TOWARDS A POST KYOTO                        construct reflective of its own relative
CLIMATE TREATY FOR                          economic and political power within
                                            the international system. What a
                                            country considers to be fair and just
                                            gives rise to causal beliefs, principled
A MISSION AND PUBLIC                        beliefs, and world-views that in turn
AFFAIRS BRIEFING PAPER                      leads to polarised preferences and
                                            divergent expectations.

On 3 December 2007 representatives          In Climate Change – Not Just a Green
from over 180 countries will gather for     Issue (MPA Briefing, July 2007), it
two weeks in Bali, Indonesia, to start      was argued that the impact of climate
negotiations on a successor to the          change is likely to create new
Kyoto Protocol which is due to expire       vulnerabilities, the causes and
in 2012. Although no one now                distribution of which are unfair.
seriously doubts that climate change is     Although these issues will be key
a serious global threat, which demands      features at Bali, this briefing paper
an urgent global response, the              examines the scientific and political
negotiations in Bali will be intense,       challenges facing Bali. It suggests that
acrimonious and protracted.                 actions taken to respond to climate
Recognising that securing a stable          change can themselves have important
climate is a global public good will not    justice implications because their
be sufficient to achieve a robust           benefits and costs are frequently
settlement capable of limiting global       distributed in ways that consolidate or
warming below 2 degrees Celsius. The        exacerbate existing vulnerabilities and
truth is that the international             inequalities. The briefing paper
community is still some way short of        suggests that the likelihood of securing
reaching a consensus on the post-2012       a just and equitable treaty depends in
climate regime. A gaping chasm              part on moving beyond particularistic
divides North and South on crucial          notions of justice to an understanding
questions: Who should have to reduce        of overarching justice, which helps to
emissions? How much? When? Who              transform our relationship with each
should pay for adaptation to the            other and the natural world.
impacts of climate change and how
much should they pay?
                                            The Bali Challenge
Closer examination of this divide
suggests that rich and poor countries       Before addressing the question of what
have diametrically opposed                  a just and equitable post-2012 would
perceptions of ‘climate justice’.           look like, it’s important to remember
Western scientists tend to be mystified     the urgency of the environmental
as to why this life threatening issue has   challenge facing the Bali delegates. It
elicited such an anemic policy              is now accepted that a business as
response, but many of them miss the         usual model will see global greenhouse
point: responses to climate change are      gas emissions rapidly accumulate in
bound up with other social and              the earth’s atmosphere over the next
economic issues facing nations and are      century. If left unattended global
fundamentally about inequality and          average temperatures will almost
injustice. A country’s understanding of     certainly rise by 1.4-5.8 degrees
equity and justice is itself a social       Celsius. Total global emissions stood

at approximately 6 billion tons of          This would push the climate perilously
carbon equivalent (GtC) per year in         close to tipping point.
1996. By 2004 that figure had risen to      The existing international climate
7 billion GtC. To avoid dangerous           regime is insufficient to deal with the
anthropogenic interference with the         scale of the envisaged problem. In
climate, it will be necessary to cap        1992, the United Nations Framework
atmospheric C02 concentrations at           Convention on Climate Change
somewhere between 450 and 550 parts         (UNFCC) was adopted as the basis for
per million. This equates to roughly        a global response to the problem. The
9.4 billion GtC per year. Under a           Convention called on nations “to
business as usual model, we are likely      protect the climate system … on the
to reach 9.8 GtC by 2020. Stabilising       basis of equity and in accordance with
the figure at 9.4 billion GtC or limiting   the common but differentiated
the rise in average global temperature      responsibilities and respective
to below 2 degrees Celsius will require     capabilities.” Developed countries
an extraordinary effort that is without     agreed to a non-binding target of
precedent in global environmental           reducing their GHG emissions to 1990
politics.                                   levels by 2000. They failed to achieve
                                            that goal. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol
Developed countries are responsible         attempted to turn this voluntary
for the current accumulated stock of        commitment into a binding one. Under
carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but       the Protocol, 35 industrialised
increases in future emissions will          countries committed themselves to
primarily take place in the developing      reducing their emissions by an average
world. Two factors explain this             5% by 2012 against 1990 levels. The
predicted increase: economic growth         EU committed itself to a collective 8%
and demographic change. Developed           cut. However, even with full
countries are on track to register          implementation, which on present
roughly 1 per cent annual economic          evidence looks unlikely, these
growth, yet developing countries are        collective arrangements will result in
already pushing 3.5 per cent. This          reductions of less than 5% of
trajectory is expected to remain            developed countries’ GHG emissions.
