Article

Climatic Change

, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 511-527

Wealth, Responsibility, and Equity: Exploring an Allocation Framework for Global GHG Emissions

  • Ambuj D. SagarAffiliated withBelfer Center for Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

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Abstract

The need to develop a framework for allocatingnational GHG emissions based on ‘rights to theatmosphere’ is increasingly pressing since aresolution of the issues surrounding these rights arelikely to be a precondition not only for moving beyondthe Kyoto Protocol, but even for effectiveimplementation of its Articles. This paper exploressome possible variations of a framework that isderived from the principles of the Climate Convention. It takes into account differences among countries interms of their current and historical greenhouse gasemissions, the attributes that contribute to thesedifferences, and the capabilities for contributing tothe achievement of the Convention's objectives. Furthermore, it is suggested that such a frameworkshould be designed so as to decouple the allocationissue from the deliberations over a suitable GHGconcentration stabilization target or global emissionscap. Such an approach could help achieve results inthe short to mid term without waiting for resolutionof the complex debate on the desirable level ofstabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in theatmosphere.Sample explorations with carbon dioxide emissions dataindicate that the framework presented here can beparticularly favorable to the least-developedcountries. This is appropriate since these countrieshave not contributed substantially to the enhancedgreenhouse effect, but may be quite vulnerable to theimpacts of a changing climate, and lack thecapabilities to mitigate adverse impacts or adapt asneeded. Equally importantly, the framework alsodifferentiates between industrialized countries on thebasis of their current income and historicalemissions. The implementation of such a framework inconjunction with an emissions trading scheme may offeran appropriate path towards meeting the objectives ofthe Climate Convention.