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''Why should Southern nations sacrifice opportunities for development to address a problem primarily caused by industrial nations? How do proposed climate change solutions address equity concerns''

Equity and efficiency are critical in addressing climate change as the global action necessary places an additional burden on the poorest of the poor in Southern Nations. Climate change activities have the potential to create significant international and intergenerational implications for equity and sustainable development. Impoverished
countries do not produce the bulk of greenhouse gases and given their struggle to develop they should not be asked to sacrifice the scarce opportunities they have for development for a problem primarily caused by the Northern nations. The Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) exposes both the benefits and inherent contradictions mitigation and adaptation activities for climate change entail in relation to Southern Nations. The global environmental problem of climate change can not be addressed ‘unless we also take on the entrenched structure of global poverty’ (Hossay, P 2006, p192).

Climate change is a long-term problem that involves complex interactions between climatic, environmental, economic, political, institutional and technological pressures. Projected climate change is not confined to national boarders rather it is likely to affect all nations and their natural resources jeopardising future developments across the globe. Evidence demonstrates that the need to decrease green house gases (GHGs) is ‘not a luxury but a necessity’ as the survival of the human race is potentially under threat
(Ravindranath 2002, p 232).

Arguably Southern Nations should not have to sacrifice all their opportunities for development however in relation to climate change the kind of development that has taken place in wealthy countries cannot be duplicated in the impoverished world without grave environmental consequences. It is estimated that by 2020, CO2 emissions from developing countries ‘could be higher than those of industrialised countries’ (Oberthur 1999, p 27). Thus climate change embodied in the emission reduction problem needs to be addressed with equity and efficiency. Arguably environmental policies ‘need to move away from a strictly sectorial approach’ to incorporate broader social (equity), economic and environmental considerations (Ravindranath 2002, p225).

Not only are the effects and ability to adapt to climate change unequally distributed but the responsibility for the climate change problem is even more unequally distributed. The fossil fuel use by the world’s poor on a per capita basis is almost negligible thus in relation to climate change the innocent are suffering the effects of something from which they drew little or no benefit. Southern nations remain far behind the industrialised world in terms of emissions per person. Data collected in 2001 revealed that the industrial world cumulatively contributed towards 63% of the world’s CO2 emissions (Ravindranath 2002, pg 233). In other words three fourths of the world’s population living in developing countries account for less than one third of global CO2 emissions. India’s Centre for Science and Environment pointed out that even when the poor nations emit as much as the wealthy nations, 20% of the world’s population will still be responsible for 50% of its carbon (Dunn 1998). Considering that carbon dioxide burned remains in the atmosphere for over 100 years, equity demands that the damage the Northern nations have done in the past be accounted for.

Roberts (2001) contends that underdevelopment is largely the historical product of past and continuing economic and political relations. An examination of the climate change debate requires the ‘survival emission’ of Southern nations to be contrasts against the ‘luxury emissions’ of Northern nations (Oberthur1999, p 27). In the debate relating to emissions reductions obligations the ‘survival’ and ‘luxury’ emissions contrast was effectively articulated by China’s lead negotiator who said, ‘in the developed world only two people ride in a car, and yet you want us to give up riding on a bus’ (Roberts, 2001 pg 506). The greenhouse gases emitted from Southern nations are on the whole emitted from necessity or as a result of poor infrastructure or outdated practices. For example many of the world’s poor continue to gather firewood or animal waste for fuel which when burnt adds new carbon to the biosphere. In the reduction of emissions debate to ask Southern nations to stop development at a level Northern nation would never consider returning to is hypocritical.

We advocates of climate change, we do we suggest. Should the poorer nations or southern nations jeopardize their development for climate change mitigation measures?

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Comment by Mika Huettner on November 16, 2009 at 9:24am
There is an interesting article on the topic under
called How can justice, development and climate change mitigation be reconciled for developing countries in a post-Kyoto settlement?
Hope this is of help
Comment by Dian Intarini on November 12, 2008 at 1:51pm
hey guys

Do you think that we need kind of a global contract to address issues such equity, evectiveness and fairness on climate justice to cut the emissions under 500ppm or even 350 ppm by 2050?
Comment by Mika Huettner on November 11, 2008 at 6:25am
There is an interesting newsletter about poverty and climate change released:

The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) has just launched The IDS Bulletin 39.4 ‘Poverty in a Changing Climate’.

