Letter seeking a correction
in the 'Climate Effort' discussion paper published by Climate Action International

7th September, 2011
Julie-Anne Richards
International Policy Coordinator
Climate Action Network - International
1810 16th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009, USA

Dear Julie

Contraction and Convergence [C&C] in the
CAN-I ‘Fair Effort Sharing Discussion Paper’

Thank you for your letter of the 7th of September 2011 in connection with the above. Thank you too for confirming that CAN-I has a meeting Monday 12th about the ‘Fair Effort’ discussion and that the matters I raise with you here again will be raised at that meeting. Specifically these matters are: -

[1] accurately representing how GCI - as its author - defined the C&C mechanism
[2] distinguishing between that and ‘third party opinions about that’, as for example here

From the outset in 1990, GCI’s purpose with C&C has been to help UNFCCC negotiators by providing a calculating model - a ‘negotiating mechanism’ - to resolve the two primary issues they are faced with as they work towards defining, agreeing and achieving UNFCCC-compliance. GCI simply notes that: -

  1. a global greenhouse emissions C&C-event is inevitably required for UNFCCC-compliance, so the question for reasons of ‘urgency’, is what path-integral - i.e. full-term, rate, weight, date - of emissions contraction do they jointly need to agree to achieve UNFCCC-compliance [i.e. how much carbon consumption is still ‘safe’ globally, and so how much do we all still have to share between us?].
  2. a convergence on the global per capita average arising under contraction [with or without a population base-year] creating international shares is arithmetically inevitable, so the question for reasons of ‘equity’, is what rate of convergence [fast to slow] relative to the contraction rate agreed, can the international negotiations bear, noting we can only share what we jointly have, and not what we don’t.
  3. the faster the convergence rate is relative to the contraction-rate, the more the ‘equity-share’ is transferred from the accounts of those consuming carbon above the global per capita average to the accounts of those consuming carbon below that average. So for reasons of ‘historical responsibility’ under-consumers have a mechanism with which to leverage their position ‘at the expense of over-consumers’, while all remain subject to the contraction rate agreed for UNFCCC-compliance.

Like this C&C is just a unifying tool for negotiating UNFCCC compliance. It doesn’t preclude whatever additional side-payments can be agreed. Agreeing these rates is the primary job and it is primarily a job for the negotiators. GCI does not presume to prescribe to them what the rates must be. GCI has simply demonstrated [quantified & visualized] the linking of the range of contraction-rates discussed in the ‘science-debate’ to the convergence-rates inevitably involved in the ‘policy-debate’. In 2009 the UK Government was part of a group of governments that prescribed the rates of C&C in the UK Climate Act at COP-15 in December 2009. However, this was the right principle at the wrong rates and it was rejected by the non-annex One countries. The reason for this is key.

In 2009 the Chinese Government wrote that those rates of C&C were acceptable for per capita emissions per se, but for per capita ‘emissions-entitlements’ they were looking for a ‘global climate deal’ with immediate convergence rather than the gradual convergence over a 40 year period to 2050 by when 80% by weight of the global emissions-budget would have been used up. Technically with ‘emissions-trading’, these two positions are not incompatible. Politically, the ‘gap’ will be resolved through more clearly quantified negotiation, than ‘prescription’ and 'lobbying’ by sector interests.

For their benefit but specifically for your meeting on Monday, I have attached overleaf: -

  1. references for these positions identified above with
  2. a clear and quantified demonstration of them and how the gap between them can be closed.

Thank you again for your help as I repeat my request that the CAN-I discussion paper is revised to reflect the points made above, so its point about C&C and ‘historical responsibility’ is corrected.

With kind regards
Your sincerely

Aubrey Meyer
Director GCI
cc general

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As with the 'Berlin Wall', the 'Climate-Firewall' can yet come down. 'Climate-detente' possible at COP-17 with negotiated rates of C&C.
Why not

Why not