Global Sectoral Industry Approaches to Climate Change: Helping or Harming?

An Oxfam Research Report, by Jonas Meckling, Research Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Published: 21 May 2009

Proponents of global sectoral industry approaches, such as the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, argue that sectoral approaches could help level the international playing field, provide incentives for developing countries to contribute to the global climate deal, and be more manageable than economy-wide efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

In this paper Jonas Meckling assesses the two types of sectoral approach advocated by the World Business Council on Sustainable Development: voluntary sectoral target setting and sectoral industry technology co-operation – against the criteria of environmental effectiveness and global equity.

The paper finds that, on balance, voluntary sectoral target setting has significant flaws and does not represent a fair and safe approach to engaging industries in developed and developing countries.

On the other hand, if issues relating to intellectual property rights, fair governance, adequate provision for measuring, reporting and verifying emissions reductions and corresponding financial flows, and reform of the Clean Development mechanism are resolved, then sectoral industry technology co-operation presents a potential option for engaging the private sector in delivering a fair and safe deal.