constant for the next decade. At the        Global emissions will continue to rise
same time, the global population is         precipitously. Climate change will
expected to expand from 6 billion to        continue, virtually unabated, short of
anywhere between 8 and 12 billion           new and much more aggressive cuts in
over the next century. The main source      CO2 emissions.
of this demographic growth will take
place in the developing world. These        If the scientific challenge is daunting
two virtually unstoppable forces are set    the political obstacles to securing a
to increase non-Annex 1 carbon              robust enough climate settlement look
emissions, (i.e. those countries            equally unmanageable. The scientific
currently exempt from having to make        evidence suggests that a political
emission reductions under the Kyoto         settlement without the full
Protocol), from 31 per cent of the total    participation of developing countries is
in 1990 to 60 per cent in 2030. Stated      meaningless. Bali, however, will not
differently, the trends in economic and     take place in a political vacuum. It will
demographic growth will likely force        be informed by the legacy of past
us into a 9 or 10 billion GtC by 2020.      international environmental
                                            negotiations and the declining levels of

generalised political trust between        developed counterparts. What is more,
North and South. Despite the strenuous     it is the industrialised developed
efforts of rich countries to separate      countries that have benefited from past
climate and development issues,            emissions of GHGs. It is the
development concerns have repeatedly       responsibility of the developed
surfaced at every environmental            countries, therefore, to reduce their
conference. Developing countries will      emissions of GHGs, while they allow
never meaningfully participate in a        the countries of the Global South to
global climate agreement that flouts       focus on economic development. The
their development needs. They have         developing countries also, by
become keenly aware of their               definition, have far weaker economies
bargaining power in international          and often-widespread poverty. It
climate change negotiations and have       follows, they argue, that they ought to
shown an ability to walk away from         be allowed to raise the living standards
negotiations. They have repeatedly         of their citizens without being
shown their willingness to resort to       constrained by costly measures to
zero-sum, retaliatory tactics.             reduce GHG emissions. These same
                                           economic constraints often mean that
One of the marked characteristics of       developing countries have lower
past international climate negotiations    adaptation capacity to climate change
has been the non-cooperative               than heavily industrialised countries,
behaviour between North and South.         which suggests the need for
Until the last few years when Europe       compensation by the provision of new
clearly diverged from the US position,     and additional aid.
developed countries generally sought
global restrictions on emissions           From the outset, therefore, global
reductions with flexible mechanisms        environmental negotiations have been
for their implementation. They argue       characterised by high levels of
that since GHGs originate all over the     preference heterogeneity and deep
world, all countries, at least all the     discord. Even when rich and poor
large ones, need to be part of the         countries can agree on general fairness
emissions reduction efforts. Some rich     principles the preference heterogeneity
countries argue that a climate             generated by global inequality
agreement that excludes developing         aggravates disagreements about how to
countries is unfair and meaningless        make those principles operational.
since non-Annex 1 emissions will           Developing countries have interpreted
increase exponentially over the next       the “common but differentiated”
few decades. Some have also                language of the UNFCC with great
suggested that if they continue to bear    precision: industrialised nations would
the weight of sustaining global            need to take the lead by cutting their
economic growth and international          emissions and transferring large sums
financial stability, it would be both      of environmental assistance to the
unfair and unrealistic to expect them to   South to fuel green development paths.
