GDRs Notices & Reviews
- The Oxford Approach to “Respective Capabilities”
Benito Müller and Lavan Mahadeva, under the auspices of the European Capacity Building Initiative, have released a very interesting proposal on operationalizing “respective capabilities.” The Summary for Policy Makers is here, and the Technical Report is here. Here’s the two-paragraph summary that Müller sent around:
“Whether or not the regime emerging from the current negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be based on an explicit cost/burden sharing formula, the debate about (implied) costs/burdens will be central. Such a debate cannot be genuinely meaningful in the absence of an acceptable operationalisation of Article 3.1 in general, and of the concept of ‘respective capability’ in particular.
The Brief proposes a measure for national ‘differentiated economic capabilities (‘ability to pay’) as integral part of an operationalisation. The primary purpose of the measure is to define or assess climate change cost/burden sharing (schemes). To illustrate the potential use of this methodology the Brief considers two examples: assessing the fairness of a given cost distribution; and developing a (rule-based) ‘graduation scheme’ regarding obligations to pay.”
It’s encouraging to see serious work on this front, in the first instance because true success in the climate negotiations – the stabilization of the climate system before we cross irreversible tipping points– is more or less impossible to imagine without a broad turn towards an open and constructive discussion of Respective Capabilities (RC). This is because Capacity is fundamental to any coherent treatment of global climate justice. As noted long ago by Ringius, Torvanger and Underdal, Capacity is one of the three criteria of equity that are “frequently invoked and rarely disputed.” The others, classically, are Responsibility and Need, and to this list we would add Ambition itself.
- Equitable Access to Sustainable Development: Relevance to negotiations and actions on climate change
The Mitigation Action Plans and Scenarios project in South Africa recently organized an interesting workshop on “Equitable Access to Sustainable Development.” The public report of the workshop is here, and it’s worth spending some time with, particularly because of the depth and sophistication with which it engaged with the problem of ‘Equity Reference Frameworks.”
See especially the report from the workshop, Reflections on Operationalizing EASD, and in particular see the background paper on Equity Reference Frameworks and their operationalization, by Xolisa Ngwadla of the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The paper is Equitable Access to Sustainable Development: Relevance to negotiations and actions on climate change, and in it Ngwadla introduces the idea of equity reference frameworks in this manner:
“The underlying philosophy for an ERF is the universal application of egalitarian principle to guide a distributive view that seeks to address historical, current, and potential inequities in respect of contribution to emissions, and as such is corrective in character, and distributive in approach. In respect of the metric/non-metric chasm, a stepwise consideration is proposed, where there is an ex ante assessment of fair effort in a non-binding framework, with binding commitments proposed by parties and therefore catering to national circumstances.
However, the process of inscribing such commitments includes a Party-driven process to assess the adequacy of proposed commitments against the computed fair efforts, and as such drive ambition whilst reconciling a top-down and bottom-up approach. An important characteristic of the output of the ERF is that it reflects a relative fair effort by a Party, without prescribing only a level of emission reduction, but expecting a total contribution that includes means of implementation, thereby providing flexibility in terms of the mix of commitments a Party can use to achieve its responsibility at any given temperature goal.”
There’s much to say here, but allow us for now to simply note that there’s a lot of unnecessary and unproductive complexity swirling around the notion of equity. As far as the negotiations, and in particular the imperative of finding a way forward in which the pursuit of equity and the pursuit of ambition buttress and strengthen each other, there are really only two relevant options — the Historical Responsibility approach and the Responsibility and Capacity Index approach. One of the reasons why this workshop was interesting is that this baseline political reality was recognized by the participants, who were thereby able to look forward and build upon it.
- Briefing the negotiators
In late 2012, just before Doha, the Belgian and Swedish governments hosted a high-level meeting on equity in Brussels. Quite a number of negotiators were there, and so were we. The event presentations are archived at the website of the Belgian federal Climate Change Section. Note in particular the reflections by senior negotiator Michael Zammit Cutajar, wherein you will find quite a few traces of our work.
- Sachs and Someshwar: Green Growth and Equity in the Context of Climate Change
Green Growth and Equity in the Context of Climate Change, a new paper by Jeffrey Sachs and Shiv Someshwar, both of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, was recently published as a working paper by the Asian Development Bank Institute. It has a bit of a cobbled-together feel, but it must nevertheless be commended. It puts key elements together, and it makes extremely important claims — that the global costs of the climate transition will be large, and they they should be equitably shared between countries.
The logic is transparent. The first section of the paper is about equity, the second reviews climate-mobilization cost estimates, and the third discusses a UN assessments system that would fund the Green Climate Fund in a manner consistent with the Framework Convention’s overarching equity principle of “Common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.”
The Greenhouse Development Rights framework comes up in the first part of the paper, which is a review of equity principles and approaches. Sachs and Someshwar say that it is “the most widely discussed efforts sharing approach,” and while we’re pleased to hear them say so, our sense is that this is only the case within policy circles. Among civilians, per-capita approaches are probably still more well known. That said, policy circles are critically important, for it is within these circles that the battle for international climate governance will be fought.
- Praful Bidal on Greenhouse Development Rights (and much else)
Praful Bidwai is a former Senior Editor at The Times of India and one of South Asia’s most widely published columnists. He’s also the author of the recent book The Politics of Climate Change and the Global Crisis: Mortgaging Our Future. This book is notable in a number of ways, and not just because it contains a long and coherent chapter called “Alternative Visions: What would an Equitable Global Climate Deal Look Like?”
Bidwai is a rare analyst. He writes as a man of the South, but at the same time he can be extremely critical of the South’s negotiating postures. In fact, he devotes an entire chapter — “Rooted in Incoherence: Anomalies and Contradictions in India’s Climate Policy” — to an excoriation of India’s stance in the negotiations, which he judges to be incoherent, duplicitous, and short-sighted, and all of these by virtue of being rooted in an unjust model of development. His essential claim here is not simply that India’s position is an undemocratic one that ultimately serves its elites, though this is a line he develops at length. It is also that India’s position is based on unsound ethical claims that cannot possibly support a fair global accord. That, in particular,
“the per capita norm does not capture, nor is it logically related to, the central concern highlighted by recent climate-related scientific findings: namely, the urgent need to prevent dangerous climate change.”
To be sure, one could argue — and many people do — that the “per capita norm” is an important negotiating tool, and that as such it serves a larger goal of global climate justice. But Bidwai will have none of it, arguing that class disparities within India are probably larger than global disparities. Moreover, he is extremely critical of what he sees as India’s over-emphasis on historical responsibility. His bottom line:
“A fixation with dividing emissions quotas along North-South lines can easily translate into a right to greater carbon space or a right to pollute.”
- Development without Carbon: Climate and the Global Economy through the 21st Century
Elizabeth Stanton, an economist at the Stockholm Environment Institute who is active in the Economics for Equity and Environment (the E3 Network), has done a service in Development without Carbon. It’s a crystal-clear paper that lays out a simple framework for thinking about equitable development within a constrained emissions space — like this planet. It’s goal, particularly, is to show that traditional economic models are not up to the job, but that the job itself remains doable.
It proceeds by exploring the potential greenhouse gas emissions, and corresponding mitigation obligations, of three “stylized futures” for developing countries:
* Without Development: a business-as-usual (no policy) scenario with the standard economic growth rates found in climate-economics models;
* Development with Carbon: a business-as-usual (no policy) scenario with more rapid economic growth rates.
* Development without Carbon: a policy scenario with rapid economic growth and significant public measures to reduce emissions
Stanton’s approach is influenced by the Greenhouse Development Rights approach, but she considers other justice-based approaches as well. Her goal is show the problem know known as “equitable access to sustainable development” is a realizable one, if we think about it in a reasonably coherent way.
