Groser hails market-based solutions in Paris climate agreement

Carbon markets will be an important tool in reducing emissions that cause global warming.

A New Zealand-inspired Ministerial Declaration on carbon markets was launched by countries at the climate change conference in Paris.

The declaration signals countries' support for carbon markets as a tool in the ambitious global response to climate change, Climate Change Issues Minister Tim Groser says. 

Earlier, the Paris summit, after 13 days of intensive negotiations, reached an agreement among 195 countries to limit global warming to “well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C."

Mr Groser says the declaration signals the importance of markets in implementing the agreement.

"New Zealand wants to ensure development of a strong and robust global carbon market that has environmental integrity," he says.

Already 18 countries have aligned with the declaration.

"Pledges tabled by more than 80 countries indicate they are open to engaging in the carbon market in some way," Mr Groser says.. 

“Countries, and investors, will have more confidence in the market if it is underpinned by robust standards. New Zealand is leading the way to bring interested countries together to work on these standards."

Mr Groser says while the Paris undertakings collectively won’t solve global warming in one hit, the agreement sets up a process for regular, five-yearly, updates.

“This sets the world on a clear pathway to a lower-carbon future. New Zealand’s 2030 target, to reduce emissions to 30% below 2005 levels, is a strong contribution to this global effort.”

Lower temperature rise goal
A major outcome of the summit, known as COP-21, is the lower target figure for average world temperature rise by the end of this century.

All countries will be required to report on "national inventories of emissions by source" and also to report on their mitigation efforts.

Professor James Renwick, Climate Scientist, School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University, says good outcomes include the call for transparency, continual ratcheting up of emissions targets and the provisions for climate finance.

"The review of a 1.5°C warming limit may come too late as we are well on the way to 1.5°C with present greenhouse gas levels. Staying below 2°C warming is a big ask, but this document provides a framework for action. Now we just need the action."

The developed countries shall undertake “economy-wide absolute emission reduction targets” but the targets remain voluntary and the required actions remain daunting, he says.

Benny Peiser, head of the Global Warming Policy  Forum, says the agreement is as predicted and allows nations to set their own voluntary carbon dioxide targets and policies without any legally binding caps or international oversight.

“In contrast to the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris deal removes all legal obligations for governments to cap or reduce CO2 emissions,” he says.

“This voluntary agreement also removes the mad rush into unrealistic decarbonisation policies that are both economically and politically unsustainable.”

The deal calls for wealthy economies such as the US and the European Union to shoulder more of the burden, including a pledge to channel at least $US100 billion a year to poor countries to help them respond to climate change.

New Zealand has already pledged $200 million for assistance to Pacific Islands nations.

The Paris agreement also requires action for the first time from developing nations, including large emitters such as China and India, to find ways to lower the trajectory of their emissions growth, even as they attempt to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.

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