Climate change has become a mainstream development issue. Impacts are threatening poverty eradication efforts and climate change poses rights and equity questions. The latest IDS Bulletin links adaptation with a variety of insights and approaches from poverty and vulnerability to confront these challenges.

‘Poverty in a Changing Climate’ reframes the adaptation debate and puts forward a pro-poor adaptation agenda that acknowledges the differentiated and multidimensional nature of poverty for effective, efficient and equitable adaptation measures at all scales.

The issue brings together field practitioners, academics, researchers and policy makers who examine the theory and practice of adaptation through a range of poverty lenses.

· The linkages are examined between adaptation and major poverty arenas including chronic poverty, rights and social justice, pro-poor growth, pro-poor urban governance, asset-building and livelihood diversification.

· Practical lessons are drawn from disaster risk management, social protection, micro-finance, climate insurance, climate science and adaptation tools address conceptual and operational challenges for delivering a pro-poor adaptation agenda.

For more information visit
Comment by Mika Huettner on November 6, 2008 at 7:53am
GreenhouseDevelopmentRights report for HBS 2008-10-13_endv.pdfThere is a brand-new report on Greenhouse development rights.See attached.
Comment by Mika Huettner on October 27, 2008 at 12:49pm
@ Bea: sorry, I am busy at the moment, but I will read your thoughts soon!

For those of you, who want to read more on environmental justice in general, there is an open journal special issue:
Comment by Beatrice Misa on October 22, 2008 at 2:27pm
Hi Mika,

Forgive if the following reply will be a bit messy, I am sort of sleepy.

The businesswoman in me (for that is my background) contemplates whether she could still say that polluting paths are fiduciary-- but in all angles this assertion only means that the planning horizon and scope are much too shortsighted for these times of resource uncertainty. I'm sure this you agree with, and along with trading schemes, these must be magnified through other national policy measures.

I'm not saying "leave it to the free markets" because that has obviously allowed us to go to shits. I believe that carbon markets are very valuable and quite effective in countries where international government hold much water-- but quite iffy in places that have contrary situations. It relies on several factors that people from some developed nations may take for granted-- including a central government force to quantify and manage carbon internal within a country, and a civil society to monitor the private sector.

I think that, unfortunately, as carbon markets make it less feasible to do large mega-return and mega-destructo projects in developed, carbon-conscious countries, the options for funding such efforts will migrate into those with less regulation. This puts to the picture an additional cost to any international carbon trading market for monitoring (or ensuring monitoring). In a world where local governance varies greatly, expanding the concept of carbon trading beyond a region (which might have more or less homoegneous capacities and motivations to monitor emissions) has many nuances to consider. At this point, that makes it seem very costly to me, and quite weird when it comes to cross-introducing credits from other parts of the world. Doesn't make the system useless, just begs the question of maybe different approaches working in different parts of the world.

(The existing carbon market effects in Asia are actually encouraging the creation of environmentally destructive large hydropower dams

On the other hand, I was speaking about local innovations that are happening in terms of options that do not pollute. Perhaps because I am from a country that does not have as much investment in polluting infrastructure and its accompanying systems-- there is still an underlying local frame that can be much more easily (and cheaply) tapped to create a scenario that benefits the people directly, financially and in terms of resilience. This may seem pie-in-the-sky to European nations, but for many in the developing world, it is here that our leverage points actually lie. Of course, these will not be so easily promoted by the national, because it is beginning to mean something of a shift to some informal (or non-taxable, not easily quantifiable) transactions.

For sure climate cap-and-trade is a really innovative scheme (calling it innovative now seems funny, but when they started to roll it out, didn't it seem a bit impossible to scale up??). I'd like to see something similarly innovative that tackles the very (financial and narrow, in my opinion) metrics of that countries go by-- something that will provide a strong impetus for structural "expensive" change, which I haven't seen carbon trading effecting just yet, and honestly sometimes I see the trading scheme as a method of delay. Hmmm something to be vigilant about, and to find a creative policy/design solution to! I don't really have a brilliant Drayton-esque idea for that, except I've seen that very local governance really helps going beyond only what is currently quantified.

Perhaps I have this kind of view on carbon trading because I think it is almost impossible to implement in my own context, because the "reaches" of any kind of implementation and monitoring are so pathetic, that the whole thing itself seems a bit open to corruption and inequities.

