Thursday, April 04, 2013

The Vancouver Accord: Reaching international agreement on climate policy, in class

The students in Geography 312 (Climate Change: Science and Society) just completed a mock UN climate summit.

Like the real UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meetings, the detailed negotiations were contentious and concluded with
only minutes to spare.

Unlike the real UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meetings, the students managed to forge some creative and very detailed solutions to avoid stalemates over long-term action to address climate change.

Without further adieu, I present the 13-part Vancouver Accord, composed and agreed to by 65 negotiators from 21 countries.


1. The parties to this convention agree that the climate change represents a dire threat to the ecological and economic future of the planet. The parties agree that greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere should be stabilized at a level that would avoid dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system and the wellbeing of people and economies worldwide.

2. The aspiration of the long-term cooperative action is stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at level that will keep global warming at minimum below 2° C above pre-industrial levels, currently expected to be 450 ppm CO2 equivalent, and possibly below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The concentration goal will be subject to later review, based on the best available science, including the climate sensitivity.

3. The parties agree with the notion of common but differentiated responsibilities, based on recent greenhouse gas emissions and the unique circumstances of each nation, towards this goal.

4. Following this notion, the parties agree to consider legally-binding emissions targets for 2020, with recognition that medium-term targets for 2030 and long-term targets for 2050 should be considered as part of the 2015 agreement on long-term co-operative action.

5. These proposed CO2 equivalent emission targets, pending agreement by all major emitters, may include:
• Canada: 18.5% below 2005 level by 2020
• EU (Germany, France, U.K.): 30% below 1990 level by 2020; 40% below 1990 levels by 2025, and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050
• Japan: 18.5% below 1990 level by 2020
• Norway: 40% below 1990 level by 2020
• Russian Federation: 18.5% below 1990 level by 2020
• U.S: 18.5% below 2005 level by 2020&
• China: 30% below 2005 level by 2040 provided other listed countries reach their targets for 2020

6. Commitments may be met by flexible measurements, to be proposed by the parties no later than the 2015 COP, and to be negotiated no later than 2017 in order to come into effect before 2020.

7. Flexible mechanisms may include bilateral and multilateral emissions trading and/or technology transfer agreements. The mechanisms will be monitored and managed by this convention. Examples include the Bilateral Offset Credit Mechanism created during these negotiations by Japan, in which Japan has reached agreement with each of Bangladesh, China, Germany, India, Maldives, Mali, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Solomon Islands, on transfer of low-carbon technology or adaptation assistance in specific areas in exchange for emissions credits applicable to the 2015 agreement on long-term co-operative action and credit toward targets set for developed country financing to the developing world. Another example is a bilateral agreement between Germany and Saudi Arabia agree to consider mutual development of solar technology.

8. The parties recognize that youth will play a critical role in creating a sustainable, prosperous future for the planet. The parties will consider the creation of an International Youth Education Program on Climate Change and an annual Youth Initiative Conference where young representatives from all the participating countries will share their views and ideas and get educated about the ways to support sustainable future, developed to accommodate each country's unique circumstances. The program will operate under the Global Standard Education System. All the parties are required to submit an annual feedback to the system, and all the parties will be funded according to needs.

9. The Annex I countries present (UK, Germany, France, Norway, Australia, Japan, US and Canada) agree to have 30% of their national energy from renewable sources by 2030. This is dependent on the US and Canada agreeing on a reasonable improvement in technology transfer between the two countries. Japan has also asked for a flexibility following the Fukushima disaster. This agreement is legally binding if the above are achieved. The target will be shared within the EU, with goals of 25% for France, 30% for the U.K. and 35% for Germany.

10. A subset of the parties developed the “Agreement to Population Control for Least Developed Countries”. Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Chile, Indonesia, Australia, India, Maldives, and Mali have agreed to minimize population growth to 10-15% increase within the next 40 years. This agreement is non-binding, and requires external funding from the UN. Strategies for Population Control are included in the agreement.

11. A subset of the parties (Japan, U.S., Solomon Islands, Russia, Chile, Brazil, Australia, Bangladesh, Mali, Tuvalu, and India) agreed that the Green Climate Fund will be the most effective way to combat climate change in developing countries. Developing countries will accept a portion of short-term financing loans that will turn into long-term grants upon proof of results towards project goals (as determined by third party actors on behalf of the Fund Board). However, these countries stress that grants are ideal mechanisms for developing countries.

12. Under negotiations for REDD+, the parties (Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, Nigeria, Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Norway, U.S.) agreed that by the 2014 COP to draft a conditional agreement on a standardized and transparent process of monitoring. The systems must be verifiable by international standards to ensure the consistency of emissions monitoring. The system will include:
• Establishment of adequate monitoring systems at either national level, or if the nation does not have the capacity have the option, with international or partner state assistance
• National standards for emissions reductions monitoring with the condition of transparency between countries through a standardized monitoring process.
• Regional incentives for countries without UN-REDD implementation at the national level with a goal to have programs implemented at the national level by 2020

Based on this conditional agreement on the standardized emissions monitoring, the parties will move forward to address additional funding schemes.

13. Following the REDD+ negotiations, at the upcoming COP in Warsaw, the parties will address setting up an international framework for the Green Climate Carbon scheme. This market-based climate scheme will expand the financial capacity of developing nations to reduce deforestation and forest degradation from anthropogenic emissions, while increasing incentives developed nations to fund the program.

Saudi Arabia
Solomon Islands
United Kingdom
United States


very1silent said...

Did you have anybody bribing students to disagree?

Simon Donner said...

No. Or, not that I know of!

(anyone have secrets to tell now that the process is finished?)

John Cartmill said...

You should contact Alex Smith at Radio Ecoshock. This would make a great subject for one of his broadcasts.