestry (Box 13.3). Progress will require developed countries including Australia to put significant sums on the table for emissions reductions that may have no formal international status for the time being.
Chapter 11 outlined the important role regional partnerships could play in promoting international action on climate change and especially how they could build trust and confidence between developed and developing countries.
Australia has the opportunity to develop such an approach with its neighbours, in particular Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Both have expressed interest at the highest level in cooperation with Australia on climate change
policy.Box 13.3 Regional partnerships for Australia: the potential for links with Papua New Guinea and Indonesia
While there is a high level of uncertainty around the data, Indonesia’s emissions are thought to amount to as much as two Gt CO2 per year, around five times Australia’s total CO2 emissions, with over three-quarters of that from deforestation (WRI 2008). According to one source, in 2006, emissions from fires in peat land in Indonesia alone are estimated to be about 1800 Mt per year, about three times Australia’s total emissions (Hooijer et al. 2006: 29). Papua New Guinea’s annual forestry-related emissions may exceed 100 Mt CO2 (WRI 2008), a quarter of Australia’s total CO2 emissions. Both countries would have a strong interest in reducing emissions from deforestation, provided they were compensated for the loss of economic opportunity through the sale of rights generated by the avoided emissions on an international market.
Ultimately, both Indonesia and Papua New Guinea should be linked to Australia’s emissions trading scheme and able to trade any reduction in emissions below their national target levels with the Australian government or market participants. This would be beneficial to all sides: the financial flows would benefit Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, while Australia would benefit from access to low-cost abatement options. Such deep integration with a large emitting country would best be achieved within larger regional arrangements involving other developed countries, with Japan and New Zealand the obvious first candidates. For such a link to become a reality, important preparatory work has to be completed. Work in several of these areas is already under way under Australia’s International Forest Carbon Initiative.
- Emissions estimation: More accurate estimation of forestry-related emissions is needed, not only from land clearing but also from forest management (and degradation) and from post-forest-clearance (for example, emissions from dried-out peat lands).
- Forestry-related emission-reduction strategies: Reducing forestry-related emissions will be a challenging task. The drivers of forestry-related emissions include subsistence farming, illegal logging and poor governance. Developing a strategy that will tackle these drivers and promote forest regeneration and reforestation will not be straightforward.
- Other low-emissions options: Reducing forestry-related emissions would be central to the Australia–Indonesia and Australia–Papua New Guinea partnerships, but should not be the sole goal of the partnerships. Papua New Guinea has excellent hydro potential, for example.
13.8 Enforcement mechanisms
The Kyoto Protocol has an enforcement mechanism that can be activated for breaches of greenhouse gas accounting or emissions target obligations. If a country does not meet its target, it has to make up the shortfall in the next commitment period with a 30 per cent penalty. This is a weak enforcement mechanism if subsequent commitment period targets are not defined in advance.
The problem of enforcing commitments is part of a more general problem of encouraging effective participation, which is regarded by some as the Achilles’ heel of international efforts to combat climate change. In a world of sovereign states, countries cannot be forced to sign agreements, or to meet their commitments. In order to get countries to participate meaningfully, incentives need to be designed so that participation is in the self-interest of each nation. All countries share an interest in reducing the risks of dangerous climate change. In addition, four other sorts of incentives will be important.
International trade in permits and offsets and access to international public mitigation and adaptation financing will provide financial incentives for developing countries.
For developed countries, the decision to participate in global mitigation will arise out of the prospect of encouraging other countries to join, and out of pressure from domestic constituencies expressing a willingness to pay for a global public good.
As more countries participate, there will be increased international pressure from those who have joined on those who stand outside.
Trade sanctions have been proposed by some as an enforcement mechanism. As discussed above (section 13.5), border adjustments to take into account differential mitigation regimes have a role to play in a world where some countries are moving faster than others on mitigation, but only once a framework for their use has been developed and agreed under the World Trade Organization.
Enforcement requires monitoring. Under the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol, countries are required to produce reliable accounting (annual inventories) of their greenhouse gas activity. Countries must also have a national registry to account for their emission credits. Teams of experts, selected from a roster of individuals nominated by the Protocol Parties, check annual inventories for accuracy and completeness. If there is a dispute between the team and the party, the Protocol’s Compliance Committee may intervene. The current system provides a solid foundation on which to build. As the number of countries subject to national emissions goals increases, the need for rigorous and robust monitoring will grow.
The Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2007: 20) found: ‘Government funding in real absolute terms for most energy research programmes has been flat or declining for nearly two decades (even after the UNFCCC came into force) and is now about half of the 1980 level’. The IPCC (2007: Chapter 13) reports that OECD energy research and development has been below US$10 billion per year since the early 1990s (in 2004 prices and exchange rates) and that research and development budgets for renewable energy exceeded US$2 billion (in 2004 prices and exchange rates) in the late 1970s and early 1980s but have been well below US$1 billion since the mid 1980s. Back
Jagdish Bhagwati (2006) has called for ‘subsidising the purchase of environment-friendly technologies by the developing countries’. Larry Summers (2007) has recommended ‘the provision of subsidised capital for projects that have environmental benefits that go beyond national borders’. Back
The G7 comprises Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Back
Popp (2004) estimates annual energy efficiency research and development requirements at only US$13 billion in 2005, rising to US$33 billion in 2055, but the mitigation strategy he models is mild. It allows global temperatures to increase by more than 3°C. The stabilisation scenarios modelled by the Review would not be expected to result in such a large temperature increase. Back
The February 2008 statement by the UK, US and Japan governments indicated that the World Bank funding would support ‘developing countries that undertake energy sector and climate related policy actions consistent with a low carbon growth trajectory’ (Paulson et al. 2008). More explicitly, the United States has stated that it ‘believes countries seeking access to the fund should be undertaking credible national plans to limit greenhouse gases and have those plans reflected in a post-2012 climate change agreement’ (White House 2008). Back
It has been proposed that technology transfer commitments should be eligible for offsets (Forsyth 1999). Quite aside from its complexity, such an approach would miss the point that this commitment is in addition to an emissions reduction commitment.
A similar argument goes for the issue of excess Kyoto permits from Russia and some Eastern European countries, sometimes referred to as ‘hot air’. Targets for these countries were negotiated knowing that emissions had fallen drastically as a result of economic collapse and industrial restructuring in the 1990s, and were an incentive for Russia and others to join the Kyoto Protocol. Trading units from these countries for compliance elsewhere is in the logic of the agreement. Back
See Appendix 2 of Garnaut (2008) for a fuller exposition of these options. Back
The EU’s Head of Emissions Trading, Yvon Slingenberg, recently signaled that the European Union wants a ‘gradual shift from offsetting to cap and trade’, with emissions cuts becoming ‘more the contributions of developing countries’ (Wynn 2008). Back
The European Union attempts to solve the problem by allocating free permits. Under the post-2012 phase III of the EU emissions trading scheme, it is proposed that affected sectors receive up to 100 per cent of their allowances for free, depending on the extent to which the industries are covered by an international agreement. The European Union has also flagged the possibility that tariffs may be used to neutralise any distorting effects from imports (European Commission 2008). Back
Sectoral agreements have received greatly increased attention recently and are explicitly mentioned in the Bali Roadmap. The various approaches raised in the international discussion (for example, Baron et al. 2007; Bradley et al. 2007; Egenhofer & Fujiwara 2008; Schmidt et al. 2006) are for more complex and less comprehensive schemes. Many revolve around best practice or technology standards, and therefore result in incentives applying only to low efficiency operations within each technology. Choosing the benchmarks and how they should develop through time is fraught with difficulty. Other proposals are for offset credits from specific sectors, but they present the same problems as the CDM. Comprehensive coverage could be achieved by separate international emissions trading schemes for specific sectors, but this would require negotiating targets in the absence of any obvious principles for allocating them and determining what each sector’s cap should be. Back
The actual analysis is in terms of countries that are not in Annex I of the UNFCCC (section 11.1). Back
The European Union has proposed bringing aviation into its emissions trading scheme, with coverage of emissions from flights within as well as from and to the EU. Many non-EU states, however, are opposed to this proposal. An approach agreed to by a number of countries through international negotiations would have a greater chance of success. Back
Such an approach is likely to be more achievable in the short term than negotiating the sector’s own version of a trading scheme, not least because of the lack of basis for setting targets. The International Civil Aviation Organization is, however, working on an emissions trading system for international civil aviation (ICAO 2008). Back
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