make sharp and immediate reductions        Developed countries have been more
in their carbon emissions.                 selective in their interpretation. Before
                                           the ink had even dried on the UNFCC
In contrast, developing countries have     agreement developed countries began
suggested that their per capita            to back-pedal on their promise of
emissions of GHG, particularly CO2,        massive technology transfer and
remain very low relative to their          technical assistance to the developed

world. The estimated price tag for          negotiations began in the early 1980s.
sustainable development in the Third        There is an inclination amongst
world was $625 billion a year with the      developing countries to see the
North supplying about 20% of the total      position of developing countries as one
cost in grants or below-market rate         akin to environmental imperialism,
loans. In the end, developing countries     with developed countries using the
delivered less than one–fifth of that       environmental agenda to pull the
promised.                                   development ladder up behind them.
                                            Although the North might see this
Similar disputes have plagued               position as nothing more than an
subsequent rounds of negotiations.          unfounded distraction, it nonetheless
Differences were briefly solved with        impacts upon the negotiating
the 1995 Berlin Mandate and the             behaviour of developing countries. To
affirmation of the principle of             be clear, this is much more than a
“common but differentiated”                 general sense of frustration with the
responsibility. In 2001 parties to the      slow pace of development. It reflects a
Kyoto Protocol agreed the Marrakech         widespread perception that the rules
Accords, a complicated mix of               are continually being rewritten
measures for implementing the               unilaterally by the industrialised
Protocol, largely designed to garner        countries in order to enrich themselves
ratification from enough states to allow    at the expense of the South, and that
the Protocol to come into effect.           the structure of the world system is
Parties agreed to increase funding to       largely to blame for their grinding
the UNFCC’s Global Climate Change           poverty and chronic vulnerability.
Fund and to establish three new funds
that would provide additional aid to        To summarise, Bali will take place in
poor countries: the Least Developed         the context of an ongoing development
Countries Fund, the Special Climate         crisis and what the Global South
Change Fund, and the Adaptation             perceives as a pattern of Northern
Fund. As in 1992, however, these            callousness and opportunism in matters
pledges were only partially honoured        of international political economy. It
and subsequent disputes emerged as to       will take place at a time when the
the mechanisms by which poor                concerns of poor nations regarding fair
countries could access the funds.           processes and fair outcomes have
                                            frequently been marginalised. The
Despite the best efforts of developed       Millennium Development Goals, and
countries to compartmentalise the           with it the commitment to cut poverty
climate change problem, and dodge           in half by 2015, now look elusive,
what they perceive to be secondary          while the dividends to be accrued from
concerns (e.g. trade, aid, investment,      the Doha Trade Round have yet to be
debt and intellectual property rights),     finalised and distributed. This sense of
poorer nations have persistently sought     injustice is compounded when wealthy
to smuggle development issues back          nations appear to flaunt environmental
into the negotiations. If anything,         treaties by failing to cut emissions,
countries living under conditions of        resist limits on their conspicuous
poverty, domestic unrest, and               consumption, fail to transfer promised
structural vulnerability to international   technology and environmental
economic and political conditions care      assistance and seemingly undermine
even more about these issues today          developing countries’ right to
than they did when climate

development in the short and long-          their positions on what they believe to
term.                                       be fair and just. Not surprisingly, there
                                            are almost as many ‘fairness’
Sharing the Burdens of Climate              arguments as there are negotiating
Change: Towards International               blocs.
Equity and Justice in Climate
Negotiations                                Grandfathering
                                            The 1997 Kyoto Protocol reflects the
To an outside observer, resolving the       grandfathering principle – that nations
crisis of global climate change should      should reduce their emissions
be a relatively straightforward             incrementally from a baseline year, in
proposition. It should be a matter of       this case 1990. Large emitters
rational measurement of the                 therefore had their high discharges of
atmosphere, giving equal shares of its      green house gasses ‘grandfathered’ in,
capacity for absorbing greenhouse           with relatively minor adjustments
gasses to all humans and assigning          averaging 5.2%, for the foreseeable
responsibility to individuals based on      future. This approach was decided
what they have put into it. This, after     upon for its political expediency and
all, is a basic rule of civil justice or    reflects the position of many developed
even kindergarten ethics that those         countries that argued that ‘national
responsible for creating the problem        circumstances’ and economic
should be responsible for their share of    hardships affect their ability to make
cleaning up the mess. Yet,                  deep and immediate reductions. The
internationally, this simple question of    grandfathering system does not as yet
who is to blame for the problem leads       apply to developing countries, but if it
to a host of contentious issues. The        did, it would have the effect of
question of what constitutes a ‘just’ or    punishing late developers.
