Научная статья на тему 'A principle of equitable access to sustainable development internalizing externalities in the global climate talks'

A principle of equitable access to sustainable development internalizing externalities in the global climate talks Текст научной статьи по специальности «Социальная и экономическая география»

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Аннотация научной статьи по социальной и экономической географии, автор научной работы — Hernandez Ariel

Climate change negotiations require conceptual underpinnings to provide a robust negotiation framework. Principles such as the “common but differentiated responsibilities” or “polluter pays” serve as “political formula” to guide negotiators to achieve mutually acceptable outcomes. Negotiations on technical issues suchas emissions reduction often fail due to the lack of guiding principles. After decades of negotiations, the climate change negotiation system is still searching for principles, particularly when the negotiators have realized that the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities seems to inhibit countries to reach an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as it is, for example, increasingly seen to promote free-riding. As the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) introduced the notionof equitable access to sustainable development in the Cancun agreements in the context of a timeframe for global greenhouse gas emissions, the UNFCCC has asked international experts to come up with ideas how the newly agreed principle can be conceptualized, implemented and how it can facilitate the negotiation process, for example, by providing guidelines to overcome the divide between developed and developing countries. This paper aims to contribute its understanding of this principle from the perspective of the negotiation process.

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Текст научной работы на тему «A principle of equitable access to sustainable development internalizing externalities in the global climate talks»

A principle of Equitable Access to Sustainable Development — Internalizing Externalities in the Global Climate Talks*


Institute for Infrastructure and Resources Management, University of Leipzig, Germany penetrante@wifa.uni-leipzig.de

Abstract. Climate change negotiations require conceptual underpinnings to provide a robust negotiation framework. Principles such as the "common but differentiated responsibilities" or "polluter pays" serve as "political formula" to guide negotiators to achieve mutually acceptable outcomes. Negotiations on technical issues such as emissions reduction often fail due to the lack of guiding principles. After decades of negotiations, the climate change negotiation system is still searching for principles, particularly when the negotiators have realized that the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities seems to inhibit countries to reach an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as it is, for example, increasingly seen to promote free-riding. As the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) introduced the notion of equitable access to sustainable development in the Cancun agreements in the context of a timeframe for global greenhouse gas emissions, the UNFCCC has asked international experts to come up with ideas how the newly agreed principle can be conceptualized, implemented and how it can facilitate the negotiation process, for example, by providing guidelines to overcome the divide between developed and developing countries. This paper aims to contribute its understanding of this principle from the perspective of the negotiation process.

Аннотация. Для обеспечения успеха переговоров по изменению климата требуется надежная концептуальная основа. Принципы "общей, но дифференцированной ответственности" или "загрязнитель платит" служат в качестве политической формулы для достижения взаимоприемлемых результатов. Переговоры по техническим вопросам, таким как сокращение выбросов, часто не приводят к успеху из-за отсутствия руководящих принципов. После десятилетий переговорного процесса система переговоров по изменению климата все еще ищет свои принципы - в частности, когда участники переговоров понимают, что принцип общей, но дифференцированной ответственности тормозит принятие международного соглашения о сокращении выбросов парниковых газов. Поскольку стороны Рамочной конвенции Организации Объединенных Наций об изменении климата (РКИК ООН) в канкунских соглашениях в контексте глобальных выбросов парниковых газов ввели понятие справедливого доступа к устойчивому развитию, РКИК ООН призвала международных экспертов выдвинуть предложения, как реализовать этот новый принцип и как он может облегчить переговорный процесс, в частности, для преодоления разрыва между развитыми и развивающимися странами. Данная статья призвана внести вклад в понимание этого принципа с точки зрения переговорного процесса.

Key words: negotiations, climate change, equity, equitable access to sustainable development, negotiation analysis.

"To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short"


Economic concepts such as cost-benefit analysis that primarily deal with optimization problems related to decision-making are usually confronted by the complexities arising through the conditions set by power struggles. Theoretically speaking, economic optimiza-

tion methods assume that rational actors seek optimal outcomes through maximizing behavior, while making adjustments should variables change to maintain the maximum level of utility. Nevertheless, practically speaking, utility may be defined differently as rational actors may follow diverging (subjective) goals that dictate actions as soon as various perspectives enter the decision realm. Under negative-sum conditions

* Роль принципа справедливого доступа к устойчивому развитию в переговорах по изменению климата.

of increasing utility by decreasing that of the others, conflict is inevitable. These goals to maximize utility motivate actions and when actions are confronted by forms of resistance; they become part of a system of power struggles. Decision-makers need to anticipate the weight of resistance and whether this resistance poses risks to the stability of the whole system. Under such a condition, optimization methods, which deal with concrete objects that need to be allocated, are also constrained by conflicts on relationships if not by conflicts on ideologies.

Economic optimization methods need to be complemented by negotiation analysis that looks deeper on reciprocal exchanges of compromises to enable the achievement of outcomes without undermining the whole system. Under conditions of power struggles, the only viable outcome is an outcome in form of a mutually accepted settlement. In this regard, mutual acceptability requires the legitimacy of the whole decision-making process, in which power asymmetry does not constitute a substantial hindering factor for parties to effectively participate in the process. Legitimacy is the state where actors will not challenge existing norms and practices, thus, ensuring stability, that is the predictability of future events. With this, equity becomes a necessary condition in the consensus-making process. As it will be discussed in this paper, actors resist decisions that they perceive as distorting the equitable system or in other cases they seek the restoration of equity by demanding changes in the system. Negotiation, as the mechanism that allows modifications of relationships, becomes the only channel to guarantee equity.

The Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) introduced the principle of equitable access to sustainable development (EASD) in the Cancun agreements in the context of a timeframe for global greenhouse gas emissions. This principle is seen to complement or even replace the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, which to some participants has just provided resources to free-ride (see Posner and Sunstein, 2010; Penetrante, 2013). Being aware of the additional burdens of climate protection to developing countries which need to shoulder the costs of social and economic development and poverty eradication, the Parties to the convention need to constitute a negotiation framework that would allow developing countries to have more time to reach their peaks than developed nations (UNFCCC, 2012). Only under such a condition can equity be guaranteed.

The principle of equity is not new to the UNFCCC (Vanderheiden, 2008). In the context of the climate change negotiations, equity deals not only with mitigation and adaptation, but it also addresses the way

how global decisions are reached. Furthermore, equity moves beyond the questions of acceptable procedures and looks at the quality of participation (Penetrante, 2013b). While justice is directed to the outcome and fairness to the procedure, equity pertains to participation. Equity demands that the various background conditions and diverging departure points confronting each actor are appropriately addressed when assessing the "quality" of one actor's participation at the negotiation process. Any sustainable outcome of global climate talks will need not only to adhere to fair procedures and just outcomes, but should also adequately recognize different contributions of individual countries, as well as the differing benefits and rewards under conditions of uncertainty and diminishing resources (Penetrante, 2013b, p. 202).

This paper discusses the most contested equity issues whose lack of resolution inhibits consensus-building. The first contested issue that needs to be resolved is, interestingly, the lack of consensus regarding the definition of equity. At the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) in Durban, South Africa, the UNFCCC secretariat and related bodies initiated informal consultations on EASD that led to a workshop at the fifteenth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention, which was held on 16 May 2012 in Bonn, Germany (UNFCCC, 2012). The workshop initiated a public discourse on EASD; in particular, the context for equity and EASD, the definition of equity and the application of the equity principle.


The entanglement of the climate change negotiations in the North-South divide is an immediate implication of competing interests between developed and developing countries, whereas countries seek to modify the current structures of the negotiation process according to how they understand justice, fairness and equity (see Penetrante, 2010, 2013a, 2013b). Both developed and developing countries call for more justice, fairness and equity in the decision-making process, whereas there is still no consensus on how such principles are to be defined and implemented.

Furthermore, the relations between the "North" (developed countries) and the "South" (developing countries) inform not only which results are technically viable, but also which procedures are acceptable, particularly when existing decision-making structures are perceived as, on one hand, favoring developed countries and inhibiting the equal participation of develop-

ing countries, but, on the other hand, providing loop holes that allow developing countries to avoid any form of substantial commitment to shoulder financial costs of climate change mitigation. With this, the North-South conflict cleavage moves along the contestation line of how countries understand justice, fairness and equity and how they see themselves profiting when a specific definition of the principle is chosen (Penetrante, 2010, 2013a, 2013b).

The terms "justice" and "fairness" are usually used as synonyms in the academic literature. Nevertheless, the negotiation literature makes a clear distinction between these two terms. While justice refers to whether an outcome satisfies the predetermined goal, fairness pertains to the procedures by which decisions are made. Cecilia Albin (2001, p. 264) follows a similar differentiation between justice and fairness. She notes that agreements (as the outcome of the negotiation process) are just if these agreements are based on principles that the parties themselves consensually agreed. An agreement is fair, she continues, if the circumstances leading to the agreement are reasonable. For example, as parties have agreed to limit global temperature rise to 2 °C, when provisions of a global agreement would fail to meet such a goal, these provisions are not just. Following this logic, when the parties to the UNFCCC have agreed to the principle of sustainable development, an agreement is just if it does not undermine sustainable development of all countries.

However, a just agreement does not guarantee fairness. A just agreement can be unfair for example when the methods applied to reach the goal do not consider the various diverging capacities of actors. For example, when, hypothetically speaking, the global temperature rise has been effectively limited to 2 °C and this has been reached by posing heavy financial burdens upon developed countries, the agreement that allowed this achievement is unfair, when developing countries, although they could, did not shoulder burdens. In the same manner, an agreement is unjust when developing countries, when achieving the 2 °C goal, were de facto exposed to more social burdens, as they also need to confront developmental challenges while pursuing climate protection.

The climate change negotiations are inhibited by the situation where countries, due to the lack of consensus on how justice, fairness and equity are to be operationalized, talk past each other. For instance, developing countries, particularly those with the largest emerging economies such as China and India, may demand fairness by seeking exceptions from legally binding GHG emission reduction schemes by arguing that developed countries are held historically and morally responsible for the current concentration of GHGs in

the atmosphere. This demand may however be in opposition to the fairness demanded by developed countries, particularly when certain developing nations such as China and India are projected to bypass developed countries in terms of GHG emissions in the next few years or decades. Furthermore, adhering to the claims of fairness of either developed or developing countries may lead to an agreement that is not just, as the 2 °C goal may not be met.

Equity may be undermined when Least Developed Countries (LDCs) see other developing countries with emerging economies such as China and India as hiding behind claims of justice and fairness to underestimate their real capacities to reduce emissions, particularly when the level of economic development of several developing countries are de facto comparable to that of developed countries. When countries refuse to participate in burden sharing, although they have the capacity to do so, equitable relationships are distorted.

equity in climate change


compliance and global common goods

There is general consensus among Parties to the UNF-CCC that issues related to equity are of central importance in global climate talks (Grübler and Fujii, 1991; Ott et al., 2004; Buchner and Lehmann, 2005; Heyward, 2007). The resilience and stability of any future climate regime requires the reflection of the equity concerns of all countries (see Penetrante, 2013b). As Katherine Richardson et al. (2011) note, response strategies to deal with climate change will invariably confront equity issues such as the allocation of emission rights and emission reduction obligations, as well as the responsibility for funding adaptation and distribution of adaptation funds. The principle of equity has been most frequently applied to the allocation of mitigation costs among countries. Furthermore, dealing with the equity aspects of climate change will depend on the relational structures in the decision making process, whereas existing power asymmetries should not undermine the quality of participation of weaker actors. That the system incurs power asymmetry is an inevitable condition due to diverging levels of economic development, but when a system is to be equitable, mechanisms should be found where differences in power resources do not inhibit participation or puts overburden on weaker parties. This is, for example, the case when the agreement is based on genuine consensus.

