The much-awaited Paris climate summit is just a few weeks away. Even though most countries have unveiled their plans for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, researchers believe that the Paris climate summit is headed for a failure. Scientists from the University of Maryland, University of Cambridge and the University of Cologne said in a study published in the journal Nature that the UN climate negotiations need a major redesign to make them a success.

Paris Climate Summit

We are ignoring the science of cooperation

Scientists said the pledges offered by individual countries were more about their self-interest than a common climate goal. They have ignored the science of cooperation in favor of a patchwork of individual commitments. Professor David MacKay of the University of Cambridge said the Paris climate summit should focus on a common commitment on the global price of carbon.

MacKay said countries should agree on a uniform penalty for carbon pollution, which would encourage polluting countries to trim their emissions. The current approach of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) wouldn’t work. We have seen the results of the Kyoto agreement. MacKay noted that, according to the science of contribution, if everyone is naming their individual contributions that aren’t coupled to each other, they are all going to end up with a poor outcome.

A reciprocal approach needed to make the Paris climate summit a success

The Kyoto Protocol was initially meant to have a common commitment, but it turned into a patchwork of individual commitments. And we have seen that many countries left the process while others came up with weak commitments. Researchers said a reciprocal approach was needed to make the Paris climate summit a success. A common commitment would encourage countries to advocate more action because it will apply to all members.

A uniform price for carbon could be implemented through a carbon tax. Countries could negotiate and agree on a common pricing that would apply to all. However, the idea of scientists is unlikely to have any major impact on the Paris climate summit because there is no global carbon pricing currently on the table.