Building a new climate regime in a global economy

1 December 2015

Negotiators from nearly 200 nations, in total numbering up to 20,000 representatives flanked by nearly as many supporters from civil society, have arrived in Paris, France to tackle a herculean-like task. By the end of the Twenty-first Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP21) in mid-December, officials will need to have laid the foundation for a new climate regime, set to come into force at the end of the decade when the current Kyoto Protocol expires. In preparation for the meet, parties have in the past year outlined a 54-page document containing a myriad of options for the new regime’s arrangements, captured as a draft agreement and accompanying implementing decisions. Work on streamlining these in the coming days will be tough, complex, and absolutely pivotal for future multilateral cooperation on climate change. 

The new deal is already set to have several distinguishing features compared to the Kyoto Protocol. It will be universal in coverage – rather than focusing on industrialised countries only – and it will be based on self-determined national climate action instead of allocated emissions reduction targets. By the time of writing nearly 170 of these have been put forward by countries responsible for over 90 percent of global emissions.

These points are now well-versed by climate watchers but the new dynamics will take time to digest. The shift in the UNFCCC talks may offer an interesting case for other international processes, and it will have implications for the trade and investment communities, as explored by our two lead articles in this latest BioRes edition. First up, Henry Derwent provides an overview of some of the “fears” long-whispered in UNFCCC corridors about the relationship between greenhouse gas mitigation policies and the global trading system rules and dynamics, alongside recommendations for what might ideally need to change in the years ahead.

Next, ICTSD’s Ingrid Jegou takes a look at the evolution of the relationship between trade and climate change policies and processes, and reflects on the game changing aspects of the new regime and potential implications for trade governance. A key message here is that the global economy can be a critical part of the solution to climate change with the right alignment of policies. The 1992 UNFCCC founding text stipulates parties should promote an open international economic system that will lead to growth and that climate measures should not be a means of discrimination or a disguised restriction on international trade. How will the new regime address and harness these principles?

We want to hear from you! As in previous years BioRes, along with ICTSD’s flagship publication Bridges, will provide reporting services from both the COP21 and MC10. Make sure to subscribe to our email service here for the latest news delivered straight to your inbox. You can also follow our social networking streams on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with our breaking trade and environment news updates.

The BioRes Team

This article is published under
1 December 2015
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