Features
2 Technology development and a new international framework to prevent climate change
Takahiro Ueno  
Sugiyama Taishi

Central Research Institute of Electric
Power Industry and Institute of Social &
Economic Research

Introduction

The Kyoto protocol adopted at the Kyoto conference in 1997 was enacted on February 16, 2005. Between 2008 and 2012, participating industrialized countries must meet their numerical targets of cutting their greenhouse gas emissions. However, the numerical targets from 2013 onward aren't set and will be negotiated at the COP/MOP1, which will be held at the end of 2005 in Montreal, Canada.

There are many people who desire to strengthen the global warming measures by expanding the candidate countries, strengthening the targets of countries which have already met their targets, and maintaining the structure of the Protocol by combining reduction targets with international emissions trading. This should be accepted easily since it is similar to the current protocol.

On the other hand, the Kyoto Protocol's defects are not easily solved, and opinions on a new concept have been increasing over the past few years. As is often pointed out, the Protocol gave surplus emission quotas called"Hot Air" to the former Soviet Union and Eastern European countries, whereas no targets are imposed on developing countries, which are increasing their emissions at a great rate. In addition, the United States didn't sign the Kyoto Protocol, and the Protocol doesn't address this problem. Even if the Protocol is extended, these problems might not be solved.

Consequently, an international framework on technology development has been focused on recently as a way to solve these problems.

1. Why is Technology Development Needed?
1.1. The Necessity of Radical Change for the Energy System

Questions still remain on whether the world's climate has changed due to global warming. However, the broad consensus is that we must reduce our emissions of man-made greenhouse gases on a large scale by the late 21st century to prevent harmful climate change.

Managing greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide derived from agriculture and forests is relatively difficult. Thus, even if CO2 levels are managed, emissions will continue to increase. Also, it is presumed that carbon dioxide emissions from developing countries will continue to increase and cutting their emissions will be a difficult task. In order to prevent this, industrialized countries will have to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide between 80% and 90% by the late 21st century. Considering that a large portion of carbon dioxide is emitted from the energy section, a large-scale change in the energy system will probably be needed.

It is not easy to predict what the future energy system will be like. It is possible to develop an energy system that emits little CO2 by using technology available today. Basically, these analysis results were based on an energy model for the IPCC (IPCC SRES, Nackicenovic et al. 2000), which is summarized as follows: The supply-side will reduce CO2 emissions by using renewable energy, nuclear energy and combustion of fossil fuels with carbon recovery, and the demand-side will use hydrogen and electricity as the major energy transport mediums. Efficient conversion, transport infrastructure and end-use technology will need to be developed. (Fig.1)

In order to change the energy system, technology needs to be developed for both supply and demand. Technology will be the solution focused on.

figure 1 The image of the energy system which does not emit CO2 figure 1 The image of the energy system which does not emit CO2

.1.2. An "Outcome"? or a "Solution"?

What would happen if we focused on technology development as a "Solution" rather than focusing on the "Outcome" of the reduction of emissions, which the Protocol demands, in developing international systems?

If emissions-reduction is focused on, the method of "assigning emission quotas to each country" will be adopted. However, if the total amount of quotas between countries remains constant, each country scrambles for better quotas, so that it will be hard to bring about mutual benefits. The negotiation surrounding the Kyoto Protocol demonstrated this and created a stalemate.

On the other hand, if technology development is focused on, it is possible to envision cooperation without damaging each nation's interest. Many nations consider technology as a "source of economic growth" and support it from a political viewpoint. Therefore, centering the international framework on technology is thought to be an opportunity to increase the national interest in technological promotion and can realize cooperation in a form which does not damage national interest. This is in contrast with the opinion that emission quotas are "restrictions to economic growth." (Table 1)

Table 1 're-setup'of how to determine the problem and measure the framework Table 1 're-setup'of how to determine the problem and measure the framework

1.3 How to Advance Technology Development Cooperation.

Cooperation between countries based on technology development can be realistically advanced by expanding existing energy saving devices, alternative energy sources, and carbon dioxide recovery accumulation.

Consequently, if the measure led by each country and the area is strengthened and expanded, an international framework will be requested. If this appeal is met, it is expected that something like a "Warming prevention technical agreement" will be created.

If it reaches this stage, it becomes a framework which is equivalent to the Kyoto Protocol, or similar to an international treaty, which will draw more attention, and technology development will be realized on a world-wide scale. (Fig.3) For example, it is possible to spread the message internationally by reviewing the actions taken by each country and area and taking mutual actions under a "warming prevention technical agreement". If this is done, the activity of each country and area will be carried out throughout the world.

urthermore, if the spread of technology advances and sufficient cost cuts are made, countries will feel the need to introduce specific technology (for example, carbon recovery accumulation technology) to the international community.

Nakicenovic, N., J. Alcamo, G. Davis, B. de Vries, J. Fenhann, S. Gaffin, K. Gregory, A. Grubler et al.(2000), Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES), A Special Report of Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Keyword: global warming, technology development, future framewor


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