G20 can do what Paris climate summit can’t – tax carbon

In contrast with the many climate change conferences of recent years, the conference in Paris promises a new vision. Almost all countries put their planned climate protection efforts on the table. More importantly, this was done on a voluntary basis. In this way the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) have partly abolished the dichotomy between developed and developing countries, which had been enshrined in the Kyoto Protocol. Thus, the Paris conference can claim already a small success.

However, the problems outweigh the success. The increase in global greenhouse gas emissions will not be stopped through the implementation of the INDCs; the growth up to 2030 will just be a little slower. The most crucial problem is that only 20 out of 150 countries submitted concrete policies and implementation plans for their intended national contributions.

It is important to back the rather vague and loose intentions of the INDCs with substantive instruments. The implementation of these instruments, however, is unlikely to be successful as part of climate change negotiations under the umbrella of the UNFCCC. It would overburden a process that is already at its limit with the coordination of targets, timetables and collecting commitments for climate finance. Therefore, after Paris, other institutions must take on this task. The G20, representing the 20 largest economies worldwide, would be an appropriate forum; not as a substitute but as a supplement. Climate protection must be lifted from the environmental to the economic agenda.

Climate change is no longer a purely environmental topic. Both climate change itself with its disastrous impacts, and any action to mitigate its effects, will deeply affect economic processes. History tells us that economic development has been largely based on the consumption of fossil fuels. In order to mitigate climate change it is therefore crucial to decouple economic —> Read More