International cooperation built upon mutual respect and a strong understanding of the priorities and needs of different countries is essential to taking the actions needed to effectively address climate change.
The Earth's atmosphere is shared by all peoples of the world, with emissions of greenhouse gases in any one location affecting the global process of climate change. Collective action is therefore required to effectively implement the measures needed to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Through strong partnerships among countries, organizations and people it will be possible to develop and transfer innovative technology solutions, establish international emission trading systems able to deliver real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in a cost-effective manner and introduce innovative ways of investing in climate change solutions. Multilateral processes can also support the development and sharing of strategies for reducing vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, particularly with respect to cross-border issues such as watershed management, migration and conflict.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) provides a basis for collective action that respects the common but differentiated responsibilities of developed and developing countries. Its work is increasingly complemented by commitments made through bilateral, regional and multilateral forums such as the Group of Eight, Group of 20 and the Major Economies Forum, and by numerous initiatives of development assistance organizations, multilateral agencies and civil society organizations. The growth of international activity outside the UNFCCC process in part reflects the increasingly urgent need to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Given the inherently protracted nature of the UNFCCC negotiations, which require unanimity among all participating countries, these complementary venues for promoting international cooperation may have greater potential to meet the need for decisive action on climate change.
Through its involvement with the UNFCCC and other international initiatives, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) seeks to promote constructive solutions to climate change problems and challenges. Our work emphasizes the need to integrate climate change considerations across the full range of international policy spheres, including diplomacy, energy security, trade and investment, and development cooperation. It also aims to facilitate transparency within multilateral climate change discussions.
IISD and the UN Climate Change Negotiations
IISD has a notable presence at the annual Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and intercessional meetings through its active engagement in side events, parallel meetings and interactions with negotiators from around the world.
IISD Reporting Services Coverage (ENB)
IISD's reporting team provides the international community with authoritative, neutral coverage of the climate change negotiations and their outcomes through the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, and of official side events through ENB on the Side. It also continuously provides insight into international efforts to address climate change through Climate-L.org, shares the work of the climate policy community through the Climate-L listserv and provides access to the outcomes of key international meetings via its Your Meeting Bulletin service.
A Mirage in the Deserts of Doha? Assessing the outcomes of COP 18
The recently concluded two-week conference in Doha, Qatar, marked the 18th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 18) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This commentary provides an analysis of the outcomes, arguing that insofar as the process did achieve the key procedural goals of securing a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, seeing the AWG-LCA track draw to a close, and continuing to shape discussions under the Durban Platform, Doha can be measured a “success.” But insofar as concrete or substantial progress was made on key issues including the architecture of a post-2020 agreement, mitigation and financing commitments, the outcomes were woefully inadequate.
Cross-cutting Issues: Trade and Climate Change
Current and emerging trade policies could either help or hinder the ability of countries to achieve their climate goals. As well, a number of climate change measures could have negative trade impacts. IISD's work on trade and climate change seeks to understand the relationship between these two policy arenas and map out ways to exploit synergies and avoid conflicts where possible.
Global Subsidies Initiative
IISD's Global Subsidies Initiative (GSI) is designed to put the spotlight on subsidies and the corrosive effects they can have on environmental quality, economic development and governance. A central research stream of the GSI examines government subsidies in the energy sector, such as for biofuels and fossil fuels, and their implications for addressing climate change.
Climate Change and Security
Climate change could affect political and economic stability in many countries. Through partnerships at the national and local level, IISD is developing effective ways to address emerging problems.
Building REDD+ Capacity in Developing Countries
Reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation in developing countries (REDD+) is expected to be an important element of the future international climate change regime. IISD, in partnership with the World Agroforestry Centre, is bringing together developing-country negotiators and stakeholders to increase their capacity to understand the REDD negotiations and lay the technical and policy foundations for better REDD+ programs.
Climate Change and Agriculture
The agricultural sector has the potential to play a critical role in both climate mitigation and adaptation, particularly in developing countries. IISD is examining how this potential can be maximized through effective inclusion of agriculture in a post-2012 regime.