COP21 and Beyond: Outlines of an Actually-Effective International Climate Policy Architecture

By Michael Hoexter

In this series, I attempt to outline key issues facing policymakers as they meet in Paris at the UN’s Conference of the Parties-21 starting on November 30th and possibly culminating in a global climate treaty by the end of the conference on December 11th, called a “deadline” by the organizers. COP21 is being viewed as a last chance for humanity to seriously address climate change in concert and therefore face humanity’s most serious and ominous existential crisis. Human survival as a species may very well be at stake.

Contents

Shedding the Kyoto Paradigm
-Assuming the Can Opener: Another Damaging Legacy of Neoclassical Economics
-Kyoto: All Funding is Private Investment; Public Investment Unthinkable 

Outline of an Actually-Effective International Climate Policy Framework
1. Declare a Climate Emergency
2. Guard & Enhance Human & Political Rights During the Long Emergency
3. Target 1.5 °C Warming or Less
4. Net-Zero Worldwide GHG Emissions by 2035
5. Commit to (Aggressive) Mechanisms First
6. Primary Mechanism: National Climate Mobilizations Led by National Governments
7. Secondary Mechanism: Ascending Carbon Tax & Tariff Regime
8. Tertiary Mechanism: Coordinated Treaty on Emergency Global Cooling
9. Remove Fossil Fuel Economic Interests from UNFCCC
10. Reinforce National Sovereignty via the UN Against Treaties that Undermine Climate Regulation

Shedding the Kyoto Paradigm

In the previous installment of this series, I outlined the weaknesses and points of failure of the Kyoto architecture for international climate policy. As my time and space is limited I did not nearly touch on all of the points where Kyoto fails and am now pushing out this sketch of an alternative rather quickly and also later than I would like. However, there are some additional aspects of the Kyoto architects’ blindspots that permeate the UN process that I must bring to readers’ attention before I start outlining what an effective framework would look like.

Assuming the Can Opener: Another Damaging Legacy of Neoclassical Economics

The supporters of cap and trade instruments, including those associated with the Kyoto process, often breezily assume that “certainty” in terms of quantity of emissions is delivered by the cap and trade instrument. I suppose if one sets the emissions cap at a point where a combination of deindustrialization, national energy policy outside of emissions trading markets, and economic recessions can “deliver” the emissions reductions (as I show in the previous installment of this series), then the advocates and designers of the Kyoto-style instruments can claim that the goals of the program were achieved. However if they were honest with the public and the climate action community, they would need to add that the Kyoto instruments had nothing to do with emission reductions and might have even inhibited further emissions reductions.   The whole elaborate structure of Kyoto and its bureaucracies would then appear to be less than useless, diverting intellectual and material resources to a dead-end.

The airy assertions of those ensconced in the Kyoto system rest on a long tradition within neoclassical economics of unrealistic assumptions about the dynamics of the real economy and the society upon which the economy is based. Those who are not already skeptical of this type of argumentation tend to be too intimidated by the abstractions and mathematical symbols associated with economics, as well as the the association of some writers in that tradition with prestigious or well-funded institutions, to recognize that critical steps are being left out of the causal account on offer. The account in the Kyoto system of the “certainty” of a quantity of emissions being delivered by the emissions trading system fits in with the story of economists that “assume a can opener” when confronted with an unopened can of food. The blithe ignorance of neoclassical economists and those swept up in their sphere of influence expressed in this apocryphal story is mirrored in the Kyoto system structured around a mechanism that assumes emissions reductions and then seeks to trade those reductions in the invented carbon markets. The hard part is cutting the emissions while maintaining or improving social welfare, yet Kyoto is no help in that.

Kyoto: All Funding is Private Investment; Public Investment Unthinkable

As I outlined in the previous piece in this series, many climate-action relevant functions of the institution of government are absent from the common but highly unrealistic models of the economy upon which the Kyoto architects built their climate policy edifice. In the model of the economy within which the Kyoto climate bureaucracies (governmental and NGO) operate, the point of the Kyoto mechanisms is to attract and redirect money from various parts of the private sector (corporations, individuals/families, and financial institutions) into emissions cutting activities. There is no role, unrealistically of course, in the Kyoto policy architecture for public investment and public goods (the shared infrastructure and services of the society as a whole) to play any meaningful role in the transition to a near-zero or net-zero emitting society. Also absent are the internal provisioning and procurement efforts of government itself for its own operations, which can be a substantial portion of the economy.

