This page is INTENDED AS A STARTING POINT FOR DISCUSSIONS on how, in theory, AN INTERNATIONAL Agreement on Carbon Pricing could become reality.
The outline below has been prepared for people who already understand the need for a new type of international climate negotiations paradigm as explained in the book Global Carbon Pricing.
With the negotiation procedure presented in the book, countries can be expected to reach a strong agreement even when they negotiate based on narrow self-interest.
The outline below explores one possible path we can take, to get us from where we are right now to the point where countries actually get together and start negotiating.
The plan is presented as a step by step process, each step building on the earlier steps. This format makes it easier to discuss which parts of the plan are likely to be challenging and find the weaknesses in the plan.
If implemented, there will be thousands of sub-steps and tasks within each of the four main steps.
(Please click on the small arrows to reveal detailed information about each step.)
Everything in this plan rests on the foundation of us communicators being able to clearly and succinctly explain how the new proposal differs from the current negotiation approaches and how it makes the seemingly impossible task of reaching a strong international agreement a real possibility.
Concise communication is absolutely crucial for every following step of the plan.
There are at least three aspect which we must be able to communicate clearly and succinctly:
1) Why carbon pricing is essential
2) How reaching an agreement becomes possible by using carbon pricing as the common commitment and as the measure for reciprocity
3) The step by step process for going from the current situation to a global agreement
Working together with the authors of the book Global Carbon Pricing, we need to formulate a very brief consensus Proposal, which outlines the key elements of the proposed international agreement.
The Proposal needs to be presented in both a very brief form for simplicity and a more elaborate form for those who need the details.
The brief form could be similar to the ECONOMISTS’ STATEMENT ON CARBON DIVIDENDS by Climate Leadership Council.
A big part of this step is to convince economists and social scientists to endorse the Proposal, regardless of whether they personally prefer carbon taxes or cap-and-trade. For this to happen, the branding and communication must be very clear about the necessity of some kind of global carbon pricing (be it taxes or cap-and-trade) and emphasize that the Proposal allows each country to choose their own approach.
The obvious starting point for collecting public statements in support of the above Proposal is to collaborate with the Climate Leadership Council. Each and every economist who has signed the above-mentioned Economists’ statement can be expected to also support the Proposal for an international agreement. This is because the Carbon Dividends ‑model championed by these economists is also one of the ways countries are allowed to set a price on carbon emissions within the framework of the Proposed international agreement.
If, for some reason, these economists are hesitant to sign the statement, there is something wrong with the Proposal and it needs to be amended.
The Proposal could also list signatures from all kinds of social scientists who understand the importance of reciprocity and common commitments.
In addition to collaborating with organizations such as the Climate Leadership Council, it will probably be necessary to start our own campaign for collecting signatures.
It is beneficial to involve all kinds of citizens already at this stage. The benefit is three-fold:
1) As we want to reach a very large number of scientists and economists, social media coverage by laypeople can be quite helpful.
2) This is the time to test different communication strategies and make sure the core ideas of the proposal are communicated clearly. If we get people to share the call for signatures, great. If not, we know we need to revise our communication strategy and branding. It is essential that people not only understand the point but also want to share the message in social media like crazy.
Even when the communication strategies are based on sound psychological principles, different approaches still need to be tested in real life.
3) Involving laypeople every step of the way helps to make the grassroots movement stronger. This approach is based on the principle of micro commitments. Getting people to do small tasks makes them feel more involved and gives a sense of ownership regarding the project.
Getting people to contact economists and scientists they happen to know personally is much easier than getting these same people to contact politicians. When they have done this easier task (or even only shared the call for signatures on social media), they are much more likely to take the plunge and contact politicians in step #3.
Countries, federations, unions, states, and provinces are asked to announce their willingness to take part in negotiations as outlined in the Proposal. For this, we need a clear and concise declaration which the countries can sign.
The list could be similar to the one gathered by the World Bank and Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition in 2014:
Before actually starting to collect the declarations of willingness, the obvious starting point is to collaborate with the World Bank and Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition. As the World Bank has already compiled a similar list once, and CPLC is actively promoting carbon pricing, it should not be too difficult to convince the World Bank to act as the organization which collects the signatures.
