G8 Environmental Futures Forum 2000

Shuzo Nishioka
Institute for Global Environment Strategies / Keio University

G8 Environmental Futures Forum 2000
14-15 February 2000, The Shonan Village Center

1. Introduction
2. Objectives
3. G8 Countries and Climate Change
4. Questionnaire Survey of Best Practices in G8 Countries
5. Key Findings and Key Questions

1. Introduction

During the last decade as humanity realized the threat of climate change, research, negotiations, and attempts to mitigate climate change have accelerated. New initiatives in various sectors of society in many countries include regulatory, economic and voluntary measures, as well as awareness-raising, education and others.

Governments striving to find effective ways to limit climate change have been discussing the concept of "best practices", referring to the optimal or most progressive initiatives among countries' domestic measures to mitigate climate change.

The Buenos Aires Action Plan adopted at COP4 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change referred to "best practices" in a "Request to the secretariat to prepare a report on "best practices" in policies and measures for consideration by SBSTA 11" (Decision 8/CO.4), as a task to prepare for the first COP/MOP.

At the meeting of G8 Environment Ministers held in Schwerin, Germany in 1999, it was agreed that the next Environmental Futures Forum would exchange experiences about domestic Best Practices addressing climate change, and that a report of the results would be made for consideration by the G8 Environment Ministers' Meeting in 2000. The Forum serves as a platform for policy makers, scientists, scientific advisors to governments, and representatives from important stakeholders in society such as the private sector, non-governmental organizations and local communities of G8 countries. Through the Forum, countries to exchange information, ideas and opinions concerning environmental problems, and promote synergies in finding solutions to those problems.

The Environment Agency of Japan undertook the survey of the Best Practices of domestic efforts of G8 countries to address climate change during the autumn of 1999. A questionnaire was sent to the concerned agencies in each country; the results have been compiled and are reported here for discussion. After the Environmental Futures Forum in February 2000, the outcomes will be reported at the G8 Environment Ministers' meeting to be held in April 2000 in Shiga Prefecture, Japan.

It is expected that the analysis and reporting of main elements and special features of Best Practices can be helpful not only to G8 countries but also to many other countries and regions, in promoting the desirable measures needed to mitigate climate change.

This report is a summary of the findings of the survey, to be used as a basis for discussion during the Environmental Futures Forum and for further exchanges of views.

2. Objectives

The objectives of the report are

  • to share a common understanding of the relationship between G8 countries and climate change from quantitative data and indicators;
  • to summarize the results of the questionnaire survey of the Domestic Best Practices Addressing Climate Change in G8 countries; and
  • to extract the key findings and key questions to guide active and fruitful discussions in the working groups of the Forum.

3. G8 Countries and Climate Change

Quantitative data and indicators on G8 countries, such as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, GDP, and energy consumption, were analyzed in order clarify the relationship between G8 countries and climate change. The main results of the analysis can be summarized as follows:

3-1 GHG emissions in G8 countries
A large share of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning and cement manufacturing originates in G8 countries. (Figure 1) G8 countries accounted for 48% of the world's CO2 emissions in 1995. The United States emitted about 24% of the global total, the Russian Federation 8%, Japan 5% and Germany 4%. Furthermore, CO2 emissions per capita in G8 countries were much higher than the world average. (Figure 2) The average GHG emissions of G8 countries were 11.1 tonnes per capita (CO2 equivalent), compared to the world average of only 3.9 tonnes 1995.

Source: CDIAC Environmental Science Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Figure 1 Share of CO
2 emissions from fossil fuel burning and cement manufacturing in 1995

Source: CDIAC Environmental Science Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Figure 2 CO
2 emissions per capita in G8 countries and world average (1995)

3-2 GHG emissions and GDP
G8 countries account for approximately 70% of the global GDP. (Figure 3) Analysis of the relationship between GDP per capita and CO2 emissions per capita shows that G8 countries can be divided into three groups: the U.S. and Canada with high CO2 emissions per capita; Germany, the UK, Japan, Italy and France with comparably low CO2 emissions per capita and high GDP per capita; and the Russian Federation with low values for both. (Figure 4) (Note: The start point of each arrow indicates the value in 1990; the end point indicates the value in 1995.)

