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The Hartwell Paper

May 11, 2010

A new international report coordinated at London School of Economics has been released, and states that the failure of the 2009 climate negotiations was due to the structural flaws in the UNFCCC and Kyoto model, as it had systematically misunderstood the nature of climate change as a policy issue between 1985 and 2009.

The result of three months’ intensive work by a group of 14 authors from Asia, Europe and North America, ‘The Hartwell Paper‘ argues that a radical change of approach is required, given that the 1992 United Nations international climate policy framework has failed to produce any discernable real world reductions in greenhouse gases. The crash of 09 is a crisis that must not be wasted.

Here is the Executive Summary:

Climate policy, as it has been understood and practised by many governments of the world under the Kyoto Protocol approach, has failed to produce any discernable real world reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases in fifteen years. The underlying reason for this is that the UNFCCC/Kyoto model was structurally flawed and doomed to fail because it systematically misunderstood the nature of climate change as a policy issue between 1985 and 2009. However, the currently dominant approach has acquired immense political momentum because of the quantities of political capital sunk into it. But in any case the UNFCCC/Kyoto model of climate policy cannot continue because it crashed in late 2009. The Hartwell Paper sets and reviews this context; but doing so is not its sole or primary purpose.

The crash of 2009 presents an immense opportunity to set climate policy free to fly at last. The principal motivation and purpose of this Paper is to explain and to advance this opportunity. To do so involves understanding and accepting a startling proposition. It is now plain that it is not possible to have a ‘climate policy’ that has emissions reductions as the all encompassing goal. However, there are many other reasons why the decarbonisation of the global economy is highly desirable. Therefore, the Paper advocates a radical reframing – an inverting – of approach: accepting that decarbonisation will only be achieved successfully as a benefit contingent upon other goals which are politically attractive and relentlessly pragmatic.

The Paper therefore proposes that the organising principle of our effort should be the raising up of human dignity via three overarching objectives: ensuring energy access for all; ensuring that we develop in a manner that does not undermine the essential functioning of the Earth system; ensuring that our societies are adequately equipped to withstand the risks and dangers that come from all the vagaries of climate, whatever their cause may be.

It explains radical and practical ways to reduce non-CO2 human forcing of climate. It argues that improved climate risk management is a valid policy goal, and is not simply congruent with carbon policy. It explains the political prerequisite of energy efficiency strategies as a first step and documents how this can achieve real emissions reductions. But, above all, it emphasises the primacy of accelerating decarbonisation of energy supply. This calls for very substantially increased investment in innovation in non-carbon energy sources in order to diversify energy supply technologies. The ultimate goal of doing this is to develop non-carbon energy supplies at unsubsidised costs less than those using fossil fuels. The Hartwell Paper advocates funding this work by low hypothecated (dedicated) carbon taxes. It opens discussion on how to channel such money productively.

To reframe the climate issue around matters of human dignity is not just noble or necessary. It is also likely to be more effective than the approach of framing around human sinfulness –which has failed and will continue to fail.

The Hartwell Paper follows the advice that a good crisis should not be wasted.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. klem permalink
    May 11, 2010 12:24 pm

    This is very revealing. They failed to trick us using the sinful evil western countries guilt approach and paying for it with cap&trade, so now they will try to trick us using risk managment and raising of human dignity approach and paying for it using carbon taxes. Thanks very much for this.

    Why don’t they just be up front and say they want money to begin a world government, rather than spending decades and billions trying to trick us?

  2. Mellow permalink
    May 12, 2010 5:51 am

    i was going to write on this! have you read it in detail??

  3. Paul P. Poli permalink
    June 15, 2010 4:09 am

    The Hartwell Paper being coordinated by a renowned institution, the London School of Economics, should be given due recognition for its efforts in finding a better solution to the UNFCCC & Kyoto Protocol model that was considered a failure, because so far there were “no discernable real world reductions in greenhouse gases,” and in fact, that policy had “crashed in late 2009.” With due respect to LSE, in my opinion, the position taken by the Hartwell Paper was nothing less than the proverbial throwing the baby with the bathwater out of the window.
    Surely, the expectation as evidenced by the Bali Roadmap that Copenhagen would deliver the Annex I commitments up to 2012, and after that Cancun would take care of the increased commitments after Kyoto, which will be decided in the RIO Earth Summit II, that was proposed by President Lulu, and readily accepted by the UN.
    Kyoto Protocol has recognized the corollary of economic development and GHG emissions, of which China was a case in point, and the US before that. Therefore, the availbality of $100 bn annually, in addition to the existing $30 bn for the benefit of developing should be regarded as political commitments of Annex I countries under the UNFCCC & Kyoto Protocol, because we are in this mess togother. The disbursement mechanism of that fund should be worked out immediately. As the saying goes, Rome was not built in one day.

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