Technology fund could lead to breakthrough in Copenhagen negotiations

Academic research has shown that the imminent Copenhagen climate summit can only result in a very weak agreement. This is a consequence of the divergent positions and interests of the UN member states with regard to a number of important matters being negotiated. However, this does not mean that the climate summit should already be considered a failure, although a new strategy is needed to rally the UN countries towards realising the necessary reduction in CO2 emissions. A new sustainable technology fund for developing countries could synchronize all countries’ interests, as well as cementing agreed contributions to CO2 reduction more strongly. The research was designed by Prof. Frans Stokman, professor at the University of Groningen and scientific director of Decide consultancy firm (a subsidiary of dutch group bv), in collaboration with the Stockholm Environment Institute. Stokman presented the research report at a meeting on green innovation at Hanze University Groningen to Minister Cramer, who attended the ‘Pre-COP consultation’ in Copenhagen –  the preparatory meeting of climate ministers which takes place before the international climate summit.
   
The methodology developed by Decide at the University of Groningen has specified countries’ positions and interests regarding seven important negotiating points. The methodology can provide insight at an early stage into the expected complex negotiation process dynamics in, for example, mergers, takeovers and political decision-making. Two of the negotiating points that will be dealt with in Copenhagen in particular are extremely controversial. The first is whether or not the Kyoto agreement which will end in 2012 should be extended. Agreement on this can only be reached if the contribution to global CO2 emissions reduction of the United States – which never ratified the Kyoto Protocol – was to become voluntary. The second point, concerning what the contributions of China and India should be, can also only be resolved if the two countries are not held to binding agreements. Although countries thus could come to a universal agreement, the CO2 reduction would be limited and slight.

The new insights, however, could lead to a new strategy which could strengthen the agreement and speed up the reduction in CO2 emissions. The strategy is based on establishing a sustainable technology fund for developing countries. The fund will be structured in such a way that all countries have an incentive to contribute as much as possible towards CO2 reduction. Rich countries will pay more if they don’t meet their annual and overall targets at home, but also more should China and India contribute more to reducing CO2 emissions. Developing countries can use the fund to import the sustainable technology of their choice and implement it without having to pay for it as the fund does not distribute money but invests directly in the realization. This would not only create a global market for sustainable technology, but also resolves another major stumbling block. In addition to meeting the rich countries’ need to have their newly developed technology protected from quickly created surrogates, it also meets developing countries’ need to prevent the technology from remaining expensive for years due to patent protection.
 
The climate organizations C8 Foundation and Tällberg Foundation will bring the research results to bear in their attempt to make establishing the technology fund a negotiating point at the climate summit. They have a global network of influential individuals in business and politics. They have also adopted the advice in the report to link the size of countries’ contributions to the 2020 CO2 reduction as established as necessary by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This way, the universally proclaimed wish to limit the global temperature increase to 2 degrees could very well be realised in Copenhagen after all.

Frans Stokman has been professor of Social Science Research Methodology at the University of Groningen since 1977. His main research interest is collective decision-making and social networks. His work has appeared in many international journals and has been published by Cambridge University Press, Yale UP and Oxford UP.  For more information go to: www.stokman.org.
 
In his advisory work, the collective decision-making methodology developed by Decide consultancy firm – which Frans Stokman helped found and is scientific director of – is used. The methodology can provide insight at an early stage into the expected dynamics in complex negotiation and decision-making processes. By linking parties’ positions on a subject and the importance they attach to them and establishing parties’ influence in the negotiation process, all possible compromises can be simulated in order to arrive at the most logical end result. The methodology is based on the premise that the tendency of parties to give in to one another will increase when they find subjects relatively less important.

The methodology has already proved itself in predicting two Dutch cabinets, Balkenende II and IV. For more information on Decide go to: www.decide.nl. Decide is part of the dutch group bv, which provides entrepreneurship and innovation expertise for organizations and governments. For more information go to www.dutch.com.

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