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A New Understanding of Equity
The climate goal of 2°C is far away from being
reached. Only developed countries have commit...
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Poster: A Dynamic Interpretation of the Principle of Equity in the Context of the Next Climate Change Agreement: Equity as a Force of Gravity, Rosa Manzo, CFCC

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Rosa Manzo, PhD Candidate University of Oslo, PluriCourts

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Poster: A Dynamic Interpretation of the Principle of Equity in the Context of the Next Climate Change Agreement: Equity as a Force of Gravity, Rosa Manzo, CFCC

  1. 1. A New Understanding of Equity The climate goal of 2°C is far away from being reached. Only developed countries have committed themselves under the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CDRC/RC). Fast developing economies- such as China and India- are also responsible for climate change together with developed countries. A new understanding of the principle of equity can move beyond the current treatment of the CBDR/RC principle. A dynamic interpretation may change this approach. Fig 1: Chart showing CO2 emissions from fossil-fuels use and cement production Methodology Dynamic treaty interpretation is conducted in order to make agreements work as intended in light of new circumstances. This method’s results are well-grounded in international law. There exists a need in international law for dynamic treaty interpretation as they are living instruments that aim to rule over lasting and solid relations. A dynamic interpretation makes a treaty able to develop with society. The analysis indicates also that the concept of equity itself should be interpreted dynamically. Equity has an intrinsic dynamism, through which it has played a creative role in international law (Jan Mayen Case, Norway v. Denmark, Separate Opinion). Core international law principles like pacta sunt servanda and unjust enrichment have arisen from equity considerations. In this manner equity acts as a force of gravity, dragging new contents into a treaty. Because of its inner dynamism, equity could be regarded as an evolutionary term, which it needs to be in order to apply a dynamical interpretation over time (Dispute Regarding Navigational and Related Rights Case, Costa Rica v. Nicaragua). A dynamic interpretation seems therefore to be supported within literature and a possible way of making the new agreement equitable in a changing reality where both developed and developing countries have to contribute to the global mitigation effort. A dynamic approach to equity would highlight national circumstances rather than responsibility for global warming as a criteria for designing commitments. Acknowledgments I thank my supervisor Prof. Christina Voigt for her guidance and help. I am also grateful to PluriCourts and University of Oslo for funding my ongoing project. Results The Greenhouse Development Rights Framework (GDRs) The GDRs approach provides a single formula applicable to all countries. This approach assigns to each one a so called Responsibility and Capacity Index (RCI), based on three equity indicators: historical responsibility, capability and development threshold. Pros: • a single formula applied to all nations • right to development to individual • interpersonal equity dimension rather than international • individuals with income below the development threshold exempted from burden of obligations • dynamic indicators Cons: • Industrialized countries bear most of costs • Poor people are nominally exempted • Capacity is measured in terms of per capita income • Capacity does not include transformation capacity and natural resource endowments • No incentive to turn toward a low carbon economy The Global Carbon Budget Approach (GBCA) The GCBA is an emission-based approach: every country is assigned a piece of carbon space based on a country’s historical responsibility and current share of global population. This provides an absolute emission cap. Pros: • “top-down” approach • a single formula applied to all nations • all countries have a positive obligation to contribute to global mitigation and adaptation • design on individuals rather than nations • interpersonal equity dimension rather than international equity Cons: • lack of official data • data do not reflect accurately a country’s real emissions. • developed countries can buy extra- allowances from developing countries • indicators are not flexible The Mutual Recognition Approach Its core idea is to let state parties choose their own national pledges from a “menu” of different kinds of commitments preliminarily agreed on at an international level. The idea is to have a finite official list of equity indicators and to allow each Party to decide which of these indicators to adopt. The spectrum of commitments is the main feature of this approach. International mitigation program should be designed on what nations are willing and in particular able to implement. Parties should provide a kind of justification for their choices based on the equity indicators earlier agreed. Pros • Flexibility • No distinction between AI countries and NAI countries • Hybrid approach: top down + bottom up • Distributional fairness • Set of different equity indicators • National circumstances (i.e. development, population, resource endowments) taken in-to account • Menu of different types of commitments (i.e. sectoral targets, PAMs) Cons • Big challenge for drawing a list of indicators at international level • Threat for environmental integrity • Threat to low ambitious targets Rosa Manzo PhD Candidate University of Oslo, PluriCourts Further information rosama@uio.no jus.uio.no/ior/english/people/aca/rosama/ jus.uio.no/pluricourts/english/ Conclusions Several proposals have been put forward on what indicators could depict a country’s condition. All of them offer a new and dynamic interpretation of equity. This research shows that none of these are a silver bullet. Every approach has strengths and weakness from an equity perspective. The analysis highlights that a dynamic interpretation of equity brings new contents into the Climate discourse. Equity dynamism calls for flexibility and variety. The next Climate Agreement should be shaped as a flexible agreement in its contents. Mitigation commitments should be tailored to what a country is willing and able to afford. This would bring different commitments to different countries. It also implies an array of commitments including emissions caps, policy targets, and technology agreements. This research propones to move beyond traditional top-down and bottom-up schemes, by fostering a hybrid approach to face global warming. Bottom-up Top-down Hybrid A dynamic interpretation to equity drags the following key components into the next climate change agreement: - Hybrid Approach - Flexibility - Commitment Diversification