Correspondence with UK Government

on Contraction and Convergence and

Simultaneous Policy

 

This is a long cycle of correspondence with civil servants pressing them to use Simultaneous Policy in controlling global warming by Contraction and Convergence. It is rather boring and develops slowly: you may wish to go to the bottom to see the latest state of play, because things are picking up a bit in June 2006.

As you see, both the Foreign Office and DEFRA are involved. They assure me they are closely co-ordinating their roles.

You can help enormously by picking up the points in the last letter, and sending them to your MP at the House of Commons, London SW1A OAA, asking her/him to put these points to the responsible Minister. This will bring forward the time that Government begins to take practical and realistic action to stoe Climate Change.

 


 

16.02.05

Mr Bill Rammell, MP
Parliament Under-Secretary of State,
Foreign and Commonwealth Office


Dear Mr. Rammell

Contraction and Convergence with Simultaneous Policy

I have read the transcript of your evidence to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee on Climate Change and Contraction and Convergence. In it you state the difficulty of agreeing on this kind of international action: "I think the other more substantive difficulty is that to actually get a target and a cap regime itself agreed internationally, we know from our experience from Kyoto, is extraordinarily difficult. To set our stall out for that at this stage when not only has the United States set its face against it, not only has Australia done that but the
G77 as well has done that, in those circumstances to emphatically say that is the way forward at this stage I do not think would help us achieve the kind of consensus that we need."

If we accept for the moment that the reactions to Contraction and Convergence are as you say (which is questionable), I would like to point out a way forward on this supremely important question.

The UK can give a pledge in principle to support C&C, and when a sufficient number of other states had done the same, that group of states can move together to implement their pledges. This way of working is called Simultaneous Policy (SimPol) and is set out in detail on http://www.simpol.org/dossiers/dossier-UK/html-UK/interface-UK.html . You will see there that although it is a very new initiative, it has already gained support from MPs and MEPs of all parties in the UK, and from politicians in several countries.

Now that the Kyoto Agreement is in place, it is important to start moving forwards, towards taking steps that will lead to effective reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, as the Prime Minister is repeatedly stressing in the media.
I am sure that he will welcome this innovative means of achieving his stated aims without compromising Britain's competitiveness.

I would be very grateful if you would consider this proposal and let me know your thoughts.


Yours sincerely

Richard Lawson


 

Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Climate Change Impacts
Climate Change & Energy Group

09 March 2005

Dear Dr Lawson,

Thank you for your letter of 16 February to Mr Rammell, and for drawing our attention to the Simultaneous Policy initiative, following the Minister's recent evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee. I have been asked to reply.

As the Prime Minister has made clear, climate change is one of two priorities for the UK's Presidency of the G8, and also a priority for our EU Presidency in the second half of this year. Throughout our Presidencies, our prime objective is to raise the profile of climate change as a matter deserving the urgent attention of Heads of State in the 08 and outside it, so as to promote an international consensus on the need for further action to control emissions.

You asked about the government's views on "Contraction and Convergence". As you say, this is one of the proposals for future international action on climate change that has attracted support and interest. A number of other models for future frameworks to reduce emissions have also been proposed, for example the "multi-stage approach", the "global triptych" approach, energy intensity targets, and co-ordinated policies and measures. In addition, there are differing views internationally on how far future international frameworks should address the effects as well as the causes of climate change.

The UK is committed to finding a workable and equitable framework for longer-term action to tackle climate change effectively. The architecture needs to be realistic (relevant to countries with different national circumstances), robust (capable of being adjusted if necessary in the light of experience and ever improving scientific knowledge) and durable.

For any such framework to be effective, it will be necessary for it to achieve wide global acceptance. Inter-governmental negotiations on action to follow up the Kyoto Protocol after 2012 have not yet begun. At the recent round of UN climate change talks in Buenos Aires in 2004, the UK worked hard with EU partners and other countries to secure agreement for a "Seminar of Governmental Experts" to meet in May this year. This will be the first opportunity for countries to exchange views in the UN framework on action to follow up Kyoto after 2012.

