The fair-shares discussion has long percolated though the climate movement. The drafting of an official Climate Action Network discussion paper on effort-sharing frameworks is nevertheless a bit of milestone.
This paper was written cooperatively by people from a variety of CAN member groups — including people from Greenpeace, Oxfam, and Christian Aid, as well as CAN staff and members of the Greenhouse Development Rights team. A much larger group is following its development. It contains a nice concise introduction, but let us add that it’s particularly notable for its principles-first approach, with which it does a pretty good job.
Note especially that only a few of the frameworks that are analyzed herein — GDRs is among them — seem capable of actually supporting both the right to sustainable development (R2SD) and a high-ambition transition. Which, when you come right down to it, the bottom line in all this.
Given the realist malaise that has followed Copenhagen, this exercise will seem to some to be a waste of time. We would rather note that there are now a core of people who, as partisans of one or another of these frameworks, are working to more strongly establish a new tendency within the climate movement. Call it the fair-shares tendency, for lack of a better name. In this context, this paper has already been valuable, for in writing it we believe that we’ve discovered that the right to sustainable development is the equity principle with the greatest discriminatory power in the fair-shares debate.
That is to say that, when evaluating equity frameworks against each other, in an effort to find an approach that can serve as a common reference point – a shared basis for evaluating when nations are doing their fair share, and when they are not – it appears that it is the right to sustainable development that raises the bar too high for some frameworks to be viable.
The central importance of the R2SD, and the need to define it in vivid, robust terms, will probably be more widely recognized as time goes by. Even in the unlikely case that there is never again a meaningful push for a top-down global climate accord, principle based or otherwise.