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Climate, Justice and Development:

The case for Global Equity

Mr. Richard Sherman
GEM-Group for Environmental Monitoring


The Third Conference of the Parties (COP3) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) took place in Kyoto in December 1997. Article 17 of the Protocol requires the governments of the world to define the principles, rules and modalities governing international emissions trading. They have to define the conditions for the involvement of all countries in this so-called "flexible mechanism", as it is rapidly becoming a key feature of the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC.

At present the industrial countries are about to establish a property rights regime for themselves alone in the global common space of the global atmosphere, that is both internationally inequitable and ecologically unsustainable.

Before COP4 in Buenos Aires, developing countries still have an opportunity to strategically define terms of engagement with the developed world on this issue. It is critical that these terms are both internationally equitable and ecologically sustainable. Only as such can international emissions trading become a legitimate mechanism to flexibly assist and therefore hasten the global solution to climate change.

EJNF takes the view that applied global equity is the only way forward in this growing global survival crisis.

There is a global solution based on equity and survival. It already commands widespread governmental and non-governmental support internationally and amongst parliamentarians from over 100 countries North and South. The global solution is called "Contraction and Convergence". This pamphlet provides brief information about "Contraction and Convergence" and support for it. It is a diplomatic solution combining the global imperative of ghg emissions reductions – or "Contraction" – with the diplomatic compromise that international ghg emissions allocations in the contraction budget should be the result of a deliberate "Convergence" to equal per capita entitlements globally by an agreed date.

Supporters argue that only when international ghg allocations have been globally negotiated in this equity-specific manner, should international emissions trading be allowed to occur. The property rights that are now being created because of the Kyoto Protocol and emissions trading are in the global commons. It is only prudent sensible to assume that everybody – globally – is an equal stakeholder with an equally legitimate claim to the rights that are being created.

EJNF adopted the "Contraction and Convergence" approach in august 1998 and since then has been campaigning vigorously for its acceptance. We urge the governments of the developed and the developing world to accept this rational and constitutional basis for dealing global climate change.

Richard Sherman

Environmental Justice Network Forum (EJNF)

Environmental Justice is about social transformation directed towards meeting basic human needs and enhancing our quality of life – economic quality, health care, housing, human rights, environmental protection and democracy. In linking environment and social justice issues the environmental justice approach seeks to challenge the abuse of power which results in poor people having to suffer the effect of environmental damage caused by the greed of others. This includes workers and communities exposed to dangerous chemical pollution, and rural communities without firewood, grazing and water. In recognising that environmental damage has the greatest impact upon poor people. EJNF seeks to ensure the right to those most affected to participate at all levels of environmental decision making.

The mandate for the establishment of EJNF was given by representatives of more than 100 South African NGO’s and other organisations attending the Earthlife Africa International Environment Conference during September 1992. EJNF was formally launched in 1994. Today the network is comprised of 550 participant organisations comprising the cross-sectoral diversity of South African civil society organisations including trade unions. Churches, environmental NGO’s, community organisations and women’s groups.

The 550 organisations participating within EJNF have jointly resolved to organise with the poor and marginalised to take forward the struggle for environmental justice. EJNF is owned and directed by its participant organisations. Its objective is to make the network participants stronger and more successful in achieving our commonly desired environmental justice goals.

The alliance of EJNF organisations shares the following set of values and social goals:

  • Social Justice
  • Ecologically sustainable development
  • Non racialism and non-sexism
  • People before profits
  • Democratic and transparent governance
  • Acting with and in the interests of the poor, aiming to build their voice
  • Seeking a different and non-hierarchical form of organisation
  • Believing that together we are stronger than alone


Increased global warming and climate changes are upon us. They are the result of human induced ghg emissions leading to their rising concentrations in the atmosphere. This temperature rise is causing the oceans to expand and, as popular ice melts, yet more water is being added to the already rising sea levels. This virtually guarantees the inundation of small island states and coastal zones all over the world. Temperate areas have become hotter and drier and tropical storms and hurricanes are becoming fiercer and more frequent. Every month now sees higher global temperature records being set. These changes are affecting the balance between supply and demand of water resources, food production and energy resources in the developing world and this pattern is set to get worse. The losses faced by the global community over time as the atmospheric ghg concentrations continue to grow are potentially catastrophic. The urgent need to cut ghg emissions to stabilise atmospheric concentrations is immediate. The NAM Summit provides the opportunity for the developing world to establish the globally equitable basis on which this must be done.