At this early stage of the international debate, we need to be flexible and open-minded about any international framework to make deep cuts in emissions in a cost-effective way. We therefore believe that it is important that all suggestions for future frameworks are considered and that nothing is ruled out yet, irrespective of the relative advantages and disadvantages of the options on the table at present. We shall therefore continue to consider the "Contraction and Convergence" approach along with other proposals, as we and the EU develop positions for future climate change negotiations.
I am copying this letter to Mr Rammell's Office.
Yours sincerely,
Alan Richmond
cc: APS/Mr Rammell



13.3.05

Mr Bill Rammell, MP
Parliament Under-Secretary of State,
Foreign and Commonwealth Office

cc Alan Richmond
Climate and Energy Group

Dear Mr. Rammell

Contraction and Convergence with Simultaneous Policy

Many thanks for asking Mr. Richmond to reply to my letter of February 16. I am grateful for his review of the present state of play, and am encouraged to read that Government continues to consider the Contraction and Convergence (C&C) approach. I was especially glad to note that C&C fits neatly into the criteria given, since it is realistic, robust and durable. It is particularly robust, being flexible with regard to the degree of CO2 reduction and the degree of convergence required.

The burden of my letter was to show that the UK can give a pledge in principle to support C&C, setting an example for other states to make the same pledge. This will be especially effective while the PM holds the EU and G8 presidencies, and I am confident that the PM will welcome a briefing on this initiative as being fully in keeping with the leadership that he is rightly giving to the overwhelmingly important topic of climate change.

The advantage of this "Simultaneous Policy" approach is that the fear of losing competitiveness disappears. The number and make-up of pledging states can be defined in advance, and the pledge can be laid down with minimum effort while other options are discussed. When a sufficient number of other states had done the same, that group of states can move together to implement their pledges. This way of working is called Simultaneous Policy (SimPol) and is set out in detail on http://www.simpol.org/ .

I would be very grateful if you would let me know whether you will present a briefing on the Simultaneous Policy to the PM.


Yours sincerely

Richard Lawson


Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Climate Change Impacts
Climate Change & Energy Group

19 April 2005

Dear Dr Lawson,

Thank you for your letter of 13 March to Mr Rammell about using the 'Simultaneous Policy' approach to give a pledge on the contraction and convergence proposals on climate change. I have been asked to reply.

We will continue to consider all proposals and options on their merits to find a workable and equitable framework for longer-term action to tackle climate change effectively. We are also working in a variety of different fora to create momentum and to look at new ways of engaging the global community in the climate change debate.

For example, the UK recently held an Energy and Environment Ministerial Roundtable, attended by ministers from 20 countries, including all G8 countries, China, India, South Africa and Brazil, and representatives from international organisations, business and nongovernmental organisations. Participants welcomed the opportunity to consider the key practical approaches to climate change and energy policy in an informal and innovative forum and contributed positively to the discussions which identified areas of common interest around the issues of the accessibility and affordability of modem energy systems, security of energy supply and the need for local and global environmental protection. The discussions also identified a range of priorities for further working, both in terms of methodology and in relation to specific issues such as energy efficiency.

The wide and committed participation of all concerned enabled the Roundtable to provide a real opportunity to build trust and to look for ways in which the international community might continue to work together in future.

Given the wide range of policy options and ideas, and the differing views internationally on how far future international frameworks should address the effects as well as the causes of climate change, it remains our view it would not be helpful at this stage to limit our options and pledge support for one idea over another.

There are no plans to present a separate briefing on a 'Simultaneous Policy' approach to future climate change actions, however, please be assured that your views will be forwarded to 10 Downing Street for the attention of the Prime Minister.
I am copying this letter to Mr Rammell's Office.
Yours sincerely,
Alan Richmond


29.04.05

Alan Richmond
F&C O
Climate Change & Energy Group


Dear Mr. Richmond

It seems that I have not had a reply from you to my letter of 29 April. [this was my mistake - RL] You may recall that we were discussing measures to combat global warming.

In response to your previous letter, fully appreciate the delicacy of the task of getting ministers from 20 countries to agree on the kind of policies required by climate change. On the other hand, I am sure that we both appreciate the capacity for these fora to lose their way, and drift aimlessly. The Prime Minister has declared his intention to lead in this matter, and I am sure that, once he grasps the opportunities offered by both C&C and Simultaneous Policy (SP), he will be more than grateful to you for having brought these tools to hand.

The beauty of SP is that it can exist alongside the conventional process of obtaining international agreement. All it takes is for leaders to make their pledge that they will back C&C once a given number of other states do likewise. The pledges can stand as tokens of intent. Their existence, hopefully in growing numbers, will not interfere with any other aspect of the debate and discussion, but rather, will act as a focus for the discussion, alongside yet gently influencing the process. It is not, in short, a case of holding either informal exploratory talks or putting down an SP pledge for C&C, but a case of both putting down a Simultaneous Policy Pledge and holding exploratory talks.

Of course, I may be ignorant of some technical factor which requires that it is indeed a case of either/or. If this is the case, I would be most grateful if you would enlighten me. If this is not the case, I hope that you will be able to let me know that you will be introducing Simultaneous Policy as a component of your activities.

