Climate Negotiations in a Hurry Part II

Climate Negotiations in a Hurry Part II

7: Alternative to the UN

Getting all the countries of the world to agree on a common ambitious climate agreement through the UN has proved particularly difficult. An alternative is for a few of the most important countries to agree on less extensive agreements that do not involve all the countries in the world.

According to, 100 of the smallest countries account for only 3 percent of global emissions. China and the United States alone account for around 40 percent. The G20 represents two-thirds of the world’s population, which has now reached approx. 6.8 billion, and includes both industrialized and developing countries. The 19 countries in the G20 and the EU (with 27 member states) account for more than 80 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

In Copenhagen, the parties tried to bring about negotiations between the largest emitting countries without including all member countries in the Climate Convention. Although many countries protested against what they called undemocratic negotiations, this option may seem necessary to bring about actual emissions cuts large enough to prevent serious climate change.

8: History behind the climate negotiations

The international climate negotiations began with the establishment of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992 at a meeting in Rio, Brazil. This came as a follow-up to the report “Our common future” from the so-called Brundtland Commission, hired by Norway’s former Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland.

Emissions of gases such as CO2 and methane to the atmosphere increase the natural greenhouse effect. Combustion of non-renewable energy sources such as coal, oil and gas is an important source of such emissions, and the earth’s average temperature has therefore increased since the industrial revolution began (by 0.74 degrees C according to the UN Climate Panel). The Climate Convention states that greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced to prevent serious consequences of climate change. In addition, the rich countries have been given the responsibility to take the largest emission cuts since these countries have accounted for most of the greenhouse gas emissions so far.

9: Kyoto Protocols (Kyoto Agreements)

After the meeting in Rio, our party meeting to the Climate Convention has a quarter of a year. In 1997, the meeting of the parties was held in Kyoto, Japan, where the well-known Kyoto Protocol was adopted. The Kyoto Protocol is valid until 2012 and states that the rich countries will on average cut greenhouse gas emissions by five percent of what they were in 1990.

When the agreement was negotiated, most agreed that this was not enough to achieve the goal of preventing serious climate change. But the Kyoto Protocol was meant to be a cautious start. The plan was for the successor to be a broader agreement that demanded that developing countries also cut their emissions. In addition, all countries were to cut emissions even more in the next agreement.

Following the Kyoto meeting, the parties negotiated for a total of four years (1997–2001) on detailed regulations on

  • how the agreement is to be implemented in practice
  • how emissions should be measured
  • how countries should be punished if they do not abide by the agreement
  • we can transfer emission cuts from one year to another
  • chorus much of the emissions that must be cut within the individual country
  • how many climate quotas can be bought from other countries through the so-called flexible mechanisms (see fact box on the Kyoto mechanisms).

Although former US Vice President Al Gore signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, it was not approved by the US Congress. When George W. Bush took over as president in 2001, he withdrew the United States from the agreement. This weakened the Kyoto Protocol when it comes to truly reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.


What can I do with the greenhouse gases?

Greenhouse gases emitted by the combustion of fossil energy sources, for example in a coal-fired power plant, affect the global climate. Nevertheless, we as individuals can also be involved in curbing the total emissions of greenhouse gases.

  • Switch to an environmentally friendly car that uses little fuel, biodiesel or ethanol after a quarter as the opportunity to choose such cars increases.
  • Replace the oil burner and panel heaters with climate-neutral heating such as pellet stove, wood stove, heat pump and geothermal heating.
  • Reduce the indoor temperature by one to two degrees. Lower indoor temperature required less energy. Find out how your heating source can be used as efficiently as possible.
  • Reduce heat loss from your home with insulation, sealing strips and custom ventilation.
  • If they are going to build a new home, keep in mind that large windows increase heat loss. Well heating source that takes into account the climate, such as geothermal or heat pump.
  • Travel collectively or travel several together in the car. Road traffic accounts for about one-fifth of Norway’s CO 2The more cars – the higher the emissions.
  • Well train instead of plane whenever possible. Air traffic is growing enormously and aviation fuel is based exclusively on fossil fuels.
  • Well energy efficient electrical appliance. Buy an eco-labeled product and look at the energy labeling on white goods.
  • Use less power; turn off the light when you do not need it and switch to energy-saving bulbs.
  • Recycle and reuse old resources. All raw material extraction and production requires energy and leads to emissions.
  • Get involved politically and help politicians gain acceptance for necessary climate measures, such as higher electricity and petrol prices.

Climate Negotiations 2