Limiting Offsets in the Climate Treaty

Bonn, Germany
Bonn, Germany
Today is the first day of informal climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany.  Negotiators from the world's governments are here to try to consolidate over 200 pages of negotiating text in order to reach an agreement on climate in time for the big meeting in Copenhagen this December.

International Rivers is working with the Climate Action Network, the largest coalition of international NGOs pushing for a climate deal that is up to the task of limiting warming to below 2 degrees C.

I'll be following the discussions around flexible mechanisms closely and meeting with negotiators from various countries to make the case that flexible mechanisms must not be a loophole that industrialized countries use to push their emissions reductions onto developing countries.  A couple of the main points I will be raising along with colleagues from other NGOs include:

1. Double counting must be avoided:  certain countries, most notably the United States, would like its purchase of offsets to count towards its financial obligations and its emission reduction targets.  These are two distinct obligations that cannot and should not be traded for one another. Additionally developing countries would like their efforts at mitigation to be recognized.  So another way in which double counting can be problematic is that the emissions reductions could count towards Annex I emissions reductions, as well as the developing country's contribution.  This means that we get lots of emissions reductions on paper, not in reality.

2. Limited offsetting should only be allowed with strong targets. Unfortunately the targets that individual Annex I countries are setting result in an aggregate target of only 5 to 15% below 1990 levels by 2020. This is far below what science demands. Additionally there are numerous studies that make it clear that Annex I countries should have no problem reaching such a weak target domestically, meaning that offsets are not necessary.

Stay tuned for updates - hopefully I'll be able to report that we've made headway on these issues with negotiators.