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Issues and Options: The Kyoto Protocol's Second Commitment Period

By Kevin A. Baumert (World Resources Institute) and Christiana Figueres (Center for Sustainable Development in the Americas)

This paper explores a range of options for designing an international framework for climate protection beyond the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period. Negotiations for the second commitment period could begin as early as 2004. In this paper, we hope to promote a better understanding of a wide range of future climate protection options and provide building blocks for further consideration of the Kyoto Protocol's second commitment period.

The possibilities for future commitments vary widely with respect to different kinds of greenhouse gas commitments (including their scope and legal character), use of market-based mechanisms and other important elements of climate protection architecture. Section I of this paper explores each of these elements in detail. Indeed, there are many ways to combine the different elements in designing a climate protection regime, and especially for distinguishing between developed and industrialized countries' actions. However, some of these design options are incompatible. Thus, section I also articulates six possible "packages" of elements that form some coherent options for future commitments.

Section II examines some of the cross-cutting issues that accompany the adoption of any of the forms of commitments discussed in Section I. This includes the level of participation among Parties, differentiation of emission targets across Parties and the overall environmental objective of the regime. Finally, Section III briefly explores the important and integrated topic of institutional capacity needs.

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