In this article an alternative to the inter-governmental negotiations will be presented. First the project is introduced, the systemic problem of the current UNFCCC process is explained and ways to help are briefly presented.
The project is called CapGlobalCarbon, as that is literally the ambitious thing we intend to do: put a cap on the amount of carbon that is emitted globally. CapGlobalCarbon is a proposal for non-governmental actors to create a new global system as a back-up to the inter-governmental negotiations to make sure the necessary reductions in global carbon emissions are achieved.
What is the problem?
The Planet’s climate system is currently headed for irreversible instability, the main cause being increased CO2 from human use of fossil fuels. To avoid this, the aggregate global total of emissions from the use of fossil fuels needs to be reduced by about 6% each year if we start reducing now, or by a greater percentage the longer we delay. The trouble is that the current system of inter-governmental negotiations under the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) cannot be relied on to achieve the necessary reductions in the overall total of global emissions.
“Can a fragmented and often highly conflictual political system made up of over 170 sovereign states and numerous other actors achieve the high (and historically unprecedented) levels of cooperation and policy coordination needed to manage environmental problems on a global scale?” – Bulkeley and Newell
We think that they can’t, or at least would feel a lot safer if there was some way to make sure that we do not exceed the 2 degrees of warming without depending on this highly uncertain and political process. What would happen if we start to reason from what governments can agree on?
|What Nation-states can agree on:||What nation-states don’t agree on:|
|That we need to prevent irreversible climate change by staying below 2 degrees of warming||Who is ultimately responsible for ensuring a safe climate|
|That we need to make a strong and clear agreement this December in Paris at the COP21.||How to account for “historic emissions” by developed countries and who has the “right to emit more”|
|That we cannot burn all known fossil fuel reserves while staying below the 2 degree limit||How to allocate the global carbon budget|
How is CapGlobalCarbon a solution?
This is because the current system lacks a vital component: a global regulator. To prevent climate change becoming irreversible, it is essential that an effective regulator of the aggregate global total of emissions from the use of fossil fuels is established, as a back-up to the system of international negotiations. CapGlobalCarbon proposes the form this could take: a global Cap&Dividend scheme. This is a method whereby the aggregate global total of emissions from coal, oil and gas are controlled by what is known as an ‘upstream cap’, a cap on the introduction of coal, oil or gas anywhere in the world. This is different from emission trading schemes as the permits are “spent” when the fuel comes out of the ground, not when the fuel is burned. This means only a dozen of companies (just the companies that dig up fossil fuels) need to be involved in this scheme. The number of licences is determined in line with climate science, the number being reduced each year as our global carbon budget tightens. The licences are auctioned to the fossil fuel companies. Fossil fuel extraction companies pay market price for the licences they buy and in all likelihood pass on the cost to their customers. The proceeds from the auction are distributed to or for the benefit of people throughout the world in equal shares per capita. As about 80 percent of the world population today uses a less than average portion of fossil energy most people would gain financially. This is why we think that CapGlobalCarbon could be an important part of poverty eradication and the implementation of a universal basic income. The scheme thus contributes to social justice and should attract wide support. What makes this different from nation-wide proposals and why we think nation-states will support us is that we take ownership of the problem: a Global Commons Climate Trust will be responsible and can be held accountable for reducing the fossil fuel availability to be in line with the 2 degrees of warming. All governments have to do is to ban selling and producing fossil fuels that carry no license and they can no longer be blamed for climate change. Even better: by doing so they enable the inhabitants of the country to get their per-capita share of the revenue! We hope this to result in massive popular pressure for countries that are reluctant to join initially.
“In theory, a descending economy-wide carbon cap is the best way, if not the only way, to guarantee a pre-determined decrease in carbon emissions by a pre-determined date. That’s because it’s an absolute limit on emissions rather than just an incentive or regulation.” – Peter Barnes
To get this project off the ground will require a critical mass of individuals and non-governmental organisations to initiate and develop this project on behalf of humanity as a whole including future generations. The current crisis offers us the opportunity to realise our potential as the Earth’s first conscious/aware species, to ensure that our actions match our knowledge and understanding. We cannot change the existing political system, at least not quickly enough. CapGlobalCarbon is something we can together make happen.
“Never doubt that a group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
What can I do?
Go to www.CapGlobalCarbon.org to find out more and feel free to promote this plan wherever you like. We are looking for people from all cultures and backgrounds for help and involvement as we want it to be a global initiative from the start, specifically we’re seeking people who want to become part of the core team. As we will go to Paris in December to attend the COP21 to make an impact we need all the support we can get to help sell one of the biggest, boldest ideas of our time to the international community: CapGlobalCarbon.