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Guardian Today - Al Gore, C&C  Aubrey Meyer
 Aug 08, 2007 02:41 PDT 

Guardian Today on Al Gore on C&C

At last, Gore says what is needed: Contraction and Convergence (C&C).


Citing the US bill of rights, Al Gore stated during the recent Live
Earth concerts: -
"We should demand that the US join an international [climate] treaty
within the next two years that cuts global warming pollution by 90% in
developed countries and by more than 50% worldwide in time for the next
generation to inherit a healthy Earth."

At last, Gore says what is needed: contraction and convergence (C&C).
This is the concept that came from the Global Commons Institute, based
in the UK, which I set up in the early 1990s. It says that dangerous
rates of climate change can be avoided only by countries agreeing to
work together to safely limit the concentration of greenhouse gases in
the atmosphere, and agreeing that emissions entitlements converge at a
level that is equal, per capita, for all countries under that limit.

As we advance into worsening climate insecurity, C&C is becoming the
most widely cited and advocated model needed to avoid climate
catastrophe and worsening poverty.

But why didn't Gore, when he was US vice-president, back C&C at the 1997
UN climate negotiations in Kyoto? He claims to have known the
seriousness of climate change since the 1980s. When he became
vice-president, he knew that the US Senate required all countries to be
in the treaty for it to be effective - either reducing or limiting their
emissions, and internationally trading their entitlements.

In Kyoto, the US delegation said C&C was the sort of deal needed. But
where was Gore? He arrived in the second week intending to persuade the
European governments that they had to relax their emissions control by
half, which they did. He then inexplicably went home early and missed
the key exchanges. India, China and the Africa group all responded to
C&C before, during and after Kyoto, saying they would have accepted C&C
because it addressed poverty and climate change constitutionally in the
same mechanism.

When C&C has been raised with Gore since then, he has said he doesn't
buy it. But this is odd because he now appears to be selling it, and, by
citing the bill of rights, he helps improve the odds further for C&C.

Beyond this, Gore recently got a job with the UK government to advise
Britain on climate change awareness, communications and education. This
puts him in a perfect position to challenge the government's new draft
climate bill, which demands a mere 60% cut in UK emissions by 2050.

Parliament's environmental audit committee last week heavily criticised
the government's climate bill. Encouragingly, however, the department
for the environment is now led by Hilary Benn, who in the past has
advocated C&C. And it has recruited the former chair of the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Bob Watson, as scientific
adviser. Watson made C&C fundamental when advising the World Bank on
dealing with climate and achieving the millennium goals.



As the UK’s new climate advisor Mr Gore might now consider: -

[1] What he didn’t hear the US say about C&C at the Kyoto negotiations
in 1997 [see ICE below and at: -
http://www.gci.org.uk/temp/COP3_Transcript.pdf ].

[2] That many in the UK, through evidence to both parliamentary

and in responses to the UK Climate Bill,

are asking, “60% off and in what global total?” i.e. the figure could
wellbe too little too late and meaningless without a global ghg
concentrations rationale; in a nutshell as both committees asked, where
is C&C?

[3] Hilary Benn the bright new Minister at DEFRA [and probably the
busiest man in the country right now with floods and cows] has committed
publicly to addressing this carefully: -


RIBA confirmed C&C as the basis for its climate change policy in October

“The RIBA Council has unanimously approved the adoption of Contraction
and Convergence (C&C) as the basis for the institute's policy to guide
targets for reduction in emissions.”

But the Institute of Civil Engineers [ICE] have a long and still
inconclusive process with C&C

“We urge an international response to the issues of climate change based
on the themes of limiting overall global emissions and setting equitable
emission rights between nations – the “Contraction and convergence”

“The Kyoto Protocol runs until 2012 and discussion continues on what
further policy measures should be put in place. An alternative concept
of “Contraction & Convergence” has attracted interest. In outline, this
requires developed nations to reduce (contract) their relative emissions
whilst developing nations, although initially increasing emissions, are
also on a pathway to converge with the developed nations’ emission
rates. There are many options for detailed implementation.”

“The Environment Society urges the government to ensure that targets are
robust and remain flexible in light of up to date science, particularly
given recent reports from the IPCC that a tougher target (rather than
the proposed 60% reduction in CO2 emissions) may be necessary. In this
matter the Environment Society supports the ‘Contraction and
Convergence’ (C&C) framework to provide an open and transparent
rationale for target setting and, if necessary, target revisions.

We were delighted to be joined by Aubrey Meyer, Director of the Global
Commons Institute, at our Annual Reception on 6 June this Year. Aubrey
treated our Board members and their guests to a presentation about
Contraction and Convergence (C&C) set to a backdrop of emotive images
and live music performed by Aubrey himself, a classical musician and
For C&C as music, see: - http://www.gci.org.uk/articles/AMEN_2.pdf
For information on C&C see: - www.gci.org.uk/briefings/ICE.pdf “

The ‘Contraction and Convergence (C&C) Strategy’ proposed by the Global
Commons Institute offers such a process, drawing widespread interest and
support, for example from the Indian Government, the Africa Group of
Nations and the USA. In December 1997 at the United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Kyoto – and shortly before they
withdrew from the Kyoto negotiations – the USA stated:

“Contraction and convergence contains elements for the next agreement
that we may ultimately all seek to engage in.” The US Delegation to UN
Framework Convention on Climate Change, Kyoto “The UK should be prepared
to accept the contraction and convergence principle as the basis for
international agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and should
adopt a long-term strategy for reducing its own emissions.”

The UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution The integrity of the
C&C approach was reinforced by the 2000 report of the UK Royal
Commission on Environmental Pollution42, which concluded: -

“Given current knowledge about humanity’s impact on climate and the UN
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s findings, we support 550
ppmv as an upper limit on the carbon dioxide concentration in the
atmosphere. Major reductions in global emissions are necessary to
prevent that limit being exceeded. The UK should be prepared to accept
the contraction and convergence principle as the basis for international
agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and should adopt a
long-term strategy for reducing its own emissions.”

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