- BASIC experts: Equitable access to sustainable development
It’s unwise to predict the future, particularly the future of the climate negotiations. But if you believe that their outcome is critical, and that it will bear heavily upon our common future, then you’ll hope that Equitable access to sustainable development, a long-in-the-making report by climate and climate-equity experts from India, China, Brazil and South Africa, will be taken seriously.
The EASD report was released on December 3rd in Durban, just about the time that the talks started hotting up, so it’s unlikely that most negotiators had time to read it with any care. But if Durban goes at all well, if that is it manages to save the Kyoto Protocol and to otherwise open the door to serious consideration of a next-generation climate accord, one that’s actually fair enough to support real ambition, then this report will, eventually, be recognized as a turning point.
The South’s Ministers, at least, will take it seriously. They know the problem of “equitable access to sustainable development,” and that it must be solved if there’s to be a successful global climate regime. And, at this point, it may also be reasonable to hope that, after Durban, the environmental NGOs will finally begin to face the challenge of fair-shares global burden sharing.
The governments of the North are another matter. The Europeans, certainly, do not imagine that the demands of sustainable development can be put aside, and even the United States, despite its political crisis, is in some kind of motion. Not that the Obama team will welcome this reassertion of the equity agenda. That would be too much to hope for from the “realists” that brought us the Copenhagen-era push for Pledge and Review. But at the same time, it seems clear that the orthodoxies of traditional realism no longer charm as they once did. They have become cover stories, and this no realism can survive.
This report, for its part, is a serious one. It wastes no time pretending that the global carbon budget has not already been essentially exhausted, or that development-as-usual is still a viable option for the South. Nor does it pretend that we can muddle through with bottom-up accounting and a bit of technological optimism. These are all things that just can’t happen if we seriously intend to stabilize the climate system. Developmental justice is a precondition for high ambition, and this report imagines that we’re serious enough to face this bottom-line fact.
- Building the economic case for climate action
This conference summary by Kristen Sheeran of the Economics for Equity and the Environment Network does not deal with GDRs in any length. In fact, it only mentions it. But it does so in the context of a very interesting text, one that is essentially a strategic work program for ecologically-engaged economists, and this is enough to make it notable. That is, it’s important to know that the problem of “equity in global climate control” is and will remain a core issue, and that its one of particular concern to economists.
- Cancun Climate Talks: Bridging the Divide
This nice, user-friendly summary of the Cancun challenge, was published by the UK’s Christian Aid. Cancun Climate Talks: Bridging the Divide is notable for the use to which it puts GDRs, which appears not as an impractical product of untethered idealism, but rather an reminder of the true scale of the challenge, and as a guide to the needed level of ambition. Will anything like GDRs ever be on the agenda? It depends, of course, on a reorientation of the negotiations. As of this writing, it doesn’t look like Cancun is going to do it.
- The Road to Cancun…is getting shorter!
Here’s a nice little quote (from May Boeve at www.350.org) from Tom Athanasiou’s Cancun Setup: One year after Copenhagen, and counting. We cite it just because we like 350.org so much, and because they find our work to be useful. See also this nice notice by Bill McKibben in Foreign Policy magazine — sometimes its good to be “relentless.”
- A Bretton Woods for the Climate
Just before Cancun, FORES, a Swedish research institute that appears to have a significant footprint, published the second edition of a proposal which they called A Bretton Woods for the Climate. It’s book length, and interesting in a number of ways, not the least of which is the uses to which it puts the Greenhouse Development Rights approach. More generally, it deserves real respect for the depth of its commitment to both ethics and realism, and for its intellectual seriousness. This being the second edition, the authors invited comments, and received two. The first is from Harvard’s Robert N. Stavins and the second is from us, the GDRs authors group. Our comment begins on page 191.
- Beyond Copenhagen: Reconciling International Fairness, Economic Development, and Climate Protection
It’s good to see this paper, by Jing Cao of Tsinghua University in China, being published by the The Harvard Project on International Climate Agreements. Jing Cao has been working on Chinese variants of GDRs for some time now (see Greenhouse Development Rights with Chinese Characteristics) and with this post-Copenhagen work she explicitly argues that the GDRs approach is a valuable guide to the future. Her abstract:
“Time to respond to the severe threat posed by global climate change is running short. Though the most recent international climate negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) achieved some consensus in the form of the Copenhagen Accord, they failed to produce an adequate and legally binding action plan for achieving long-term reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions. Looking beyond Copenhagen, this paper proposes a new architecture for international climate policy going forward. It highlights a top-down, burden-sharing rule that is designed to produce a fair distribution of burdens across countries while also (a) giving priority to economic development and concerns about wealth inequality and (b) achieving emission reductions consistent with holding the expected increase in global average temperature to 2 degrees Celsius. In addition, this paper discusses several key design elements that will be important, especially from the perspective of developing countries, to the success of future international climate negotiations. These design elements include agreements on burden sharing, choice of policy instruments, financial mechanisms and technology transfer, penalties for noncompliance, and linkages between trade and climate change. “
- Not Just a Number
This report — Not Just a Number: Achieving a CO2 Concentration of 350 ppm or Less To Avoid Catastrophic Climate Impacts — was released by 350.org and the Center on Biological Diversity during the run-up to the Cancun conference in late 2010. It was widely circulated, particularly to delegates, at the Tianjin meeting in October, as a backgrounder for the discussion of the long term goal.
Not Just a Number is a nice, and very accessible review of the scientific evidence in support of a long-term global goal of 350 ppm. And it quite underscores the need for a renewed sense of urgency in the negotiations. Greenhouse Development Rights thus finds an appropriate place here, as an effort-sharing framework appropriate to an urgent response. If we ever get around to one.
- Climate Justice: Ethics, Energy, and Public Policy
We were very pleased to see this book — Climate Justice: Ethics, Energy, and Public Policy — and to review its detailed, even comprehensive, and very sympathetic treatment of GDRs.
Climate Justice is interesting in both conception and execution. The problem of climate stabilization is, after all, one that cannot be solved in the terms of normal life and normal morality. Thus, the interest (and spirit) that — to use the ugly, American term, “the faith community” — is bringing to the party is very important indeed. Which is where this book comes in. Not a collection of essays but an extended essay in its own right, this book really (I’m not just saying this) is an excellent introduction to the impossible problem that we cannot, but must solve.
By the way, we willingly note that Jim Martin-Schramm, the professor of theology that wrote Climate Justice, faults GDRs on one matter: practicability. He is of course right to do so. But then again, the problem here is not exclusive to GDRs. Fact is, there is not yet the political space for any really serious response to the climate emergency.
- World Wildlife Fund — “An Offer for Discussion”
Back before Copenhagen, the World Wildlife Fund released a study in which it compared Contraction and Convergence, Common but Differentiated Convergence, and Greenhouse Development Rights, and then almost endorsed GDRs. More recently, WWF India has taken that study off the shelf and presented its results in a number of prominent venues. The presentation, here, is notable for its clarity, and its open tone. It still almost endorses GDRs, but it really is “An offer for discussion.”
Also notable in this presentation is the completeness with which the remaining budget is presented:
To be consistent with staying well below 2 degree C
1. Emission budget of 1660 GtCO2eq between 1990 and 2050 excluding LUCF, or about 1000 GtCO2eq between 2010 and 2050 (taking account of emissions 1990 – 2010)
2 Assuming that emissions from LUCF remains constant at 2. Assuming that emissions from LUCF remains constant at 4GtCo2 until 2010 and decline to zero between 2010 and 2020; becoming a stable net sink of emissions afterwards
3. Allowable global emission of ~ 22 GtCO2eq/year globally on average 2010 – 2050. Compared to >50 GtCO2eq/y today.
And there’s also this note, which is almost in a class by itself:
‘Negative’ allowances for Annex I reflect on substantive funding requirements for poorer nations to get below their allowances
• Negative allowances for Annex 1 countries, also provide opportunities for emerging economies to grow, but by integrating low carbon development path. An emissions budget of about 900/1000 Gt CO2e (2009-2050) requires to leave about 80% of all known conventional and unconventional recoverable fossil fuel reserves under ground.