Many thanks for your attention to this matter.

Yours sincerely,


Richard Lawson


 

Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Climate Change & Energy Group
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
LONDON SW1A 2AH

27 June 2005

Dr Richard Lawson
The Old School House
Station Road
Congresbury, North Somerset
BS49 5DX


Dear Dr Lawson,

Thank you for your letter of 29 April 2005 to Alan Richmond about using a 'Simultaneous Policy' approach to give a pledge on the contraction and convergence proposals on climate change. I have been asked to reply. I apologise for the delay in replying to your letter.

Given the differing international views on how far future international frameworks should address the effects as well as the causes of climate change, it remains our view that it would not be helpful at this stage to limit our options and pledge support for one idea over another.

We are continuing to consider all proposals and options on their merits to find a workable and fair framework for long-terrn action to effectively tackle climate change. We are also working in a variety of different fora to create momentum and to look at new ways of engaging the global community in the climate change debate. Please be assured that Contraction and Convergence and Simultaneous Policy will remain within those deliberations.

Yours Sincerely

Tom Franey
Climate Change & Energy Group


28th September 2005

Tom Franey,
Climate Change & Energy Group,
FCO, King Charles St
LONDON SW1A 2AH

cc John Penrose MP


Thank you for your letter of 27 June 2005. I have an embarrassing confession to make. On sorting my papers, I found that I had indeed received the letter at the end of June, but had misfiled it. I apologise for an unintended slur on your efficiency.

I understand that there are widely differing international views on how far future international frameworks should address the effects and causes of climate change. However, it is the mainstream view of nations that adhere to scientific rationality that climate change is a process that is beginning to happen now, and that we must address its causes and effects with great urgency.

Given that there is divergence, there is a need for leadership, albeit leadership that is sensitive to diverse positions so that it manages to keep the group together. In the context of climate change negotiations, it must surely be the case that Contraction and Convergence is the leading solution, in the sense of being the most robust and equitable, yet most flexible. It is ahead of Kyoto, in the sense that it offers the more radical solution. It is a leading concept that it is progressively gaining acceptance in a wide variety of decision making committees.

I am glad to note that you did not dispute the point that I put forward in my letter of June 21st, that it would be possible to put down a Simultaneous Policy Pledge for radical action at the same time as holding exploratory talks in the normal way. The SP pledge would lay down a target that would serve as a focus for the talks. As the talks progressed, other countries would doubtless add their names and weight to the pledge, thus strengthening the seriousness of the subject matter. For this reason, it remains the case in my view that it would be helpful at this stage to pledge support for the most radical and best developed plan available.

All this assumes that the FCO does indeed hold to the view that international agreements to limit emissions of greenhouse forcing gases is an overriding priority for this Government. I would be grateful for reassurance on this point.

I am pleased to note that you are working in a variety of different fora to create momentum and to look at new ways of engaging the global community in the climate change debate. Does the term global community include civil society.

Many thanks for your time in responding to these points, and again, please accept my apologies.

Yours sincerely


Richard Lawson

 


 

Tom Franey,
Climate Change & Energy Group,
FCO, King Charles St
LONDON SW1A 2AH


cc John Penrose MP

16.12.05

I do not appear to have received a response to my letter of 28th September, and as my postal vigilance has improved since my previous error, I presume that either the post office has failed to deliver, or that our correspondence has understandably been swamped by events in Montreal.

The key question from my last letter is to know whether international targeted agreements to limit emissions of greenhouse forcing gases is an still an overriding priority for this Government? I would be grateful for reassurance on this point.

I would like to focus our discussion of Contraction and Convergence and Simultaneous Policy (SP) onto this question: If, in future negotiations on Climate Change, other parties to the negotiations should lay down SP pledges to the effect that they would adopt scientifically based targets along the lines of C&C, at what level would the UK Government be prepared to join in? Would we join if a quarter, or a half, or three quarters of the parties around the table had made the commitment? Or are there no circumstances under which HMG would give a pledge to adopt Contraction and Convergence, even if all other parties would be prepared to do so?

Many thanks for your time in responding to these two questions.

With best wishes for a relaxing and pleasant Christmas to you and the entire Climate Change & Energy team,


Richard Lawson

 



Department for Environment
Food and Rural Affairs
Katrina McLeay
3/88 Ashdown House
123 Victoria Street
London
SW1E 6DE


17 February 2006

 

Dear Mr Lawson

Thank you for your letter to Tom Franey at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, concerning future action on climate change and referring specifically to the Contraction and Convergence Framework. This letter has been passed to the Climate Change team at Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs for reply.

The recent agreement at Montreal illustrates the significant impact that the UK's leadership on climate change has on the rest of the world. The eleventh Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate change (COPI 1) and the first Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (MOPI) took place from 28 November to 9 December. Margaret Beckett, UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, led the European Union delegation.

The discussions on action beyond 2012 will be taken forward on two tracks:

o Developed country Kyoto parties (Annex I Parties) will consider further targets beyond 2012; and

o All countries under the UN Framework Convention onClimate Change (including all Kyoto parties, both Annex I and non-Annex I Parties such as China and India, plus rron-parttesr]nctuding the uS and Aus~alia) iiave agreed to begin talks on the longer-term future.

These discussions will enable us to further consider the most effective way in which the UNFCCC objectives can be met through global participation.

The decision of the COP/MOP on art 3.9 (the Kyoto Protocol track) initiated a process to consider further commitments for parties included in Annex I for the period beyond 2012. The process will be taken forward in an open-ended ad hoc working group. Parties agreed that the group would aim to complete its work and have its results adopted by the COP/MOP in time to ensure there is not gap between the first and second commitments periods, which represents a significant and time-limited process for determining future commitments. The EU is committed to this process and is currently preparing its
Submission on how to take it forward, to be presented to the UNFCCC Secretariat in March.

Parties are also invited to send in a submission for the Convention Dialogue (by 15 April 2006) which should focus on their 'initial views the issues to be discussed in this dialogue and to enable the secretariat to provide the necessary support for the dialogue.' The Decision also highlights that the purpose of the Dialogue is' to exchange experiences and analyse strategic approaches for long-term co-operative action to address climate change.

These agreements represent a hugely significant step in the global effort to tackle climate change but despite this unprecedented progress the international debate on what that the framework post 2012 should be is still at a comparatively early stage. It is important, therefore, to note that the negotiations under the Climate Change Convention, including those on future commitments, will follow an evolutionary process. It is to be expected that Parties will look at the principles that should guide the discussions and that we will negotiate the key elements I building blocks of a post-2012 regime.

At this stage, therefore, it is important that we remain flexible in looking at the options, that all existing suggestions for future frameworks, including the contraction and convergence framework, remain on the table, and that full consideration is given both to the possible frameworks themselves and to the elements within them that could be used to form part of a workable solution.

In considering any future regime, the UK Government's long-term view is that the architecture of a future framework needs to be:

i. Realistic (relevant to countries with different national circumstances);
ii. Robust (capable of being adjusted in the light of experience), and;
iii. Durable (will not become irrelevant after a few years)

But for any such framework to be effective, it would be necessary for it to achieve a wide global acceptance and to deliver results in terms of significant emissions reductions. The Government is committed to finding a solution to the issue of climate change that meets these criteria.


Katrina McLeay
Global Atmosphere Division

 


Katrina McLeay
Global Atmosphere Division
DEFRA

2.4.06
Dear Ms McLeay
Simultaneous Policy for Contraction and Convergence
Thank you for your letter of 17th February. I apologise for the delay in replying. It is helpful to have a concise account of the framework for international action that you have set out. I note that the Kyoto Protocol track will consider post-2012 targets in an open-ended working group. This would be an ideal opportunity to deploy the Simultaneous Policy approach to C&C. You will recall from my correspondence with the FCO that under Simultaneous Policy the UK would "nail its colours to the mast" by declaring itself ready to adopt a Contraction and Convergence policy, which would be implemented when a specified number of other parties make the same pledge.
Since it is clear from my correspondence with the FCO that HMG would fight shy of initiating this policy, I would now like to explore the degree of resistance that you would offer to this approach. If another party deployed the Simultaneous Policy tactic to bring about Contraction & Convergence, at what stage would HMG join in with its own pledge? Would it come in with the first third, the second third, the last third, or would HMG not participate in C&C in any circumstances whatsoever?
Many thanks for applying yourself to this question.
Yours sincerely


Richard Lawson


Katrina McLeay
31B8 Ashdown House
123 Victoria Street
London
SWIE 6DE


Date 22 June 2006


I'm sorry for the lengthy delay in replying to your letter on simultaneous policy and appreciate your patience in bearing with first the cabinet reshuffle and then our attendance at the meeting of the subsidiary body meetings in Bonn. I understand you have already had some discussion with one of my colleagues on the points in your letter and related issues.

