The framework report, titled The Right to Development in a Climate Constrained World, is authored by Sivan Kartha, director of SEI's Climate and Energy Program and Paul Baer and Tom Athanasiou of EcoEquity, supported by Christian Aid, the Heinrich-Böll Foundation and SEI core funds.
The report argues that the emerging climate crisis must be seen against the backdrop of an ongoing development crisis, and that it is unacceptable and unrealistic to expect those struggling against poverty to focus their limited resources on averting climate change. And it draws the necessary conclusions: those who are wealthier and have produced higher levels of emissions must take on the bulk of the costs of a global “emergency program” of mitigation and adaptation.
Developing countries should still curb their emissions, but the global consuming class – the industrialized world and elites within developing countries – must cover the costs and provide the resources, the report states.
Rich must pay the most
The report presents a burden-sharing framework based on a straightforward accounting of national responsibility and capacity that requires those who consume and emit more to carry a larger share of the global cost of an emergency climate program.
Under the framework, one third of the burden of dealing with climate change would fall to the US and one quarter to the European Union. China would bear less than one fifteenth and India less than one three-hundredth.
The road ahead is not straightforward. The report states that as long as there is no serious burden-sharing proposal on the table, one that ensures an emergency program can be implemented without stifling development in the South, developing countries will conclude that they have more to lose than to gain from serious engagement.
"In this context, we offer Greenhouse Development Rights as a framework for a regime that could break the impasse," co-author Sivan Kartha says.
- The world’s wealthy minority has left precious little atmospheric space for the poor majority. Indeed, even if emissions from industrialized countries were suddenly and magically halted, the dramatic emissions reductions demanded by the climate crisis would still require developing countries to urgently decarbonize their economies, and to do so while combating endemic poverty. This is not only the core of the physical challenge, but also the crux of the international political impasse that now stymies the negotiations, Kartha says.
Strong impact at Bali climate conference
At the Bali conference the report helped to inform the G77 negotiating position on critical and contentious issues at the core of the Bali roadmap. Sivan Kartha and his co-authors, with fellow SEI researcher Tariq Banuri, convened a climate and development task force to provide analysis and input to the G77.
The report was also presented in various forums at Bali, including an event devoted to Greenhouse Development Rights involving the UK’s lead climate negotiator, organized by Christian Aid and the Heinrich Böll Foundation; a briefing hosted by Action Aid for the chair of the G77; and a panel hosted by the South Centre.