- Equity in Climate Change: An Analytic Review
This notable paper, written by Aaditya Mattoo and Arvind Subramanian of the World Bank’s Development Research Group,is notable not only for its providence but for its argument, which is admirably clear. The abstract does a good job, so here it is:
“This paper presents an analytical framework to encompass contributions to the literature on equity in climate change, and highlights the consequences—in terms of future emissions allocations—of different approaches to equity. Progressive cuts relative to historic levels—for example, 80 percent by industrial countries and 20 percent by developing countries—in effect accord primacy to adjustment costs and favor large current emitters such as the United States, Canada, Australia, oil exporters, and China. In contrast, principles of equal per capita emissions, historic responsibility, and ability to pay favor some large and poor developing countries such as India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, but hurt industrial countries as well as many other developing countries. The principle of preserving future development opportunities has the appeal that it does not constrain developing countries in the future by a problem that they did not largely cause in the past, but it shifts the burden of meeting climate change goals entirely to industrial countries. Given the strong conflicts of interest in defining equity in emission allocations, it may be desirable to shift the emphasis of international cooperation toward generating a low-carbon technology revolution. Equity considerations would then play a role not in allocating a shrinking emissions pie but in informing the relative contributions of countries to generating such a pie-enlarging revolution.”
- A Review of Public Sources for Financing Climate Adaptation and Mitigation
Written by a large, somewhat ad hoc consortium of NGOs as input into the deliberations of the UN High Level Advisory Group on Climate Finance (AGF), this paper is the most comprehensive civil society statement yet of how so-called “international” or “innovative” finance should properly work. It closely considers the necessary scale, the sources appropriate to, and the conditions necessary to the equitable and adequate operationalization of such finance. In this regard, it is the authoritative civil society statement, or at least it was, at the time of its publication.
Interestingly, this paper is evidence for the claim that the the “equity debate” is converging on a widely shared understanding. When equity frameworks enter into the analysis, only two, closely-related frameworks are considered relevant to the problem at hand in the negotiations. Unsurprisingly, they are the “climate debt framework” and Greenhouse Development Rights.
- GDRs in the Indian equity debate
The equity debate has taken on some new life lately, particularly in India, where the government is actively reconsidering its position on fair-shares approaches to global climate diplomacy. There’s no word yet on what India’s new position will be, but the recent publication of Meeting Equity in a Finite Carbon World: Global Carbon Budgets and Burden Sharing in Mitigation Actions, a “background” report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, indicates that, at least in some circles, the debate is being taken seriously. Indeed, Tata’s background report was followed by a high-level conference that discussed it, and then the publication of Global Carbon Budgets and Equity in Climate Change, an extremely interesting and forthright set of conference papers and post-conference reflections.
The goal of the Tata report, clearly, was to promote a focused, high-level discussion of the “carbon-budget” approach, whereby all people receive an equal allocation to the earth’s cumulative carbon budget. In this is was apparently quite successful. There is much to say here, and a great deal to like, but for the moment we will make only two points. (more…)
- Joint Statement of IPD Experts on Global Burden-Sharing for Climate Change
This joint statement was released by the Initiative for Policy Dialog, a network/organization formed by Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz to stimulate “a heterodox policy dialogue on major issues in international development.” Judging by the results of the IPD’s dialog on burden sharing, it does a pretty good job. The group that was brought together was certainly heterodox, and approached the problem with refreshing straight-forwardness. For example, it concluded that “Equal per-capita rights to the atmosphere, based on cumulative emissions from a reference date population, remain the minimum ethical standard for an equitable climate change agreement.” That’s minimum.
- Greenpeace International’s energy [r]evolution scenario
We are very pleased to say that Greenpeace International’s new Energy [R]evolution study finds a prominent place for the Greenhouse Development Rights approach to global, fair-shares, cost sharing. This, to be sure, is a largely techno-economic study, but Greenpeace does not imagine that rapid technological change will occur in the absence of a major commitment to equity and fairness.
With equity, though, and using only existing technology, the sky’s the limit.
The Energy [R]evolution demonstrates how the world can get from where we are now, to where we need to be in terms of phasing out fossil fuels, cutting CO2 while ensuring energy security. This includes illustrating how the world’s carbon emissions from the energy and transport sectors alone can peak by 2015 and be cut by over 80 percent by 2050. This phase-out of fossil fuels offers substantial other benefits such as independence from world market fossil fuel prices as well as the creation of millions of new green jobs.
- Slow progress on climate negotiations
This notice, from June 1, 2010 issue of the Financial Express in Dhaka in Bangladesh, is notable because it succinctly illustrates the way in Greenhouse Development Rights has come to define the equity debate in much of the world. Note, in particular, that the focus is on the development threshold:
“There must be a radical change in governance the world over, with equity within and among nations as core principles. Alternative development philosophers and activists have proposed many innovative ways of realizing such equity and climate justice, provided these are made to work by a truly democratic, transparent global authority that is ecologically educated and committed. A Greenhouse Development Rights Framework was proposed by some last year. Under this, a $20 a day in purchasing power parity threshold on income/emission was determined. People below this —- meaning the vast majority, including much of the low-income, lower middle classes in poor countries —- would have no emissions-reduction obligation. Those above the threshold would be obliged to undertake cuts according to their responsibility( for climate change) and capability (for mitigation and adaptation). They would also have to help the poor cope with the impacts of climate change.
- The Economics of Climate Change in China: Towards a Low Carbon Economy
Although The Economics of Climate Change in China: Towards a Low Carbon Eonomy carries a formal release date of September 2010, the book is already finished – so we’ll take the opportunity here to note its existence. Chapter 8 is entitled “Comparison of Equity Frameworks and a China Analysis of the Greenhouse Development Rights Concept,” and it’s followed immediately by another named “A Deep Carbon Reduction Scenario for China.” Here’s the core of the abstract:
“This ground-breaking economic study, led by the Stockholm Environment Institute and the Chinese Economists 50 Forum, brings together leading international thinkers in economics, climate change, and development, to tackle some of the most challenging issues relating to China’s low-carbon development. This study maps out a deep carbon reduction scenario and analyses economic policies that shift carbon use, and shows how China can take strong and decisive action to make deep reductions in carbon emission over the next 40 years while maintaining high economic growth and minimizing adverse effects of a low-carbon transition. Moreover, these reductions can be achieved within the finite global carbon budget for greenhouse gas emissions, as determined by the hard constraints of climate science.”
- GDRs in Climate Ethics: Essential Readings
The definitive (academic philosophical) climate ethics reader was just published by Oxford University Press, and we’re happy to say that it contains a chapter on GDRs. The book is Climate Ethics: Essential Readings, and it’s edited by Stephen Gardiner, Simon Caney, Dale Jamieson and Henry Shue.
The GDRs essay is “Greenhouse Development Rights: A Framework for Climate Protection that is ‘More Fair’ than Equal per Capita Emissions Rights,” a focus that makes good sense given the state of the philosophical debate. (Peter Singer also has an essay, “One Atmosphere,” in which he defends the per-capita approach.)
Paul Baer, of the GDRs author’s group, also has a second chapter all his own, one called ‘Adaptation: Who Pays Whom?”
