COP26 needs to agree on a comprehensive framework
Can Contraction & Convergence save the COP26 talks? Our letter published in the Financial Times, August 4th 2021
In Leslie Hook’s interview piece with John Kerry (Report, July 21), the US climate envoy said of climate funding that “President Biden is trying to figure out what to do”. He added: “We can’t be doing less than a totally fundamental, basic level of acceptance and responsibility.”
As cosignatories to the Byrd-Hagel resolution, both Biden and Kerry know this, as the resolution insisted that all countries accept either emissions reduction or limitation commitments. It was passed 95-0 by the US Senate in June 1997. Later that year, at the COP3 meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the resolution fed into what was very widely known as contraction and convergence (C&C), which the US introduced into the final debate — supported by China, India and the Africa group of nations — not least to ensure “emissions-trading” was included.
It is fundamental to note that the US delegation specifically accepted the simple basis of “entitlement” as converging on the global per capita average of emissions under a global cap on emissions. They asked the Global Commons Institute to advocate for this framework as widely as possible, especially in China, which GCI duly did. There was widespread acceptance of this principle after COP3. It even became the basis of the UK Climate Change Act in 2008.
At COP15 in 2009 China carefully distinguished between actual emissions and emissions entitlements, pointing out that differences between emissions above and below the average could and should, as “credits and debits”, be traded or taxed away.
Sadly squandering all these precedents, we have now wasted 24 years since COP3 as the global annual output of CO2 emissions has now doubled to about 14bn tonnes a year of carbon and in Kerry’s words elsewhere, we are now writing humanity’s “suicide note”.
In his Reith lectures Mark Carney, UN special envoy on climate action and finance, described C&C as the first best option, at the same time adding that it was never going to happen. But that begs a question: so what framework, if not C&C, will COP26 deliver which is better?
Are we to have a comprehensive framework-based market, or just another hit-and-miss market-based framework?
Colin Challen, Former Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Climate Change
Robin Stott, Executive member, UK Climate & Health Alliance
Bill McGuire, Professor Emeritus of Geophysical & Climate Hazards
Aubrey Meyer, Director, Global Commons Institute
To find out more about the Contraction & Convergence Framework, go to the Global Commons Institute website here: http://www.gci.org.uk/index.html