The new climate regime: sustainable development framework for the vision, ambition, accountability and international cooperation

  • 27/08/2012

The new climate regime will lead to commitments only for developing countries, because the United States, which did not ratify the legally binding commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, continues to insist on a framework with nationally determined emissions reductions monitored at the global level. The unresolved issue is multilateral agreement, on the basis of a political decision, when one criterion does not suit all countries. If there is no agreement on equity as the guiding principle, for national actions rather than for accountability norms, the next best solution would be to develop a review process with qualitative, rather than quantitative, indicators of the modification of longer term trends. This arrangement will reorient the deliberations in the annual meetings away from the current ‘finger pointing’ to areas that would benefit from further international cooperation. We can no longer avoid the question how a continually growing economic system can fit within a finite ecological system. Natural resources underpin the functioning of the global economy and the quality of life of all citizens, and the concern over limits is not new. What is new is the scientific evidence that the global commons will soon not be able to absorb the waste carbon dioxide of industrial activity, urbanization and excessive consumption. Therefore, the core principle for the new climate regime is no longer balancing responsibility and capacity related to costs but equality, where each human being has equal rights or, more broadly, must have equal opportunities for wellbeing, and an equal entitlement to the natural carbon sinks.

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