Principles of Public Reason in the UNFCCC: Rethinking the Equity Framework
Since 2011, the focus of international negotiations under the UNFCCC has been on producing a new climate agreement to be adopted in 2015. This phase of negotiations is known as the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action. The goal has been to update the global effort on climate for long-term cooperation. In this period, various changes have been contemplated on the design of the architecture of the global climate effort. Whereas previously, the negotiation process consisted of setting mandated targets exclusively for developed countries, the current setting requests of each country to pledge its contribution to the climate effort in the form of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). The shift away from establishing negotiated targets for rich countries alone towards a universal system of participation through intended contributions raised persistent questions on how exactly the new agreement can ensure equitable terms. How to conceptualize equity within the 2015 climate agreement, and beyond, is the focus of this paper. The paper advances a framework on equity, which moves away from substantive moral conceptions of burden allocation toward refining principles of public reason specially designed for the negotiation process under the UNFCCC. The paper outlines the framework’s main features and discusses how it can serve a facilitating role for multilateral discussion on equity on a long-term basis capable of adapting to changing circumstances.