When you tie that context in with a potentially effective mechanism (e.g. Europe and Asia), you have dishonesty and incompatibilities in matters of additionality, whacked-out valuation, etc. For as long as there is allowed credit introduction from places with these situations, the effectiveness of the trading where it is needed will be compromised. This is just something to keep in mind.

Different leverage points for different regions...

I don't know if I was saying only the same thing over and over again... but I am going to sleep now.
Comment by Mika Huettner on October 21, 2008 at 6:44am
Dear Bea,
I wish you would be right in saying, that it is becoming less economical to pollute. Unfortunately we can see the opposite in many countries at the moment: China is mostly using coal, since it is much cheaper than oil. Italy, Poland and others even want to rethink their emission reduction targets, since they claim, it burdens their economy in the current situation. This is very short-sighted! To really have an incentive to save energy and material, their costs need to rise. That is why a well-designed emission market could catalyze faster, more efficient use of our resources, since it would make them more expensive. And since I think humanity won´t change - it might be not the best, but the savest solution to protect the environment.

As a second issue you mentioned the adaptation crisis. I fully agree. But that is another reason I am promoting emission trading based on an equity approach, so that developing countries could sell emission rights. This would allow them to finance adaptation measures (although I think the developed countries should provide extra for this, since its their fault). However - once again from experience - the current adaptation fund under the UNFCCC is a bad joke compared to what is needed. And I have the feeling that those voluntary contributions from the rich countries will always remain low.

So in the end: Yes, we have to change our way of living and yes, we need to solidarize with the poor to fight climate change (and other pressing crises). But here is a fundamental question: Do we believe in the good in mankind...that everybody will change to the better? Or are we rather pessimistic and believe in the laziness of the human mind, so that we think that tangible measures (like carbon trading) are necessary beyond awareness?
Comment by Beatrice Misa on October 20, 2008 at 8:40am
Carbon markets have been discussed very intensively, and they are very useful, but... What if we are not so interested anymore in a polluting mode of development? Can we leapfrog this altogether? As it is becoming less economical to pollute (with energy the way it is, and with non-cyclable materials losing in local policy), trading and capping become just transitional tools for us.

Allow me to draw attention to another inequity. I come from a country with no significant impact on GHG emissions, and yet is pinpointed by scientists to be one of the most affected (some say the most) by climate change.

While local economies are being strengthened, and renewables being actively explored, we are hoping for less reliance on fossil fuels. Will this stop the typhoons and destroyed crops? Not really. So many re-localizing economies have this year been left damaged by abnormal climate. This is where the real inequity is. Those who are practicing sustainable agriculture have experienced losses due to never-before seen occurrences.

I think the skewing is not so much in our right to amass capital through an (increasingly) unsustainable mode, but actually our ability to live sustainability in the face of natural disasters and climate change. This is very clear to us, we are already experiencing it, especially those who have found progress possible without pollution. We have been developing as a species without fatal pollution for very long-- we in developing countries still actually remember that tangent.

What we need help in adaptation measures... research, capital support, etc., to help us collect information and means to cope with changing land use, weather patterns, etc.
Comment by Mika Huettner on October 14, 2008 at 8:05pm
Dear Edwin,
thank you very much for this crucial points about the true responsibility of climate change! I agree on the facts that developing countries carry a very little share in emissions, but yet I believe that they can play a eminent role in climate protection, without jeopardizing their future. Under a global post-2012 climate regime the global targets need to be set: in which world we want to live? or What can we do to avoid dangerous climate change? The answer to this needs to reflect the evidence from climate science (see my blog post on the new study of the GCP: We need to reduce the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere to 350 ppm until 2050. To achieve this, we have to divide the rights to emit CO2 among global citizens. A good concept -although not perfect - is presented by the Global Commons Institute: Contraction and Convergence.
See also:
Other attemps for an equitable share of the carbon burden is provided on a study called South-North-Dialogue - Equity in the Greenhouse
If you want to learn more about other approaches, please also consider the Greenhous Development Rights approach:

In all these approaches, developing countries citizens get a right to emit, which they can sell to developed country carbon markets and thus financing a more sustainable development - cause normally it is cheaper to increase energy efficiency (and carbon efficency) in developed countries.
What do you think about these approaches?



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