COP21: Global carbon pricing not on Paris agenda


global carbon pricing

Climate activists have been pushing for a global carbon price to cut pollution and aid clean technologies. However, going by latest developments, the issue is unlikely to be on the agenda at the upcoming Paris climate summit. World leaders, industry experts, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank had all expressed hope that the Paris summit would discuss and welcome the idea.

The COP21 will be hosted by Paris November 30-December 11, with a gathering of nearly 140 world leaders to spearhead a climate pact. The summit will focus on promoting sustainable development and clean energy to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Despite myriad carbon pricing schemes having been experimented with across the world and plenty of support behind the idea, the Paris gathering will not address the proposal of a global price on pollution.

Setting a price for the cost of carbon is to encourage polluters to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases they emit by making them pay the bill and focus on the need to develop and invest in green technology.

The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, an independent initiative co-chaired by Mexican former president Felipe Calderon and economist Nicholas Stern, emphasises that “governments introduce a strong, predictable and rising carbon price.”

Carbon pricing is “a particularly efficient way to advance climate and fiscal goals” as a means of “helping to guide consumption choices and investments towards low-carbon and away from carbon-intensive activities. It also sees the recent fall in oil prices as “an opportunity to advance carbon pricing and fossil fuel subsidy reform,” it said.

Organisations from around the world recently wrote to UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, stressing the importance of a carbon market being created as part of accords stemming from the Paris conference. “The development of a global carbon market will help stimulate investments in innovative technologies, installations and products to be made in locations where they deliver the greatest possible climate benefits at the lowest economic cost,” said Ms Figueres. The global carbon pricing would ensure the setting of a global level playing field to ensure a fair comparison.

However, the issue will now not feature in COP 21 talks, much to the disappointment of Brice Lalonde, UN special advisor and a former French environment minister. “This illustrates perfectly the rather abstract side of the negotiations and the world inhabited by diplomats as compared to the world’s economic reality,” Mr Lalonde said.

So far, around 40 nations and 23 cities have already introduced or scheduled the introduction of carbon pricing.