Comparing current emissions per person around the world clearly highlights the inequity of the consumption patterns that are causing the global climate change. For example, India’s population of nearly one billion (15% of global) emits an insignificant 0.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person per year, against South Africa’s population of 43 million (0.7% of global) with an average of 7 tonnes per person per year. Next to this, the US population of 259 million (5% of global) averages a staggering 19 tonnes emissions per person per year.

Moreover, atmospheric ghg concentrations are a function of accumulated ghg emissions. When for example the accumulated gross emissions of these countries are compared as %s of total global output, India is responsible for 2%, South Africa for 1% while the US is responsible for 30%. Since there is very close correlation between income levels and greenhouse gas emissions levels, it is not surprising to discover that those who’ve been making the money have been making the mess.

From the perspective of Southern civil society, the politics of global warming and climate change therefore immediately centres on the critical issue; - the political will to change the global inequity in consumption patterns and establish the equitable and sustainable basis for sharing the global commons of the global atmosphere.

In 1992 the international community created the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to this purpose. Immediately the argument of rights-by-income versus rights-per-capita – a North and South battle – came out. It carried right through to the Third Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in Kyoto, Japan in December last year.

At 3 AM on the 11 th of December, the India government brought the negotiations to a standstill. Bleary eyed US negotiators defending the right of excessive industrialised consumption habits, were snookered when India, supported by China and the Africa Group, argued that each person on the planet has an equal right to atmospheric property rights – in effect equal rights to consumption globally. Faced with universal demands to radically reduce emissions, the US proposed a regime for the international trade of ghg emissions entitlements in order to mitigate its difficulties in doing this. The Indians noted that such a scheme required that global atmospheric property rights be defined in advance. And common sense says that this must be developed on a basis that has a prospect of achieving the unprecedented degree of global co-operation required to lower the emissions and halt rising temperatures. Article 17 of the Kyoto Protocol mandates Parties to the UNFCCC to establish this basis.

Civil society critics of the Protocol correctly argue that it does not address the objective of the UNFCCC: stabilisation of atmospheric concentrations of ghg’s. They also note that by making the emissions entitlements for developed countries tradable, the UNFCCC is being used to propagate a regime whereby atmospheric property rights are being created on a basis that excludes the developing world. Bluntly, the long-time polluters get a new, legal right to use trade and bank emissions entitlements, while everybody else receives no entitlements at all.

There is a common sense basis for solving this twin problem. Global emissions must be reduced by 60 to 80% to stabilise the atmospheric concentrations and the international distribution of the remaining entitlements is that they must be the result of a deliberate international convergence to a point of equal per capita shares globally at a debate to be agreed.

If the NAM resolved now to establish these principles of "Contraction and Convergence" at the UNFCCC, then the global rates of C&C could then be negotiated in the light of the evolving scientific evidence of climate changes and damages. Moreover since equitable and sustainable, the resulting international allocations of GHG entitlements can be traded internationally whilst meeting the objective of the UNFCCC.

South Africa’s Climate Change policy process has just begun. The National Steering Committee of the Environmental Justice Network Forum (EJNF) has resolved to campaign in support of the "Contraction and Convergence" proposals that specifically embody the principles of global equity and sustainability. Faced with climate disaster, these simple proposals for equity for survival have an irreversible logic.


The rational outlined above is the only practical and convincing way forward. It is vital that the NAM leaders recognise this and commit themselves to negotiating ahead of COP4 a global solution for what everyone accepts is a global problem. It can only be based on the principle of equity and the establishment of the robust and flexible model provided by the "Contraction and Convergence" analysis.

Representatives of civil society form the South gathered in Durban 19-21 August 1998 at the University of Durban Westville prior to the XII non Aligned movement to consider the priorities and challenges facing the global South in the next millennium.

