Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
Climate change is a big challenge for our generation and society. This has led many to believe that one big solution is required and that there can be one international agreement and preferably one big technology to solve it all. The negotiations in Copenhagen did not deliver the big solution, and I think that would have been an impossible task.
What is this challenge? Limiting global temperature increases to 2 °C and reducing the risks associated with climate change demand large-scale reductions of carbon emissions. The reductions can only be achieved if all sectors of the economy are integrated into climate policy – to increase efficiency, find substitutes for carbon-intensive products and services and access low-carbon energy sources. The objective is not only marginal reduction of carbon emissions but the low-carbon development of our societies.
Low-carbon development thus has moved to the centre of climate-change policies: it became the backbone of discussions leading up to Copenhagen, was mentioned in the Copenhagen Accord, and was the basis for the subsequent submissions of proposals for NAMAs by eighty-three countries to the UN secretariat of the Framework Convention on Climate Change. This raises the question: what can countries to do develop in a low-carbon way?
Portfolio of climate policy instruments
Many economic activities create significant carbon emissions, which make it difficult for governments to micromanage individual carbon policies across a wide variety of industrial, commercial, housing and transport activities.