(From the Council on Foreign Relations)
By Michael Levi
The G7 leaders concluded their annual summit yesterday with a declaration that put climate change front and center. As with all G7 communiqués, most of the content reaffirms steps that the leaders have already promised to take and, in many cases, are already taking. But, as usual, there are some interesting wrinkles. I’m struck in particular the parts that seem to be the most important are different from those that have generated the most headlines. Here are a couple highlights in each category.
Interesting and Overlooked
“[A Paris] agreement should enhance transparency and accountability including through binding rules at its core to track progress towards achieving targets…. This should enable all countries to follow a low-carbon and resilient development pathway….”
The United States has long pressed for a shift away from binding emissions reduction commitments and toward a mix of nationally grounded emission-cutting efforts and binding international commitments to transparency and verification. European countries have often taken the other side, emphasizing the importance of binding targets (or at least policies) for cutting emissions. Now it looks like the big developed countries are on the same page as the United States. The language above is all about binding countries to transparency – and there isn’t anything elsewhere in the communiqué about binding them to actual emissions goals. This doesn’t guarantee a smooth landing in Paris – China, India, and others will resist some of the binding transparency and accountability measures that the G7 leaders want – but at least the big developed countries appear to be forming a fairly united front.
“We will intensify our support particularly for vulnerable countries own efforts to manage climate change related disaster risk and to build resilience. We will aim to increase by up to 400 million the number of people in the most vulnerable developing countries who have access to direct or indirect insurance coverage against the negative impact of climate change related hazards by 2020 and support the development of early warning systems in the most vulnerable countries.”
This is the most substantive portion of the climate part of the communiqué. It reflects an increasing focus on adaptation in general and on insurance in particular. Existing institutions – notably the World Bank – are decently positioned to deliver on these goals (though meeting them by 2020 will be challenging). Indeed this part of the communiqué is unusually straightforward, and therefore well suited to clear follow-through. The mushiest bit is the undefined “climate change related hazards”. Ideally G7 countries would help vulnerable populations get access to insurance against extreme weather hazards of all origins – whether or not those are generated by climate change – and, in practice, that’s presumably what insurance would do. Read more
Categories: AT Opinion