The perceived abandonment of equity principles of the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, as claimed by many experts in developing countries (Najam, 2005; BASIC Experts, 2011), is to a large extent a result of un-

resolved fairness issues due to structural deficits that still need to be confronted. For example, the UNFCCC does not clearly articulate the quantified meaning of equity, but rather has identified only the categories of developed and developing countries. As a principle that involves normative elements, it is not possible to come up with an "objective" technical formula. Equity has become a diffuse term, and the interpretation of how it should be operationalized is easily subordinated to national interests (Heyward, 2007; Kals and Maes, 2011). In light of this, the UNFCCC secretariat has started an academic discourse around equity, to initiate attempts at specifying possible standards of equity, and to explore how equity issues should be pursued in global climate talks. Although it is again not possible to find an optimal formula, what is relevant for the climate change negotiations is the consensus on this principle. In addition, from the negotiation perspective, questions of how equity can ensure compliance should be additional topics of public deliberation (Penetrante 2013b).

Equity is a theoretical concept that describes how actors orient their own behavior in a social environment. John Stacey Adams (1965) suggests that equity is a precondition to engage in contacts with others. The equitable condition is considered as the optimal situation (equilibrium), as actors will no longer experience distress in situations where they are convinced that the ratio of what they contribute (input) and what they earn (output) is generally acceptable (Penetrante, 2013b). Inputs are each participant's contributions to the relational exchange, which entitles one actor to rewards or benefits. Examples of inputs are time, effort, resources, ability, commitment and various forms of liabilities (see Walster et al., 1978). Outputs are positive and negative externalities incurred as a consequence of this relational exchange when achieving a common goal. Examples of outputs are financial benefits, recognition, and the achievement of predetermined goals (Walster et al., 1978). It is assumed that actors seek to maximize outputs, and that a failure to do so brings distress. As such, when actors encounter distress (for instance, when negotiating with the others), efforts are conducted to restore equity within that relationship.

The theory of equity is only applicable in a social context, as the acceptability of a specific situation or of a specific outcome highly depends on one's assessment of how much input the others have so far contributed (Penetrante, 2013b). Equity is measured by comparing one's ratio of inputs and outputs to that of others. Similar ratios manifest equity whereas actors do not need to contribute equal amounts of inputs in absolute terms nor do they need to receive equal rewards (see Guerrero et al., 2010). Equity also covers individual

capacities in contributing inputs. Distress occurs when one actor sees another actor with similar capacities but lower contributions receiving similar or greater outputs from the common project. More distress arises when non-contributing free-riders harvest common benefits. Distress inevitably leads to actions.

The social component of equity delivers the identification of equity issues as actors constantly compare their actions with those of the others (Adams, 1965; Guerrero et al., 2010). When actors perceive deficits in the inputs of the others, they aim for additional efforts to restore equity in global climate talks. In the climate talks, differentiated inputs are expected among countries depending on their level of economic development (capability) as well as their historical responsibility. Nevertheless, the incommensurability of inputs is aggravated by conditions of non-exclusivity and yet rivalry as climate change deals with global common goods where actors cannot be clearly attributed with liabilities, benefits and rewards of stabilization of GHG emissions leading to the achievement of 2 °C.

Actors, when seeking equity in their relationships, establish institutions and mechanisms that "equitably" apportion rewards and sanctions among members (see Walster et al., 1973, 1978) to allow alterations of inputs and outputs in order to restore "actual equity" (Walster et al., 1973, p. 6). Various issues of equity are embedded in the UNFCCC (1992) as well as in the Kyoto Protocol to ensure that the outcomes of these rigid and tedious compromises will remain robust against future challenges. The principle of common but differentiated responsibility (as highlighted in Article 2 of the convention) recognizes that while all countries should protect the climate system, developed countries should take the lead in combating climate change, because they bear the greater burden of historical responsibility and possess a superior capacity to respond (Oppenheimer and Petsonk, 2005).

Nevertheless, it has become a huge question whether equity can ever be achieved under huge gaps between what actors understand as equitable. Developing countries allege that some forms of equity were quickly abandoned, particularly by developed countries (Huq and Sokona, 2001; Najam et al., 2003; BASIC Experts, 2011). Doubts become imminent around whether inputs and outputs of countries are in any way commensurable, particularly when the expected output is calculated in relational terms (for example, when dividing the benefits of stabilizing GHG emissions in the atmosphere among all countries). For instance, if the United States would accept legally binding mitigation targets as its input, the impact of this action to the environmental integrity of the agreement would be more significant than any action committed by other coun-

tries. Should inputs which would be highly significant to ensure the effectiveness of the agreement in achieving the predetermined goal be counted, for example, as double when compared with the inputs contributed by smaller countries with very low emissions (such as Fiji or Mali), especially when the preferences for equity between these countries are very different?

Furthermore, when the input of the United States has undergone a very tedious political process (e.g., Congress approval), how is this input to be compared with that of other countries where the political structures allow a rather quick national decision-making? An equitable outcome needs to address diverging national conditions that promote or inhibit participation in the global climate change negotiations. In addition, as the vulnerabilities to climate change are different, the stakes at the negotiation table and the expected liabilities when doing nothing are also different. While for some countries, it is a matter of ensuring economic competitiveness in a globalized world, for others, it is a matter of national survival and the continued existence of their citizens.

Especially when it is not possible to exclude other big polluters from harvesting benefits (the non-exclusion principle of global common goods), and when emission reductions may even encourage emission growths among developing countries through various forms of leakage effects (Finus, 2001; IPCC, 2007, p. 53) undermining just outcomes, equity is only possible under four conditions. These are: 1) when inputs and outputs are comparable, 2) when fair procedures are present when establishing mechanisms for compliance and verification, 3) when equitable behavior is more profitable than inequitable behavior, and 4) when there is no free-riding to ensure just (and therefore effective) outcomes (Penetrante, 2013b).

internalizing externalities in a


Although inputs and outputs are not always comparable, this does not mean that equity is impossible to reach. From the negotiation perspective, the next step for the analysis of equity should focus on finding strategies to increase negative externalities of free-riding compared to the benefits of doing nothing (or "business as usual"), while ensuring fair procedures and just outcomes (Penetrante, 2013b). This is possible by finding a concept of equitable access to sustainable development wherein countries realize that non-compliance (or non-equity) is less profitable than compliance.

As the secretariat of the UNFCCC and its parties prepare for the upcoming COP meetings, with the in-

tention of putting in place a post-Kyoto emission regime, international experts have been asked to come up with ideas how the newly agreed principle of "equitable access to sustainable development" (EASD), which would be used by parties to guide their climate policies and their preferences in the next negotiation rounds, should be conceptualized, in a way that parties can overcome various North-South conflict cleavages without undermining the effectiveness of the outcome in addressing climate change. This research project argues that any principle of equity should fulfill the above-mentioned conditions: de facto com-mensurability of inputs and outputs, procedural justice (fairness), and profitability of participation through additional negative externalities for free-riding (Penetrante, 2013b).

The reconciliation of tension between "global climate optimum" and the "national climate optimum" is a huge challenge for the global climate talks (Endres, 2008, pp. 350-352). The global climate optimum refers to a situation where the total marginal costs of preventing global temperature change from surpassing 2 °C correspond to the total marginal costs caused by climate damages. The national climate optimum, in contrast, is a situation where the marginal costs of national climate protection measures match the total marginal costs of climate damages in one specific country. Due to the asymmetrical distribution of vulnerabilities to climate change, as well as the proposed asymmetrical allocation of emission targets dealing with global common goods, formulating global decisions within the global climate optimum remains a huge challenge (Penetrante, 2013b).

As global decisions are made through a national lens, the national climate optimum dominates the bargaining table, as the paradigm of sovereignty has been locked into the negotiation process. Moving from the national to the global optimum requires, besides the unknown amount of transition costs, an increase in the benefits of committing to a global climate optimum. As climate is a global common good, some national governments are convinced that their total marginal costs for climate protection measures are higher than the total marginal costs of preventing climate damages, not only because they may be less vulnerable, but because they have the capacity to free-ride. As the expected costs of rejecting a contribution for global protection measures are often less than complete participation in the global emission regime, free-riding behavior flourishes (Penetrante, 2013b). Therefore, a country seeking a global climate optimum expects deterioration of welfare as well as of economic competitiveness, for example through the relocation of high emitting companies to countries with more relaxed climate policies

(Finus, 2001). In instances such as these, free-riding is the most rational behavior.

There are already propositions how to bridge the gap between marginal social costs and marginal private costs (Barthold, 1994; Varian, 1994; Farzin, 1996). Internalizing negative (and positive) externalities is seen to prevent this free-riding problem by allocating (monetary) values to common goods, through which the attractiveness of doing nothing diminishes. Examples of internalizing externalities include Pigovian tax directed to the actors either causing the externalities or positively affected by externalities, combined with direct and indirect forms of subsidies to actors affected by negative externalities, where subsidies are shouldered by tax revenues. Internalizing externalities primarily aims to increase the marginal private costs and to compensate those shouldering social costs. Other forms of internalization include environmental pricing schemes such as ecotaxes and trading pollution permits.

Nevertheless, internalizing externalities is confronted by various challenges. For instance, it is not always possible to identify monetary values for externalities. When the value of carbon permits is too low, participating actors may be discouraged from changing their behavior, as the internalizing measure may not really increase marginal private costs and polluting may promise more dividends. When monetary values are set too high, it would be most likely that countries would not agree to any agreement at all, particularly when particular heavily burdened countries would require additional efforts to instigate behavioral change. These highly contextual additional efforts should be included in the calculations. Internalizing externalities can only be effective if the measures taken would increase marginal private costs to a level that surpasses marginal private benefits under the "business as usual" scenario, and that they are made to shoulder more marginal social costs (Penetrante, 2013b).

Another challenge refers to the exact attribution of costs to those actors directly or indirectly causing the externalities. Under conditions of complexity, externalities may not always be relatable to those actors causing externalities. Complexity may also include issues resulting from forward-direct problems (with a given input X under the conditions set by the system, the output Y is determined), inversion problems may arise, whereas tracing back the relevant inputs to the output under certain conditions of the system is highly problematic. The attribution of externalities becomes the subject of fairness, justice and equity deliberations when a specific externality is caused by a collectivity within a specific (long) time period involving multiple generations and even changing political national entities (e.g., can the current Russian Federation govern-

ment be held accountable for the decisions made by the Soviet Union's government?), and that this externality is only materialized after a specific number, degree or level has been reached (e.g., should the last contributing actor be held accountable to the occurrence of the tipping point?)