- Eaarth: Making a life on a tough new planet
The notice of GDRs in Bill McKibben’s latest — Eaarth: Making a life on a tough new planet — isn’t particularly long, but it’s just fine none the less. To wit:
… how do you sit down and negotiate a global climate pact? No one has tried harder to game out the scenarios than Tom Athanasiou and Paul Baer, the directors of the Greenhouse Development Rights Network, who point out that this will be the first time that developing nations have ever come to international talks with any real clout: after all, if they burn all their coal, there’s nothing the rest of us can do to ward off global warming. And they have justice on their side, since they’ve done nothing to cause the global warming. “The fact is, they’re not particularly disposed to experiments that, they fear, will close off the only routes to progress they’ve ever had.”
- The Impossible Necessity of Climate Justice?
This article from the Melbourne Journal of International Law sure has a great abstract:
“It will be difficult to find an agreed solution to climate change that does not engage with climate justice. It is generally regarded as naive, when considering international relations, to focus on justice, or to emphasize right over might. In the case of climate change – perhaps uniquely – even the powerful need a genuinely global solution, which cannot be achieved without an engagement with justice. In this instance, might needs right.
- Development in a Finite World
A lengthy notice on a Chinese blog is a rare event. In this case the blog, Chinese Walker, has the tagline “show you everything about China,” so we take it pretty seriously. Dr. Yu Jie, in any case, is clearly a friend of GDRs, and as China Program Officer for the Heinrich Böll Foundation she has probably had ample occasion to think about the GDRs proposition. Interestingly, she spends much of her time discussing its emphasis on inequality within countries. As for example:
“Even before a consensus is reached on this framework, it is valuable to consider its emphasis on the responsibilities of rich and poor people, regardless of where they live. If emissions quotas become a scarce public commodity, the value of this proposal should become clear. Within any one country, the rich should allow the poor to increase their standard of living, while covering the costs of emissions reductions. This can be implemented at a national level before an international framework is adopted, and will be of benefit to domestic sustainable development policies.
- Adapting to Climate Change – Major Funding Proposals Examined
Timmons J. Roberts gives a useful primer on climate justice in his article The International Dimension of Climate Justice and the Need for International Adaptation Funding. He explores the basic dynamic of unequal impacts from climate change, and identifies the key mechanisms for ensuring “reliable, adequate, and appropriate funding to help poor nations adapt to the worst elements of climate change.”
GDRs comes into the story by way of a typology of major adaptation funding proposals, and it is useful to have an overview of the key proposals to date. Note that Timmons doesn’t compare the merits of each proposal, but at least he lays the groundwork for future inquiry.
- A Place for Climate Justice in the Copenhagen Prognosis
The Copenhagen Prognosis: toward a safe climate future is a brief, excellent compendium of the latest climate science, environmental vital signs more generally, and options for sustainable human development. It was put together by an impressive collective of organizations – the Stockholm Environment Institute, the Energy and Resources Institute, the Potsdam Institute, and more.
GDRs is referenced as a framework for ensuring development justice alongside an aggressive emission reduction plan of action. The report shows that without low-carbon development pathways, “the developing world is deeply and justifiably concerned that an inequitable climate regime will force a choice between development and climate protection.” It’s only a shame that the report does not use the now widely accepted 350 ppm target as its basis of analysis.
For more detail, see the longer, more detailed, Copenhagen Diagnosis.
- 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).
- GDRs on ClimateEthics.org
There’s an established academic discussion of climate ethics. But on the web, at least, little of it is systematic. ClimateEthics.org, brought to you by the Rock Ethics Institute, aims to fill the gap by bringing the ethical aspect of climate change science and policy front and center. This website, whose stated goal is to “provide a quick response in the form of ethical comments on issues in contention in climate change policy formation around the world,” seems to be the most focused and methodical clearinghouse on climate ethics in existence.
As such, it has noted GDRs on a number of occasion, most notably in Contraction & Convergence and Greenhouse Development Rights: A Critical Comparison Between Two Salient Climate-Ethical Concepts, and most recently in A Comprehensive Ethical Analysis of the Copenhagen Accord. The first of these is the more notable discussion of GDRs, though to be frank we don’t find it to be particularly impressive.
- India Plans Meet to Share Carbon Space Equitably
Something is brewing in India, where an unprecedented debate about the future of climate policy is raging. This debate, moreover, is not merely political. It has a great deal to do with contrasting views of equity, and, unsurprisingly, it is both multi-layered and extremely complicated. This article from The Economic Times will not allow you to sort it out (it’s too early for that), but it does offer a brief glimpse of a struggle in which ideas clearly matter, ideas that in this case include the both the per capita and GDRs views of fair-shares burden sharing.
We’ll not say more, though we’ll have more to say soon. Because, beneath a raging techno-economic debate about carbon efficiency and energy consumption, this is really a dispute about the geopolitics of technology transfer and development rights. Which makes it interesting indeed that the Indian government plans an international conference of experts in June (just after a major UNFCCC intercessional meeting) to sort out the best way forward. We can only wish them the best of luck.
- We Can’t Help Ourselves
Recently, Donald Brown, the force behind http://climateethics.org, published an excellent post on Climate Progress called Ten reasons why examining climate change policy through an ethical lens is a practical imperative. Actually, it was not only an excellent post, it was a necessary one. Because ethics, let’s face it, is generally considered to be irrelevant to the hard realism that, it’s endlessly implied, will make or break the climate battle.
Bill McKibben, himself a force of nature, then did us the great favor of quickly adding this to the article’s comment thread:
“This is very smart and important. Readers who wish a better sense of how those ethical principles translate into policy might want to look at Tom Athanasiou and Paul Baer’s powerful work at EcoEquity (http://www.ecoequity.org/) and Greenhouse Development Rights (http://gdrights.org/). This is a crucial frame – and also quite politically useful for those of us trying, among other things, to do work in faith communities and on campuses, where these arguments resonate with particular power.”
He forgot Sivan and Eric, but we forgive him.
- Why We Need a Global Green New Deal
In his New Politics article, Ashley Dawson says that “Developing nations have a right to lift their citizens out of poverty,” and with this we entirely agree. He also says that this is “a prerogative acknowledged in the important Greenhouse Development Rights protocol around which ecological equity activists are beginning to rally,” and on this point we must remain more skeptical. Most of the grassroots action, as far as we can see, is taking place within the “climate debt” frame, and while the debt approach and the GDRs approach are kissing cousins, they are not identical.
DAWN, Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era recently asked, “What are the differences between Greenhouse Development Rights and ecological debt calculations?” It’s a good question, and to see a sketch of the research program we’ve designed to answer it, click Principle-based, comparable Annex 1 targets. Meanwhile, keep in mind that, as Paddy McCully recently noted in the Huffington Post, the differences aren’t likely to impress Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck.
- Post Copenhagen, New Avenues for Globally Just Climate Policy
This panel discussion is interesting for two reasons. First, it was sponsored by the European Green Parties Supporters Network, and thus well-represents the post-Copenhagen discussion, as it took place within the European Green Milieu. Second, it does not so much focus on GDRs as illustrate how successful it has been in embodying and focusing the overall evolution of the discussion in Europe, on the all-important question: How can we get out of the deadlock – and arrive at a globally just climate policy?
It’s all here, optimism vs. pessimism, debt vs. self-interest framing, debates about national blocs and a “coalition of the willing,” the battle against coal, the problem of intellectual property rights, and, interestingly, “the world of Greenhouse Development Rights,” which is “not merely a world divided between North and South. It is also a world in which both North and South are divided between rich and poor.
- Don’t Mention the Climate Debt
This is a good piece, and we say this even though it’s very critical of our work. That is, othe frankness with which we speak about – and even enumerate – the obligations of the wealthy. McCully’s argument is worth reading in its entirety, but here’s a core section:
“The GDRs approach is not just a political non-starter in the US. It shouldn’t even be allowed to approach the starting blocks, probably not even enter the stadium. A public campaign for climate debt payments would not only fail to succeed in terms of generating the funds, but it would also help the climate wreckers discredit the more important job of cutting emissions.