By editing out the role of governments, government investment, government operations, and the public monopoly of the currency in each nation, the Kyoto process and climate action is made dependent upon private investment. Behaving within the Kyoto architecture as if public investment is not integral to climate action may be motivated by a desire to inflate the role of private investment in the economy more generally. It cannot be overlooked that financial sector profits originate in trading activity and loan creation, which the Kyoto process makes more likely. However, it is glaringly obvious that government spending incorporates in part some of the better intentions of a given nation or citizenry. Leaving public investment and government action out of a campaign that involves good intentions pretty much dooms that campaign to marginal, “fig-leaf” successes or no success at all. The last 150 years in the development of nation-states in which there is more care for social welfare and a display of probity on a number of fronts, indicates that government leadership and investment are absolutely essential.

Such is the orientation to private investment to the exclusion of public investment that even a left critic of the Kyoto process, reinforces the notion that private investment is primary as he argues for more public investment in developing nations:

The International Energy Agency recently told us that, in order to stabilize the climate, the energy sector alone would require additional or shifted investments of about $2 trillion per year for decades. Most of this fire hose of money is going to have to be private (this is capitalism, after all), but everyone knows that we also need public finance, and lots of it, to prime the pumps. [“Paris, the End of the Beginning” Earth Island Journal November 16, 2015”]

Here it is assumed that “all the money” or most of it, is in the private sector, while the public sector does not possess “firehoses of money”. Naomi Klein, a prominent critic of much mainstream climate policy including Kyoto, is nevertheless captive to the same account of money upon which the emissions trading architecture (as well as a tax-only architecture) is based. Klein proposes a “polluter pays” theory of how climate action will be financed, assuming again that “the money” is with the private sector, in this case the fossil fuel companies. In her vision of justice, the “polluters”, a term that she is reserving here for the fossil fuel companies, will pay via their fat profits for the clean infrastructure we need. This assumption is widespread in the climate action community but is ultimately self-defeating; governments that control their own currencies can spend as much or as little money as their political process will allow and purchase as many goods and services for sale for which their currency would be accepted. Governments have the ability to direct higher sums and in many cases more accurately at emissions reducing assets, goods and services than privately funded initiatives.

What is missing then among UN member states are domestic political debates and struggles over the priorities and budgeting of national governments with regard to stabilizing the climate. Activists attention is diverted elsewhere, in part via the distraction of Kyoto’s policy architecture and the theory of where money comes from and therefore the funding of climate action, hidden within the Kyoto thought process.

The constant pairing of the goals of national development for the global South and climate action make, in the global North at least, the political case for effective climate action led by public investment much harder. The focus of many climate action advocates on public investment is that it would be directed from the developed world to the developing world. This position puts advocates of this type of public investment into a difficult political position in the developed nations in which they might agitate for public investment, essentially privileging the political rights of those abroad over those at home. Public investment needs to be directed at both domestic and foreign projects, but, in the tradition of “assuming the can opener”, the public investment domestically is either assumed to already be taking place or is neglected by these climate action advocates: they make themselves appear to be particularly broad-minded, well-intentioned individuals but not particularly effective political agitators for climate action.

Ultimately, the leading role of public investment in net- and near-zero emitting public goods and services in pulling both developed and developing nations away from their dependence on fossil fuels is given short shrift within the Kyoto framework and the existing consensus regarding climate policy. That this investment is called for based on the current state of technology and the current state of climate science is kept out of mind to those caught within that framework.

