In December, under the UN Framework Convention, the “Conference of Parties” (COP21) will take place in Paris. This meeting will give another opportunity for countries across the world to commit to combatting the impact of climate change. Beforehand, each country will have a chance to put forward what post-2020 climate actions they plan to take. This international agreement is known as the “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” (INDCs). The purpose, once commitments have been made, is to set the targets under the 2015 agreement and monitor progress and performance of each participating nation.
We are not seeing global targets set for each country to adhere to, but each takes into account its own strengths and weaknesses and determines what it is able to offer realistically within its own environment. Naturally, by joining the conference, each country must have a sensible objective to make a reasonable contribution towards the overall task. At the same time, they will be able to highlight impacts that they feel and even seek support from others to achieve their overall objective. However, there is not one global set of rules. Some countries will give far more than others, and no doubt find themselves commercially disadvantaged as a consequence against those that have set themselves weaker targets.
Countries have already started submitting their INDCs, and all should have done so by the end of October. So far, contributions have been received from the European Union, the United States, Canada, Russia, China, South Korea, Japan, and Mexico, among many others. By late July, countries contributing over 50% of global emissions had signed up.
The EU has put forward its target, which will presumably cover all member countries collectively who will be expected to reduce domestic emissions by at least 40% of the 1990 level by 2030. This is a very demanding target across the member states and one wonders how far it will go, with or without government subsidies to support renewables. Bearing in mind recent changes by the UK government, it would seem that such targets will be very hard to reach. Still, we have another fifteen years or so to get there and between now and then, much can happen. We should not forget an earlier statement made by the Chancellor that the UK is keen to protect the environment, but not at the expense of the economy.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) is taking a leading role in combatting climate change and this will be a key point at the IEA’s Ministerial meeting on 17-18 November, just a few days ahead of COP21. It will no doubt provide a precursor to the meeting by outlining views of the developed world and OECD countries.