The NGO’s called on the Non Aligned Movement States to:

  • Reject all attempts by some developed countries to link their ratification of the Kyoto protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change with the question of participation by developing countries in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The NAM should call on all countries to undertake urgent and effective steps to implement their existing GHG emission reduction commitments through domestic action.
  • The NAM should promote corrective actions based on a deliberate convergence to a point of equal per capita shares globally by a date to set by the UNFCCC. Emissions trading for implementation can only commence after these initial allocations have been agreed.


"Contraction and Convergence" is EJNF’s proposal for the international management of global reduction in greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions. "Contraction and Convergence" aims to stabilise atmospheric greenhouse gas (ghg) concentrations at a safe level in accordance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This is done by calculating a global ghg emissions budget and then sharing out that budget on an equitable basis amongst the nations of the world. Many UNFCCC participants including India, China and the Africa Group support the approach. Others believe that no more than piecemeal sub-global arrangements are politically achievable at this time. ENJF thinks that all the sub-global proposals tabled so far are environmentally inadequate because they do not set a ceiling on global emissions. They are also politically unachievable because they would create competitive tensions between the industrial countries that accepted ghg emissions constraints under the Kyoto Protocol and the rest of the world that did not. EJNF believes that "Contraction and Convergence" is the only mechanism devised so far which answers both the scientific and political challenges of climate change. (Formulae for calculating "Contraction and Convergence" are shown in Annex 1.)


Climate change has become a key campaign for EJNF and we have been working closely with the Global Commons Institute (GCI) on "Contraction and Convergence" since the UNFCCC related meeting in June 1998.

In August 1998 the national Steering Committee of the EJNF comprising democratically elected provincial representatives passed the following resolution on climate change.

Noting that global warming and climate changes are having growing and adverse impacts on South Africa and her peoples, such as flash flooding, increasing aridity, increasing crop insecurity and spread of tropical diseases such as malaria,

And recognising that there has been a history of a profond imbalance within the country and between all the countries of the world in the consumption of the resources which have triggered these global changes.

EJNF resolves to promote corrective actions within and between nations that deal both with the unequal consumption and the overconsumption of these resources, particularly those, which lead directly to the release of greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions such as fossil fuels.

EJNF commits itself to campaign in support of the "Contraction and Convergence" proposals that specifically embody the principles of global equity and sustainability.

This means that EJNF will advocate that the apportionment of future international greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions entitlements shall be the result of a deliberate convergence process to a point of equal per capita shares globally by a date to be negotiated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).


"Contraction and Convergence" is designed to provide a framework for the desired smooth transition to a low level of CO2 emissions from human economic activity. While others ghg’s are significant and need to be addressed, each gas should be dealt with individually because of their different nature, sources and sinks, scientific understanding and monitoring capabilities. CO2 is by far the most significant ghg since it is responsible for over 70% of the human-made greenhouse effect. It is the ghg created by man that man most certainly reduce and should be given the most urgent attention. The first step in the "Contraction and Convergence" process must be to determine a safe global annual emissions level far enough into the future for them to be directly linked to a target concentration level. The GCI analysis plots emissions from 1860 to 2200. This provides decision-makers in government and industry with a long-term perspective for planning and investment. To allow for the remaining uncertainties over the scale of climate change impacts, it is important to design a system than can be reviewed and adjusted at regular intervals. This flexibility should also facilitate initial negotiations where a contraction formula can be agreed for the achievement of a given ghg concentration target. On the basis of these criteria, it is possible to establish a formula for a concentration curve that can accommodate any sensible combination of cumulative budget and final emissions level. The contraction formula is shown in Annex 1.


Having defined a global budget, the next problem is to fit all countries, regardless of their current GDP, into the ever-decreasing space beneath that global cap. The core aims of any distribution system proposed under this contraction curve are to achieve multi-lateral consensus, co-operation and emissions trading.

Such a consensus can only be formed around a universally recognised equity rule as the basis for emission entitlement allocations. The problem is that so far, there are diverging views on what is equitable. The most fundamental proposition of an equitable allocation would be based on an equal per capita distribution. This is clearly not an immediately acceptable proposition from the perspective of industrialised countries that have very high per capita emission levels. But developing countries will not accept pro rata reductions based on present consumption patterns either, since they are not historically responsible for the problem. This standoff threatens to delay agreement and dissipate political will.

