No Backsliding on the Road to Paris

9 February 2015

Switzerland was right to remind Parties yesterday afternoon that as countries achieve higher levels of development they should, over time, move towards economy-wide emissions budgets. This will help us stay within the remaining global carbon budget and also make the required infrastructure and other structural changes needed to phase out all fossil fuel emissions as early as possible and no later than 2050.

But there’s more to it than that. Kyoto Protocol Annex B countries in particular should recall that the principle of “no backsliding” means that their INDCs should be in the form of QELROs, which are in essence carbon budgets. It would not do, for example, if the EU simply put forward a 40% target for the year 2030 without mentioning the absolute cumulative emissions target. (Of course, the other glaring problem is that 40% should have been the EU target for 2020 . . .)

Other countries with high responsibility and capability, such as the United States, also need to define the trajectories towards their emission reduction targets for specific years. For the US, this means defining the area under the curve towards the 26-28% reduction target for 2025. Others who have or have had QELROs in the past (that includes you, Canada!) should also present their INDCs as economy-wide emission budgets up to 2025 in the first commitment period of the Paris agreement.

Today, there’s a group of countries not in Annex I of the Convention having high levels of responsibility and/or capability, including some with the highest per capita incomes in the world such as the UAE, Qatar, Singapore, Brunei, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. These countries should also be working towards presenting an INDC in the form of an economy-wide emissions budget.

Anything less than a carbon-budget based target would simply not be equitable.

No Backsliding on the Road to Paris

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