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Waxman-Markey & achieving a global consensus at Copenhagen

Andrew Stevenson (of RFF) is full of praise for the W-M bill and points out potentially strong implications.  The bill targets a 14% reduction of US GGEs over 2005 levels by 2020 which amount to a return to 1990 emission levels in the US. Many other countries – for example China – were seeking cuts in US emissions of 25-40% below 2005 levels.

In fact this level of cutback may be effectively achieved if one factors into the bill’s effects the aid it offers for forest conservation measures in the developing world. These measures preserve valuable natural resources and offer carbon abatement at the bargain price of about $10/ton CO2. These reductions are cheap partly because they occur in low income countries. They are inexpensive conservation and carbon-reduction options.

Accounting for such measures could increase US CO2 reductions by up to 23% by 2020.

The US international assistance is part of $5b in total that the US will provide to developing countries by 2020 – $740m for technology, $3.7b – for tropical forest conservation and $740m for adaptation. Including the mobilisation of private efforts to reduce emissions in developing countries – the extent of this would depend on international costs compared to US costs – the amount committed for international assistance would rise to from $8.5-$20b in 2020. 

These amounts are probably much less than required but give the US considerable credibility in Copenhagen. 

Indeed the US sees the negotiations in Copenhagen as being as much about financing carbon reduction in developing countries as devising targets.

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