Group Urges New Approaches to Engage Major Economies in Stronger International Climate Change Effort; Pew Center Dialogue Includes Participants From 15 Countries, 7 Major Companies

  • November 15, 2005

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Washington, DC- Senior policymakers and stakeholders from around the world offer options and recommendations for engaging major economies in strengthened international climate change efforts in a report to be released today by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. The report outlines the conclusions of the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico, a group of 25 from government, business, and civil society brought together by the Pew Center for a series of discussions exploring options for advancing the international climate effort post-2012.  It will be formally released at an event in the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations hearing room hosted by Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-Indiana) and Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Delaware), the committee's Chairman and Ranking Minority Member.

In their report, the dialogue participants call for a more flexible international framework allowing countries to take on different types of climate commitments.  As a step toward that, the report urges the convening of a high-level political dialogue among major economies to begin scoping out post-2012 strategies.  The report comes two weeks before the start of climate negotiations in Montreal where governments will consider launching a new process to consider next steps in the international climate effort.

“The clear message from this very diverse group is that we need to move urgently and we need all the major economies engaged,” said Eileen Claussen, President of the Pew Center and co-chair of the Pocantico dialogue.  “We must broaden the international effort with new approaches that give countries more flexibility and produce real results.  The place to start is Montreal.”

Dialogue members convened four times from July 2004 to September 2005.  The participants, who took part in their personal capacities, included policymakers from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Malta, Mexico, Tuvalu, the United Kingdom, and the United States; senior executives from Alcoa, BP, DuPont, Eskom (South Africa), Exelon, Rio Tinto, and Toyota; and experts from the Pew Center, The Energy and Resources Institute (India), and the World Economic Forum.

“The Pocantico dialogue brought committed companies together with seasoned climate negotiators to look for solutions that are practical, politically viable, and effective,” said dialogue co-chair Ged Davis, a Managing Director at the World Economic Forum, the Geneva-based organization that sponsors the annual Davos economic summit.  “It is critical that business stakeholders be closely engaged as governments move forward and consider next steps in the international effort.”  

Other speakers at today's event will include Michael J. Flannigan, Vice President, Government Affairs, at Rio Tinto Services, Inc.; Elizabeth Anne Moler, Executive Vice President, Government and Environmental Affairs and Public Policy, at the Exelon Corporation; and Jake Siewert, Vice President, Environment, Health, and Safety, at Alcoa.

The report, International Climate Efforts Beyond 2012 – Report of the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico, describes several “elements” or policy approaches and ways they could be linked to one another under the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change.  The elements include:

  • Emission targets and trading, with targets varying in form, stringency, and timing;   
  • Agreements negotiated across the power, automotive, or other key sectors;   
  • Policy-based approaches committing countries to steps advancing both climate and development objectives without binding them to fixed emission limits;   
  • Stronger cooperation to develop long-term “breakthrough” technologies and to deploy existing and new technologies in developing countries; and   
  • New assistance to help highly vulnerable countries cope with urgent adaptation needs and support the development of comprehensive national adaptation strategies.

While multiple approaches could be pursued in parallel, the report says, a stronger overall effort may be possible only if they are linked in an integrated framework, giving countries the opportunity to negotiate across tracks and take on different types of commitments.

The report says that a high-level dialogue among major economies seeking broader political consensus on future multilateral efforts may be most productive if convened outside the formal negotiating process, but that any formal agreements should be negotiated under the Framework Convention.

“We won't make real progress in the negotiations until we have a stronger political consensus among the major players, including the United States and key developing countries,” said Claussen.  “That requires work on many fronts.  But it also requires a genuine dialogue among leaders on how to take this effort forward beyond 2012.”

Governments will gather in Montreal on November 28-December 9 for the Eleventh Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention and the First Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP 11-MOP 1).  Under Kyoto, parties to the Protocol must initiate consideration this year of commitments for the period beyond 2012, when the existing Kyoto commitments will expire.  Some governments favor a parallel process to consider new steps under the Convention.

Meetings of the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico were held at the Pocantico Conference Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in Tarrytown, New York.  The dialogue was supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the U.N. Foundation, the Wallace Global Fund, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

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The Pew Center was established in May 1998 by The Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the United States' largest philanthropies and an influential voice in efforts to improve the quality of the environment.  The Pew Center is an independent, nonprofit, and non-partisan organization dedicated to providing credible information, straight answers, and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change.  

The Pew Center is led by Eileen Claussen, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. 

Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information, visit the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions site.

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