The Effect of Climate Negotiation on Economic Justice in China

By Wang, Zhen; Byrd, Scott C. | Studies in Sociology of Science, September 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

The Effect of Climate Negotiation on Economic Justice in China


Wang, Zhen, Byrd, Scott C., Studies in Sociology of Science


List of Acronyms and Abbreviations:

AWG-LCA--Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action BASIC--China, India, South Africa and Brazils CDM--Clean Development mechanism CER--Certified emission reduction UNFCCC--United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change GHG--Greenhouse gas Emission

INTRODUCTION

In this day and age, climate change is an overwhelming threat to many people who live in the planet. As a result, it connects the globe through environmental, political and economic ties. In order to curb the increasing average global temperature through joint efforts, countries signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the "Rio Earth Summit" in 1992. It is the first convention in the world that aims to reduce the negative impact of climate change on human society by comprehensively controlling the greenhouse gas emissions, especially reducing the carbon dioxide emission. Also, it is the basic framework to cope with climate change issue through intergovernmental cooperation in the international community.

As a non-binding convention, however, UNFCCC can only "encourage" countries to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions. To assure the provisions' effectiveness and enhance the global response to climate change, in 1995, they launched the first round of negotiations in Berlin, Germany, whose official name is first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 1). Two years later, at the COP 3, the delegates from 149 countries and districts adopted the Kyoto Protocol. Holding the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities", the Kyoto Protocol placed a heavier burden on industrialized countries concerning emissions reduction. 37 industrialized countries (Annex I countries) commit themselves to reduce gas emissions and all member countries make general commitments. "At negotiations, Annex I countries (including the US) collectively agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2% on average for the period 2008-2012." (PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, 2011) Under the Protocol, three market-based flexible mechanisms help to reduce the annual emissions to the level of the basic year 1990: emission trading (ET), joint implementation (JI) and clean development mechanism (CDM).

By 2005, the Kyoto Protocol officially came into force. In the same year, at COP11, Montreal Action Plan was hammered out to negotiate future agenda after the expiration of Kyoto Protocol in 2012. A panel named Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) was established to discuss the emissions reduction of Annex I countries in the second commitment period. Also, it was the first time that some rich countries began to complain about the zero-target-demand of large developing emitters as China, India, South Africa and Brazil (BASIC) in the Protocol. The complaint voice became more louder in 2007 since China overtook the United States to become the largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world. After that, tremendous attention has been brought to China in the following talks. In the meantime, various blocs of countries began to take shape and politically haggle in the arena of climate negotiations for the post-Kyoto regime arrangements. According to the similarity of interests and stances, there are 4 major influential groups: non-EU industrialized countries group consisting of nations like USA, Canada and Japan, which shows great reluctance in making any binding commitment; the 15 member states of EU group, which intend to lead the climate negotiations and profit from their guiding position; the newly-industrializing countries group like China and India, which is in an embarrassed position with the need to emit large emissions and the moral responsibility to reduce it; the last group is G-77, which consists of the Alliance of Small Island States, the Least Developed Countries Group and the African UN regional group. …

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