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Top-down, bottom-up or in-between: how can a UNFCCC framework for market-based approaches ensure environmental integrity and market coherence?

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The Durban Climate Conference agreed on the creation of a new market-based mechanism under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and to consider the establishment of an overall framework for various mitigation approaches, including opportunities for using markets (‘Framework’). The creation of such a Framework is therefore of high political significance, as it should ensure on the one hand that new market-based mechanisms contribute to global climate change mitigation and to achievement of targets, and on the other hand, that different market-based approaches can be integrated in a global carbon market. As yet, there is little clarity as to the roles and design of such a framework. This paper contributes to the debate by discussing and evaluating inter alia several design options, and explores how the various options could be implemented and how they interrelate. It concludes that a strong central oversight at the level of the UNFCCC is probably the only option that could reassure the vast majority of UNFCCC Parties that the environmental integrity of new market-based mechanisms is in fact ensured. This does, however, not exclude that some reasonable balance may be struck between centralization and flexibility.
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Keywords: best practices; emissions trading; market-based mechanisms; performance measurement; sectoral approaches

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Law, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland 2: Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy Research Group Energy, Transport and Climate Policy, Wuppertal, Germany 3: Joanneum Research, Institute for Water, Energy and Sustainability Energy Research Group, Climate Change, Graz, Austria

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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