‘fair’ settlement is fairly elastic and
subject to political manipulation           Many have argued that the
depending on the context in which a         grandfathering system is amoral
particular country finds itself at any      because it reflects a country’s political
given time. In short, we live in a          power within the international system.
morally ambiguous world where social        However, it does involve three
understandings of fairness, are             understandings of justice. Entitlement
‘configurational’, depending on a           theories of justice, both in their
country’s position in the global            libertarian and Marxist forms, hold that
hierarchy of economic and political         individuals are entitled to what they
power.                                      have produced and in the context of
                                            climate change, grandfathering
The following analysis addresses the        embodies this principle. It also
question: What are the different ways       exemplifies the justice principle of
of accounting for responsibility? It is     proportional equality – that nations are
built around an examination of four         unequal and therefore should be treated
yardsticks that have been proposed for      unequally. The 1990 baseline and the
measuring responsibility for carbon         exemption of developing countries
dioxide emissions. Each method              from Annex 1 is recognition of this
reflects a different set of principled      principle. Finally, grandfathering
beliefs and focuses on a different set of   represents the pragmatic principle that
nations as most responsible. Politicians    if we can solve the problem then we
have used these yardsticks to defend        are nearer to a just solution, than if we

hold to an unrealised utopian plan.         possible while maximising economic
This third principle needs, however, to     growth. It follows that since
be set against the realisation that since   developing countries provide the most
1997 emissions have increased in most       cost-effective opportunities to reduce
countries and in some countries quite       CO2 emissions, efforts to stabilise the
substantially. Few nations are on target    climate should focus predominately on
to meet even the modest emission            developing countries by providing
reductions as proposed by the Kyoto         them with green development paths.
                                            Seen positively, the carbon intensity
Carbon Intensity                            approach focuses attention on the
The carbon intensity approach,              question of how economic growth will
introduced by the World Resources           be maintained while minimising the
Institute and favoured by the US since      impact on the climate. Some have
2002, calls for voluntary changes in        argued that the carbon intensity
energy efficiency to drive emissions        approach is attractive to developing
reductions. The US adoption of this         countries since it does not place a hard
model reflects the international            cap on their emissions and therefore
pressure it came under to come up with      does not curtail their right to
a more politically acceptable solution      development. Seen negatively, the
following its rejection of Kyoto. In this   carbon intensity approach places no
approach the goal is to provide for         real restrictions on future emissions,
strong economic growth with as few          nor does it grapple sufficiently with
CO2 emissions as possible.                  existing emission stocks or the
Accompanying the US adoption of this        exported emissions caused by the
position, the White House Press             policy of ‘offshoring’. As with
Release stated: “A goal expressed in        grandfathering, carbon intensity has
terms of declining greenhouse gas           the effect of departing from the status
intensity, measuring greenhouse gas         quo without placing radical demands
emissions relative to economic              on heavily industrialised nations.
