- The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Paul Martin, Sadeq Z. Bigdeli, Trevor Daya-Winterbottom, Willemien du Plessis and Amanda Kennedy
Chapter 13: Overcoming climate inertia with unilateral action on black carbon
International climate policy is embedded in inertia. After the initial promising adoption of the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, there have been a series of false starts and non-starts. Key greenhouse gas producers from existing industrialised States have balked at cutting emissions as long as States in the process of industrialising refuse to curb carbon emissions. The targets set by developed and developing countries in the Copenhagen Accord and Cancun Agreements have been decidedly unambitious. It is not hard to become cynical about the promise of multilateral negotiations. Collectively, States do not expect much from the process and so they do not invest much in the process. While in principle States agree that two degrees Celsius of average global warming should not be exceeded and that climate change is posing irreversible risks, the 2009 Copenhagen Accords could be relabeled the ‘Hopenhagen’ Accords as little fundamental change has resulted from agreements in principle. Commenting on the 2012 Durban meetings, a brief published by the Harvard Center for Climate Agreements noted that for progress to be made in decelerating climate change that ‘Governments around the world now need fresh, outside-of-the-box ideas, and they need those ideas over the next two to three years. This is a time for fundamentally new proposals for future international climate-policy architecture, not for incremental adjustments to the old pathway.’
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