- The 350 ppm Carbon Dioxide Challenge and How to Achieve it
There are many within the climate movement who, if truth be told, would prefer it if the left’s now deeply seriously engagement with the climate challenge were to be soft-pedaled. We are not among them. The question that most concerns us is that of effective global mobilization, and at this point we’re not at all sure that the existing “social formation” (to quote Immanuel Wallenstein) is up to the job.
In this context, this little essay, written by Renfrey Clarke, can only be praised. It contains a few nuances that we could quibble with, but the overall framing of Clarke’s argument, and his angry tone, are entirely justifiable. And, frankly, he is a reasonable man:
- Has The Left Missed The Boat On Climate Change?
Robin Hahnel’s article is interesting to see, for a number of reasons. Z Magazine is, after all, a long-running US left voice. And it doesn’t shy away from words like “capitalist,” or avoid asking if the climate problem is too fundamental to yield to small reforms. Still, for all that, this was a surprising post. Not because Z was willing to seriously consider the GDRs argument that inequality within countries is a basic matter that cannot be deferred for tactical reasons, but because it challenged other orthodoxies as well. The discussion is extensive, and the subsequent debate with Patrick Bond is notable.
- Copenhagen Is NOT On The Verge Of Signing A Treaty That Would Lock In 3C Warming!
This Climate Progress article makes only a very brief reference to GDRs, but it’s interesting, in more ways than one. The context is a left-centrist attack (the word seems fair) on the despair and disappointment of that overcame the climate movement at the end of Copenhagen.
- Canada and the Copenhagen Climate Conference
A nice backgrounder from Greenpeace Canada cited by the Climate Action Network Canada, notable here because it ends, under the heading “Support Climate Justice,” by referencing the GDRs country study that was done for Canada in early 2009. The GDRs Canada study can be found here.
- Going Clean – The Economics of China’s Low-carbon Development
It is difficult to overstate the importance of Going Clean, which was produced by a high-level group that included analysts from both the West and the Chinese Economists 50 Forum. Nor is it easy to overstate the role that the GDRs analysis plays in Going Green’s underlying analysis of the climate challenge.
Among its most notable points, Going Green provides a clear estimate the emissions budget that would be available to China in a world that was seriously committed to holding the 2ºC line:
“If the industrialized (Annex 1) countries were to commit to more ambitious targets of reducing their emissions to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, and 95 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050, their future emissions would amount to 200 Gt CO2. This would leave 460 Gt CO2 for the non-Annex 1 countries. If we assume that China’s part of this remaining budget is proportional to its share of current non-Annex 1 emissions, its future budget would be 220 Gt CO2.”
Just as significantly, it shows that this is an achievable goal, though only in the context of a fair global regime. (more…)
- Other worlds are possible
Something about this report — Other worlds are possible: Human progress in an age of climate change — feels new. Perhaps it’s the way in which the New Economics Foundation, which has for so long been linked to things emerging and creative, is here instead at the center of a large and illustrious company. No longer new so much as, perhaps, representative of an emerging consensus, in which the politics of climate, of development, and of opposition to the existing economic system have been thoroughly mixed together, to the point where they’re setting into something firmer and more … foundational? (more…)
- Kyoto’s ghost
Before his retirement from his role as the World Council of Churches climate coordinator, David Hallman was a familiar face at the annual climate meetings. He’s done the grassroots work and he’s addressed the UNFCCC plenary. And now, looking back on Kyoto and reflecting on Copenhagen, he has a nicely sculpted sense of the big picture.
This little essay isn’t about GDRs, but it does note it, and frames it appropriately. Context, after all, is everything.
- Europe’s Share of the Climate Challenge
A major new report, just released today by the Stockholm Environment Institute and Friends of the Earth Europe, shows that — despite an increasingly widespread sense that climate catastrophe can no longer be averted — radical action, on the necessary scale, is still a very much within the realm of possibility. (more…)
- Academia and Its Disconnects
Recently, in a journal with the rather startling name of Green Theory & Praxis: The Journal of Ecopedagogy, we found An Interview with Julian Agyeman: Just Sustainability and Ecopedagogy. It’s notable because, while it correctly notes that GDRs “take climate protection seriously, while recognizing and supporting the need for human development,” it groups GDRs under the heading of “per capita based resource allocations strategies.” Which is odd, given that GDRs is explicitly a principle-based alternative to per-capita approaches.
How explicitly? Consider the title of the GDRs chapter in Climate Ethics: Essential Readings, forthcoming from Oxford University Press. It’s “Greenhouse Development Rights: A Framework for Climate Protection that is ‘More Fair’ than Equal per Capita Emissions Rights.”
- Climate Justice for a Changing Planet: A Primer for Policy Makers and NGOs
This very interesting book by Barbara Adams and Gretchen Luchsinger (freely downloadable!), is designed to promote the most crucial ideas of all, those which develop the notion of a shared climate development agenda in which climate protection and just development go hand in hand. Note also the related articles and volumes in the right column.
Chapter 3, Towards a Climate Justice Agenda is where the Greenhouse Development Rights framework is discussed, under a subhead which is notable in its even handedness:
- How fair is fair enough? Two climate concepts compared
The Heinrich Böll Foundation has long been a supporter of GDRs, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not open to new — or old — ideas. Thus, in the pre-Copenhagen issue of its new magazine, it features (see page 33) a face off between GDRs and Contraction and Convergence. Why these two? Because “Other approaches with the potential to mitigate emissions fairly are not in discussion at present.”
Which is itself fair enough.
- Ethics, Place and Environment
Greenhouse Development Rights: A Proposal for a Fair Global Climate Treaty, differs in at least four ways from other academic treatments of GDRs. First, it is written almost entirely by Paul Baer, rather than by the “GDRs author’s group.” Second, it goes beyond the standard exposition of GDRs to situate it philosophically, and to speculate about its philosophical and political implications. Third, it focuses on our attempt the ground specific, and pragmatically critical quantitative choices — e.g. the value of the “development threshold” — on ethical judgments. And, forth, it is accompanied by a number of responses, which variously support it and take it to task. (more…)
- WWF Jargon Buster and Acronym Decoder
GDRs in a dictionary! And not a bad definition either:
Greenhouse Development Rights. A framework for achieving urgent reductions in global CO2 emissions by allocating emissions rights according to national historic responsibility for the climate problem and economic capacity to dedicate resources to the problem.
- Asking for More Funding Alone Is Not a Winning Negotiation Strategy
This article would not seem, judging by its title, to be friendly to GDRs, or indeed to any principle-based approach to a truly international climate policy. After all, the title echoes the incessant Northern complaint that Southern countries turn every global crisis, and every historical injustice, into a kakistocratic demand for money from the North.
But this is not Amin’s argument. Rather, he states that, if southern negotiators “come to the table with financing as their main and only issue, their voices will be even more marginalized.” And then he goes on to state, with rare clarity, that developing countries must go beyond demands for financial assistance to “make the case for a principles framework through which the burden of climate change could be shared.” Which is, together with the acknowledgement that per capita systems have their own problems, where GDRs comes in.
An unexpected surprise.
- Signposts to Copenhagen: Christian Aid briefings for the climate change negotiations
What must happen at Copenhagen in December 2009? How can we ensure the climate change agreement will benefit the poor and vulnerable and not just the wealthy and powerful? This fine series of short briefing papers, many of which reference GDRs, present Christian Aid’s view of the top issues for COP15 in Copenhagen.