activity, quantifies our effort to reduce
emissions through conservation,             Per capita
adoption of cleaner, more efficient and     India, China and the Group of 77 (in
emission-reducing technologies and          reality a group of about 133 nations),
sequestration. At the same time, an         with the support of the EU, have
intensity goal accommodates economic        developed and advocated a series of
growth”.                                    proposals that account for CO2 and
                                            other GHG on the basis of a simple
The carbon intensity approach could be      egalitarian principle. Simply put, the
seen as an outgrowth of Bentham’s           per capital model holds that every
utilitarian theory of justice. This holds   human has equal rights to the global
that mutually advantageous and cost         atmosphere, and therefore allocations
effective solutions are also just           of how much each can pollute should
solutions. Since everyone is worse off      be done on a per capita basis. This
in the absence of aggregate net             approach places developed countries at
benefits, utilitarians argue that           a distinct disadvantage since they
inefficient solutions are also unjust.      already far exceed the stabilisation
From this perspective, the fair solution    target of roughly one metric ton of
to climate change involves stabilising      carbon equivalent per capita. Poor
the climate as cost effectively as          countries obviously stand to gain quite

substantially from this approach since      Historical Responsibility
their existing levels of income and         The polluter pays principle has been a
industrialisation place them well below     feature of domestic and international
the one metric ton threshold.               environmental law for more than thirty
                                            years. This principle has at times been
Since it is difficult to imagine any        espoused by developing countries such
rapid convergence between nations at        as Brazil, who argue that a country’s
opposing poles of the emissions             reduction of GHG should depend on its
spectrum, the per capita approach           relative contribution to the global rise
holds that low emission countries           in temperature. Since CO2 stays in the
would be able to trade their unused         atmosphere for 100-120 years, it is
allowances in exchange for funding or       important to take account not only of
technical assistance through the Kyoto      future emissions, but all of the damage
Protocol’s Clean Development                done by past emissions. The political
Mechanism, and other emissions              implications of this are obvious. Given
trading mechanisms. Disagreements           their tiny contribution to the existing
still exist as to the appropriate size of   C02 stock, it is hardly surprising that
the global emissions budget, but even       developing countries have been strong
on conservative estimates it would          advocates of this approach.
entail a drastic cut by rich nations and
a commitment sooner rather than later       In 2000, at their South Summit in
for poorer countries to slow and in         Havana, the G-77 submitted the
time even reduce their rate of              following statement as part of a larger
emissions.                                  manifesto: “We believe that the
                                            prevailing modes of production and
The key question surrounding the per        consumption in the industrialised
capita approach is its political            world are unsustainable and should be
feasibility. Although egalitarian           changed for they threaten the very
principles played a prominent role in       survival of the plant … We advocate a
the UN Convention on the Law of the         solution for the serious global,
Sea negotiations, many believe the          regional, and local environmental
application of this principle to climate    problem facing humanity, based on the
change negotiations to be politically       recognition of the North’s ecological
explosive and economically inefficient.     debt and the principle of common but
The US has consistently held that the       differentiated responsibility of the
per capita approach, or more                developed and developing countries”.
specifically a contraction and              Despite the simplicity of the message,
convergence proposal, is politically a      the proposal has failed to gain much
non-starter. Despite this opposition, it    traction in the wider international
remains the most politically prominent      community. It is seen as politically
contender for any specific global           unfeasible, and lacking operational
formula. It has general support from        clarity and transparency.
the EU with the European Parliament
advocating in 1999 a “progressive           Negotiated Justice
convergence towards an equitable            The four differing approaches
distribution of emission rights on a per    addressed above could be placed along
capita basis by an agreed date in the       a hypothetical principled beliefs
next century”.                              spectrum, with poor and rich nations
                                            holding diametrically opposed views
                                            of climate justice. The position of a

country along the spectrum reflects its     divide each country’s economy into
own position in the global hierarchy of     three sectors with the carbon intensity
economic and political power.               approach applied to the energy-
Divergent principled beliefs are a          intensive sector, decarbonisation
consequence of more fundamental root        targets to the power generation sector
causes: in particular incongruent           and the per capita approach to the
worldviews and causal beliefs,              domestic sector.
persistent global inequality and an
enduring deficit in North-South trust.      Although hybrid proposals look a
If this analysis is accepted, then it is    promising way forward, it is important
unlikely that a North-South fairness        not to get too bogged down with the
consensus will spontaneously emerge         intricacies of a particular model that
at Bali on the basis of one of these four   one loses sight of the overall picture.
