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Showdown in Copenhagen The Climate Negotiations face Reality. Tom Athanasiou EcoEquity. The Right to Development in a Climate Constrained World The Greenhouse Development Rights Framework . Authors Tom Athansiou (EcoEquity)

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the right to development in a climate constrained world the greenhouse development rights framework
The Right to Development in a Climate Constrained World The Greenhouse Development Rights Framework


Tom Athansiou (EcoEquity)

Sivan Kartha (Stockholm Environment Institute)

Paul Baer (EcoEquity)

Eric Kemp-Benedict (SEI)

Key Collaborators

Jörg Haas (European Climate Foundation)

Lili Fuhr (Heinrich Boll Foundation)

Nelson Muffuh (Christian Aid)

Andrew Pendleton (IPPR)

Antonio Hill (Oxfam)


Christian Aid (UK)

Oxfam (International)

European Aprodev Network

The Heinrich Böll Foundation (Germany)

MISTRA Foundation CLIPORE Programme (Sweden)

Stockholm Environment Institute (Int’l)

Rockefeller Brothers Fund (US)

Town Creek Foundation (US)

arctic sea ice melting faster than expected
Arctic Sea Ice melting faster than expected



“The sea ice cover is in a downward spiral and may have passed the point of no return. The implications for global climate, as well as Arctic animals and people, are disturbing.” Mark Serreze, NSIDC, Oct. 2007.


sea levels rising faster than expected1
Sea levels rising faster than expected

IPCC-AR4: “0.18 – 0.59 m by 2100”

Post-AR4: “0.8 to 2.4 m by 2100“ (Hansen: “several meters“)

Nile Delta

1 meter sea level increase

Nile Delta



tipping elements in the climate system
Tipping Elements in the Climate System

Lenton et al, 2008

Even 2ºC risks catastrophic, irreversible impacts

The climate crisis demands an emergency mobilization

the deep structure of the climate problem
The deep structure of the climate problem

Global 2ºc pathway

Emissions pathway in the South

Emissions pathway in the North

What kind of climate regime can enable this to happen…?


in the midst of a development crisis
… in the midst of a development crisis?

2 billion people without access to clean cooking fuels

More than 1.5 billion people without electricity

More than 1 billion have poor access to fresh water

About 800 million people chronically undernourished

2 million children die per year from diarrhea

30,000 deaths each day from preventable diseases


The Deep Structure

of the Climate Solution

unfccc the preamble
UNFCCC: The preamble

“Acknowledging the global nature of climate change calls for the widest possible cooperation by all countries and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response,in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities”

a viable climate regime must
A viable climate regime must…
  • Ensure the rapid mitigationrequired by an emergency climate stabilization program
  • Support the deep, extensive adaptationprograms that will inevitably be needed
  • While at the same time safeguarding the

right to development

Greenhouse Development Rights

Towards Principle-based Global Differentiation

the greenhouse development rights approach to effort sharing
The Greenhouse Development Rightsapproach to effort sharing

Define National Obligation (national share of global mitigation and adaptation costs) based on:

Capacity: resources to pay w/o sacrificing necessities

We use income, excluding income below the $20/day ($7,500/year, PPP) development threshold

Responsibility: contribution to climate change

We use cumulative CO2 emissions, excluding “subsistence” emissions (i.e., emissions corresponding to consumption below the development threshold)

income and capacity showing projected national income distributions in 2010 and capacity in green
Income and Capacity: showing projected national income distributions in 2010, and capacity in green
Emissions vs. Responsibility Cumulative fossil CO2 (since 1990) showing portion considered “responsibility”

Towards a Fair and Adequate

Global Accord

the framework convention the north pays the full incremental costs of the climate transition
The Framework ConventionThe North pays the full incremental costs of the climate transition

Annex 2 is to “provide such financial resources, including for the transfer of technology, needed by the developing country Parties to meet the agreed full incremental costs of implementing measures” (UNFCCC, Art. 4.3)

These include full incremental costs associated with the “development, application and diffusion, including transfer, of technologies, practices and processes to control greenhouse gas emissions” and the formulation and implementation of “national and, where appropriate, regional programmes containing measures to mitigate climate change”. (UNFCCC, Art. 4.1)

“The extent to which developing country Parties will effectively implement their commitments under the Convention will depend on the effective implementation by developed country Parties of their commitments under the Convention related to financial resources and transfer of technology and will take fully into account that economic and social development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of the developing country Parties.” (UNFCCC, Art. 4.7)

the bali action plan
The Bali Action Plan

“To launch a comprehensive process to enable the full, effective and sustained implementation of the Convention ...

1(b)(i) Measurable, reportable and verifiable nationally appropriate mitigation commitments or actions, including quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives, by all developed country Parties, while ensuring the comparability of efforts among them, taking into account differences in their national circumstances;

1(b)(ii) Nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing country Parties in the context of sustainable development, supported and enabled by technology, financing and capacity-building, in a measurable, reportable and verifiable manner;”

Implications for United States

US mitigation obligation amounts to a reduction target exceeding

100% after ~2025 (“negative emission allocation”).


Implications for United States

Here, physical domestic reductions (~25% below 1990 by 2020) are only part of the total US obligation. The rest would be met internationally.


Implications for China



Implications for China


A large fraction of China's reduction, (and most of the reductions in the South) are driven by industrialized country reduction commitments.


climate obligations imagined as a mildly progressive tax
Climate obligations, imagined as a (mildly progressive) tax

Note: European Union effort-sharing proposal estimates global mitigation costs at €175 billion, or about .25% of projected 2020 Gross World Product

final comments
Final Comments

The scientific evidence is a wake-up call. Carbon-based growth is no longer an option in the North, nor in the South.

A rigorous, binding commitment, by the North, to substantial technology & financial assistance is critical. (“MRV for MRV”) Domestic reductions in the North are only half of the North’s obligation.

The Copenhagen showdown:

In principle, a corresponding commitment from the consuming class in the South is also necessary.

In practice, the Copenhagen Period must be based on “trust-building while acting.”

The alternative to something like this is a weak regime with little chance of preventing catastrophic climate change

This is about politics, not only about equity and justice.



Full report released at Poznan

Access to online calculator and dataset

National and regional reports available

Email info: [email protected]