Source: World Development Indicator 1997, World Bank
Figure 3 Share of GDP in 1995

Source: Greenhouse Gas Inventory Database, UNFCCC;
National Accounts Database of the Statistics Division of the UN Secretariat
Figure 4 Relationship between GDP per capita and CO
2 emissions per capita

3-3 CO2 Emissions from Each Sector
The energy industry accounts for 30 to 40% of CO2 emissions from each country except France. (Figure 5) Japan has the largest ratio of CO2 emissions from manufacturing, industry and construction, despite its efforts to promote energy saving in these sectors. Canada, France, and the U.S. have a comparably high ratio in the transport sector. (Appropriate data to compare the Russian Federation with other G8 countries not available.)

Source: Greenhouse Gas Inventory Database, UNFCCC
Figure 5 Ratio of CO
2 emissions from each sector (1995)

3-4 Composition of Energy Supply
The composition of energy supply in G8 countries vary, reflecting different natural and social characteristics in each country. (Figure 6) The energy supplied from coal was comparably high in Germany, the U.S, and the UK. Italy tends to depend on oil, whereas the dependency on nuclear power is comparably high in France. Hydroelectric, geothermal, and renewable energy comprise a very small proportion of the energy supply in every country.

Source: National accounts database of the Statistics Division of the United Nations Secretariat
Figure 6 Composition of energy supply (1995)

3-5 Results of Analysis
The above analysis leads to three important conclusions: (1) Because the total GHG emissions from G8 countries accounts for about 50% of total global emissions, those countries should implement effective domestic measures to reduce their own emissions; (2) High GDP levels of G8 countries imply that they are influential actors, and their policies and measures can have repercussions for the world; (3) Similarities and differences among G8 countries, such as energy supply and economic conditions, imply that some common policies and measures can be implemented, while others need to be developed that are suitable for the different characteristics of each country.

4. Questionnaire Survey of Best Practices in G8 Countries

4-1 Rationale and Methodology
In preparing for the Environmental Futures Forum 2000, information about Best Practices that have already been implemented in each G8 country to mitigate climate change was collected by asking the environmental ministries of each country and the Environmental Directorate of the European Union (EU) to select and describe their most effective practices. The survey was conducted based on the rationale that an urgent need exists to implement effective measures in developed countries to mitigate climate change, and greater efforts are needed to establish and implement widely these measures and mechanisms for implementation. In addition, opportunities are needed to share experiences and to exchange information for the greater promotion of activities in G8 countries to address global warming. The Best Practices collected in this survey are expected to serve as useful resources to discuss effective measures to mitigate climate change in the future.

In collecting information on Best Practices, the Environment Agency of Japan (EAJ) requested G8 countries to select 10 to 20 Best Practices among their measures taken to mitigate climate change in their own countries and summarize them according to a set format. They were also asked to attach relevant materials on each Best Practice, such as data or other supporting materials. Requests for cooperation and survey forms were sent out on 9 September 1999. The survey was implemented through Institute for Global Environmental Strategies. All G8 countries selected their Best Practices and sent them to the Environment Agency between late October and early January. Countries were asked to describe three key aspects of each Best Practice: special characteristics of the practice; reasons for inclusion as a Best Practice; and problems faced during implementation and how they were overcome or resolved.

The gist of each Best Practice has been compiled into short summaries. For more detail please refer to the long versions.

4-2 Definition of Best Practices
The following definition of Best Practices was proposed for the survey so that all countries could share a common awareness selecting and discussing them:
practices that represent the optimal or most progressive initiatives among the domestic measures being undertaken by a country or other social actors within the country to prevent global climate change.
The description for the survey also stated that the term may include policies, plans and other initiatives which have indirect impacts, effects over a wide region, or effects over the medium or long term. The social actors who implement Best Practices include national and local governments, businesses, NGOs and individuals. Just as the practices of each separate actor are important, so are practices promoted through cooperation between actors.

