Nobel Laureate Calls on Paris Climate Deal Parties to Target Consumption Emissions

“There is no binding power. There is no guarantee [to the implementation]. If the country does not comply with the agreement, nothing will happen. Another weakness is that the NDC [nationally determined contributions] – the carbon emission reduction target is based on production, not on consumption,” Chung, one of the key speakers at the

Eastern Economic Forum

(EEF), which took place in Russia’s Far Eastern city of Vladivostok this week, said.

He noted that the European success story about reducing emissions is all about the initial reduction.

“Actually, it is not an emission reduction, it is just a carbon leakage from Europe to China. The carbon emission has been leaked from Europe to China and to [South] Korea. It is a consequence of the industrial restructuring, it is not the change of lifestyle. This means that the current Paris climate agreement based on production emission is misleading,” he said.

So if only production-based emissions are counted in climate targets, developing countries will have a difficult time meeting these targets, Chung, who served as an ambassador for Climate Change of South Korea and was a longtime chief advisor on climate change to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said.

“The European developed countries say that they meet the target. But even though Europeans are meeting the target, their carbon emission is being shifted to a developing country. So globally, [there] will not be any reduction. This is a very serious weakness of the Paris climate agreement based on

production emission

,” he explained.

That is why Chung proposes shifting from production-based emissions to consumption-based emissions.

“Consumption-based emission reduction is the real reduction… We have to reduce our consumption. There is a real reduction. But if you are shifting and the importing from somebody else, actually this is no reduction, it is just shifting your emission to somebody else,” he stressed.

However, the United States and the European Union will not accept it because it’s very difficult to reduce consumption-based emissions, which means that the people have to change their lifestyle.

“At least, they should understand that it is not real reduction, but they have to reduce consumption reduction. This message has to be sent out to the consumers around the world,” Chung said.

First of all, consumers, especially wealthier ones, should understand that they are the ones responsible for the reduction, according to Chung.

“It is not the government, not the business, these are people who are responsible. It is the consumers who are consuming. Business is just producing because consumers are using it. So, you cannot blame business. You cannot blame the government, but you have to blame yourself. You are the consumers,” he said.

The sixth edition of the EEF, which is taking place from 2-4 September at the campus of the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok, is aimed at developing business ties and attracting national and international investors to Russia’s Far East. This year, the forum is being held in a hybrid format.

The Paris Agreement, signed by more than 190 nations in December 2015 and effective since November 2016, entails an objective to keep the rise in global temperature to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels and reach the net-zero-emission target by 2050.