Why Germany is pushing for a ‘climate club’ :: WRAL.com

— Germany is hosting this year’s meeting of leaders of the major Group of Seven economies in the Bavarian resort of Elmau. Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine set off a cascade of food, energy and international security crises, the main focus of the meeting was supposed to be climate change.

The German government under Chancellor Olaf Scholz still plans to get the G-7 to commit to collective progress in the fight against global warming, and one of the ideas being discussed is the creation of a ” climate club” for countries that want to move forward when it comes to tackling the problem.

WHAT IS A CLIMATE CLUB?

The idea was first floated by Yale economist and Nobel laureate William Nordhaus, who said the voluntary nature of existing climate agreements had not resulted in sufficient progress.

He proposed that countries serious about reducing emissions could band together and form a club that would jointly set ambitious targets and exempt each other from climate-related trade tariffs that non-members would be subject to.

“It would act as both a stick and a carrot,” said Domien Vangenechten, policy adviser at the Brussels-based environmental think tank E3G.

WHO COULD JOIN?

Germany’s Scholz hopes to get the whole G-7 behind the idea. France and Italy are almost given, since the two countries are also members of the European Union, which is itself a club with strong climate objectives. Canada is keen to finalize a long-discussed trade deal with the EU and joining the climate club could help.

Britain left the EU in 2020 and is skeptical of joining any deal with the bloc. But a club that includes members beyond the EU would likely be acceptable to London, especially if the US is a part of it.

Washington has always struggled to reach binding climate change agreements, not least because of Republican opposition. President George W. Bush withdrew the US signature under the 1997 Kyoto Treaty and President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 Paris Agreement – a much less stringent pact. However, the United States has joined Paris under President Joe Biden, and there is a growing realization that a stand-alone approach may not be in America’s interest, especially if it wants to force China to weigh in on reducing emissions.

Japan could also be influenced by the prospect of putting pressure on its big neighbor and having privileged access to European and North American markets.

WHAT ABOUT CHINA?

The world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases is not expected to join right away. But if he wants to export his goods to the rest of the world without being imposed climate tariffs, he may have to join.

Expect Beijing to strongly criticize the idea, just as it has been of the EU’s planned ‘Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism’ – which also involves tariffs for polluters who break the rules of the block. China has tried to rally other emerging economies such as South Africa and Indonesia against the plan. This is one of the reasons why Scholz invited these two countries to participate in the G-7 as guests and made it clear that the climate club is open to everyone.

WILL THE IDEA TAKE OFF?

Experts say a critical mass of countries will need to join the club for it to become attractive enough for others to feel compelled to apply as well.

The exact details of how the club’s rules will work are still unclear. General support from the G-7, without any formal commitment, could help put the idea on the agenda of future meetings, including the UN climate summit in November. An endorsement there would show the club is not the exclusive preserve of wealthy nations, but a genuine addition to existing climate efforts.

AND WILL IT SAVE THE PLANET?

Johan Rockstrom, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, thinks it’s worth a try given that existing measures fall short of reducing the emissions needed to meet the Paris agreement’s goal of limiting warming. climatic.

“The world’s remaining carbon budget is running out so fast that we will soon have no scientific chance of staying at 1.5 Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit),” he said. “So in the science community, we’re grabbing anything that might help, and one of the ways is to get all the major emitters to agree on a collective set of principles for emissions trajectories and carbon pricing. .”

Rockstrom said the hope is that these efforts will eventually reach a positive tipping point, as happened with the 1987 Montreal Protocol that saw the world come together to tackle the ozone problem. The underlying principle of a climate club would upend the current situation where less ambitious countries set the pace, and instead make it a race to be the fastest, he said.

___ Read more articles on climate issues by The Associated Press at https://www.apnews.com/Climate

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