In addition, the following basic guidelines were suggested in order to aid selection.

Best Practices:
- have actually been effective in reducing GHG, and provide excellent examples of past efforts,
- are challenging and emerging approaches,
- can contributes to the formation of future policies to prevent global warming,
- are useful for consideration by social actors other than G8 countries implementing domestic initiatives in developed countries,
- can be evaluated quantitatively and/or qualitatively,
- can be appropriate for application in, or technical transfer to, developing countries, and
- utilize local know-how and experience.
In addition, they must be suitable to the natural environment and society of the country or area where they are implemented.

4-3 Results of Questionnaire Survey

4-3-1 Summary of Best Practices in G8 countries
A total of 81 practices were reported; the number from each country varied from 2 to 19. (Table 1)

Table 1 Number of Best Practices
G8 country Best Practices reported
Canada 9
France 7
Germany 5
Italy 7
Japan 17
Russian Federation 2
UK 13
USA 19
EU 2
Total 81

4-3-2 Classification of the Best Practices
The questionnaire requested information about Best Practices in five main categories: energy and industry, household and commercial, transportation, agriculture, land use and forestry, and cross-sectoral. The results of the classification were compiled based on those categories. (Tables 2 to 6)

It should be noted that the practices could be classified in a number of ways. For example, the practices could be categorized by stakeholder (e.g. citizen, private company, non-governmental organizations, and government). Another useful way may be to classify the practices according to type of measure (e.g. regulations, economic incentives, voluntary actions, and education). In this survey, the above-mentioned sector-based classification was selected in order to encourage discussions in the working groups.

Table 2 Distribution of Best Practices
land use
and forestry
Canada 4 1 4 9
France 2 3 1 1 7
Germany 2 2 1 5
Italy 3 3 1 7
Japan 3 4 3 2 5 17
2 2
UK 5 3 2 1 2 13
USA 9 4 1 5 19
EU 1 1 2
Total 28 16 10 5 22 81
Note: "Best Practices reported" refers here to either individual practices/policies or "packages" of multiple practices, depending on the reporting style of countries in their submissions to the EAJ survey. In addition, it must be noted that countries submitted Best Practices based on their ability to contribute to useful discussions at EFF 2000, and thus neither include nor represent all initiatives being undertaken.

Energy and industry Best Practices
Energy and industry Best Practices refer to practices in the energy supply sector such as electric power and gas companies, as well as practices in industry sectors (i.e. manufacturing). Twenty-six practices were in the energy and industry category, generally thought to be the most important sector to implement policies and measures to mitigate climate change because of their large contributions to GHG emissions. The United States selected 9 practices in this sector.
Table 3 Energy and industry Best Practices
Total 28
(1) Restructuring/privatization of electric companies 2
(2) Promotion of renewable energy and unutilized/underutilized energy 5
(3) Industries' voluntary agreements and voluntary plans for emission reductions 12
(4) Development of innovative technologies for reducing GHG emissions 5
(5) Establishment of information infrastructure regarding energy use technologies and energy-related policies 4

Household and commercial Best Practices
Best Practices in the household and commercial sectors include measures related to activities in daily life and purchasing and those related to houses and buildings. Commercial sector here refers to the non-manufacturing sector. Sixteen practices were categorized in this group, and practices improving the energy efficiency of houses and buildings were selected by most G8 countries.
Table 4 Household and commercial Best Practices
Total 16
(1) Measures related to daily life 3
(2) Measures by NGOs 2
(3) Promoting introduction of energy saving goods in purchasing 2
(4) Improving the energy efficiency of houses and buildings 9