For example, several experts claim that European countries have regularly contributed up to 80 per cent of the global GHG concentration in the last centuries (Müller, 1999; Pachauri and Reisinger, 2007). However, when global temperature rise surpasses 2 °C, and the "tipping point" is reached by additional emissions from developing countries, the damages may be easily attributed to the latter emitting countries. Particularly, when past emissions are considered as sunk costs, there is tendency to over-value present costs and disregard sunk costs in the calculation of marginal private costs. This leads to an imbalance of attribution. Additionally, in order to internalize externalities through legally binding measures, a government, legal framework and legislation must already exist at a global level in order to ensure effectiveness. This is presently not the case (Penetrante, 2013b).

Because the internalization of externalities has a compensatory character, it is likely to be a subject of political contestation, moving it away from an economic to a political paradigm. In contrast to an economic paradigm, where decisions are made according to costs and benefits, political paradigms foster power struggles, which may favor powerful parties. When powerful parties are considered as the "entrepreneurs of externalities", an underestimation of externalities may occur. Further, when powerful parties are considered to be "recipients of externalities," compensatory payments may be overestimated. This power game debars the logic of internalizing externalities, as the matching of marginal private costs with marginal social costs will more than likely be distorted (Penetrante, 2013b).

Nevertheless, the profitability of free-riding may be diminished by using the insights of path dependence (see David, 1988; Arthur, 1994). According to path dependence, the adoption of a specific standard becomes more attractive to the participants when alternative standards become more expensive, for instance, through network effects (Liebowitz and Margolis, 1994). When the majority of participants adhere to a specific standard, network effects become significant as this standard becomes "locked-in" and this is then reflected in other technologies and future decisions. A locked-in standard implies that other (competing) standards become more expensive, for instance, when opportunity costs arise by not adopting the lock-in standard. Under network effects, non-adherence to the standard becomes too costly, that actors are motivated to par-

ticipate, whereas the lock-in standard does not need to be the most efficient mechanism or value (Vergne and Durand, 2010; Penetrante, 2013).

In the climate change context, when the majority of countries have adopted climate protection standards, other (high-emission) standards (e.g. business as usual) will eventually be more expensive, particularly when standards related to low emission technologies have been asserted in subsequent technological development. For example, when adhering to the climate protection standard ensures access to additional and niche markets such as the carbon market, or when this standard leads to the type of technological development in related fields that could not have been reached in a "business as usual" situation, countries are motivated — if not forced — to rethink their paradigms if they are to prevent further loss in competitiveness (Penetrante, 2013b).

As countries realize that unacceptable opportunity costs are arising and that their economic competitiveness is undermined by missed opportunities, they will be motivated to follow the majority in adopting the climate protection standard. New pressure groups that benefit and support energy policies and that promote climate protection measures may later on outweigh those that hinder climate protection policies. Groups of this kind represent companies in the renewable energy sector, and forward proposals such as increasing the share of renewables in a country's energy portfolio. With new environmental standards inevitable, governmental agencies and business communities may be more readily prepared to commit to further climate-friendly investments. Free-riding becomes irrelevant, as business as usual is translated into diminishing economic competitiveness when the lock-in standard is not adopted. In this case, compliance becomes optimal as non-compliance means unacceptable additional costs and additional economic disadvantages.

A fundamental question then arises: How can most of the countries be motivated to adopt climate protection standards, particularly when adoption causes short-term economic disadvantages as caused by various leakage effects? As path dependence argues, these short term economic disadvantages when adopting new standards are merely transition costs, that is, the costs of changing pathways. For example, leadership can be tapped in order to facilitate this transition when leaders are willing to shoulder short-term transition or switching costs. This is however only feasible when leading countries see long-term benefits under conditions of uncertainty. By anticipating long-term benefits, including economic advantages as "first movers", major countries may be motivated to initiate ambitious policies and investments that only yield rewards in the long-term.


Finding an overarching principle of EASD requires an integrated outlook on principles that are either mutually complementary or mutually in competition. Embedding the principles of equity, access, (economic) development and sustainability will most likely result in an overarching principle that requires extensive consensus-building. As discussed in the paper, resolving equity issues pre-requires a consensual definition that preempts its usage as pretext to non-actions or as legitimizing factor for actions that undermines the integrity of any resulting outcome. Linking equity to other principles which equally offers political resources for free-riding may further undermine its functionality.

The various definitions of sustainable development as well as many divergent interpretations and practical applications (Gibson, 2005; Hopwood et al., 2005; Elliott, 2013) make public deliberation necessary. With this, the EASD should be clearly consen-sually defined by the Parties to the UNFCCC. Besides equity, the EASD deals with "access," "development" and "sustainability" which are, similar to equity, loose concepts with diverging possibilities of understanding and operationalizing. The EASD principle will involve various expanded conflict cleavages that are identifiable as moving not only within the various fronts of North-South relations, but also within North-North and South-South relations.

Relating the EASD principle to the global climate talks moves the focus not only to the fairness of procedures but to the providing the basis for just outcomes. Access deals with procedural mechanisms that define how actors enter a mechanism that would enable them to fulfill their goals. The ability of making use of available resources (access) is a procedural question that is very often de facto dependent on structures reproducing power asymmetry among actors. As the IPCC Second Assessment Report (SAR) (1995) noted, a climate regime cannot be equitable in its structure and implementation if it does not follow a legitimate process that empowers all actors to effectively participate as social peers (Fraser, 2003). The ability of parties (to access) should not depend on existing power structures because this negates the principle of equity as power capabilities of each actors does not absolutely depend on one's own past actions. Access to resources is only equitable when individual conditions that inhibit inclusions are identified and remedied in a compensatory manner.

Furthermore, the EASD principle needs to deal with another controversial coupling of existing prin-

ciples. "Sustainable development" is a concept that incorporates the understanding that an optimal (sustainable growth) policy is a policy that seeks to maintain an "acceptable" growth of income without depleting the natural environmental stock (Turner, 1988, p. 12; Gibson, 2005). It asserts that "development that meets the needs of the present generation [is possible] without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" (WCED, 1987, p. 43). Relating the coupled principle of sustainable development to the climate change negotiations is the direct ramification of externalities. The integration of sustainable development in the EASD intends to promote the analysis at how climate protection measures such as GHG emission reduction can produce co-benefits for sustainable development, particularly to weaken the tensions between sustainability and development arise (Jabareen, 2006).

