A more bottom-up, “polycentric” approach to international deal-making might be the key ingredient that makes this year’s climate negotiations more successful than the effort that ended in failure in Copenhagen in 2009, according to IPCC contributor David Victor of the University of California, San Diego.
“As someone who has been writing for nearly 25 years about the difficulties of making serious progress on climate change, I am more optimistic today than I have been in a very long time,” Victor writes on Yale Environment 360. “When governments gather in Paris late this year, I believe they are likely to adopt a watershed strategy for slowing climate change.”
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A more flexible approach this year will mean that some countries make binding commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, while others adopt voluntary targets. “This new approach relies heavily on national pledges for action—a so-called ‘bottom-up’ strategy to contrast with the ‘top-down’ treaty-drafting efforts of the past two decades.” As well, in the run-up to Paris, cities and some business groups are adopting their own targets, regardless of what national governments eventually decide.
The new approach “is a reflection of reality,” Victor writes. “Unlike the 1990s, when one country dominated the global system, power is rapidly diffusing in the international system. In climate change, power is measured not so much by armies but by the willingness to invest resources and by the sheer size of emissions.”
He adds that the new approach “is already doing a much better job of engaging the most pivotal players: the large, emerging countries.” (h/t to Environment News Bits for pointing us to this story)
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