Copenhagen & Beyond: A Multilateral Debate about Climate Change Policy, Overview

Copenhagen & Beyond: A Multilateral Debate about Climate Change Policy, Overview

The Kyoto Protocol, the primary international agreement to address climate change, expires in 2012. Leaders from throughout the world will meet in Copenhagen in December 2009 to try to finalize a new agreement. The positions and participation of Japan, China and the United States in any successor treaty will help determine its success or failure.

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan on December 11th, 1997 and came into force on February 16, 2005.  It is a an international agreement with the goal of "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system."  As part of the Protocol, 37 industrialized countries are bound to stabilize GHG emissions by an average of 5% compared with 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.  For example, national targets range from 8% reductions for the European Union, 7% for the US, 6% for Japan, to 8% increase allowed for Australia.  See the end of the Protocol for a full list of countries and targets.

Global leaders will meet in Copenhagen starting December 7, 2009 to try to craft a successor for the Kyoto Protocol.  During the recent Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Singapore, leaders agreed to Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen's two-part approach to replacing the Kyoto Protocol, calling for a political agreement first and a binding global accord later:

“Even if we may not hammer out the last dots of a legally binding instrument, I do believe a political binding agreement with specific commitment to mitigation and finance provides a strong basis for immediate action in the years to come.” (, Nov. 16, 2009)

In November 2009, Masayoshi Arai, Director, JETRO New York, Special Advisor, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI); The Honorable Zhenmin Liu, Ambassador Extraordinary and Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations; Elliot Diringer, Vice President, International Strategies, Pew Center on Global Climate Change; and Takao Shibata, chair of the working group that drafted the Kyoto Protocol, met at Japan Society to debate the direction of international climate change policy.  The discussion was moderated by Jim Efstathiou, Correspondent, Bloomberg News and co-organized by the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.

Video clips and teaching questions:

Copenhagen and Beyond: Goals
Copenhagen and Beyond: Market Mechanisms
Copenhagen and Beyond: Enforcement Mechanisms

External links:
Kyoto Protocol (full text)

APEC Concedes Copenhagen Climate Treaty Out of Reach (Update2)
By Julianna Goldman and Daniel Ten Kate
November 16, 2009

Japan Society Program - Panelist Biographies:
Since Masayoshi Arai joined METI in 1991, he has held 16 positions within the Government of Japan. Before assuming his current position in New York in June of 2009, he worked on Economic Stimulus Packages and financial measures in cooperation with the Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Japan. In 2007-2008, Mr. Arai was with the Prime Minister’s office and was on the task force for the foundation of the Consumer Protection Agency. Prior to that, he worked with the Ministry of Finance on budget allocation for the government. He was a supervisor for manufacturing industries, specifically on their reduction of CO2 emissions and promoting M & A implementation of corporate law and regulation for the financial market. Mr. Arai was also involved in Free Trade Agreement negotiations with Mexico and Asian countries, and has worked for the Fair Trade Commission and the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (METI’s energy agency). He also served to the department dealing with economic assistance to Asian countries at the time of the Asian monetary crisis. Mr. Arai earned his M.B.A in finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Before studying at the University of Pennsylvania, he was with the Research Institute of METI (RIETI). He also graduated from Waseda University with a Bachelor's degree in Political Science.

Elliot Diringer is Vice President for International Strategies at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. He oversees the Center's analysis of the international challenges posed by climate change and strategies for meeting them, and directs the Center's outreach to key governments and actors involved in international climate change negotiations. Mr. Diringer came to the Pew Center from the White House, where he was Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Press Secretary. In this capacity, he served as a principal spokesman for President Clinton and advised senior White House staff on press and communications strategy. He previously served as Senior Policy Advisor and as Director of Communications at the Council on Environmental Quality, where he helped develop major policy initiatives, led White House press and communications strategy on the environment, and was a member of U.S. delegations to climate change negotiations. Before joining the White House, Mr. Diringer was a veteran environmental journalist. As a reporter and editor at the San Francisco Chronicle from 1983 to 1997, he covered the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and authored several award-winning environmental series. Mr. Diringer holds a degree in environmental studies from Haverford College. In 1995-96, he was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, where he studied international environmental law and policy.

Zhenmin Liu has served as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the UN since 2006. Ambassador Liu has been a member of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1982. During his long service, he has been appointed as both the First Secretary of the Permanent Mission of China to the UN Office at Geneva, as well as various positions in the Department of Treaty and Law of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, culminating in being appointed Director-General of this Department. In his work both at the UN in Geneva and in the Department of Treaty and Law, Ambassador Liu has been involved in Climate Change negotiations for China.

Takao Shibata is Chancellor’s Lecturer at the University of Kansas. Previously, he served for 30 years in the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From 1993-1997, he was appointed as Counselor at the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations. In this position, he served as chairman of the working group that drafted the Kyoto Protocol. Mr. Shibata has also served as the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassies of Japan in Zimbabwe, Sweden, and Nigeria, and Consul General of Japan in Kansas City.

Jim Efstathiou Jr. has covered energy and environment for Bloomberg News since
2003. Before joining Bloomberg, Efstathiou was based in London where he covered
OPEC for Dow Jones Newswires and prior to that The Record of Hackensack. He is
a graduate of New York University and Lafayette College and a native of New
Jersey where he lives with his wife.
Type,Article; Theme,Environment; Topic,International Relations; Theme,Japan and the Environment; Type,Podcast; Topic,Politics;
Copenhagen, Kyoto, Kyoto Protocol, climate change, greenhouse gas, Masayoshi Arai, Zhenmin Liu, Elliot Diringer, Takao Shibata, Jim Efstathiou,government, policy