Sustainable development policy making involves a complex combination of scientific and economic inputs, as well as political evaluation and positioning, leading up to long hours of negotiations.
This pattern currently is unfolding like a multiple-act play for the climate change negotiations. The past few weeks have involved many inputs from the scientific and economic perspectives. The Bonn Climate Change Conference involved “workshops” to bring in expert input as delegates began to consider adaptation, finance and technology issues in their talks on long-term cooperative action. In the past month, two studies related to the Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change have been released, seeking to continue and influence the debate begun by the October 2006 Stern Review, which sought to change the economic perspective of the climate change debate by calculating the costs of inaction. In Key Elements of a Global Deal on Climate Change, Nicholas Stern proposes key elements for a global climate regime, as well as suggesting further work in a number of areas to take this programme forward. This approach to climate change issues could be strengthened through efforts to carry this perspective into the biodiversity realm. The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity – An Interim Report, inspired by the Stern Review, was released with the objective of initiating “the process of analyzing the global economic benefit of biological diversity, the costs of the loss of biodiversity and the failure to take protective measures versus the costs of effective conservation.”
In July 2008, political evaluation and positioning on climate change policy will no doubt take center stage, with the leaders of the G8 industrialized countries meeting in Japan for their annual summit, and a meeting of the US’ Major Economies process convening on its sidelines. In anticipation of its role as Summit host, the Japanese Government has announced plans for a trial national carbon market as well as targets for domestic long-term emissions reductions. Whether and how these moves may influence the meetings’ outcomes remains to be seen, but the focus for climate policy will then switch back to the negotiations under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. As our IISD RS analysis
of the recent climate change meetings in Bonn indicates, delegates to those negotiations are realizing that about one sixth of their time over the next 18 months will be spent in climate negotiations, not to mention any effort to keep up with an evolving script involving new scientific and economic perspectives. This policy making process will involve many more inputs before the final agreement is drafted, and we will continue to watch the process as each “act” unfolds.