UN Issues Information Note With Prognosis Of Practical Impact Of New Climate Regulations
The Bonn climate negotiations which went underway this weekend for a two week period are probably the most important of all the rounds that have taken place thus far. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting is tackling issues like commitment to CO2 levels and the creation of a worldwide carbon trading platform.
Perhaps more interesting than the very first days of the talks, the participants have been issued with a rather informative 16-page document, entitled Information Note, in which the UNFCCC makes careful guesses as to what the practicalities will boil down to of climate change policies globally.
The document is by dint of its nature geared toward the future. Despite being rather vague on the real impact of climate change policies by national governments around the globe, the document is shocking in places. Predicting the biggest overhaul of the global economy ever, the UNFCCC says world citizens ought to brace themselves for a new economic order which will see millions of people lose jobs and others gain jobs. The biggest ripples in the water will be made by industry and companies relocating to areas with more beneficial tariff regulations and/or taxes, the Information Note says.
The impact of environment related tariffs will not be all that different than the impact of any other tariff, but the Information Note points out that the effect of millions of job relocations will be rather tangible. On top of that, we’ll see the introduction of “border carbon adjustments”. This means that some countries will impose a levy on imported goods equal to that which would have been imposed had they been produced domestically under more strict environmental regimes.
Alternatively, exporters might be forced to buy [carbon] offsets at the border. These are going to be massively drastic measures for a rather big number of people involved, but whether the world will be any fairer for it is very very unlikely. At the end of the day, the Information Note reveals, the impact of future environment tariffs will lead to ‘decreased market share for covered foreign producers’. And “such schemes would leave trade and investment patterns unchanged,” the Note adds. Why the bother, you might ask. Why not do a really good job and simply make the world a bit better whilst we’re at it??
It’s issues like these that will have a big impact on the developing nations’ commitment to the environment. As I wrote in a comment (which has yet to be published) on GlobalWarmingIsReal it’s hardly a question whether a 25 percent reduction from 2000 levels by developing countries would be enough (it won’t be). But, the negotiators for the Third World are struggling with how, with these tools, they can achieve reductions at all.
Let’s hope that the richer nations realise this. Let’s hope that people understand that since polluting industries are a historic legacy of the industrialised world, the main responsibility toward the environment falls on the developed nations. In order to persuade developing countries to act, the richer countries have to show they’re completely serious about deep and rapid cuts in their own emissions.