Outline of an Actually-Effective International Climate Policy Framework

With the forgoing analysis and criticisms in mind, it is possible to sketch an outline of an actually-effective international climate policy framework. The following then are elements of such a policy framework:

1. Declare the Climate Crisis as a Worldwide, Multi-decade Climate Emergency

The climate science indicates now more than ever that we are in a decades long climate emergency. The climate emergency will not subside immediately even with the enactment of the most stringent and large-scale measures. Meanwhile the response to the climate science, proposed and/or enacted climate policies, such as the Kyoto system, have foreseen incremental adjustments in relation to fossil fuel use rather than a fundamental switch away from fossil fuels: there is a yawning gap between the even very conservative IPCC analyses and the climate policy instruments proposed. The focus on climate adaptation to the exclusion of climate mitigation (cutting emissions) is an indication of a preference for incremental adjustment and non-confrontation with the fossil fuel industries and fossil fuel dependence as a way of life.

While the United Nations doesn’t have the power to declare a “state of” emergency in any jurisdiction, the UNFCCC and related UN agencies should call for member nations to recognize the emergency nature of the situation and act accordingly, whether or not they declare “states of climate emergency”. The UN should also remove from the climate policy frameworks that are promoted any implication or suggestions that gradual change and adjustment with regard to carbon emissions is appropriate to the current geophysical situation if the goal is to stabilize the climate.

2. Maintain and Enhance Human and Political Rights During the Long Climate Emergency

With member nations declaring at various points in time states of emergency due to the breaking climate catastrophe, there emerges the possibility that ruling elites in government will use these states of emergency to suppress the political rights of the general population as a whole or, in a targeted manner, suppressing the rights of already-disenfranchised members of the population and opposition groups. Insofar as opposition or sectoral groups are not agitating for the continued profligate use of fossil fuels, their rights should be guarded and enhanced during the long climate transition period. It should be noted, though, that many political groups in opposition to climate action or in favor of very weak climate action, explicitly or by implication, have in their political agitation linked personal liberty and national development to consumption that depends on fossil fuel use in the short and medium terms. The equation of personal or political freedom with continued reckless use of fossil fuels or consumption of products solely dependent upon fossil greenhouse gas emissions must be in actual physical reality attenuated and then annulled by effective climate action. While certain, perhaps limited, types of personal liberty, unfortunately may be now legitimately tied to access to fossil fuels, effective climate action should stepwise make these present realities and lingering sentimental attachment to those means of exercising freedoms obsolete.

A very high degree of government and international transparency should be developed during the conflict-laden transition to another energy/transport/land use regime but at the same time, the use of legitimate concerns and the political fray to continue the fossil-fueled status quo must be exposed and excluded from the center of political discourse. The question is how to build a net-zero emitting society not whether to build one. The socially and politically acceptable definitions of personal and social freedom must be, perhaps painfully, redefined so that they do not include activities that undermine the basis of human life into the future. This represents a major challenge for inhabitants of all nations but in particular the developed and rapidly developing nations.

3. Target 1.5 °C Warming or Less

As with the 20% of 1990 emissions by 2050 target, the decision to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius in the Copenhagen Accord was the product of a combination of scientific and political compromises. We are now seeing at 0.6-1.0 degrees Celsius warming over preindustrial levels (2015 is at the 1.0 degree mark with the aid of a very strong El Nino) signs that positive feedback loops are being triggered, including the melting of Arctic icecaps during much of the year, the destabilization of Antarctic ice sheets, and higher levels of methane release from a variety of natural sources. All of these will trigger further warming as well as some of the more catastrophic effects of climate change beyond intolerable heat. UN bodies should recognize that an immediate U-turn is necessary rather than adding a substantial “carbon budget” on top of what is absolutely necessary to achieve dramatic emissions reductions as well as close-to-immediate cooling of the globe.

4. Net-Zero Worldwide GHG Emissions by 2035

As with “3” above, global societies must target net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035 with developed countries achieving that target by 2030, sooner than rapidly developing nations like India and China. Net-negative emissions will be achieved by changes in land use and forestry as well as by, perhaps, new technological developments such as “air capture”. The latter efforts only make sense if the societies of the world are engaged in a rapid-as-possible, emergency mobilization to switch from greenhouse-gas emitting to non-greenhouse gas emitting energy sources. Land-use changes and geoengineering can never be substitutes for a rapid switch of energy sources or for a joint governmental-popular confrontation with, when necessary, the political and economic power of the fossil fuel industries.

