As nearly two hundred world leaders meet in Paris this week to continue to develop an effective international framework to address anthropogenic climate change, Australia remains reserved in its emission reduction commitments. Global consensus at the Copenhagen Climate Conference in 2009 recognised two degrees Celsius as the warming threshold that, if surpassed, will dramatically affect global climate. However, the current carbon reductive pledges by the international community will collectively fail to remain below this threshold if not adjusted by the end of this week.
The principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ has been reiterated by India and Saudi Arabia in Paris, demonstrating an expectation from developing nations that developed nations will lead the decarbonisation of the world’s economy. Although developed nations such as the United States and Australia have promised financial assistance to developing nations to aid the reaching of targets, there remains a divide as to the distribution of carbon reduction attributable to developed and developing nations. International carbon reduction framework has been undergoing development for over two decades. In this time, the development of some previously developing nations, have transitioned extensively. Economies such as India and China have raised concerns as to the proportion of their responsibility in contributing to emissions that resulted from industrialisation despite projections that they are on track to produce unprecedented future emissions. Whilst the Kyoto Protocol (1998) differentiates the responsibilities for developed nations as Annex 1 Parties, any agreement from COP 21 must reassess this distinction, and perhaps create a third category for transitioning economies.
The efficacy of any international agreement rests on the economic ability of nations to meet their goals. The success of the Montreal Protocol for the Elimination of Ozone Depleting Substances (1987) is largely attributable to the establishment of the Multilateral Fund, which has aided reductions in the production and use of ozone depleting substances in developing nations. The Kyoto Protocol Adaption Fund offers developing nations aid for adapting to climate change, however a further codified financial commitment for the mitigation and innovation to address climate change is also necessary. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) currently offers mitigation funding to the international community. Article 6 in the Draft Agreement released at the end of the first week of COP 21 talks, indicates firstly there still remains multiple options as to how to finance any climate agreement. Additionally the financial mechanism facilitating the agreement is likely to be the Green Climate Fund and the GEF.
Australia has indicated a shift away from a resource driven domestic economy toward a ideas and technology driven economy this week. The Federal Government’s seeming resurgence of investment in renewable energy has been flagged by the announcement of a new “Innovation Package” that will reward technological innovation with investment. However, no further pledges to cut Australian emissions accompanied this announcement, with the Government reiterating Australia is on track to meet its 2030 target of reducing emissions by between 26 and 28% compared with 2005 levels.
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