Essential outcomes for a fair and effective climate agreement, Climate finance: why, who for, how much and where from?, The role of carbon markets in countering climate change, Adapting to disasters? Global deal must deliver to save lives, Climate debt and the call for justice, Integrating adaptation from local to national level
- GDRs and Climate Reconciliation
In the new online ideas journal People and Place, Howard Silverman talks about the need for an honest appraisal of those nations (as well as individuals) that benefited from the luxury use of greenhouse gas emissions. In Seeking Climate Reconciliation, Silverman briefly reviews some of the effort sharing proposals to date and then appeals to both the perpetrators and victims of climate change to “turn toward reconciliation – an accommodation that openly acknowledges the past, so that we can better anticipate the future.” GDRs features in this reconciliation process. For a backgrounder to this online discussion see Paul Baer’s June 2009 article comparing GDRs to the equal shares proposal, which can be found here.
- Public Appetite for Climate Justice Discourse
This article, in South Africa’s Mail and Guardian, is a good example of the growing public appetite for a climate justice discourse. End the carbon spending spree, overviews the concept of a global carbon budget and three effort-sharing proposals: contraction and convergence, common but differentiated convergence, and GDRs.
- Oakland Coalition Charts New Course on Climate Strategy
This essay by Al Weinrub, in the venerable US journal Race, Poverty, and Environment, is notable in a number of ways. Most significantly, it discusses a new kind of place-based organizing, in which traditional EJ concerns and approaches encounter the climate crisis and its priorities head on, and to good effect. That GDRs finds a place in the mix is a fine thing, but not the main one. Take it more as a sign of broad new agendas, a very encouraging sign.
- International Auctioning of Emission Allowances (AAUs)
This pre-Copenhagen document is still notable, we believe, though this would not be universally agreed among observers of the “innovative finance” debate. This is because, since Copenhagen and its turn towards “pledge and review,” the auctioning of international emissions allowances (AAUs) may no longer be a viable source of international climate funding. After all, there may not even be such auctioning!
However the issues here are eventually resolved, the confusion here is itself is a good indicator of the price we’ve paid for pledge and review, an approach we really need to step past as soon as possible.
Anyway, back in October, the future was more open, and WWF could serious ask …
- World Wildlife Fund International (almost) endorses GDRs
In an important new report, Sharing the effort under a global carbon budget (WWF’s announcement is here) Wildlife Fund International takes two important steps. First, it explicitly endorses the carbon budget approach as the best and most appropriate basis for setting a global emissions cap, and in so doing takes a clear step towards a scientifically defensible global climate accord. Second, it leverages this approach to do a rigorous comparison between the Greenhouse Development Right framework and two important per-capita approaches to effort sharing — Contraction and Convergence (C&C) and Common but Differentiated Convergence (CDC).
- UN calls for global Marshall Plan, and cites GDRs prominantly in the process
The 2009 edition of the UN’s World Economic and Social Survey — it’s subtitle is “Promoting Development, Saving the Planet” — is an important document, for a number of reasons. For one thing, it fundamentally and comprehensively takes a development approach to solving the global climate crisis. In particular, according to its authors at DESA, the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, it:
sees little benefit in ad hoc incremental actions, spelling out instead the potential of a big investment push to deliver on both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping communities to cope with climate change, and calling for more truly integrated policy responses to development and climate challenges. It does not shy away from describing the enormity of the adjustments that will have to be undertaken by countries at all levels of development if progress is to be made; or from insisting that the advanced countries will have to deliver resources and leadership on a much larger scale than has been the case to date.
- Intranational equity alongside international equity
Praful Bidwai’s opinion piece in Frontline Magazine, The Climate Impasse, calls on India to “show real leadership in global climate talks by accepting responsibility within an intra-nation and inter-nation equity framework.” After reviewing some of the major and inadequate efforts to manage climate change (G8, Major Economies Forum), he examines the notion of equity: “the very heart of the climate crisis – and its solution.” The GDRs are cited as a promising way out of the climate impasse because it promotes intranational equity alongside international equity.
Unique to Bidwai’s article is his rejection of the growth imperative that dominates the development discourse. Economic growth will not stave off dangerous climate change, he argues, but rather a just distribution of national wealth is needed.
- Green Jobs “Guru” Van Jones endorses GDRs
Van Jones, a high-profile victim of Administration timidity, may not longer be Barack Obama’s green jobs guru, but he’s still ours. In this context, we note that his bestselling book, The Green Collar Economy, endorses Greenhouse Development Rights (see page 164) in glowing terms. Why, because GDRs…
recognizes that the desperately poor around the world have a right to develop themselves economically, even if they add slightly to carbon emissions. In other words, they have a right to bring themselves up to a dignified level of consumption. Meanwhile, it is the rich who must now bring their emissions and consumption down to a dignified level.
- Can we afford the future?
Earlier this year, Frank Ackerman published a fabulous little book, Can we afford the future? The economics of a warming world, that is notable for a whole lot more than its extensive, and extremely favorable, treatment of the Greenhouse Development Rights approach.
More precisely, Can we afford the future? contains an useful little discussion of equity in the context of the search for a viable global climate accord, and it is of course in this regard that it introduces GDRs. What it really is, however, is a short and startlingly helpful primer on the problem of neoclassical economics, and of the system that has thrown up neoclassical economics as one of its principle justifications.
After reading this book, if you want more, see Priceless: On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing, also by Ackerman and his co-author Lisa Heinzerling. The subtitle says it all.
- Twenty-First Century Macroeconomics: Responding to the Climate Challenge
The $140 book (edited by Jonathan M. Harris, Director of the Theory and Education Program and Neva R. Goodwin, Co-Director of the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University, and published by Edward Elgar) is a bit hard to characterize. On the one hand (obviously) it is a technical overview of an arcane subject, written by specialists for specialists. On the other hand, it contains some extremely useful cal pieces, organized into an instructive pattern that makes a great deal of sense. (more…)
- Oxfam — Hang Together or Separately
Oxfam has long been a supporter of the Greenhouse Development Rights project, but this is something new! Hang Together or Separately is a major report from Oxfam International in which the Responsibility and Capacity Index is leveraged in a new and creative manner. (And see this 30 minute video of the press conference at the Bonn talks in June, where the report was released.)
The focus of the proposal here is a Global Mitigation and Finance Mechanism designed to operationalize a “double duty” in which the rich countries, on the one hand, reduce their combined emissions by at least 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, and, on the other, provide $150 billion per year — “at the very least” — to incentivize large-scale emissions reductions in developing countries and finance adaptation. (more…)
- Wuppertal Institute — a comprehensive climate proposal
The Wuppertal Institute, one of the world’s most established and respected sustainable development research institutes, has set out to develop a comprehensive proposal for all post-2012 building blocks: shared vision, Annex I targets, non-Annex I NAMAs, financing, technology, adaptation and REDD. We are not surprised, but quite pleased, to find that it has a great deal to say about the GDRs approach.
- GDRs and the churches
GDRs is getting a lot of notice lately in the religious world. It’s hard to keep track (Google may be the best way), though it seems appropriate to list a few examples in this list. Here’s one from 2009′s Open Forum Davos, which takes place in conjunction with the World Economic Forum. (See page 25). And here’s a presentation done by Christian Aid’s Nelson Muffah, called Ecumenical Advocacy on Climate Justice: Equity, Poverty, and the Bali Process / Road to Copenhagen: Building on Greenhouse Development Rights.
- The United Nations Climate Fund — a discussion paper
This discussion paper, by Harald Nyeggen Sommer of Norwegian Church Aid, is interesting not only because it was published by Aprodev, but also because it demonstrates how GDRs (or, more precisely, the Responsibiity and Capacity index) could be used to merge the Mexican Fund proposal and the Norwegian AAU Auctioning proposal in a way that not only provisions a UN climate fund, but does so in a fair-shares manner.
