Interest in global warming issues has been growing worldwide, triggered by a spate of extreme weather changes and school strikes led by Greta Thunberg. While the Paris Agreement was adopted at COP21 in 2015, the global endeavor for combatting climate change dates back to the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992. The process has been a long one since then and has included the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and the Cancun Agreement in 2010.
Global warming is a negative externality caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and its solution is not at all easy. GHG emissions are closely linked with economic activities; while mitigation efforts by a country entail an economic cost, the mitigation benefit has to be shared globally, which would inevitably lead to the “free rider” problem. This is the reason why global agreement on mitigation burden is extremely difficult to achieve. The Bush administration left the Kyoto Protocol in 2001, and the Trump administration announced the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement in 2017. Both cases have been attributed to an unbalanced mitigation burden between the U.S. and major developing countries—most notably, China.
All these events indicate that climate negotiation aims to not only protect the global environment but also maximize economic benefit where national interests clash with each other. An overwhelming number of developing countries criticize developed countries for their historical responsibilities and demand them to bear a heavier mitigation burden and extend considerable financial assistance. On the other hand, they argue that both developed and developing countries should make the utmost mitigation efforts, given the incremental emissions derived from the latter. The history of climate negotiation has been characterized by acrimonious conflict between developed and developing countries.
I have been vividly witnessing such conflict through the negotiation on the rules and modalities of the market mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol and the one on the post-2012 framework following the Protocol’s first commitment period (2008–2012). When the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol became the central issue at COP16 (2010), I announced, on behalf of the Japanese government, that Japan would never participate in the second period under any condition or circumstances. In this book published in 2015, based on my experience as a negotiator, I detailed how climate negotiation has developed in the lead-up to the Paris Agreement, what the Japanese government has been striving to achieve in various situations, and what would be negotiated at COP21. Further, I express my views as to how Japan should negotiate at COP21. I believe this book is a useful reference manual for those interested in global warming issues.
(Written by ARIMA Jun, Professor, Graduate School of Public Policy / 2020)
2015 Energy Forum Grand Prize