approaches. One of the positions might      Simply asserting that a negotiated
emerge as a frontrunner, but even a         justice settlement is necessary avoids
majority position will not secure the       the more central question of whether
necessary level of support required for     and to what extent an agreement must
a new international climate regime.         favour rich or poor nations. More
Strict adherence to a particularistic       important, perhaps, than the adoption
notion of justice might exacerbate the      of any ‘negotiated justice’ proposal, is
existing stalemate.                         the a priori recognition by policy
                                            makers that they need to redouble their
What is perhaps needed is a moral           efforts to allay the mutual fears and
compromise or a ‘negotiated justice’        suspicions outlined above. Breaking
settlement, involving an optimal mix        the Bali impasse, or the North-South
of principles that will assist rich and     stalemate on climate change will most
poor countries to overcome barriers to      likely require unconventional, even
cooperation. A number of compromise         heterodox, policy interventions.
proposals have emerged in recent
years. One proposal, the ‘preference        Unless we can move from a
score’ method combines the                  ‘worldview gap’ between North and
gandfathering and per capita approach       South to a ‘shared worldview,’
through a voting system. This proposal      progress at Bali will be slow and
allows each nation, weighted by its         painful. Negotiating a ‘shared
population, to chose the methodology        worldview’ will require the North to
that it prefers. Each global citizen’s      consider forming equitable
‘vote’ is then used to calculate national   constructive, long-term partnerships
carbon emission allowances. An              with Southern nations and helping
alternative approach is that developed      them to tailor country-specific and
by the Pew Centre for Global Climate        sector–specific development strategies
Change that assigns responsibility          and climate policies to local
based on past and present emissions,        conditions, culture, institutions,
carbon intensity and country’s ability      knowledge and technologies. As
to pay. This separates the world into       important, rich nations will need to
three groups: those that ‘must act          promote policies that explicitly signal
now’, those that ‘could act now’, and       concern for the structural obstacles
those that ‘should act now but              facing developing countries.
differently’. The University of Utrecht     Developing this ‘shared worldview’
has devised an alternative model.           will necessitate a movement away
Under their ‘triptych’ proposal, they       from particularistic understandings of

justice, representative of vested          becomes further strengthened” (CCP
interests, to a shared understanding of    2004). Third, it is a political imperative
justice that transforms the relationship   because the nature of the problem
between North and South and in turn        requires some countries to take the
the relationship with the natural world.   lead because “countries will only
                                           participate if they perceive that climate
                                           regime to be equitable” (CCP 2004).
Case Study – International Equity          Fourth, it is a practical imperative
and Justice in European policy             because “the challenge of climate
                                           change may only be practically
If the above analysis has shown            resolvable if equity – in its strongest
anything, it is that normative-ethical     sense – is addressed. Both pillars of
considerations like international          addressing climate change – mitigation
environmental equity, fairness and         and adaptation – rely on a fundamental
responsibilities, notions not commonly     recognition of equity and sustainable
considered as essential to international   development. The practical imperative
discourse or foreign policy are            inextricably merges the sustainable
absolutely central to efforts to address   development goals of the South with
global climate change. Most                the global climate challenge” (CCP
economically developed countries –         2004).
