Climatic Change

, Volume 71, Issue 3, pp 277–301

Differentiating Future Commitments on the Basis of Countries’ Relative Historical Responsibility for Climate Change: Uncertainties in the ‘Brazilian Proposal’ in the Context of a Policy Implementation


    • Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM)
  • Michiel Schaeffer
    • Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM)
  • Paul L. Lucas
    • Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM)

DOI: 10.1007/s10584-005-5382-9

Cite this article as:
Den Elzen, M.G.J., Schaeffer, M. & Lucas, P.L. Climatic Change (2005) 71: 277. doi:10.1007/s10584-005-5382-9


During the negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol, Brazil proposed allocating the greenhouse gas emission reductions of Annex I Parties according to the relative effect of a country’s historical emissions on global temperature increase. This paper analyses the impact of scientific uncertainties and of different options in policy implementation (policy choices) on the contribution of countries’ historical emissions to indicators of historical responsibility for climate change. The influence of policy choices was found to be at least as large as the impact of the scientific uncertainties analysed here. Building on this, the paper then proceeds to explore the implications of applying the Brazilian Proposal as a climate regime for differentiation of future commitments on the global scale combined with an income threshold for participation of the non-Annex I regions. Under stringent climate targets, such a regime leads to high emission reductions for Annex I regions by 2050, in particular for Europe and Japan. The income threshold assumptions strongly affect the Annex I reductions, even more than the impact of another burden-sharing key. A variant of the Brazilian Proposal, allocating emission reductions on the basis of cumulative emissions since 1990, would lead to a more balanced distribution of emission reductions.

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005