How much priority could climate expect to have over the coming years? We cannot afford to lose momentum, but one may fear that the more and more complicated structure and process might crumble under its own weight or lose credibility in the same way as the World Trade Organisation Doha Round.
The author argues that there are two possible approaches: one is ‘business as usual’, hoping that the COP negotiations will yield results. However, multiple concessions have been made to get countries to agree, which risks weakening the climate regime to the point where it could not provide the necessary stable framework for adequate investments to reduce the global dependence on fossil fuels.
The second approach, he argues, would be to accept a softer system for a period of transition 2013–20 while providing it with a ‘hard shell’ through a deal to negotiate a long-term regime 2020–35 within the perspective of 2050. For the initial period, there would be a flexible system with different kinds of commitments for different countries. The deal would have to be fair and equitable, based on quantified objectives that are measurable, reportable and verifiable, and should include support for adaptation, financial transfers and technology promotion and other agreed features as a result of the Bali Action Plan.
Such an approach would save the essence and long-term character of the process, he argues, and it would have additional advantages, such as setting long-term climate change in the broader framework of the human impact on all natural systems, and the corresponding need for global sustainable development provided for by the Rio+20 Conference in 2012. It would also allow long-term negotiations to be infomred by the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, expected for 2013–14.