Equity, burden sharing and development pathways: reframing international climate negotiations

  • Aurélie MéjeanEmail author
  • Franck Lecocq
  • Yacob Mulugetta
Original Paper


Distribution issues have been critical in international negotiations on climate change. These have been framed as a ‘burden sharing’ problem since the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Three key difficulties are associated with this approach under a cap-and-trade system, namely the lack of consensus over what is equitable, uncertainty over estimates of policy costs, and lack of political realism and economic effectiveness of large-scale international transfers. These difficulties point to the risk of failure of post-2020 negotiations if these are based on the same premises of ‘sharing the emission reduction pie’ within a cap-and-trade regime. History has shown that different development paths can lead to similar economic performances with contrasted emission intensities. This paper proposes some insights into what could constitute a way forward, by recasting the discussion about emission reductions from a development perspective. It concludes that climate negotiations should depart from the current framework and shift to a debate focused on choosing a development path that would address domestic issues, while aligning pure climate policies with development policies.


Burden sharing Sustainable development Equity Development pathways 



Gross domestic product


Greenhouse gases


Least developed countries


Nationally appropriate mitigation actions


United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change



Aurélie Méjean acknowledges funding from the Chair ‘Modelling for sustainable development’ (led by Ecole des Ponts ParisTech and Mines ParisTech).


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aurélie Méjean
    • 1
    Email author
  • Franck Lecocq
    • 1
  • Yacob Mulugetta
    • 2
  1. 1.CIRED, Centre International de Recherche sur l’Environnement et le Développement (CNRS, Agro ParisTech, Ecole des Ponts ParisTech, EHESS, CIRAD)Nogent-Sur-MarneFrance
  2. 2.Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public PolicyUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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