Transportation Best Practices
Transportation Best Practices include both policies and measures to change existing transportation infrastructure and land-use patterns and those related to demand management of transportation. Ten practices were classified in this category. Italy selected 3 such practices, half of the total number for that country.
Table 5 Transportation Best Practices
Total 10
(1) Reform of fuel taxes 2
(2) Shift to alternative vehicle fuels and energy sources for transportation 1
(3) Changing behavior and promoting voluntary restraint of transportation by automobiles
(4) Development of innovative technologies for vehicles 1
(5) Regulation and encouragement to smooth automobile transportation (Transportation Demand Management) 3
(6) Application of new technologies to automobile transportation systems 1
(7) Enhancement of means of transportation other than automobiles 2

Agriculture, land use and forestry Best Practices
Only 5 practices were selected in the agriculture, land use and forestry category, reflecting the characteristics of industrialized G8 countries.
Table 6 Agriculture, land use, and forestry Best Practices
Total 5
(1) Reduction of GHG emissions from agricultural systems 3
(2) CO2 sequestration by forest conservation and afforestation 1
(3) Carbon substitution 1

Cross-sectoral Best Practices
Cross-sectoral Best Practices relate to issues affecting multiple sectors. Many practices can be placed in this category. Practices collected from G8 countries were sub-categorized into several groups, including integrated policy design and legislation, taxation systems, funding mechanisms, central/regional government assistance and regional/local government initiatives, measures corresponding to the Kyoto mechanisms, and other indirect measures. Twenty-two practices were included in this category.
Table 7 Cross-sectoral Best Practices
Total 22
(1) Integrated policy design and legislation 3
(2) Establishment of taxation systems 3
(3) Creation of funding mechanisms for climate change prevention 4
(4) Central/regional government assistance; regional/local government initiatives 6
(5) Measures corresponding to the Kyoto Mechanisms 3
(6) Promotion of indirect measures for preventing climate change 3

4-3-3 Comments by the United States and European Union
In their responses to the questionnaire, the U.S. and EU added comments about Best Practices that may be useful for other countries.

    In the United States, our experience with Best Practices indicates that they are most successful when they are:

    • flexible to changing circumstances and regional differences;
    • provide multiple benefits;
    • recognize existing institutional frameworks and establish processes for public participation;
    • cost-effective;
    • match key attributes of the technologies they target; and
    • implemented with clear accountability and enforcement measures

The EU added the following comment.

    The concept of the "best practice" can refer to several things, including

    • the optimum use of proven technology and techniques for cost-effectively reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
    • the best available technology/technique;
    • optimal development of (a mix of) climate change policies and measures;
    • combinations of the above.
      In general, policies and measures should aim to:
    • significantly reduce and minimise the net global greenhouse gas emissions;
    • comply with sustainable development; and
    • be transferable to other conditions.

5. Key Findings and Key Questions

Based on the above mentioned results of the survey, key findings and key questions were extracted as follows:

5-1 Key findings

  1. G8 countries are actively undertaking initiatives to mitigate climate change; domestic Best Practices to mitigate climate change are being introduced into national policies and measures. Practices reported in the G8 survey reveal considerable diversity in what countries consider to be best practices, an indication that a common understanding of the selection of Best Practices varies.

  2. It appears that the Best Practices considered to be high priority differ in each country. Given the wide diversity in national circumstances, this is to be expected.

  3. It appears that restructuring and privatization of the energy sector in G8 countries are not being done expressly for the purpose of mitigating climate change, but the survey results and countries' experiences suggest that the fundamental policies of the energy sector do have an effect on climate change measures.

  4. Industrial sectors in G8 countries are actively making voluntary agreements and voluntary plans to reduce GHG emissions.

  5. G8 countries are domestically promoting education and awareness-raising for climate change mitigation.

  6. In the transportation sectors of G8 countries, it appears that efforts to limit CO2 emissions from automobiles are receiving a high priority. At the same time, G8 countries are also paying attention to improvements of alternative transportation modes and traffic demand control.

