Paris climate summit 2015

Any carbon emissions deal in Paris is only a first step

Yoriko Kawaguchi, Shyam Saran and Erna Witoelar say the UN summit should enable more ambitious action to follow, as a lot more must be done to meet the governance challenges arising from climate change

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 December, 2015, 11:38am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 December, 2015, 3:55pm

With every passing year, humanity’s impact on the climate is ever more stark, and a growing number of global actors now recognise the need for immediate action.

The prospects of success at the climate summit in Paris have brightened, in particular as a result of important pledges on mitigation by major emitters such as the US and China. While these pledges still fall short of the scale of effort required, the summit should put in place a template that enables more ambitious climate action.

Adapting to its effects requires more than just an agreement on cutting emissions. It requires “just” global governance and implementation

We are convinced that such action requires constant attention to climate justice, as well as security, to support vulnerable populations. The Paris outcome should be seen as a first step.

Addressing climate change through the lens of “just security” is a recommendation of the new report, “Confronting the Crisis of Global Governance”, by the Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance. Global responses to climate change should help the most vulnerable populations better adapt to its effects. Our recommended way forward is threefold: create more innovative climate governance, incorporate climate consciousness into the work of key global bodies, and encourage market-based incentives to reduce emissions.

READ MORE: World cannot ignore the masses made homeless by disasters amid a warming planet

Efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change are not solely dependent on “success” in Paris. States, non-state actors and global institutions can undertake reforms to complement the Paris outcome. Setting up a climate research registry to collect and coordinate data, for example, could accelerate scientific research.

READ MORE: How technological advances underpin hope for climate change adaptation

Measures supporting adaptation assistance should be built into global and regional trade arrangements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The G20 should convene annual meetings to encourage members to align their policies, while the UN General Assembly could also request an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on states’ obligation to mitigate climate change.

Finally, to encourage market-based incentives to reduce emissions, a green technology licensing facility should be set up.

Climate change is a global governance challenge. Adapting to its effects requires more than just an agreement on cutting emissions. It requires just global governance and implementation. Underpinning this must be a shared sense of joint responsibility, ensuring that the needs of those hardest-hit by climate change are not left out of proposed solutions.

Yoriko Kawaguchi served as foreign minister and environment minister of Japan. Shyam Saran served as foreign secretary and chief climate change negotiator of India. Erna Witoelar founded the Indonesian Environmental Forum. They serve on the Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance