3. The Kyoto2 proposals
3.1 Introducing Kyoto2
The approach advocated in this paper unashamedly appropriates key features of existing and proposed approaches to carbon regulation, and re-assembles them into a new structure aimed at achieving the best of those approaches, while avoiding the problems.
The key ideas behind Kyoto2 are:
- The system as a whole is global in scope.
- A series of firm caps to be set on global emissions of GHGs (in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, tCO2e).
- GHG production to be controlled at point of production, not emission.
- In the specific case of GHG emissions from fossil fuels, regulate the production of the fossil fuels themselves. This is the most efficient point at which to control the associated GHG emissions due to the relatively small number of points of fossil fuel production.
- The bulk of GHG production rights (Rights) to be allocated by an annual (or more frequent) global auction open to all bidders.
- Producers of fossil fuels and industrial greenhouse gases would need to hold sufficient RIghts to match their production, upon which the Rights which would be extinguished. Accordingly those needing to obtain Rights would include:
- Companies producing fossil fuels.
- Airlines and air forces, to account for the excess radiative forcing of aviation beyond that of CO2 alone, caused by emissions of oxides of nitrogen, particulates etc, estimated (IPCC, 1999) at 2.7 times that of CO2 alone.
- Producers of Portland cement: the carbon dioxide emissions from the calcination of lime during the manufacture of Portland cement are approximately equal the typical CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuel. (www.enviroliteracy.org/article.php/1257.html). Collectively such emissions account for some 2.5 percent of global anthropogenic CO2 emissions).
- Producers of Potent Industrial Greenhouse Gases (PIGGs), including HFCs (as used in refrigeration and air conditioning), sulphur hexafluoride, PFCs from aluminium manufacture and (as specifically excluded from Kyoto1) the CFCs and HCFCs. The CFCs and HCFCs are controlled by the Montreal Protocol as a result of their ability to destroy stratospheric ozone, but their global warming effects have not been addressed. The climate impact of the PIGGs is expected (Multisectoral Initiative on Potent Industrial Greenhouse Gases to make up 8.6 percent of total global warming by 2050.
- Rights to emit non-industrial GHGs, which arise mainly from diffuse and hard to identify and control sources, to be allocated to countries on a per capita basis in accord with the C&C principle, on the basis that their Governments have the power to regulate such emissions within their territories. This would apply mainly to methane from such sources as landfill sites, coal mines, sewage plants and agriculture, and to CO2 from forest clearance, specifically excluding unavoidable natural emissions.
- Rights to be tradeable allowing them to go where needed most at any point in time.
- Unextinguished Rights to be carried over from year to year.
- Where GHGs are verifiably destroyed or put into safe long term storage, Rights to be credited pro rata.
- Invest the money raised from the Rights auction, which could easily reach $/€ 500 billion - $/€1 trillion, to tackle both the causes and consequences of climate change, for example to: mitigate climate change impacts; help countries to adapt to new climates; and create a worldwide transition to an equitable, prosperous, low carbon economy.
3.1 The Global Cap
The reason to set a cap on global GHG emissions is, simply that this is the only way to be sure that GHG emissions do not continue to rise as they may well do - even with other excellent policy measures in place - in the absence of a cap, as has happened under the Kyoto Protocol. The cap would need to be global as the global climate responds to global GHG emissions.
A series of annual caps reaching far into the future would need to be set by parties to the UNFCCC in order to facilitate the necessary long term decisions and investments. The caps should, once agreed, only be adjusted in the light of overwhelming scientific evidence as to the need so to do. It is envisaged that firm caps should be in place for a decade ahead, creating market certainty, while less accurate ranges would be defined for the years beyond.
Ideally the caps would be set in accord with expert scientific advice from the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The next challenge is then to determine how rights to emit GHGs should be allocated.
A broad base of economic theory, amply confirmed by empirical evidence, suggests that auction is the most optimal means of allocating a scarce resource with many competitive buyers. This approach tends to guarantee the best return to the seller, and allocate the resource - in this case GHG production Rights - to where it will be used to the greatest economic advantage.
In the matter of the form and process of auction, the arguments of Crampton & Kerr set out in 2.8 above are broadly accepted. The use of Ascending-Clock Auction seems entirely appropriate.
The question of a hybrid mechanism is also one to consider: that is a hybrid between the "quantity-based" auction (in which the quantity is limited) and a price-based system (effectively a tax which is at a fixed level). The economic theory of such hybrid instruments was first presented in 1976 by Marc Roberts & Michael Spence ("Effluent Charges and Licenses Under Uncertainty", Journal of Public Economics 1976) and was recently expanded by Cameron Hepburn (Oxford Review of Economic Policy Vol. 22 No. 2, summer 2006) in "Regulation by prices, quantities or both: a review of instrument choice" with specific application to environmental regulation.
In this scenario, the auction could be subject to floor and ceiling prices. That is to say, that if the auction price fails to achieve the floor price, the quantity of Rights on offer is reduced until that floor price is achieved. If the ceiling price is achieved, the quantity of Rights on offer is increased until demand is no longer sufficient to maintain the ceiling price.
The advantages of this approach are severalfold:
- the existence of a floor price for Rights provides a secure long term price signal for investors and would prevent the possibility of a damaging price crash
- the existence of a maximum price limits potential adverse economic impacts that might arise from a very high price for Rights
- the combined effect of the floor and ceiling prices is to reduce uncertainty in the marketplace, and as regards the revenues to be raised from the sale of Rights.
Any "excess" allocation of Rights in one year could be corrected in subsequent years by an equivalent reduction in quantity offered in future years. This may be justified since the greater than anticipated revenue would be invested in reducing demand for Rights in future years.
Such are the benefits of using a hybrid auction mechanism that this approach now forms part of the Kyoto2 proposals. However suitable floor and ceiling price levels have yet to be determined
A further key question is that of who would need to buy Rights, or at what stage in the GHG production chain audit and verification is to take place. The principle applied is to go upstream to reduce the number of control points. In the case of GHGs derived from the burning of fossil fuels, which accounts for most GHG emissions, the best points to use are at or close to fossil fuel production, such as coal-washing plant, or oil refinery. This involves a relatively small number of players each producing on a large scale, so greatly simplifying the task of ensuring regulatory compliance. This also avoids the need for carbon audit and accounting at subsequent points in the supply chain.
Accordingly the main auction participants needing to acquire Rights would be fossil fuel producers who would need to acquire sufficient Rights to match the carbon equivalent of their production. Secondary participants would be cement producers, the aviation industry and Potent Industrial Greenhouse Gas (PIGG) producers.
We also need to consider a further category of GHG emissions: those avoidable (excluding, for example, emissions from natural ecosystems) GHG emissions from non-industrial sources, such as
- methane from defunct coal mines, land fillsites and agriculture
- methane and carbon dioxide arising from forest clearance.
It is proposed that a proportion of the total GHG cap is allocated to National Governments to cover such emissions, on a per capita basis in accord with C&C principles. This would mean that poor countries would in general not need to find cash with which to purchase Rights at auction, but might even have a surplus for sale. All Governments would be incentivised to put in place policy measures for the reduction of their non-industrial GHG emissions, while also devising systems to ensure that the actual emitters, where possible, paid their share of the cost.
A key aspect of enforcement here would be a global network of strategically located monitoring stations, including satellite observatories, which would collect data on atmospheric levels of key GHGs and land use.
It is essential that Rights be tradeable in order that those holding surpluses be able to sell them to those in deficit, so ensuring their efficient allocation in a secondary market. Participation in both auction and secondary market should not be limited to any particular category of trader, in order to allow a trading system to develop similar to that existing in financial markets.
However it is proposed that the application of a small "Tobin tax" of under 1 percent should be considered for levy on secondary Rights trades to pay for the cost of administering the trading system and to yield additional revenue.
3.4 Regulatory questions
A number of regulatory questions will need to be addressed, for example:
- Should, and if so on what terms, Rights for one year be carried over to a future year? Or "borrowed" from a future year into the current year?
- How should fossil fuel producers / Governments who end the year in deficient of Rights be penalised?
It is proposed that:
- Rights may be carried forward into future years without restriction or penalty.
- Rights may not be carried back from future years.
- Governments and organisations alike who are in Rights deficit should be penalised by paying a "buyout price". This price might be fixed at a multiple (to be determined) of the price set in the preceding Rights auction, or linked to the "ceiling price" in a hybrid auction.
However there is scope for debate on these points. See, for example, "Managing Permit Markets to Stabilize Prices" by Richard Newell, William Pizer, and Jiangfeng Zhang (Resources for the Future, June 2003), which establishes that the ability to borrow Rights from future years, subject to payment of interest (also denominated in Rights) can have a stabilising effect on markets.
3.4 Kyoto1 Flexibility Mechanisms
The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM - http://cdm.unfccc.int) and Joint Implementation (JI), the most important of the Kyoto Protocol's "flexibility mechanisms", have proved to be a powerful means of mobilising investment to reduce GHG emissions, from both fossil fuel and other sources. This is demonstrated by the number of Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs) expected to be delivered by 2012: 660 million, equivalent to reductions in CO2 emissions of 660 million tonnes.
However these mechanisms would play no direct part Kyoto2, since they rely on the differing status under the Kyoto Protocol of Annex 1 and other nations. Under Kyoto2 there is no such distinction and all countries are on an equal footing.
However that does not mean that organisations involved in the CDM / JI will not be able to put their experience and expertise to good use. There may also be opportunities to continue a re-configured CDM / JI if this is seen as desirable. First, let us consider the two forms of CDM / JI projects - those that reduce emissions from:
- fossil fuels and industrial sources
- non-industrial emissions of GHGs such as CFCs, methane etc.