particularly those in Europe – now at
least accept this proposition, even if     To what extent, therefore has this
they have differing understandings of      principled position shaped the EU’s
what these terms mean in practice. The     position at international climate
following analysis takes the EU as a       negotiations? Both in the negotiations
case example since Europe is now seen      resulting in the 1992 UNFCC and the
as a global leader on climate change.      1997 Kyoto Protocol the EU
What ways do ideas about global            consistently argued for an international
justice shape and inform European          agreement based on binding emissions
policies on climate change? Are            targets and timetables, premised on the
European countries, and is the EU as       understanding that the industrialised
an organisation and community, doing       states should act first by cutting
enough to share the burdens of climate     domestic emissions. In so doing the
change?                                    EU played a valuable role in
                                           persuading other developed nations to
The EU’s Climate Change Programme          join a new green house gas regime on
(CCP) explicitly acknowledges that         principles broadly acceptable to the
equity is “fundamental to the climate      Third World. The Commission has
challenge”. First, it is a legal           repeatedly acknowledged, however,
imperative based on the UNFCC’s            that large developing countries would
obligations to act based on equity and     need to be brought on board in the
common but differentiated                  future if the climate change regime
responsibilities. Second, it is a moral    was to be made truly effective, but it
imperative: “Citizens of the global        accepted that the extent to which
community face a moral compulsion to       developing countries did this was
engage on the basis of justice and         dependent on industrialised countries
equity. As global interconnectedness       “making good” on commitments to cut
grows through globalisation and shared     domestic emissions and provide the
environmental and geopolitical             necessary financial resources and
challenges, the moral imperative

transfer of technology to developing        fostering dialogue, and structuring
countries.                                  policy expectations, the Alliance
                                            would support developing countries
To what extent therefore has the EU         through targeted mitigation and
“made good”? The Emissions Trading          adaptation measures such as concrete
Scheme (ETS), the flagship of the           pilot projects that help integrate
EU’s Climate Change Programme, has          adaptation activities into key sectoral
had limited impact on reducing GHGs.        policies. As with the Commission’s
If the EU does meet its Kyoto Protocol      pre-emptive announcement ahead of
targets, and this is far from certain, it   Bali as to its willingness to cut
will be because of the bilateral and        emissions by up to 30% by 2020, the
progressive actions taken by Britain,       GCCA revelation appears designed to
Germany and Sweden, rather than             create a favourable negotiating
because of any collective Europe-wide       atmosphere at Bali, by underlying its
effort. Even if the EU cuts are fully       own willingness to act progressively.
realized, they are in the order of only
one-tenth of the effort that is required    That Europe has started to recognise its
of Europe. Aware that more stringent        responsibilities is demonstrated by the
cuts will be necessary, the EU              repeated official declarations, its
announced in June 2007 that it would        diplomacy over more than a decade,
undertake a ‘unilateral’ 20% reduction      and actions on the part of several
below 1990 levels in GHG emissions          Member States to reduce and, in the
by 2020. It promised a possible 30%         case of many laggards, at least limit
reduction below 1990 levels by the          their business as usual GHG emissions.
same date provided that, as part of a       However, recognising one’s
global and comprehensive post 2012          responsibility for harm to others is
agreement, other developed countries        only the first step. The stated policies
commit to comparable reductions and         of Europe often mirror, to varying
advanced developing countries also          degrees with several conceptions of
contribute adequately to the global         fairness and equity. The actual
effort according to their respective        behaviour of European governments
capabilities.                               and the EU, while clearly moving in
                                            the right direction, is more difficult to
A similar mixed picture emerges in          asses, in part because it has only just
terms of the provision of financial and     started. It seems safe to say that
technological aid to developing             Europe is more willing to do the right
countries. Europe has taken steps to        thing than other developed countries.
mainstream climate change into its          Without overstating European actions,
overseas development policy, but it is      Europe has gradually developed a
difficult to provide an objective           more equitable attitude toward the
assessment of these efforts since they      developing world than have most
remain at an early stage. The European      developed countries in the field of
Commission recognises that more             climate change. Europe has certainly
needs to be done in this area. In           been a leader in this respect, but it has
September 2007, the Commission              not done enough, and it has a long way
announced the formation of a Global         to go before its actions make a big
Climate Change Alliance (GCCA), to          enough contribution to robustly
facilitate enhanced dialogue and            reducing GHG emissions, addressing
cooperation with developing countries       the suffering from climate change in
on climate change. In addition to           the developing world, and helping

developing countries advance in ways        and nongovernmental organisations.
that will be less harmful to the planet     Power does not make right in this
in the future.                              circumstance, any more than others,
Conclusion                                  but bargaining and, yes power, plays a
                                            role in determining which normative
The scientific evidence is clear: to        principles actually shape outcomes.
