In this issue

  Many Open Questions and Issues

Down the learning Curve with Emerging Technologies

Briefing Note on the Kyoto Protocol

Japan needs Nuclear Power to Reduce CO2 emissions

Markal ‘‘most widely used’’ model, but...


Clearly, a score of technical and regulatory issues remain unsolved in the current Protocol. All rules, regulations, conditions and modalities regarding international cooperative actions and their monitoring, certification, etc. are still to be settled. Only the main principles are agreed at this stage. Many issues are deferred to the next meeting, COP4, to be held in November 1998 at Buenos Aires. Even decisions on the Meetings of the Parties will be deferred until after the Protocol has entered into force. Advice and guidance from UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies, from IPCC and other organizations like OECD/IEA is sought.

Implications for Modeling, Analysis and Policy

Many details are as yet unresolved, and at least for some time it will remain uncertain if the Protocol will ever will be implemented at all. However, the principles adopted indicate a need for extended modeling and analysis. Assuming that the Protocol will eventually become operational, it raises several new and/or underexposed questions:

What are the implications of dealing with a ‘six-gas basket’ commitment to limit GHG emissions from fossil fuel consumption, industry, agriculture, waste management and forestry instead of the far more thoroughly analyzed issue of CO2 (or three-gas basket) emissions associated with the energy sector?
How to estimate what policies and measures to implement nationally and to what level, in light of prospects for flexible options like emission trading and/or joint projects with other Annex-1 Parties, CDM projects with non-Annex-1 Parties (including “saving” of credits from 2000 onwards), and banking for future periods?
What should still to be developed arrangements for such international and intertemporal instruments look like; and vice-versa: how will future arrangements affect their potential, feasibility and impact?

Concluding Remarks

The fact that a Kyoto Protocol was adopted by the COP3 meeting is a very important, but first step on a road leading to concerted, worldwide attempts to mitigate climate change. The legally binding commitments made by Annex-1 Parties may seem very ambitious and (too) drastic at first glance to some, and utterly insufficient to solve the problem to others. Strictly speaking the latter is correct: the expected growth in emissions in non-Annex-1 countries will more than offset the committed reductions in the industrialized World. Rapid stabilization of atmospheric concentrations will require something like a 60% cut in emissions worldwide. Nonetheless, if and when entered into force the Kyoto Protocol in all likelihood marks an unprecedented and irreversible turning point for economic, energy and environment policy thinking.

Considering the various options for enhanced flexibility (emission trading, joint projects and CDM) and the inclusion of all six GHGs and land-use changes, it is not inconceivable that the currently agreed commitments can be met at limited overall costs. The relatively weak commitments of Russia, Ukraine and other non-OECD parties offer favorable prospects for low-cost, cooperative strategies. Very tentative estimates at ECN Policy Studies, using ETSAP results and other sources, seem to confirm this notion. In addition, successful development of the CDM can further broaden the scope for relatively low-cost emission reductions. More than ever, exploration and assessment of such international actions calls for the widespread use of well-established and comparable tools and databases, as well as for new modeling approaches. To follow up on the directions set out by the Kyoto Protocol, there is a clear need for encompassing other sectors than energy supply, conversion and end-use, for more comprehensive treatment of all greenhouse gases, and for multi-country analyses.

GianCarlo Tosato
Project Head ETSAP

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