December 12, 2005

Action targets offer a new form of commitment

A panel discussion presented by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) proposed alternative options for setting and achieving GHG emission reduction goals in the post-2012 period.

CIEL's Don Goldberg outlined a system of action targets, defined as an obligation to reduce emissions by a specified amount based on actual emissions, rather than a more abstract pledge to bring emissions down to a predetermined future level. The amount, he explained, could be expressed as a percentage of the emissions in a past base year or a future base year, or as a percentage of the actual emissions during the compliance period.

Achieving the chosen target could be done through domestic emission reduction actions, acquisition of the requisite number of emission reduction credits, or both. Compliance would involve verifying the agreed-upon amount of reduction.

Action targets would also help promote sustainable developments, as reduction activities could include renewable energy projects, energy efficiency standards, and forest conservation and biofuel programs-activities that do not earn credits under the CDM or JI.

Because action targets are based on actual emissions, Goldberg said some "true-up" might be required at the end of the compliance period. Such an adjustment would likely be very small, only about 1% of emissions, and would probably be needed under any system anyway, he added.

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