- Fairness in global climate finance
This fine and important report, by Andrew Pendleton and Simon Retallack of the British Institute for Public Policy Research, was funded by the Heinrich Boell Foundation in Germany. It is unusually useful, particularly in its concise and focused approach to the key question of … well … fairness in global climate finance. It comes highly recommended, and not just because it speaks so very well of the GDRs approach. Rather, it goes beyond the basic GDRs analysis to explore a number of possible approaches to using the Responsibility and Capacity index. In practice!
- Way cool far-right attack on GDRs
Well, it finally happened. Greenhouse Development Rights has been noticed by the far right!
Specifically, it has been placed at the center of a six-page screed — Greenhouse Development Rights: Radical Plan to Curb Carbon Emissions Worldwide — published by the Capital Research Center, a right-wing watch dog that, it seems, makes its living by selling distorted research to ultra-conservative patrons who know exactly what they want to find. The report also whacks at Greenpeace, Dr. James Hansen and, of course, Al Gore. Stars all, and we’re proud to join their ranks.
We’re not going to bother with a detailed refutation, but the report is worth a skim. Particularly notable is the portrayal of the Stockholm Environment Institute as a political leviathan with immense influence over development and infrastructure policy around the world. And this lovely paragraph:
“Karl Marx had one idea about cost-sharing: ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.’ The authors of the SEI proposal use less elegant language: ‘The GDRs’ burden-sharing system is progressive with respect to both responsibility and capacity.’”
We do wish that EcoEquity, with whom SEI has developed GDRs, got equal time. But, hey, EcoEquity is a small outfit, and more difficult to portray as a threat to freedom and human dignity.
- Germanwatch analysis of potential funding sources
Funding Sources for International Climate Policy, a study of potential funding sources just published by NGO think-tanks Germanwatch and the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, Energy, is interesting for both its depth and its political relevance. In particular, it contains a nice discussion of GDRs, as one of the most “elaborated” studies yet of the UNFCCC’s fundamental principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.”
- World Association for Christian Communication
Another indication that Greenhouse Development Rights has gained a significant amount of traction in the faith community — this notice in the Climate Justice section of Media Development, a project of the World Association of Christian Communication.
- GDRs as an alien invasion
This one is not entirely accurate (GDRs does of course take account of historical responsibility) but it’s more amusing than most.
GDRs Is A Bit Like… A city is razed to the ground by alien invaders… (more…)
- Setting the bar high in Poznan
In late 2008, London’s Christian Aid published Setting the bar high in Poznan: Christian Aid’s vision for urgent and equitable global action on climate change. In this fine report, GDRs is presented in an admirably straightforward and effective manner. In the process, it helps to frame a major campaign – Countdown to Copenhagen –which Christian Aid, along with the other members of its Aprodev network, launched at the 14th Conference of Parties in Poland,
- Oxfam on Poznan
In late 2008, Oxfam International published Climate, Poverty, and Justice: What the Poznan UN climate conference needs to deliver for a fair and effective global climate regime. It draws on GDRs explicitly and at length to illustrate the implications of principle-based effort sharing. For example: “if developed countries reduced their domestic emissions by 25–40 per cent, this would still leave them far short of meeting their full fair share of the global effort.”
- Holmes Hummel on GDRs
Holmes Hummel, a highly respected US climate policy analyst, featured GDRs very prominently in her excellent report back from Poznan. You can find her comments, listed under Greenhouse Development Rights, on the Poznan debrief section of her website. See also the Politics of a Durable Deal: Justice as Realism section of her Climate Policy Design lecture series.
- Equitable Emissions Reductions by 2020
CO2: Vers Quelle Équité en 2020?, a report (in French) by the World Wildlife Fund on equitable emissions reductions objectives for Europe and France in 2020 that is based, in part, on our recent report: A Call to Leadership: A Greenhouse Development Rights analysis of the EU’s proposed 2020 targets.
- Equity and Ambition
“Coordination SUD” (Solidarité, Urgence, Dévelopement), the national platform of French international solidarity NGOs, has published Équité et ambition : les incontournables du futur régime climatique post-2012, a summary report of its recent (September, 2008) workshop of climate policy and equity. This report (published in English as Equity and ambition : The essentials for the future climate regime beyond 2012) is strongly based in the GDRs analysis.
- Some Recent Notices
We’d also like to note that Climate Code Red, a fine new book just published in Australia, contains an interesting and insightful commentary on Greenhouse Development Rights (see page 138).
- Debate on Carbon Offsets
On December 15, 2008, the Economist magazine published a formal debate on Carbon Offsets, centered on the proposition that “carbon offsets undermine the effort to tackle climate change. It’s a key debate, so we were happy to see Greenhouse Development Rights become a part of it (see the “Featured guest” section). The point of its inclusion must be clear – the sorts of rich to poor financial and technology transfers that GDRs demands are not “offsets,” but rather the second, international half of a “dual obligation” that has domestic reductions as its first component. It’s a critical difference, and one we’ll hear more about as the debate evolves.
- Greenhouse Development Rights with Chinese Characteristics
At the “Harvard side event,” as it was called – more formally Architectures for agreement: interim report of the Harvard Project on International Climate Agreements – there was a very interesting development. For at that side event, Jing Cao, a researcher from the School of Economics and Management at Tsinghua University, presented what she called “Greenhouse Development Rights with Chinese Characteristics.”
Her presentation was particularly interesting for the way that is situated the GDRs effort-sharing framework within a multi-stage context that explicitly addressed the problem of negotiating a phased transition to a principle-based regime.
Her paper, Reconciling Human Development and Climate Protection: Perspectives from Developing Countries on Post-2012 International Climate Change Policy, is one of the official Belfer Center discussion papers, though it’s marred by a bit of confusion – the paper calls the framework “Global Development Rights.” This was a mistake that was fixed in her presentation and will also, we are told, be fixed in future publications.
Jing Cao also has a longer paper (written with Fan Gang, Yang Hongwei, Li Lailai and Su Ming), entitled Toward a Low Carbon Economy: China and the World, written for the “China Economics of Climate Change” conference in Beijng.
- COP14 in Poznan
The 14th Conference of Parties in Poznan, Poland is a major event for Greenhouse Development Rights. The GDRs side event is a big deal, including the head of Mexican delegation, as well as representatives from Norwegian Finance Ministry and UNFCCC Secretariat. There are lots of other GDRs events as well. This is the first COP in which GDRs is actively promoted (see the Countdown to Copenhagen campaign) by a large number of campaign organizations, including not just Christian Aid but also many other members of the 17 member Aprodev network.
- Greenhouse Development Rights at the Bali climate COP
Bali was quite a milestone for the Greenhouse Development Rights project. Not only does the GDRs “book” look great, but our side event (the slides are here; the UN’s archived video, which may or may not work, is listed at 10:30 AM on this page) went very well indeed. And GDRs was also presented or discussed in six other side events, which may be some sort of record. It’s certainly a sign that, against a background of interminable “negotiations as usual,” there’s substantial interest in facing the real challenge — a principle-based burden sharing system designed to be fair, and thus viable, even under the stress of an emergency transition. (more…)
- Hope for the Future
Uppsala Interfaith Climate Manifesto 2008, Church of Sweden, 2008. Discusses GDRs and contains an full appendix: “Greenhouse Development Rights – A Possible Model for Equity in Reducing Greenhouse Gases.” This is a very thoughtful and, by all accounts, influential text. For the short version, see: Hope for the Future.
- Tällberg Provocation
Grasping the climate crisis: A Provocation from the Tällberg Foundation, by Bo Ekman, Johan Rockström, and Anders Wijkman, is heavily based on GDRs framework, not only in terms of the demands of the climate crisis and the ethical issues that it raises, but also (most pointedly in section 3, “Imperatives for climate leadership”) in its explicit endorsement of the GDRs framework. And for a sense of how the Tällberg Provocation, and through it the GDRs approach itself, has affected the politics of the European Parliament, see MEPs to push development agenda at UN climate talks.