5. Commit to (Aggressive) Mechanisms First Before Quantities of Emissions Reductions (INDC’s)

While it seems like a magnanimous gesture to other nations to commit to an amount of emissions reductions, this tactic has apparently distracted international and national climate policymakers from taking decisive first steps in cutting emissions. The focus on promising amounts of emissions, while suggesting that “certainty” of amounts could be delivered, has at least historically ended up meaning that intentional emissions reductions via policy have not emerged in any measurable amount.

While, as above, the end targets must be commensurate with the climate challenge (i.e. net-zero emissions as rapidly as possible), mechanisms to achieve those targets are from one day to the next much more valuable as they form the pathway to a realization of those targets and contributions. It is far “better” to avoid a focus on targets or interim emissions reduction results and focus on aggressive mechanisms that, according to our best understandings of physics, economics and sociology, will lead to concrete emissions reductions in the near term or when projects are put into operation.

Many of mechanisms may require initial embedded emissions in infrastructure or manufactured goods. However, it is possible to calculate the approximate benefit from the use of these assets or goods over their lifetime. For given projects and technologies one can calculate three important physical outcomes that should determine their worthiness as a part of climate action:

  1. Net zero carbon emissions during operations narrowly defined – A
    yes/no decision criterion. Would this project or technology be a part of a net-zero GHG emitting society?

    1. An added bonus if the project or technology has net-negative emissions during operation or during its entire lifecycle.
  2. Payback period of initially invested GHG emissions from project or production start; when will emissions start to be reduced overall by the project/product?
  3. Gross emissions reduced during project lifetime/lifecycle emissions reductions.

An “aggressive” mechanism, if it stipulates specific technologies and projects, those projects and technologies must meet criterion “1” or “1.a.” and then represent the better choices in “2” and “3’ among buildable projects

6. Primary Mechanism: Member-state Climate Mobilizations Driven By Government Investment & Tax Policy to Drive Decarbonization of the Private Sector plus Decarbonizing Government Operations

The first efforts at carbon mitigation were centered on the UN process and those efforts have largely failed even as they have collected useful data about emissions and some mitigation techniques. They failed because they were not based on the most powerful social and economic transformative mechanism that human beings have invented so far in our evolution: the nation-state’s laws, institutions and its fiat monetary system. At the time of the Kyoto Accords in 1997, global warming was not yet a domestic political issue in most nations of the world and was primarily a concern of a select few, often congregated around the United Nations, therefore the “out-sourcing” of global warming to new United Nations institutions. While the continuing role of the United Nations is suggestive of the power and ideals of international harmony and cooperation, the institutions of the United Nations have not superseded nor will likely supersede in the near future, the governmental institutions of its member states.

The United Nations however can facilitate a new international climate policy architecture that is, by necessity more “poly-centric” but still, at points, coordinated via UN institutions. Spurring on and coordinating where necessary national climate mobilizations will reduce emissions and stabilize the climate more quickly than other policy frameworks under consideration.

UN Facilitates Member-Nation Rapid Decarbonization Plans with Co-Development of Technology- and Process- Focused Policy Tools

UN-affiliated NGO’s have already undertaken some preliminary research into how technologically individual nations could achieve deep cuts in carbon emissions in the “Deep Decarbonization Pathways” project. Within a given national climate mobilization, as mentioned above, each nation would develop a rapid decarbonization plan that would yield a net-zero emitting society within 10 to 20 years. Each nation’s plan would vary depending on the national resources and development goals of that nation.   Technological innovations, some of them inevitable, will make this path smoother and require adjustments to national decarbonization plans.

