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A proposal for non-governmental actors to create a new independent global system as a back-up to the inter-governmental negotiations to make sure the reductions in global carbon emissions required by climate science are achieved

Gas by John Jopling

The CapGlobalCarbon initiative: The science is clear: the world is heading for irreversible climate change. It is also evident that the current system of intergovernmental negotiations is failing to deliver the drastic reductions in global emissions of CO2 from fossil fuels needed to avoid this outcome. In this new Green House gas, John Jopling of the Irish think-tank Feasta argues that the situation calls for non-governmental actors to set up the necessary system of global regulation that governments seemingly cannot deliver. He describes how and why this system would work, including how it would generate funds to contribute to greater international equity, thus making it attractive not only for governments and business interests but for the international social justice movement too.

The background to this is that the Planet's climate system is currently headed for irreversible instability, the main cause being increased CO2 from human use of fossil fuels. To avoid runaway climate change, the aggregate global total of emissions from the use of fossil fuels needs to be reduced by something like 6% each year if we start reducing now, or by a greater percentage the longer we delay. The trouble is that the current system of inter-governmental negotiations under the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) cannot be relied on to achieve these reductions in the overall total of global emissions. This Green House 'gas' points out that this is because the system lacks a vital component: a global regulator. To prevent climate change becoming irreversible, it is essential that an effective regulator of the aggregate global total of emissions from the use of fossil fuels is established, as a back-up to the system of international negotiations.

This 'gas' describes the form this could take: a global Cap&Dividend scheme, whereby the aggregate global total of emissions from coal, oil and gas is controlled by what is known as an 'upstream cap', a cap on the introduction of coal, oil or gas anywhere in the world. The cap is implemented by a global licence scheme, managed by a global institution and enforced by each nation-state government banning the introduction into that country of fossil fuels not covered by a global licence. The number of licences is determined in compliance with climate science, the number being reduced each year. The global institution auctions the licences and these are then tradable. Fossil fuel extraction companies pay market price for the licences they buy and pass on the cost to their customers. The global institution arranges for the proceeds from the auction to be distributed to or for the benefit of people throughout the world in equal shares, so low carbon fuel uses benefit. The scheme thus contributes to social justice and should attract wide support.

As the current system of inter-governmental negotiations shows no sign of introducing any such scheme or any other effective system to regulate the aggregate global total of carbon emissions, and cannot be relied on to do so, this gas asserts that the initiative to do this has to come from the global non-governmental sector. A number of individuals and non- governmental organisations, with a very wide range of interests and activities, need to discuss what institutional arrangements are needed and take responsibility for establishing these. This 'gas' is intended to start a conversation about how to do this: it proposes we establish an independent Global Climate Commons Trust to represent the whole of humanity including future generations and to design and administer a global Cap&Dividend scheme.

CapGlobalCarbon is the name we are using to refer to the proposal for the worldwide non-governmental community to establish an independent Global Climate Commons Trust with a remit to regulate the aggregate global total of carbon emissions in accordance with climate science. It is proposed to launch CapGlobalCarbon at a side event at the Paris meeting in December. In the meantime we need to prepare for that, publicise the proposal and seek to build the capacity to implement it.

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