A global limit on emissions, equal per-capita emissions rights and “peak and trade” emissions trading for the “2°max Climate Strategy”


“For the global climate negotiations to gain new momentum, we need an effective and just strategy,” says Lutz Wicke. This strategy has to equally take into account the diverging negotiation positions of countries around the globe. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber and Daniel Klingenfeld of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Wicke of ESCP Europe have now released the “2°max Climate Strategy”. Building on the budget approach, proposed by the German Advisory Council on Global Change in 2009, the authors describe how to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius, as stated as an aim in the Copenhagen Accord.

At first, constructional flaws of the Kyoto protocol had to be resolved, the report states. Voluntary self-commitments by countries to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases are not sufficient to achieve ambitious climate targets. “Bazaar-type bargaining – where everybody offers as little as they can – has led climate negotiations to a dead end,” says Schellnhuber. To have a good chance to respect the two degrees limit, global emissions have to decline before 2020 and be halved in comparison to 1990 levels by 2050. “However, the current national emissions-reduction pledges accompanying the Copenhagen Accord imply a global mean temperature increase of more than three degrees Celsius this century,” Schellnhuber notes (see related press release: Copenhagen Accord misses 2° C climate target).

The authors call for a global limit on emissions that is consistent with the two degrees Celsius climate target. This way, the interests of countries like the USA and China that do not want to accept national emissions limits are taken into account. The limit is defined on the global, not the national level and implemented through a “peak and trade” emissions trading scheme.

The first global emissions limit, that is not to be too strict, the “peak”, could be 35 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) in 2015. An equal per capita distribution of the emission certificates among 6.9 billion humans in the base-year 2010 would result in about five tonnes of CO2 per person. In order to respect the two degrees climate target, this amount has to be reduced gradually in the following years.

“An allocation principle which allows ‘one human-one emissions right’ enables fair burden-sharing and active participation of developing countries,” says Wicke. It would be an incentive for low carbon development in these countries which could profit substantially from the sale of unused emissions allowances. Furthermore, a global price for CO2 would be a globally effective incentive for low carbon investments and consumption, for saving energy, and increasing energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy.

PIK-Report No. 116 (German): Nach Kopenhagen: Neue Strategie zur Realisierung des 2°max Klimazieles. L. Wicke, H. J. Schellnhuber, D. Klingenfeld (April 2010)
Summary Report No. 116
Complete Document (263 KB)

Further reading:
Special Report by the German Advisory Council on Global Change: Solving the climate dilemma: The budget approach

PIK press release: Copenhagen Accord misses 2° C climate target

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