Tackling the climate change crisis demands urgent actions to cut atmospheric emissions of the heat-trapping greenhouse gases that are causing global warming. The responsibilities this entails should at the same time be divided equitably between developed and developing countries, as recognised in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The equity imperative is rooted in the development needs of the developing countries and in the fact that emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases over the years mostly originated in the developed countries. This paper fleshes out how this historical “carbon debt” and other equity considerations could be taken into account in the sharing of the global atmospheric space. Such an arrangement would, as envisioned by the UNFCCC, involve the developed countries taking the lead in emission reductions and in providing financial and technological support for a shift by developing countries to low-emission growth pathways.
Martin Khor is Adviser to the Third World Network.
2. Some Equity Considerations in the UNFCCC
3. The Climate Challenge and Carbon Budget Estimates
4. Historical and Cumulative Emissions and Carbon Debt
5. Sharing the Remaining Carbon Space
6. Implications for Emission Reduction and Allocation of Responsibilities
7. Per Capita Emissions, Equity and Development Concerns
8. Difficult Multiple Tasks Facing Developing Countries
9. Finance Issues in the Equation
10. Implications for Negotiations
Annex 1: Some Relevant Provisions of the UN Climate Convention That Relate to Equity
Annex 2: Some Useful Data Relevant to the Carbon Budget Analysis
Annex 3: Emission Reductions Needed for Annex I Countries Taking into Account Non-Annex I Countries’ Per Capita Emission Growth for Development
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