Moving the Debate Beyond Kyoto: Reports Offer Options, Insights on Advancing the International Climate Effort

Moving the Debate Beyond Kyoto: Reports Offer Options, Insights on Advancing the International Climate Effort

Washington, DC- With the Kyoto Protocol about to enter into force, two new reports by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change examine key issues facing governments and stakeholders as they begin weighing options for strengthening the international climate change effort beyond 2012.

The two reports – Climate Data: Insights and Observations and International Climate Efforts Beyond 2012: A Survey of Approaches – were prepared as background material for the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico, an ongoing series of discussions among senior policymakers and stakeholders from 15 countries on options for next steps in the climate effort. The reports were released today at COP 10 in Buenos Aires.

“Kyoto is a start, but ahead lies a far greater challenge: engaging all the world's major emitters in a long-term approach that fairly and effectively mobilizes the technology and resources needed to protect the global climate,” said Pew Center President Eileen Claussen. “These new reports lay out a broad array of options for moving the international effort forward, and offer keen insights on the very real challenges we face in the coming negotiations.”

Climate Data: Insights and Observations, by Kevin Baumert, Jonathan Pershing, Timothy Herzog and Matthew Markoff of the World Resources Institute (WRI), draws policy-relevant observations from a comprehensive database of emissions, energy, economic and other data assembled by WRI and called the Climate Analysis Indicators Tool.

The report focuses largely on the 25 countries with the largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Among its findings:

  • A relatively small number of countries produce a large majority of global GHG emissions, and most also rank among the world's most populous countries and those with the largest economies. The group includes almost an equal number of developed and developing countries, as well as economies in transition. 
  • Per capita emissions and per capita income vary widely among the major emitters, a group that includes some the world's richest and poorest countries. 
  • The group of top emitters varies little whether counting only carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel combustion, or CO2 from land use change as well, or other greenhouse gases; or whether looking at present, cumulative or projected emissions.

The report also looks at variations in carbon intensity, vulnerability to adverse climate impacts, and capacity to address climate change.

International Climate Efforts Beyond 2012: A Survey of Approaches, by Daniel Bodansky of the University of Georgia and Sophie Chou and Christie Jorge-Tresolini of the Pew Center, surveys and synthesizes more than 40 proposed approaches for strengthening international climate efforts beyond 2012.

In addition to brief summaries of each proposal, the report provides an overview of key issues in the design and negotiation of future international efforts, and describes how the various proposals seek to address them. The issues include: the form and forum of negotiations; the time frame of a future agreement; the type and stringency of climate commitments; burden-sharing; and adaptation. The report also outlines criteria for assessing different options from a policy and a political perspective.

“It's clear from this report that lots of smart people are thinking creatively about the best ways to strengthen the international climate effort,” said Claussen. “Working with policymakers and stakeholders through our Climate Dialogue at Pocantico, the Pew Center is committed to advancing this critical debate and arriving at fair, practical solutions.” The Climate Dialogue at Pocantico provides an off-line opportunity for 25 senior policymakers and stakeholders to consider specific options for next steps in the international effort.

Members, who participate in their personal capacities, include policymakers from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Tuvalu, the United Kingdom, and the United States; NGO representatives from India, Switzerland and the United States; and senior executives from Alcoa, BP, DuPont, Eskom, Exelon, Rio Tinto, and Toyota.

The first and second sessions of the dialogue were held in July and October 2004. A third session will be held in February 2005, and a final session in May. The objective is a set of post-2012 options to be recommended for consideration by the broader policy community.

The full text of these and other Pew Center reports is available at

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