First steps towards CapGlobalCarbon: potential partner countries and useful programmes

Note: this article assumes that you are already up-to-speed on what CapGlobalCarbon is. See here to get a quick overview, or here for a short video explainer of Cap and Share, the main component of CGC.

This is a brief summary of research done by our intern, Paul Faisant, over the summer of 2018. We’ll be following up on his work in the course of the next few months. Any comments are appreciated.

One approach to implementing CapGlobalCarbon would be to find a developed country to join with a developing country in a bilateral Cap and Share scheme, and then scale it up from there*. The search for information made this summer aimed to draw a profile of potential countries that could implement CapGlobalCarbon and to find some arguments to start a communication with their respective governments.

We have studied the possibility of linking France and Thailand in a Cap & Share scheme. To do so, communication with executive institutions is necessary.

Since France organized the COP21 in 2015, the country wants to have the image of a leader of the ecological transition. In this logic, France took encouraging measures: it will stop the production of hydrocarbons on its territory from now to 2040 and every coal plant will be closed or will evolve to less carbonaceous solutions. It also supported the project of a Global Pact for Environment (discussed below) before the UN general Assembly.
At first sight, the French Climate Plan seems to have great ambitions; it aims to prepare for “after-carbon” by reducing its fossil fuel dependence and to reach the objectives set by the Paris Agreement. However, contradictions remain in this plan and there is a lack of real action taken towards ecology. The recent resignation of N. Hulot, minister of Ecological and Solidarity Transition, illustrates the fact that the French government is not ready to make big changes. Still, ecological discourse is really developed in France and is spreading to the private sector: private companies admit that climate change is an inherent risk for their activities and are starting to include the price of carbon in their economic strategies.

In Thailand, the climate change issue has been considered only recently. Indeed, the idea of reducing greenhouse gas emissions was introduced for the first time in 2012 in Thai political speech. Today the country recognizes the climate issue we are facing and aims to develop renewable energy. The major priority of Thailand regarding its energy is security which tends towards a slow-down of a transition. Unlike France, Thailand does not plan to stop the use of coal to produce its energy.

These two countries are both involved in international political and economic organizations: the European Union for France and the Association of South East Asian Nations, which influence the policies of those countries and, especially for the EU, impose some measures on its member states. In order to work on a potential implementation of CapGlobalCarbon in these countries, they have to be considered at an international scale. It is conceivable to consider an implementation of Cap and Share by the EU in a partnership with a majority of ASEAN countries.

The EU, like ASEAN, has an energy plan that integrates measures to tackle, at least partly, the climate change issue. The EU put in place an Emissions Trading Scheme, of which the purpose is to cap GHG emissions: a system that is inefficient and in transition at present but that reflects the attitude of the EU regarding its pollution. For its part, ASEAN aims to reach 23% of renewables in its energy production by 2025.

A partnership between EU and ASEAN could lead to an efficient implementation of a Cap & Share scheme from an economic point of view. Moreover, it could lead to a solidarity partnership by sharing ideas, competences and technologies to evolve towards an “after-carbon” era.

A big difference between CapGlobalCarbon compared to other existing carbon pricing is the share with citizens on a per capita basis. To implement this, it is necessary to find ways to spread the money from the Trust to people. We’ve studied the development of cash transfers programs in ASEAN countries: though they are not developed in every country, some systems exist to allocate money, by electronic transfers or direct cash. These systems are currently used for poverty reduction policies and so, target a specific part of the population but might be widened to include a per capita share of CapGlobalCarbon. The already existing systems of money transfer are an opportunity for the Cap & Share scheme to be applied effectively.

Is a think tank’s project able to have an impact?

The project of Global Pact for Environment has been developed by a French think tank. It aims to impose a global juristic framework regarding environmental issues, from ecological protection to human health. This project has been launched by French government within the general Assembly of the UN; it illustrates the power of citizen’s initiatives. It is possible for people to carry projects to the higher institutions of the world.

* the partnerships suggested here are based on the premise of pairing two countries or groups of countries that have similar populations and whose average per capita emissions is close to the global average. This would make the system easily scalable, as other bilateral and multilateral partnerships would be able to join in later without distorting the permit pricing. You can read an outline of how a partnership between Ireland and a Global South country could work here, and more about cash transfer here.

We are currently preparing a briefing based on the research Paul has done, which should be completed in Autumn 2018.

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