There is a recently formed coalition of billionaires, led by Bill Gates, announced at the time of COP21, that is focusing on innovation as if invention is the primary bottleneck to the 100% clean energy economy. The rather trite focus on innovation is a distraction from the role of deployment of existing technologies that also speeds innovation “by doing”. The idea that ideas are hatched in a research and development period is perhaps the modus operandi of individual companies, from which these billionaires garnered their wealth, but not necessarily how an entire economic sector rapidly advances. The advance of the non-carbon energy and transportation sectors, for instance, requires macroeconomic supports, like government purchasing, provision of public goods, and stimulation of private investment. Solar panels and wind turbines, for instance, have only become viable because of massive focused government actions and policy led deployment. Bike infrastructure, concentrated livable cities, and electric public transportation are needing deployment rather than a primary focus on innovation.

In one of the more controversial areas of debate regarding technology deployment, some nations would rely exclusively on renewable energy while others would develop a mix of renewable and nuclear power generation systems.   Specific, available technologies would be cited within each plan for each nation.

The rapid deployment of available technologies requires specific deployment policies that might enable secure financing via private investment in those technologies, such as the very successful feed in tariff or “feed law” for renewable energy generators. Other such policies have already been formulated for other technologies or they can be invented based on the successes of foregoing policies. Nuclear energy generation because of the enormous risks associated with it has for better or worse remained a “creature of the state” which can absorb more of the risks of these technologies, that private insurers cannot.

A focus on deploying existing technologies directly contradicts the carbon-pricing-only approach that is contained for the most part within the Kyoto system as well as in the competing carbon fee/tax with or without dividend system, at least in its “pure” forms. Carbon-pricing-only frameworks remain “technology-agnostic” and assume a process of random, market-driven technology “discovery” or deployment, which given that we already have most of the technologies needed to reduce emissions at least 80%, injects an unnecessary element of uncertainty and also time in deploying carbon-emissions cutting technologies. It also refocuses policymakers from the distraction of “innovation first” that the aforementioned coalition of billionaires is preparing.

The United Nations should then become a clearinghouse for the development of rapid decarbonization plans and policy tools that are fitted to specific national circumstances. A given national mobilization to cut carbon emissions will start with a rapid decarbonization plan based on the local real physical and technological resources of that particular nation as well as the general needs and goals of the population of that nation beyond energy and climate change. The plan will attempt to maximize the use of domestic resources but also take into account exchange of real and technological resources with neighboring nations or nations further afield, sometimes via electricity transmission, technology exchange, and trade of goods. It may be, such as in the European Union or other areas with many small nations together, that a regional plan makes more sense to implement, with then estimations of the individual contributions of each state to the total rapid decarbonization effort.

Included in the decarbonization plan is the decarbonization of the operations of government, a missing part of the Kyoto system. Governments will lead by example and also create demand in the private sector for net-zero carbon goods and services by building and procuring to the standard of the end goal of a net-zero emitting society.

Once a plausible rapid decarbonization to net-zero emissions plan has been formulated, the tools and labor required to make that plan reality will need to mobilized, via fiscal policy (government spending, taxation and related subsidies).

Unlike in the Kyoto system, public spending and tax policy will play a catalyzing role in various nations, requiring, of course, the assent of the polity to mobilizing for climate change. There can be no short-circuiting of the political process in each country but the case for national mobilizations is very straightforward given the severity of the consequences of inaction. Unlike at the time of Kyoto, climate change is no longer a preoccupation of a select few.

The prioritization of domestic resources within member-state climate mobilizations will also reduce resource competition on a worldwide scale and reduce inflation in the costs of critical path materials, for instance wind turbines or solar panels that may experience various supply bottlenecks as demand for them soars as member-states mobilize. The United Nations via its development and trade programs should develop means of locating critical supply bottlenecks and advising member states on how to reduce the effects of shortages of critical path materials on the road to net-zero carbon emissions.

National states will also need to plan climate adaptation efforts given the inevitability of the effects of warming. In addition, international efforts should increase dramatically to regulate and coordinate efforts to cool the planet (see below) and reduce the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and oceans.