As before, if the World Bank is hesitant to start collecting these statements, there is something wrong with the Proposal.
There are numerous organizations already advocating putting a price on carbon. The possibility to collaborate with these organizations is a tremendous asset.
Collaborating with the organizations listed below can jump-start the process and get a large number of countries on board quickly.
An important aspect to note: Countries are not asked to commit to pricing emissions at this point. The only commitment is to declare interest and willingness to take part in the negotiations. For this reason it should be fairly easy and straightforward to get a considerable number of countries to sign the Declaration of Willingness.
CARBON PRICING LEADERSHIP COALITION:
Hopefully, the CPLC will be willing to put reasonable effort into asking countries to renew their statement from 2014 and show their support for this new, more specific, Proposal.
The previous list collected by the CPLC included 74 countries which at the time represented 54 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Getting these countries to renew their statement would already be sufficient to begin negotiations for a Climate Club.
GRASSROOTS ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS:
We will also want to initiate a grassroots movement for speeding up the process, persuading the more difficult countries and raising public awareness of the Proposal.
The collection of declarations could be done in collaboration with Citizens' Climate Lobby, #PUTAPRICEONIT -campaign, climate-xchange.org, and other organizations which are already working towards countries adopting carbon pricing nationally or at the state level.
From a lobbying perspective, lobbying for this declaration of willingness in tandem with lobbying for a national price on carbon gives a considerable advantage. If a congressman/MP/MEP is against domestic carbon pricing, they might still be open to a global agreement which solves the free-rider problem and alleviates any concerns about competitiveness. Psychologically speaking, getting a person to say "yes" (for even a tiny little thing) is far better than ending a meeting with a "no".
Let's look at this from the point of view of the EU. Getting the EU to sign the statement of willingness should not be too difficult. After all, the EU has already signed a statement to this effect in 2014.
For the whole project, though, it might be best to NOT start from the EU Commission and instead work country by country also in the EU.
With this approach, we could ask citizens to do very easy lobbying by contacting MPs and MEPs. The actual lobbying can be as simple as asking questions like these:
– "Do you support a global agreement on global carbon pricing as outlined in the Proposal?"
– "Should our country and the EU sign the declaration of willingness?"
– "What specifically will you do, to make sure our country and the EU sign the Declaration of Willingness?"
This approach has three advantages for the grassroots movement and the project as a whole.
First, this helps divide the final goal of reaching a global agreement into smaller SMART-goals. As countries sign the declaration of willingness, this creates a cascade of small victories and keeps up the sense of progress towards the end goal. Even though the commitment for the country is minimal, this feels like a huge victory for everyone who has been involved in the lobbying process and can be expected to be very encouraging for the lobbyists.
Second, this engages the MPs and MEPs in line with the principle of micro commitments.
Third, as the countries sign the declaration of willingness one by one, this works as a proof of concept. This process can then be copied and used in federations like the U.S.
Even if the U.S. Congress refuses to cooperate, lobbying can still be carried out state by state and get them to sign the declaration one state at a time.
When negotiations start, we might have gotten enough states on board to convince the U.S. Congress to have the whole U.S. take part in the negotiations as a federation. If not, these separate states could each negotiate on their own behalf and commit to pricing carbon in their own state. (Border adjustments might be tricky in this scenario, but not necessarily a complete deal-breaker.)
It should be noted that even though hosting international negotiations on this scale is an enormous undertaking, these negotiations are not nearly as complex as UNFCCC conferences. Unlike COP conferences, negotiating an international agreement on carbon pricing involves only a handful of parameters.
Even if these international negotiations don't fit the UNFCCC framework, the United Nations might still be able to host the negotiations as part of a Climate Summit or a separate event summoned specifically for these negotiations.
When enough countries have stated their willingness to participate, finding an organization to host the negotiations should not present a problem.
If for any reason the UN is not an option, other possible organizations might include the World Bank, OECD, One Planet Summit and such.
Somewhere along the way, it will also be necessary to agree on all the countless details regarding the negotiation process. Many of these can be addressed already in the more elaborate version of the Proposal. It is, however, not practical to decide everything too early in the process.
Copyright 2019 – Juuso Voltti – firstname.lastname@example.org - tel: +358505251456