As I think you discussed in the course of that conversation, the current state of the international debate on future action on climate change is such that it is not yet at a stage that would allow any substantive discussion of any specific framework. In Montreal, we were able for the first time to agree that there needed to be a discussion, not just on the future commitments to be taken on by developed countries, but on the implementation of the Convention as a whole. Getting widespread agreement to start this sort of a process was difficult and the decision represented a significant step forward in negotiations that had, up to that point, lost momentum. At the meeting in Bonn, the Parties held the first session of this Convention Dialogue.

The discussion in this first session was constructive and some new ideas were forthcoming from some key players, most notably South Africa. All parties participated constructively, including some, such as the African countries, whose voices are seldom heard in the debate. It was clear from the discussion that there were plenty of ideas on the table, but that there is still some way to go in building the level of consensus within the international community that would be required to agree on a framework for the way forward. Given this international situation, it would be premature for the UK government to commit itself to any particular framework at this stage. We are, however, giving full consideration both to the possible frameworks themselves and also to the elements within them that could be used to form part of a workable solution. The UK would consider global acceptability to be an essential feature of any future regime and so it is unlikely that we would be willing to sign up to any framework on a unilateral or even partially multilateral basis, such as that which you suggest in relation to simultaneous policy

We will continue to discuss these issues with our partners; for example, at present we are also discussing the Brazilian Historical Responsibility Proposal and the use of Sustainable Development Policies and Measures in the framework of the climate change convention and we think that further discussions of the advantages and disadvantages of various frameworks, including Contraction and Convergence, under the auspices of the Convention would make a useful contribution to the debate.


Please do not hesitate to call or write again if you would like to discuss anything further.

Katrina McLeay
Global Atmosphere Division

 


 

Katrina McLeay
Global Atmosphere Division
DEFRA
3/B8 Ashdown House
123 Victoria St
London
SW1E 6DE

27.6.06

Simultaneous Policy for Contraction and Convergence
Thank you for your letter of 22nd June. I do appreciate the hard work that you and your colleagues are doing to try to get an agreement. It must be very exciting and satisfying at times to feel that you are taking part in forming an agreement, or a series of agreements, that will be remembered as a turning point in history.
You explain that the discussions are at a very early stage, that it is too soon to be putting forward specific plans. I can well understand the need to try to find common features of all proffered plans, ready to form around something that may emerge with the widest support. That is of course very wise and sensible, but at the same time, in chemistry, crystallization occurs more easily in a saturated solution if there is a tiny particle to start the process off.
I have trouble with the proposition that "The UK would consider global acceptability to be an essential feature of any future regime, and so it is unlikely that we would be willing to sign up to any framework on a unilateral or even partially multilateral basis…". If you dismiss partially multilateral an option, this can be taken to mean that there must be 100% acceptance - in effect 192 out of the 192 UN states. Surely you cannot mean that. It is a recipe for failure, since 100% agreement in the UN General Assembly never happens. We must accept that some will never agree, and these hangers-back cannot be allowed to hold the rest of the world back from what is such an important and necessary agreement.Would 90% acceptance be "partially multilateral?"
100% acceptance is not going to happen. It is unlikely that we would even get 95% acceptance among the OECD countries, or any other grouping of the larger economies or nations. Clearly, people are going to move at different speeds. Inevitably, some nations will have to give a lead, and others will mover forward at a slower pace. Someone is going to have to give some leadership in this matter.
Leadership has two aspects - practical and conceptual. The UK is actually lagging behind our European partners in many fields of environmental practice, (although I am sure that you will be able to point out some leads). So the UK is not in a good position to give conceptual leadership. It is therefore more likely that conceptual leadership will appear from non-UK countries. So my question still stands: if, say a group of EU countries began to pledge that they would go for some form of C&C when a certain level of allies had signed up also, at what stage would the UK sign up? Would we really be the very last, as implied by the rejection of multilateralism? Or would we sign up at the 90% level? Or at what level of agreement?


I stress that this simultaneous policy approach can occur at the same time as the negotiation process that you describe.



Yours sincerely


Richard Lawson


Katrina McLeay
3/B8 Ashdown House
123 Victoria Street
London
SWIE 6DE

Website www.defra.gov.uk
21.7.2006


Department for Environment
Food and Rural Affairs

Dear Mr Lawson

Thank you for your letter of 27th June relating to the issue of simultaneous policy, in response to mine of 22nd June.

Officials continue to be guided by the views of Cabinet and are working on looking into the different aspects of each policy and the various options that may exist within them. Clearly this is an evolutionary process and we will need to re-evaluate as we go along. For the present, I think that there is little that I can add further to the position that I outlined in my last letter except to thank you for your views, which are helpful in stimulating our thoughts on these issues.



Katrina McLeay
Global Atmosphere Division

Continued here

 


 
© 2001 R. Lawson