Energy and industrial projects
Under Kyoto2 the main incentive to stop burning fossil fuels, and to reduce production of other industrial GHGs, would come from the increased cost under the global GHG production cap. Any CDM / JI -like projects aimed at reducing fossil fuel consumption and other industrial emissions would, accordingly, have no effect on global emissions.
However they would achieve targetted reductions in fossil fuel demand, so reducing the price of fossil fuels within the cap - in effect, producing "Certified Demand Reductions" rather than the current "Certified Emissions Reductions" or "Emission Reduction Units" (ERUs). This would ease the transition process towards a lower carbon economy. In the case of projects targetted at poor people, it would also create social and economic benefits for them, helping to offset the impact of higher fossil fuel costs.
Funds might therefore be allocated from auction proceeds for the purchase of CERs / ERUs, not for any reduction in carbon emissions, but for the other resulting benefits.
Under Kyoto2 National Governments would be responsible for avoidable GHG emissions not otherwise controlled, such as methane which is emitted from numerous and diverse sources. It would be advantageous for them to reduce their need for Rights - either reducing their need to buy them or producing a surplus from their allocation for sale. Accordingly there is scope for a market in which companies bring about such reductions by way of CDM-like projects - for example to capture methane emissions at pig farms. The Government of the territory in question might, for example, pay the company a proportion of the Rights saved. Or it might agree to the sale of the Rights liberated by such a scheme within its territory, and take part of the sale value as a commission.
Current carbon dioxide production from fossil fuels (2004, IEA) is 26,583Mt. If the current spot price for EU-ETS allowances (€12.15/tCO2) is indicative of the price of GERs under Kyoto2 the sum realisable at global auction is €323 billion. However it is generally accepted that €20-25/tCO2 is sustainable. Even at the lower end of this range at €20/tCO2 we find that in excess of €500 billion per year could be raised.
Some would want these revenues to be redistributed directly to member states. If the funds were allocated to national governmments on a per capita of population basis this would be, in effect, an economically efficient implementation of Contraction & Convergence.
However this approach would neglect a substantial opportunity to address positively:
- the impacts of climate change on vulnerable countries, and the costs of adaptation
- the impacts of the increased costs of energy derived from fossil fuels to consumers, and especially poor consumers, arising from Kyoto2
- the impacts of reduced revenues to governments of fossil fuel producing countries arising from Kyoto2
- the need to shift towards an efficient, prosperous and equitable low carbon global economy.
Accordingly it is proposed that a number of investments and expenditures be made from the sums raised from the GER auction. These should arguably include:
- The creation of a Climate Adaptation Fund that would help poor countries in particular to adapt to climate change through engineering solutions, population relocation and the development of alternative livelihoods. Likely recipients would be countries suffering from or at risk of flood, drought, loss of glacial meltwaters, excessive heat, and loss of permafrost.
- Programmes to reduce fossil fuel demand and economic dependence on fossil fuels, aimed especially at poorer countries and populations where the impact of higher fossil fuel prices would otherwise cause hardship. One possible mechanism would be through the purchase of CERs / ERUs (see 3.4 above). Purchases could be directed towards specific countries and specific sectors in accordance with development needs and just distribution of benefits, unlike the existing CDM system which has disproportionately benefitted a few countries (notably India, Brazil, China and Mexico) while almost entirely passing by the entire African continent.
- Assistance to governments in developing policies and capacity to reduce GHG emissions within their territories, including emissions of PIGGs from refrigeration and air-conditioning, and emissions from forest clearance. The level of funding to different national governments to be based on the scale of the problems to be tackled and with particular emphasis on poor countries.
- Payment of "rent" to countries with carbon sinks and stores within their territories, for the implementation of agreed programmes of maintenance and enhancement of their carbon sinks and stores. Preference would be given to countries wishing to preserve or enhance extensive native ecosystems and the level of payment would reflect the economic benefits foregone in preserving rather than destroying such native ecosystems. This would create a necessary "reward" for forest rich countries for preserving their forests, rather than relying entirely on the penalisation of forest destruction whch would, on its own, be unfair to many poor countries.
- The buyout of unexploited fossil fuel deposits "in the ground" such as coal reserves, in order to prevent their exploitation. One effect would be to partially compensate fossil fuel producing countries for any loss in revenues arising from the application of the Kyoto2 system.
- The funding of low-carbon energy research, for example, into renewable generation technologies and nuclear fusion.
- The establishment of a Low Carbon Development Bank with a particular mission to finance viable low-carbon energy developments and associated infrastructure. Examples of projects that might be funded include new electricity transmission lines and hydrogen pipelines to connect regions rich in renewable energy resources to energy markets.
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