GDRs in the Post-Copenhagen Era
In the September 2009 issue of Ethics and International Affairs, Darrel Moellendorf (a professional philosopher at the Institute for Ethics and Public Affairs at San Diego State University) examines the qualities of a legitimate post-2012 climate change treaty in the article Treaty Norms and Climate Change Mitigation. Although published months ago, the article is still very timely (replace “Copenhagen” with “Mexico” and it’s practically new).
Moellendorf explores five of the most salient proposals that can help to deliver a legitimate climate treaty. He considers GDRs to be a particularly attractive framework because it also serves “the moral end of eradicating poverty,” and, accordingly, he gives particular attention to the “development threshold.” Astutely, he notes that in comparison to per-capita rights approaches, GDRs is well adapted to more stringent emission reduction scenarios where heavier demands are necessarily placed on rich industrialized states.
The author would like GDRs to be given much more serious consideration, “including an assessment of the general framework independent of the authors’ specific interpretation.” To that end, he discussed it in more detail in Curbing Carbon, Sustaining Development: The Tensions in Climate Change Mitigation, which he published just before Copenhagen in Dissent Magazine. This article is notable for recognizing that “the right for development” (a still emerging and highly-contested social and economic right) is going to be a key, even defining feature of the post-Copenhagen debate.
(One small correction: Moellendorf ‘s overview of the feasibility of the GDRs states that is aims to stabilize at a fixed target of 420 ppm, but this target is not inherent in the system. To see a GDRs analysis that’s relative to 350 ppm scenario, click here.)
Moellendorf’s views, by the way, exhibits just the kind of realism that aligns with GDRs, a reality-based realism in which the urgency of action must ultimately trump the tendency to compromise in political negotiations.