- After Kyoto: Planet’s Future is on the line
Eliot Whittington of Christian Aid gave GDRs his backing in this article on www.inthenews.co.uk.
“The purpose is fairness – GDRs show those who should take on the biggest share of the bill,” he summed up.
- Climate Change and Human Rights: A Rough Guide
This great little book — which you can either buy or download here — by the International Council for Human Rights, deserves a whole lot more attention than it has gotten. This is true for a general reason and for a specific one.
The general reason — this should be obvious but needs to be stated — is the global warming is a massively important human rights issues, though only recently has it been recognized as such. To this day, human rights conferences tend to focus on what we might call the “classical” rights agenda — immigrants rights, prisoners rights, minority rights, women’s rights,and in general individual and civil rights.
The challenge, now, is to build upon this classical agenda, to find space for environmental rights and more particularly the rights of climate-affected peoples. For development rights, and more particularly the right to sustainable development as we must win it, in a world of climate crisis. More generally, the challenge is a proper exploration of rights-based approaches to global climate protection.
- GDRs on the 300-350 Show
Just before the UN climate talks in Poznan, Tom Athanasiou, director of EcoEquity and one of the GDRs authors, went on the 300 to 350 Show in England to explain GDRs, which they subsequently described, correctly, as “a proposal that seeks to break the current deadlock and lead to a fair deal which both delivers climate safety and protects the poor.”
- Two interviews with Tom Athanasiou
Two interviews with EcoEquity’s Tom Athanasiou:
On November 9, 2008, with the 14th Conference of Parties in Poznan on the horizon, Tom did a long interview with CNN.com. The version that was finally printed was much shorter, but worth a look, even though it is flawed by a bit of journalistic over-simplification. We’re not calling for a “global tax,” not in so many words.
Just before the 14th Conference of Parties (on November 27, 2008), Tom did a long interview with Phil England of The 300-350 Show. The interview focused on eliciting a straightforward explanation of Greenhouse Development Rights and aired December 3, 2008.
- Climate Change: The Ethical Dimension
This brief paper, by Robin Attfield of Cardiff University, surveys the key themes and principles that apply to ethical considerations of climate change and, more particularly, to the obligations to act that the climate crisis imposes upon us. So, for example, you could consult it to see how the UNFCCC’s most famous words — “on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” — fit into the lager ethical framework. (more…)
- Resources and Responsibility
Financial Impacts of Climate Change: What Scale or Resources is required?, Arno Behrens, European Climate Platform Report No. 6. This interesting, and pointed, review asks a critical question, and uses the GDRs “Responsibility and Capacity Index” to help answer it. Also seeks to estimate the EU’s carbon debt to the developing world, and to account for it when answering the big question: Who Pays?
- Norwegian Press
October 1, 2008 interviews at Norwegian Church Aid in Oslo (with EcoEquity’s Tom Athanasiou) result in several good news stories, but they’re all in Norwegian.
- Swedish Motion
Motion in the Swedish Parliament for the government to explore to what extent GDRs can be part of the Swedish position for climate negotiations. (In Swedish)
- A Brave New Target
This fine article by Duncan Clarke, on whether developed nations would ever agree to emission cuts of greater than 100%, was published in the London Guardian and gets right to the heart of the matter — a justice based global climate accord would inevitably give the rich countries extremely stringent targets. It is a model of clarity.
- GDR in Climate Law Conference
Imperatives Amid Uncertainty: The Case for Global Action Against Dangerous Climate Change, by Renato Redentor Constantino. A keynote delivered at the conference Climate Law in Developing Countries post-2012: North and South Perspectives, organized by the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law, September 26-28, 2008. Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa. This is a really excellent speech. It not only endorses GDRs, it also puts it nicely into its proper context.
- German press regard GDRs
August 29, 2008 press conference at Heinrich Böll Foundation in Berlin (with SEI’s Sivan Kartha) results in at least three newspaper articles (here, here, and here, in German) and a long interview with German Public Radio.
- More Media Coverage of Greenhouse Development Rights
Soon after the August 2007 interview with EcoEquity’s Tom Athanasiou (see post “Early Media Coverage of Greenhouse Development Rights”), this fine article on GDRs was published in Thailand’s national newspaper, The Nation. And this notice showed up on the UK’s influential Open Democracy website in an article bemoaning the events of this summer’s G8 meeting.
- After the G8
The global politics of climate-change: after the G8, a nice think piece by IPPR’s Andrew Pendleton, cites the Greenhouse Development Rights calculations as “revealing.” We couldn’t agree more.
- Climate targets – should they be met at home or where it is cheapest?
This paper, by German analysts Jochen Luhmann and Wolfgang Sterk, is worth reading for several reasons. One is that it contains a very careful, interesting, and scrupulous discussion of the process by which overly economistic understandings of efficiency have corrupted the notion of emissions targets, and in so doing allowed the carbon marketeers to claim the high ground — as if “offsets” and similar approaches should properly be unrestricted. (more…)
- Climate Code Red
We’re particularly keen to note that Climate Code Red, a fine book published in 2008 in Australia, contains an interesting and insightful commentary on Greenhouse Development Rights (see page 138).
- Making 2 degrees work for the poor
At the Bonn negotiations in June of 2008, ECO, the newsletter of the Climate Action Network International, leverages our analysis of emergency emissions reductions pathways in a cover article called Making 2 degrees work for the poor. Greenhouse Development Rights is also referenced, repeatedly, during the Climate Action Network’s interventions in the closing plenary.
- How can I stop climate change?
How can I stop climate change?, a book by Friends of the Earth UK, is published in the spring of 2008, and contains a long discussion of Greenhouse Development Rights.
- GDR in Long-Term Cooperative Action negotiations
At Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action in Bangkok, Surya Sethi of the India negotiating team speaks extensively about Greenhouse Development Rights at an April 2nd plenary meeting. He gives the website address and suggests that delegates have a look at it.
- The Greening of the South
The Greening of the South was something really interesting — a well-informed and honest article from a significant British magazine (Prospect) that looks hard at the core political challenges of global climate stabilization and then draws some actual conclusions. It’s written by Simon Retallack, who knows his way around both the climate policy debate and the climate movement.
- GDR in Bali
The 13th Conference of Parties in Bali (December of 2007) brought GDRs a number of notices, particularly in the developing world. See for example “The road from Bali”, an excellent piece in the Business Standard (a major Indian business magazine) by veteran diplomat Nitin Desai, which explains the GDRs approach with admirable simplicity. Or Business Rules, a far more “radical” analysis (though published in Front line, a national news magazine) by grassroots activist C.E. Karunakaran that embeds the GDRs analysis in prose that’s far less restrained than Desai’s.
- Bali and Beyond
At the end of 2007, the Bali debate was everywhere, but one easy place to dip into it was via the three articles on Bali that EcoEquity’s Director Tom Athanasiou wrote for Gristmill: Rational expectations, Elephants in the room, and Where do we go from here? The third of these, in particular, raises the key question, well expressed in the old quip about the optimist, who thinks that this is the best of all possible worlds, and the pessimist, who fears that this may well be the case.
- Early media coverage of Greenhouse Development Rights
Major media notices of Greenhouse Development Rights began in August of 2007, with a fine article in the Sydney Morning Herald, based on an interview of EcoEquity’s Tom Athanasiou, called Rich will have to help poor to save climate
- Oxfam International’s GDR-like report
In May of 2007, an Oxfam International report, Adapting to climate change: What’s needed in poor countries, and who should pay?, marked a major step in the evolution and diffusion of the GDRs approach. Not that Oxfam’s “Adaptation Financing Index” is exactly the same as our “Responsibility and Capacity Index.” For one thing, we apply the RCI to mitigation as well as adaptation obligations. But the two systems share both a common DNA and a common vision, and they point in the same direction.