Political Framework and Trends

The beginning of the political activity against climate change was the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, also called The Earth Summit [20]. Three international treaties were the main result on this conference: the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention to Combat Desertification. These conventions all involve matters strongly affected by climate change.

The starting point for the International Climate Policy is the UNFCCC. The Convention sets an ultimate objective of stabilizing GHG concentrations 'at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human induced) interference with the climate system.' It states that 'such a level should be achieved within a timeframe sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened, and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner' [20].

The Convention is a 'framework' document and is to be amended or augmented over time so that efforts to deal with global warming and climate change can be focused and made more effective. The first addition to the treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, was adopted in 1997 (see Section 5.1 and Chapter 2).

The Kyoto Protocol committed the industrial nations involved to cutting greenhouse gases as a whole by 5.2% between 1990 and 2008. The Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. Despite the protocol, GHG emissions rose globally by around 30% between 1990 and 2005 (see Figure 3). The increase is caused mainly by the rapidly emerging countries Brazil, India and, in particular, China. In 2008, China topped the list of CO2-emitting countries in absolute emission amounts, having about a quarter share in global CO 2 emissions (24%), followed by the USA (21%), the EU-15 (12%), India (8%) and the Russian Federation (6%) [21]. Values per capita show a different order. The top five regions in CO2 emission per person are: USA (19.4t CO2 per person), Russia (11.8t CO2 per person), EU-15 (8.6t CO2 per person), China (5.1 t CO2 per person) and India (1.8 t CO2 per person) [21].

There are approaches to use the per capita values as target for future CO2 emissions. The German Chancellor Merkel presupposed that the industrialized countries cut their share of energy consumption as far as possible, thus reducing per capita emissions of CO2 . The emerging economies, on the other hand, need to grow if they are to reduce poverty. The downside is, of course, that their emissions of CO2 will continue to rise in the years to come. In the final analysis the per capita emissions in emerging economies will meet those of industrialized countries. If the agreement is to be just, the emerging economies should not be permitted to emit more CO2 per capita than the industrialized countries [22].

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