Meanwhile, improving building efficiency globally could have a potentially huge impact on emissions. According to the U.N. Environment Programme, buildings contribute to 30 percent of global climate change and consume 40 percent of global energy.
A major new report out today by the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) also points to building efficiency as a sector ripe for international cooperation, but not without problems. While some countries have made substantial improvements in heating, cooling and lighting, new energy gobblers like appliances and electronics "have more than offset efficiency gains in China and have just about balanced efficiency gains in Europe." In the United States, according to the study, building efficiency gains have just caught up with slowing floor space growth.
Solutions 'that don't require an international treaty'
But the study, which will be unveiled today at the Brookings Institution, also lays the groundwork for exploring other joint climate policies. The authors make the case that understanding how and why major emitters like the United States, China, India and Brazil design energy policies should inform negotiators to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change designing a new global agreement.
"The world has moved on from the expectations that underlie the ongoing climate negotiations, but the negotiations have not," they argue. "There is very little reason to believe developing countries will be willing to take on targets in some sort of relatively uniform formula, and even less reason to believe very large amounts of money are going to be transferred from the troubled developed economies to the emergent developing nations."
But, they noted, "While international climate negotiations may be currently trapped in an old paradigm, climate policy activity has moved forward at the national and subnational level in both the developed and the developing world, most often motivated by economic and other forms of self-interest."
Kerry made the case that economic self-interest should be motivating nations like the United States and China even more. He argued that the $6 trillion global energy market is "the largest of all markets ever imagined on the face of this planet" and is only expanding. Last year, he said, energy deals between China and the United States were valued at nearly $9 billion.
"Those who see this future today and begin to reach for the alternative and renewable and controlled fossil fuel burning are those who are really going to be at the forefront of defining the economy of the future," Kerry said.
And while he didn't talk in any detail about the Major Economies Forum initiative, Kerry also gave a nod to building efficiency measures, calling them "things that can be done by executive decision. They don't require an international treaty."
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500