7. Secondary Mechanism: Abandon Emissions Trading; Institute A Set, Rising Carbon Price (Start: $100 USD/$60 USD/$20 USD minimums)

As I have already discussed emissions trading is an over-complex policy that has little or no effect on carbon emissions. The effective carbon price of most emissions trading systems (the fluctuating permit price per tonne of carbon dioxide emitted, auctioned or traded) has almost always languished in area of 15 Euros/tonne or less, far below what emissions trading system planners had foreseen.

Effective (as opposed to ineffective) carbon pricing is just one element of a sound carbon policy and is by no means the leading edge of such a policy. However to influence the activities of market participants (businesses and households), a clear carbon price that rises over time is the most direct way to communicate that fossil fuel use is damaging and needs to be curtailed or avoided entirely.   Such a carbon price also enables businesses and households to use the ordinary instruments of household, organizational and corporate accounting (net present value, return on investment) to determine the value of different investments related to their carbon emissions.

In an effective worldwide carbon pricing system, the United Nations would set up an instance within or outside the World Trade Organization that enables nations to adjudicate disputes related to various carbon taxes and tariffs.

To reflect the relative historical responsibilities of each of the groups of nations involved in climate policy, the minimum prices of carbon should be set to initial levels that are appreciable but also different depending on historical responsibility for global warming:

Developed Nations: $100 USD equivalent/metric tonne CO2-e and rising $10/year

Rapidly Developing Nations: $60 USD equivalent/metric tonne CO2-e and rising $10/year

Developing Nations: $20 USD equivalent/metric tonne CO2-e and rising $10/year

The purpose of carbon pricing mechanisms such as these is to reduce demand for carbon emitting products and activities and eventually eliminate that demand. The carbon price can be adjusted upwards to reduce demand further, if intermediate emissions targets are not achieved.

As opposed to the Kyoto mechanism and much subsequent discourse critical of Kyoto, here there is no trade-off between encouraging development in less-developed countries and climate action. All are agreeing to cut carbon from now on.

Overachievers Lead – No Carbon Price is Too High

Within the international carbon tax and tariff architecture there will be no penalty for either overachieving in terms of emissions cuts or in terms of the amount of carbon tax or tariff that is imposed on domestic and foreign goods and services. If one country wants to impose both higher carbon taxes as well as higher carbon tariffs it can do so without penalty just as long as it:

  1. Harmonizes its carbon tariffs and domestic carbon tax depending on its level of development and historical contribution to global warming
  2. Imposes carbon tariffs uniformly within nations depending on their level of development
  3. Does not impose excessive carbon tariffs on least-developed countries, i.e. no more than $10 USD above the minimum for that “carbon price year”

Nations will be encouraged to compete in their decarbonization efforts rather than penalized by international trade organizations like the World Trade Organization.

8. Tertiary Mechanism: International Coordination of Emergency Cooling Measures (Geo-engineering) via the UN

Under the influence of green, ecologically-informed philosophy, a worthwhile philosophical approach, many sensible people have rejected the idea of human manipulation of current global temperatures via various dramatic, medium to higher risk techniques. Among these techniques are the dimming of the sun via injection of sulfates into the air, increasing the reflectance of areas of land and the built environment, the “brightening” of clouds to reflect more sun via spraying salt in the air, and the seeding of oceans to increase algal blooms. Some of the objections to these techniques rest on the perception, sometimes substantiated, that they these techniques would enable continued use of fossil fuels or at least provide a “figleaf” for their continued use. However, this objection would be no longer substantiated, if emergency cooling measures with their likely side-effects, are integrated into a program of cutting fossil fuel use and unwinding the fossil fuel industries.

This leaves an evaluation of the unwanted side-effects and efficacy of these techniques as well as the possible rogue private implementation of geo-engineering techniques without scientific review or international transparency. Those who dismiss these techniques out of hand seem to have forgotten that global warming and excessive temperatures are considered to be a global catastrophe, probably the worst thing to happen to humanity in many millennia. An evaluation of whether to implement some of these technologies rests then on the following evaluation:

  1. Will these technologies be efficacious in cooling the global atmosphere? If so, how much maintenance (in energy expenditure and economic terms) of the desired effect is required for each technique? This is a yes/no entry point question.
  2. Are the foreseeable negative effects of the technique more damaging than the avoided warming? Again a yes/no question that perhaps requires a monetary assessment of both kinds of damage in order to compare them.
  3. How much cooling does a given technique offer per unit economic or energy expenditure. Can the energy to effect the cooling be sourced from non-carbon, preferably renewable energy?

