Legally binding climate commitments needed of G20 countries in Paris COP21

Globally balanced emission limits are vital. In the near future, at least the biggest emitting countries must tighten their targets so that they would be comparable to the EU commitments, argues the Confederation of Finnish industries (EK).

Eiffel_torni_Freeimages_-1569926-1279x942The Paris climate conference COP21 will be organised in Paris 30.11.-11.12.2015.

According to The Confederation of the Finnish Industries (EK), the aim of the Paris climate negotiations needs to be a global, legally-binding, ambitious and balanced climate agreement that has a significant impact on reducing emissions. It would be important, yet unrealistic already in Paris that at least the biggest emitting countries would tighten their targets so that they would be comparable to the EU targets, states Mikael Ohlström, Chief Policy Advicer at EK.

There is a big and realistic threat that the intended national determined contributions (INDC) will not be part of the final agreement. If this is the case, the main content of the Paris agreement would be the commitment for climate funding for developing countries. Measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) of climate actions and emission reductions should also be legally binding for developing countries. If they are not, no “blank check” should be given for climate funding.

EK’s views and expectations on COP21

According to EK, globally balanced emission limits and climate targets are needed for three reasons:

  1. The atmosphere is shared by everyone and therefore climate actions are necessary in all continents. According to scientists, the ambition level of the current climate commitments is not high enough to limit the rise of the temperature to below 2 degrees, which is the commonly agreed target in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (it is estimated that the current commitments would limit the temperature rise to +2.7 degrees).
  2. This would offer industry a level playing field and similar “climate costs” regardless of the country or continent where they operate. This would result in actual emission reductions instead of just moving the emissions from one country to another (so called carbon leakage).
  3. The global market for cleantech and bioeconomy could multiply. Finland would have growing export potential for example in energy technology, energy efficiency, bioeconomy, water purification and waste management. By increasing cleantech export, Finnish companies could contribute to lowering global emissions manifold in comparison to limiting their impact to Finland alone.

The agreement that will enter into force in 2020 must take into account the following:

  • The agreement should be binding at least for the G20 countries.
  • Carbon pricing should be advanced so that the aim is a similar “climate cost” for all countries and companies in the long run.  This could be achieved, for example, through emissions trading or CO2 taxation.
  • There must not be restrictions for wood-based industry and energy production in a country like Finland, where the volume of growing stock is increasing every year more that the loggings are and where carbon sinks are not under threat. It is very important that refining and incineration of biomass continue to be determined carbon neutral.
  • Companies, their innovations and investments are a fundamental part of climate solution. Therefore, it is very important to include industry in the development of climate policy targets and measures. The role of private sector should be enhanced in the climate negotiations by increasing dialogue between the negotiators and industry representatives.

Mikael Ohlström will be present in Paris COP21 Nov 30–Dec 4 and Dec 9–12.

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