secure a stable climate CO2 emissions       Yet, unlike other international
must be cut by at least 60%. The            negotiations, the distribution of power
existing international climate change       between parties is not asymmetrical.
regime as provided for by the UNFCC         Developing countries are unlikely to
and the Kyoto Protocol are insufficient     substantially reduce their emissions
to deal with the scope of the problem.      simply because wealthy countries want
Explicit within the existing                them to do so.
international climate regime is the
notion of common but differentiated         This is an area where perhaps religious
responsibilities, with the economically     leaders can help shape the wider public
developed countries taking the lead in      and political debate. Faith communities
addressing the problem and its effects.     and wider civil society for instance
Agreement on common principles has          played a crucial role in helping to
been easier to achieve than agreement       reform the international debt regime,
in practice. In simple terms equity         by essentially changing the discourse
means the quality of being fair,            from a purely economic issue to a
impartial or even-handed in dealings        moral and religious one. This led to
with others. People will, of course,        strategic partnerships, or insider-
disagree about the precise definition or    outsider networks, with key
content of fairness and equity. Indeed,     governmental and non-governmental
that is arguably much or even most of       actors. In so doing they changed
what the climate change negotiations        significantly the size and scope of debt
over the last two decades have been         relief, changed the rules of the debt
about.                                      regime, redefined the purpose of debt
                                            relief and ensured that the funds freed
Mapping existing understandings of          up by debt relief were spent on
justice and fairness in the field of        reducing poverty.
climate change suggests that they are
‘configurational’ and reflective of         There are indications that a similar
wider inequalities. As one climate          inside-outsider network is developing
change advisor to the India                 around the issues of climate change,
government noted: “The basic concern        ecological debt, and even contraction
of the developing countries is not          and convergence to a per capita
whether or not to initiate the mitigation   accounting scheme for allocating
actions, but how the mitigation             greenhouse gas emissions. The G77
burdens will be distributed among           and a coalition of more than thirty
nations. This is a justice issue,           Western NGOs, policy institutions and
concerned with an equitable                 think tanks, many of whom were
distribution”. In the final analysis,       instrumental in the debt debate, have
what constitutes a fair and equitable       begun to push for some remuneration
sharing of global climate change            of the ecological debt. Gordon Brown,
burdens will be the result of political     Al Gore, James Wolfensohn and others
bargaining among states, and other          have also signalled potential support
influential actors, such as corporations    for climate justice and payment of the

ecological debt. However, these
coalitions and insider-outsider
networks concerned with issues of
fairness and justice face an obstacle in
climate change that did not exist in the
case of debt relief: support for an
equitable solution may cut deeply into
Western taxpayers’ pocketbooks.

While noting the efforts to find a
‘negotiated justice’ settlement, this
briefing paper suggests that a
‘transformatory justice’ model might
assist in bridging the environment –
development gap. Securing a stable
climate is in part dependent on
addressing the conditions of
generalised mistrust, structuralist
causal beliefs and worldview that
continue to mark climate change
negotiations. Churches can contribute
to this process by drawing on their own
understanding of mission as
transformation. From a Christian
perspective, God’s love for justice is
grounded in God’s love for the victims
of injustice – for those who are morally
violated, morally injured. This love
leads God to enjoin us to do justice.
“Follow justice and justice alone”, says
Moses in his farewell speech, “so that
you may live and possess the land the
Lord your God is giving you (DT.
16:20). And, in a passage which by
now has entered deep into the
consciousness of humanity, God says
through Amos: “Let justice roll on like
a river, righteousness like a never
failing stream.” The language of Amos
reminds that justice is closely related
with peace – or better, with what the
Hebrew writers called shalom. To
experience shalom is to flourish in all
ones’ relationships – with God, with
one’s fellow human beings, with the
non-human creation, with the land, and
with oneself. Now, that sounds
amazingly like a recipe for climate        Dr Charles Reed
equity!                                      Church House
                                            November 2007


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