The United Nations should develop a treaty-making process that regulates and coordinates geoengineering efforts over member-state territories and international waters. Additionally such a body or UN agency could certify cooling techniques based on the criteria above or similar criteria.

9. Exclude Corporations that Market, Extract, Refine or Transport Fossil Fuels from Sponsoring UNFCCC or Accredited NGO Events

It has come to my attention that companies that profit from fossil fuel extraction sponsor parts of the COP events.   While some of the leaderships of these companies realize that their business is doomed and are actually concerned about global warming, they should be content to participate as individuals in the process of dismantling their businesses via climate policy. Climate policy should not be compromised by consideration of the loss of favor of corporations in the fossil fuel sector. The UNFCCC should formulate conflict of interest regulations that exclude the fossil fuel industries from any influence on the outcome of COP and other UNFCCC meetings.

10. Initiate a UN Climate Treaty Process that Reinforces National Sovereignty To Protect the Climate

Some member nations are attempting to close treaties with each other (TTIP, TPP) that will undermine their own national sovereignty by bestowing “rights” on foreign investors, mostly foreign corporations that will contravene national efforts to regulate industry, including climate action.   These treaties will in essence undermine both independent national efforts to lead on climate change as well as undermine the entire architecture of the United Nations as the primary means to adjudicate international disputes and further human rights worldwide. These agreements will be a step towards international cooperation that is tuned solely or largely to the interests of transnational corporations. Consideration of corporate profit cannot be a substitute in international governance for the principles of the United Nations.

The closing of such treaties should be combatted by a new UN convention that reinforces the sovereignty of governments to assert within their bounds laws and international conventions with regard to climate and environmental standards. Without national sovereignty and the concerted efforts of sovereign national government governments, effective climate action and humanity’s self-rescue is unthinkable.

4 Responses to COP21 and Beyond: Outlines of an Actually-Effective International Climate Policy Architecture

  1. While I appreciate and agree with Michael’s effort, I believe most lay readers and average citizens would neither understand nor attempt to decipher such sentences as:
    “The equation of personal or political freedom with continued reckless use of fossil fuels or consumption of products solely dependent upon fossil greenhouse gas emissions must be in actual physical reality attenuated and then annulled by effective climate action. While certain, perhaps limited, types of personal liberty, unfortunately may be now legitimately tied to access to fossil fuels, effective climate action should stepwise make these present realities and lingering sentimental attachment to those means of exercising freedoms obsolete.”
    Someone is going to have to step forward and translate these sentiments into direct prose that can excite and engage the general public. EB White where are you?

    • Michael Hoexter

      James,
      I agree that this is not my best sentence. This was written in haste and contains many somewhat new ideas. Also there are some EXTREMELY controversial ideas contained in those sentences. I am taking pretty high risks by expressing those thoughts, even in the stilted form that you find them in.

      To create great prose and express new ideas at the same time, unless one is extraordinarily gifted as both a thinker and a writer, takes time and revisions. Having a good editor helps, though in the Internet age, this is increasingly rare.

      I am glad you like some of the ideas.

  2. Hi micheal.
    There hss to be costs for co2 emissions worldwide.
    Minimum 50 euro per to.
    This money has to be given for energy and co2 reduction.
    If only prices go high again the tar sands and fracking gets again
    Economic for the companies and the co2 emissions will speed up.
    Best regards.

    • Michael Hoexter

      Hi Dieter,
      I propose here a $100 USD/tonne for developing nations, $60 USD/tonne for rapidly developing countries (Brazil, China, India), and $20 USD/tonne for less developed countries. So approximately 90/52/17 Euros/tonne as starting prices. I think this in combination with public investments would really turn the corner. But it means saying good-bye to the fossil-fuel status quo, including the half-measures that have been put in place over the past two decades.