The global climate talks have been confronted by developmental concerns of parties when climate and developmental agendas have been merged (UNEP, 1992; African Development Bank, 2003; UNDP, 2007; World Bank, 2010). Recent calls to decouple emissions from development (UNFCCC, 2012) have become prominent as a feasible strategy to resolve some highly contested issues. However, insights are still needed how such a decoupling could and should be conducted in a very complex and interdependent system. In particular, when climate protection is taken as pretext to limit access to sustainable development of developing countries, decoupling would require more than mere guarantees. The classification of developed countries to the Annex list and of the developing countries to the Non-Annex list may have institutionalized the North-South conflict cleavages in the negotiation process. Climate issues dealing with questions of population (human settlement), (urban) lifestyles and resource demand and consumption (agricultural and industrial production) involve economic and social activities that are confronted by limits on environmental resources (Ehrlich, 1968; Meadows et al., 1972; Jackson, 2008). Any climate regime that would allocate carbon limits would need to include stringency provisions that would equitably distribute limits among countries.

The drafting of the UNFCCC is part of a process following calls from scientific (epistemic) and advocacy communities for putting environmental issues into the political area of international policy making (Penetrante, 2013b). The UNFCCC is a result of political deliberations between countries which serves as framework for a long and tedious decision-making process without clearly knowing what concrete decisions will be achieved at the end of the process. Under such a condition, the negotiation process can only

run in phases or stages to achieve sequential agreements with limitations on durations attached to provisions due to complexity. This condition necessitates constant re-negotiations where set-backs are to be observed as the negotiation process is non-linear. Therefore, the more concrete the terms of negotiation frameworks such as the UNFCCC are drafted, the less are insecurities to be found in following negotiation rounds. For example, the lack of concrete provisions on voting procedures under the UNFCCC is seen as a regular source of delays as parties can always challenge de facto premises. Nevertheless, very concrete terms in the paragraphs of a convention may limit the sets of possible instruments and future outcomes as flexibility and creativity may be inhibited when agreements are being drafted.

A further complexity that significantly influences the course of the negotiation process under the UN-FCCC is its inter-linkage with other environmental issues. In 1984, the UN commissioned an independent body, the so-called World Commission on Environment and Development that published a report entitled "Our Common Future" (1987). The deliberation initiated by this commission has been used as the basis for other conferences, including the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. This "Earth Summit" has resulted in various agreements including the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Agenda 21 and Forest Principles. Complementing these agreements are the three legally binding agreements: The UNFCCC (1992), the Convention to Combat Desertification (1992) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (1992). Subsequent agreements including the UN's Millennium Development Goals (2000) and Outcome document — Future We Want (2012) reached during the UN Summit "Rio+20" held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012 have secured further political commitment for sustainable development.

The inter-linkage of climate issues is a two-way channel. Not only that climate change negotiations are directly and indirectly affected by other negotiations, the results of climate change negotiations also affect other negotiations. For example, the latest negotiations surrounding the 1972 World Heritage Convention are often conducted in the context of climate change. As climatic changes such as sea level rise pose threats to world heritage sites, climate change negotiations should be consistent with legal obligations under the World Heritage Convention or that policy-makers deciding on world heritage issues may refer to the UNFCCC and COP meeting decisions when, for example, looking for funds for conservation (Australian Climate Justice Program et al., 2008; Earth Justice, 2009).

Guaranteeing environmental integrity in the context of sustainable development currently dominates the political discourse not only in the climate change negotiations but also in other environmental negotiations. Nevertheless, it should be noted that sustainable development is often perceived as the goals only of developing countries. However, when developed countries refuse to agree on global decisions because they see their economic competitiveness threatened, they express the interest to maintain their economic status, which is a legitimate concern. With poverty incidents in developed countries observed as rising and with the increasing middle class in several developing countries seen as economically better situated than a significant part of the population in developed countries, anti-poverty issues are not exclusively concerns of developing countries.

While there is more likely a consensus among countries that poverty is a major cause and effect of global environmental problems such as climate change, and that sustainable development is a central concern of both developed and developing countries, national governments will need to define equitable allocation mechanisms that would allow equitable access to resources and capacities — including carbon emissions in the case of climate change — that enable, maintain and enhance sustainable development. National governments are furthermore uncertain as to how many emission limits are tolerable to guarantee sustainable development without jeopardizing their political legitimacy. Particularly countries in political transition (e.g., neo-colonial or neo-authoritarian regimes) require stable governments. Because climate change poses threats to the ecosystem upon which economic, social and environmental activities of both present and future generations rely, the goals of the UNFCCC, that is, the stabilization of GHG emission concentration that prevents surpassing 2 °C, have become closely linked to the goals of sustainable development. This has inevitably led to the coupling of emissions to sustainable development (Penetrante, 2013b).

As carbon emissions are linked to industrialization and manufacturing, as well as to agricultural outputs (Stern, 2007), setting up a carbon budget that aims to stabilize GHG concentrations is assumed to have negative effects on economic growth, the driving motor of sustainable development (Penetrante, 2013b). Economic growth is then translated to four main areas. These include: increase of per capita income that drives private consumption (Lucas, 1988; Barro, 1997; Pokrovskii, 2011); modernization processes including enhancement of human and social capital that ensure social cohesiveness (Bourdieu, 1983; Becker, 1993; Haq, 1996; Dasgupta and Serageldin, 2000); legitimacy of

governance and political structures that ensure political stability (Kooiman, 1993; Fisher and Green, 2004; Ostrom, 2010); and finally technology innovation through investments and financing, which promotes the global competitiveness of individual countries (Jonas, 1984; Carraro and Siniscalco, 1994). Economic growth is therefore the foundation of human well-being (Penetrante, 2013b).

