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Research institutes publish plan to rescue climate policy from imminent failure

With the G8 set to meet in Italy this week, a report from a world-wide consortium of research institutes outlining a strategy to avert an otherwise imminent failure in climate policy is being published by the London School of Economics and Political Science's Mackinder Programme and the Institute for Science, Innovation & Society at the University of Oxford today (Tuesday 7 July). 

How to Get Climate Policy Back on Course argues that the only policies that will work are those which focus directly on improvement in energy efficiency and the decarbonisation of energy supply (called the "Kaya Direct" Approach in the report) rather than on emissions, which is an outcome of these processes. 

Professor Gwyn Prins from LSE and the report's coordinating author said: 'Worthwhile policy builds upon what we know works and upon what is feasible rather than trying to deploy never-before implemented policies through complex institutions requiring a hitherto unprecedented and never achieved degree of global political alignment.'

The report argues that the recent Japanese 'Mamizu' climate strategy is the world's first to start down this real world course in sharp contrast to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, the UK Climate Change Act and the US Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade legislation.Professor Steve Rayner, Director of InSIS at the University of Oxford, said: 'The world has centuries of experience in decarbonising its energy supply and Japan has led the world in policy-driven improvements in energy efficiency. These are the models to which we ought to be looking.'

The paper's twelve co-authors come from leading research institutes in Europe (England, Germany, Finland), North America (Canada, USA) and Asia (Australia, Japan).

Professor Prins said: 'These are confusing times for anyone interested in global climate policy. Currently, huge institutional and diplomatic effort is being expended as the world moves quickly toward a major international meeting in Copenhagen in December. But the best case outcome being predicted is merely more of the symbolic exhortation that has characterised climate policy for almost two decades.'

The report points out that between 1990 and 2000 the carbon intensity of the global economy was 0.27 tonnes for every additional $1000 of GDP. In the period 2001 to 2006 this rose to 0.53.

Professor Prins said: 'In the real world, indicators are moving stubbornly in the wrong direction. The world has been re-carbonising, not de-carbonising. The evidence is that the Kyoto Protocol and its underlying approach have had and are having no meaningful effect whatsoever.'

The Obama Administration has argued that one should never waste a good crisis. How to Get Climate Policy back on Course shows how deep the crisis of climate policy really is and gives a real world alternative to the continued pursuit of policies that have so clearly failed.

How to Get Climate Policy Back on Course is the sequel to The Wrong Trousers: Radically Re-thinking Climate Policy (2007), its influential LSE/Oxford predecessor. That study documented how the Kyoto Protocol method had failed and why it was doomed to fail. Since then, its analysis has held true.

To read the full report see How to get climate policy back on course [PDF]


Information for journalists:

Sue Windebank, Tel: 020 7849 4624, E: s.windebank@lse.ac.uk


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