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Pitch

Carbon sinks: A win-win approach for mitigating climate change within a framework of mutual gain


Description

 

Executive Summary

 

Carbonization has been directly and explicitly linked to climate change as a problem that requires a solution. However, this view creates an ethos of sacrifice, which is difficult for most people to stomach and for most governments to mobilize against. Rather, the path to a decarbonized society should be presented as an opportunity for development and gain. As the amount of carbon produced will not decrease sizably for decades, if not longer, the potential exists to utilize the tools and strategies known – and to be cultivated in the future – to reduce carbon in order to maximize the benefits to society and couch this trajectory as a chance for mutual gain. Gain, though, does not have to lead to growth, a current paradigm that is considered essential but discounts the capacity of the Earth to withstand continuous growth. By separating growth from sustainable development (SD), and using the SD lens to focus on short-, medium-, and long-term strategies to catalyze municipalities, provinces, countries, and international partnerships to exploit the carbon overload for public gain, the perception around climate change can be shifted. This proposal will target the possibilities of carbon sinks for mutual gain. These sinks present a win-win approach for reducing the effects of climate change while also feeding into the more acceptable framework that the current societal and governmental infrastructures crave.

Team

 

Cameron Peterson: Tufts University Masters Candidate, Department of Urban + Environmental Policy + Planning (UEP); BA degree from Harvard University; Research work with UEP Chair Dr. Julian Agyeman; Co-Founder of Tufts Climate Policy & Planning Coalition; UEP Student Planning & Policy Association Liaison to Tufts Institute of the Environment and Office of Sustainability; Tufts Energy Conference Content Team. Originated this proposal as part of the Tufts Fletcher School course, Sustainable Development Diplomacy.

Samantha Weaver, Tufts University Masters Candidate, Department of Urban + Environmental Policy + Planning; Co-Founder of Tufts Climate Policy & Planning Coalition. Aiding on proposal with environmental economics and international climate policy expertise.
 

What

 

 

Carbonization has been directly and explicitly linked to climate change as a problem that requires a solution. However, this view creates an ethos of sacrifice, which is difficult for most people to stomach and for most governments to mobilize against. Rather, the path to a decarbonized society should be presented as an opportunity for development and gain. As the amount of carbon produced will not decrease sizably for decades, if not longer, the potential exists to utilize the tools and strategies known – and to be cultivated in the future – to reduce carbon in order to maximize the benefits to society and couch this trajectory as a chance for mutual gain. Gain, though, does not have to lead to growth, a current paradigm that is considered essential but discounts the capacity of the Earth to withstand continuous growth. By separating growth from sustainable development (SD), and using the SD lens to focus on short-, medium-, and long-term strategies to catalyze municipalities, provinces, countries, and international partnerships to exploit the carbon overload for public gain, the perception around climate change can be shifted. This proposal will target the possibilities of carbon sinks for mutual gain. These sinks present a win-win approach for reducing the effects of climate change while also feeding into the more acceptable framework that the current societal and governmental infrastructures crave.

This approach should function on both an international and local/regional level, as do many of the replicable models of climate smart agriculture currently deployed around the world. The governance mechanism should be instituted on a high-level via the UNDP to create, manage, and oversee an overarching protocol framework. This regulatory structure should then be applied in practice through the service, funding, and management of multilateral development banks (MDBs), NGOs, philanthropic foundations, and public-private partnerships. These entities will help and support local and regional governments, civil servants, and communities to enact scalable projects, create jobs, and transfer knowledge and capacity to those on the ground level. Moreover, the private sector should be specifically targeted so that the economic benefits of complying with this new protocol to economize carbon sinks are clear and compelling. Private and public sector participation should be distributed cross-sectorally so as not to exclude sectors such as transportation, waste management, buildings, and product procurement that can also facilitate the success of the mechanism and benefit from it. Finally, demand-side strategies should be considered as well, since responding to and incentivizing consumer demand can be a significant driver for both public and private sector decision-makers.

 The Rio+20 conference is proposed as a suitable forum in which to include the concept of exploiting carbon sinks for sustainable economic progress institutionally. The concept complements its first theme of “a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.” Within this setting, the new protocol could be developed – entitled the Rio+20 CS Protocol – to utilize carbon sinks actively as economic drivers that facilitate true sustainable development within the environment, economy, and social justice sphere. The protocol will be modeled after the Montreal Protocol’s effective sectoral approach and focus on aiding local/regional stakeholders to utilize carbon sinks for economic development primarily in the land use sphere. By combining and extending the Rio and Montreal frameworks, this paper aims to facilitate developing and developed countries, industries, and other non-state actors to endorse this approach as both potentially beneficial to their interests and pragmatic to implement.

Why: Rationale for the proposal

 

Unsustainable development pathways have created, enabled, and expanded the amount of carbon generated in the world. Natural sinks, however, are advantageous propositions, and yet we not only disregard their value to a great degree, but also continually destroy them. Though receiving significant reference and notice in the UNFCCC and other environmental accords, carbon sinks still remain underused, underpublicized, and undervalued. In order to engender a more sustainable outcome in regards to anthropogenic development, this paper will explore the potential of reframing carbon sinks as economic drivers. If humanity can learn to fill those sinks, metaphorically and literally, we could create economic, environmental, and equity benefits.

How: Feasibility of proposal

 

Governance: Using sectoral approach of Montreal Protocol and sustainable development to create Rio+20 Protocol that encourages the private sector and NGOs to work with local/regional stakeholders for the climate-smart proliferation of carbon sinks. Organized by UNDP and scientific committee, and funded via fund coordinated by multilateral development banks, NGOs, private sector, USAID, Foundations, and government contributions. Participation from local communities, civil servants, and local/regional governments.

Sectors of Focus: Utilizing the Land Use Umbrella (LULUC), new mechanisms entitled REDD+20 and Climate-Smart Agriculture+20 (CSA+20) will be created and explicitely linked. They will seek to assimilate and streamline current efforts in those realms through specific actions targeted at sequestering carbon through natural processes, such as the employment of biochar in slash-and-char agriculture, as a soil amendment, and in order to generate a carbon-negative biofuel. The interest of private industry, and their involvement through similar mechanisms as used in the Montreal Protocol as well as public-private partnerships such as cultivated by the World Bank and NGOs like WWF, will further enhance the feasibility and practicality of this proposal.

Vision of the future under this proposal

This is a symptoms-based proposal that is only feasible until we run out of excess carbon. However, this point stands very far off. In the next 50-100 years, the reframing of carbon sinks as economic drivers will serve to shift the paradigmic forestalling of nations and regions throughout the world in regards to climate change. UNFCCC talks will be revitalized, and nations will compete to participate in an economy that absorbs and exploits the excess carbon that is produced while the scientific, small landowner, NGO, activist, and private industry communities will be encouraged to filter the new funds into strategies that reduce carbon output all together. The combined benefits will make the needs for a Rio+20 CS Protocol null by the end of the century.