In this sense, trade-offs between climate protection strategies and sustainable development goals may lead to grave concerns in distributing emission cuts among countries, as emission reductions may impose limitations on economic growth and development. Legally binding commitments may distort the competitiveness of countries irrespective of their current economic developmental status. Equally, reaching the goals of sustainable development may generate co-benefits, particularly when enhanced economic capacities may lead to diminishing vulnerabilities or to increasing adaptability to climate change. When the current economic development of a country solely determines the quality of climate protection a country can commit to and when climate protection leads to further economic advantages resulting from co-benefits such as more employment in green technology and more technological innovations, present day developing countries may experience further limitations to its future access to sustainable development. Therefore, a principle of EASD should address complex (present and future) trade-offs between climate protection strategies and sustainable development (Penetrante, 2013b).

The following table simplifies the distribution of shares and entitlements of GHG emissions and illustrates the conflict cleavages between developed and developing countries. It shows the gap between the share of developed and developing countries in historical emissions (1850-2000). The UNFCCC asserts that emissions should be calculated from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, something that has been recognized by most participating countries. It confirms that developed countries account for 878 Gt of cumulative global emissions between 1850 and 2008, with 310 Gt considered as their fair share (with an overuse of 568 Gt) (Khor, 2012). This poses a huge challenge for any future emission reduction regime when distributing entitlements for future GHG emissions (2000-2049).

The determination of equitable allocation of entitlements in the future carbon budget (2000-2049) between developed and developing countries is not only highly dependent on figures and calculations in the scientific literature, particularly of the IPCC, but is also vulnerable to political conditions. For instance, the identification of 2 °C among possible scenarios (2 °C,

Table 1. Analysis of Shares and Entitlements (Penetrante, 2013b)

Actors (countries) Developed Countries (Annex) Developing Countries (NonAnnex) Total

Number of countries (percentage to total no. of countries) 41 countries 154 countries [BASIC: 5 countries (3.2% of all developing countries)] 195

Percentage to total no. of countries 21% 79% 100%

Share of population 25% 75% 100%

Issues Historical Emission (1850-2000) in accumulated numbers1, in GtC 210 55.44 [BASIC: 27] 265

Historical Emission (1850-2000), contribution in percentage to total concentration 80% 20% [BASIC: 50% of developing countries' historical emissions] 100%

Cumulative global emission per capita (1850-2008)2 878 Gt (72% of total) (fair share with 25% of global population: 310 Gt) 336 Gton (28% of total) (fair share with 75% of global population: 904 Gt) 1214 Gt

Structures UNFCCC (legal framework) Parties Parties 192 parties (191 countries and 1 regional organization)

Industry norms and standards on environmental protection Medium or highly advanced Low or highly advanced

Processes Negotiation mode (bilateral and multilateral) No clear preference on negotiation mode General preference on multilateral negotiation mode. Tendency for BASIC to conduct bilateral negotiations

Coordination Regional organizations (e.g. EU), coalitions (G8, G20) Regional organizations (ASEAN, MERCOSUR), coalitions (G77+China; BASIC, AOSIS)

(Possible) Outcomes (emission reduction, Achievement of 67% probability of limiting temperature rise to within 2 °C (2010-2050) 21% entitlement: 157.5 Gt 25% entitlement: 187.5 Gt 79% entitlement: 790 Gt 75% entitlement: 562.5 Gt < 750 Gt

carbon budget) Achievement of 67% probability of limiting temperature rise to within 1.5 °C (2010-2050) 21% entitlement: 126 Gt 25% entitlement: 150 Gt 79% entitlement: 474 Gt 75% entitlement: 450 Gt < 600 Gt

Cumulative total CO2 emissions. 2000-2049 (with 25% probability of exceeding the 2 °C temp. increase limit)3 21% entitlement: 210 Gt 25% entitlement: 250 Gt 79% entitlement: 790 Gt 75% entitlement: 750 Gt 1000 Gt

Cumulative total CO2 emissions. 2000-2049 (with 50% probability of exceeding the 2 °C temp. increase limit)4 21% entitlement: 302.4 Gt 25% entitlement: 360 Gt 79% entitlement: 1137.6 Gt 75% entitlement: 1080 Gt 1440 Gt

AWG-KP's wording of the level of its ambition (August 2007) 5 25% to 40% emission reduction below 1990 levels in 2020 "Deviation from baseline" emissions peak by 2017 to 2022 and at least 50% emission reduction of the 2000 level by 2050

1 Starting year 1850, excluding historical LULUCF, data source: CAIT (WRI, 2009, 2012).

2 Source: Khor, 2012.

3 Source: Meinshausen, 2009.

4 Source: Meinshausen, 2009.

5 Source: Den Elzen and Höhne, 2008.

3 °C, or 4 °C) is a political decision which addresses (still) acceptable consequences of climate change with a global temperature rise of 2 °C. Because the 2 °C refers to a global average, some countries or regions may actually experience a temperature rise of more than 2 °C which define their positions on the responsibilities the others should be fulfilling. As vulnerabilities vary among countries, with some able to adapt quickly because of their economic status, equitable allocation mechanisms should consider introducing "adaptation rebates" that depends on their exposure to climatic effects. With this, in parallel to negotiations referring to adaptation, the entitlement the countries should get needs to depend on how vulnerable they are to the effects of climate change to allow a level of economic development that enables countries to adapt without undermining development. This should not, however, be exclusive to developing countries.