  7. Some G8 countries did not report much activity in the field of agriculture in their selection of Best Practices. In the future they may attach more importance to policies and measures relating to carbon sinks in forests, and to the enormous role of soil carbon.

  8. Regional (i.e. provincial, state, prefectural, etc.) and local governments, having many opportunities for close interaction with local citizens, are promoting climate change mitigation activities at the local level, and central governments are actively providing support. Experiences in some countries suggest that mechanisms functioning between the levels of government within a country will be increasingly important in future efforts to mitigate climate change.

  9. Financial mechanisms such as taxation, funding assistance, and subsidies are being used to attempt to mitigate climate change in G8 countries. Experiences suggest that because such mechanisms are highly flexible, in some cases there may be merit in expanding them at the cross-sectoral level and in various sectors.

  10. G8 country responses to the questionnaire did not refer much to linkages between the Kyoto Protocol (including the Kyoto Mechanisms and carbon sinks) and G8 countries' domestic Best Practices addressing climate change. This could be because countries are awaiting outcomes of the current international discussions on these topics.

In addition to the above mentioned major findings, the following findings in each sector were extracted.

Energy and industrial sector

  • Restructuring/privatization of electric companies were highlighted in the USA and the UK.
  • Renewable energy and unutilized/underutilized energy are being promoted in most G8 countries. Promotion of solar energy and wind power generation was highlighted in Germany. Various types of approaches are being taken, such the use of regulation, taxation, subsidies, and research and development.
  • Industries' voluntary agreements and voluntary plans for emission reduction are being implemented in most G8 countries.

Household and commercial sector

  • Education and awareness-raising activities by most G8 governments and sub-national governments about lifestyles were highlighted.
  • Labeling and the "top-runner approach" are being used to promote the improvement of energy efficiency.
  • Improvement of energy efficiency of houses and buildings is being promoted in most G8 countries. Various kinds of approaches are being taken, such as regulation, subsidies, and information provision.

Transportation sector

  • The UK, Italy, Germany, and Japan submitted a number of practices in this area, although these share of emission from transportation sector is comparatively low in those countries. The U.S. reported on its program to fund R&D of low-emissions vehicles.
  • The use of taxation to promote fuel efficiency was highlighted in the UK and Italy.
  • The promotion of alternative means of transportation was highlighted in Italy and the UK.

Agriculture, land use and forestry sector

  • The reduction of GHG emissions from agricultural systems in the UK, Japan and Canada is being promoted through research, education and campaigns, rather than regulatory approaches.
  • Only one Best Practice was highlighted in the forestry sector.
  • France proposes the practice of carbon substitution using wood fuel.

Crosscutting sector

  • Top-down comprehensive policies are being implemented in Germany, Canada and Japan.
  • The creation of funding mechanisms was highlighted in Canada, France and the UK.
  • Central, federal, state and provincial government assistance and regional/local government initiatives are being undertaken by most G8 countries.
  • Practices that involve emissions trading are being implemented in Canada and the USA. Plnas for an industry-led voluntary program are also underway in the UK.

5-2 Key Questions
Based on the above-mentioned findings, the following key questions were extracted:

  1. What kinds of ways of identifying and evaluating the Best Practices are appropriate, considering the results and findings of each sector in the survey?

  2. What kinds of activities (e.g. regulations, economic incentives, voluntary actions, education) are most likely to be effective in each sector/sub-sector?

  3. What lessons were learned from obstacles encountered during the implementation of the Best Practices? What future obstacles could be anticipated, and how could they be overcome?

  4. What are the necessary conditions for the successful implementation of the Best Practices in each sector?

  5. What kinds of new approaches are appropriate to investigate or to introduce in the development and implementation of the Best Practices in each sector?

  6. How can other stakeholders be involved in the development and implementation of Best Practices in each sector?

  7. What kinds of means are suitable for effective spreading of information on each sector's Best Practices to a greater number of actors involved with that sector?

Report on the Best Practices submitted in response to the survey
by the Environment Agency of Japan
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