Due to the inertia of the climate system, this development can no longer be prevented entirely. However, it is still possible, through cooperation among the international community and through national-level efforts, to stabilize the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere and thus prevent the most severe changes. Shaping the international climate regime will continue to be an urgent policy task over the coming decades. With this special report, the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) provides recommendations for future negotiations within the context of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), particularly relating to the Kyoto Protocol to the Convention. The report centres on three questions:
- What is ‘dangerous climate change’ within the meaning of Article 2 of the UNFCCC?
- Which socio-economically and technologically viable pathways are available to prevent such dangerous climate change?
- How can all countries be integrated equitably within a system of emissions reduction commitments?
To address these questions, we must lift our gaze far beyond the time horizon of the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period (after 2012), as the stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations at a tolerable level can only be achieved by means of a long-term, ambitious reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
The report concentrates on the potentials to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide, this being the principal anthropogenic greenhouse gas. The analysis focuses, on the one hand, on the economic and technological potentials to reduce energy- and industryrelated emissions and, on the other hand, on the relevance of biological sinks of carbon dioxide and the options to preserve them.Finally, based on this analysis, the report contains specific recommendations on ways to shape political and economic instruments in the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.