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Nevertheless, as political decisions are now oriented towards the principle of equitable access to sustainable development, categories such as historical responsibility, per capita income, national capabilities and national vulnerabilities are needed to determine entitlements, carbon budget and how efforts/ burdens are to be equitably distributed. However, political decisions assume that all countries require the same amount of emissions to achieve industrialization, whereas new technologies tend to produce low emissions, particularly when efficiency is coupled with less energy consumption (Penetrante, 2013b).

As the table illustrates, entitlements to cumulative total CO2 emissions (2000-2049) can be equally (in absolute numbers) distributed among countries (the "desert" strategy). However, equality does not always correspond with equity as equality does not always address the individual circumstances that inhibit or promote participation in the decision making process. Allocation of emission rights to countries, as several countries demand, should address the relative share of the country's population in the global population in a given specific base year. This allocation scheme is, however, rejected by smaller countries with smaller populations. Per capita calculations do not address economies of scale which foresee decreasing emission rebates as the population increases. Countries with small population need to use a threshold of resources such as infrastructures to maintain certain living standards. For example, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain belong to the five highest per capita emitters as a result of small populations producing high emission commodities for export. Similarly, a number of small-island states rank relatively high in terms of per capita emissions, including Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Singapore, Palau and Nauru (Baumert et

al., 2005, p. 21). In this case, the level of emissions of countries is no longer determined by its contribution to the GHG concentration in the atmosphere. The most effective solution in this case would be to increase its population to mitigate climate change which does not serve the UNFCCC's (environmental) goals.

Furthermore, a formula that focuses on per capita emissions may be unjust as it distorts environmental integrity. Sticking to per capita emission allocation may prevent the achievement of an agreement that would adequately mitigate climate change to an acceptable level. As such, entitlements for future emissions as conveyed by the UNFCCC will need to include not only current emissions, but also historical emissions (Grübler and Fujii, 1991; Smith, 1991). Developing countries are also expected to have large positive entitlements as a result of the negative entitlements of developed countries for the period of 2000-2049 (BASIC Experts, 2011), which may further undermine the environmental integrity of any proposed outcome, because developed countries are then expected to have negative emissions (baseline 1990), which to date remain politically unacceptable.

Negative entitlements for developed countries remain a highly contested issue as developed countries are not likely to find it equitable that current generations are to be "punished" for the actions of older generations. In addition, as negative entitlements for developed countries would mean positive entitlements for developing countries, contra-productive leakage effects may take place, overturning all gains from climate policies and leading to "unjust" outcomes that undermine the environmental integrity of the agreement (Penetrante, 2013b). In addition to business companies using high emitting technologies, and relocating to (developing) countries with more relaxed climate policies (a leakage effect of 100%) (Gerlagh and Kuik, 2007), developing countries may be motivated to increase their use of high emitting fossil fuels (more than the initially intended level) due to falling world prices following more ambitious climate policies in developed countries, thus, further increasing emissions from developing countries (Endres, 2008). In addition, sinking prices for fossil fuels may actually inhibit investment in renewable technologies, delaying the development of more efficient and less costly renewable energy technologies. With such leakage effects, estimated by IPCC (IPCC, 2007, p. 53) to range between 5-20 percent (with Kyoto Protocol in place), the benefits of ambitious climate policies may be less than the mitigation costs. These are similarly legitimate concerns that need to be addressed.

While developed countries have contributed the most emissions in the past, developing countries are

projected to produce most of future emissions, while their per capita emissions are projected to stay below the levels of developed countries (IPCC, 2007). In addition, future emissions vary in how they translate to responsibility, as various types of emissions — "survival emissions", "developmental emissions" and "luxury emissions" (Agarwal and Narain, 1991; Shue, 1993; Rao and Baer, 2012) — are to have different meanings, leading to more integrated and comprehensive political assessments. Therefore, the financing of low-emission technologies as well as the means to increase energy efficiency should become priorities for developing countries. The UNFCCC (2007) estimates that at least $65 billion is needed in additional mitigation investments by 2030 to enable developing countries to maintain their entitlement. In addition to the question of how this considerable amount for investment is to be shouldered (and by whom), additional hidden costs such as transition costs in choosing a low emission technology path may not be bearable for individual developing countries, particularly when a significant amount of financial resources are already needed to cope with the damages brought on by climate change (Penetrante, 2013b).

Furthermore, measures are also needed to equitably distribute emission rights among developing countries, particularly when the five BASIC countries are expected to contribute the most to the increase of emissions (IPCC, 2007). This raises the question of how national conditions are to be considered in any allocation mechanism. While some countries — such as Australia, Canada and China — are highly dependent on certain high emission technologies (including coal and shale gas), others possess natural resources favoring low emission technologies, such as Norway and Russia. Thus, national conditions favoring or hindering low emission technologies should be subjects of allocation calculations (Penetrante, 2013b).


With economic optimization methods unable to address power struggles, climate change mitigation highly depends on the negotiation process to resolve issues caught between various conflict cleavages. Maximizing utility basically means finding a settlement, because any agreement is collectively speaking better off than a situation without any agreement. An agreement through negotiations will need to be just, fair and equitable for it to guarantee its purpose and implementation.

The entanglement of the climate change negotiations in the North-South divide will be resolved when power asymmetries are overcome through ef-

fective compensation mechanisms that debar any factor that qualitatively limits the participation of any actor — both weak and strong, both in the center and in the periphery of global decision-making. Particularly equity is central to the negotiation framework as only through participation can a system be legitimate. Nevertheless, the first big step for country governments is to find a common understanding of equity that is not a subject to national interests if equity is not to be reduced as merely pretext to national agenda. Although a theoretical concept with various possible definitions, equity can be consen-sually defined by identifying its meaning for the negotiation process and for any outcome that can be achieved.


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