The simple compromise is convergence. One starts from the present distribution of emissions moving gradually along an agreed trajectory, to a point after which the allocation of emission entitlements has become proportional to population globally, with reductions pro rata thereafter. This might involve an agreement to ‘freeze’ the population numbers in the accounts beyond a chosen date. Since convergence is purely a diplomatic mechanism, it is probably easiest to use a straightforward, linear convergence path. The trajectory is not of critical importance as long as it can be agreed by all parties. Exponential and linear convergence formulae are shown in Annex 1. Once a trajectory has been accepted, negotiations can begin to agree on a convergence date by which emission entitlements are to be equalised. Under overall contraction, the convergence process progressively allocates each country an annual percentage share of the global budget. In this way, any reviews of the global budget can be undertaken in light of evolving scientific knowledge without having to renegotiate the distribution.


The "Contraction and Convergence" package is completed with an emission trading mechanism established on the back of the allocations of ghg emissions entitlements. There has been some opposition to emissions trading on the basis that it provides a loophole and would help industrialised countries to maintain the development status quo. These criticisms only apply where trading is intended under a sub-global agreement in other words without a global emissions cap and without a globally negotiated distribution of the new poverty rights.

Trading under the Kyoto Protocol, as it is currently expressed, will be prejudicial to achieving an effective global solution. For related reasons, the US Senate threatens non-ratification demanding "a global solution for a global problem". The targets for Russia and the Ukraine embrace the idea that emissions entitlements can be retrospectively enlarged beyond what was actually emitted since 1990 to compensate for the economic collapse in the former Soviet Union. This is intended to create a surplus of tradable entitlements that can be exchanged against the surplus of emissions that occurred from the USA since 1990. This superficially attractive idea is currently driving much of the impetus towards emissions trading. But the manner in which these particular credits and debits are being calculated is at present both arbitrary and asymmetrical. This has led to the justifiable criticism of the arrangements as ‘hot air’ trading. These problems do not arise if governments use the global calculus of "Contraction and Convergence".

Indeed, "Contraction and Convergence" rationalises the global distribution of permits in a way that makes emissions trading both necessary and desirable for most parties. The least developed countries will receive high emission allocations, much of which they will be able to trade funds to invest in more sustainable economic development. Trading gives developing countries a real incentive and credit for early emission control measures.

Industrialised countries on the other hand can avoid costly measures, such as early power plant closures by buying emission permits. Trading provides efficiency by achieving global emissions reductions or carbon-contraction at least cost to the world economy. It also addresses problems such as the migration of firms to countries with more generous allocations.

"Contraction and Convergence" provides a complete package for CO2 emissions abatement that is both politically acceptable and fulfils the scientific requirements to prevent catastrophic climate change. The key point is to realise that this solution will not happen through a fortunate accident or an ’evolution’ involving a gradual incorporation of developing countries into the framework established by the Kyoto Protocol. This, because of its loopholes and unambitious targets, will only manage to reduce the projected growth trend of atmospheric CO2 concentrations by about one half of one percent. Delaying the start of "Contraction and Convergence" by 10 years could require 10% more emission final reductions from 1990 levels to achieve the same atmospheric concentration stabilisation


Uncertainties about how much human-induced climate change has already taken place and what is likely to happen in the future are inevitable. However, as figures from the insurance industry reveal, serious economic damage is already being done as a result of the stronger winds, wilder storms and higher waves that global warming is now generating.

We know for certain that CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have been rising for the last two hundred years in line with the rising emissions of CO2 from fossil fuel burning. Global mean surface temperature has risen by 0.6 degrees Celsius over the past century and the global sea level has risen by 10-25 cm over the same period.

The mechanisms linking these observations are understood sufficiently well to establish a causal link between them. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (ghg’s) in the atmosphere trap heat radiated out from the earth’s surface. As these concentrations increase, more heat is trapped and surface temperature rise.

This simple relationship has been obscured by a number of other factors such as changes in solar radiation, changes in cloud cover, aerosol concentrations in the atmosphere and ocean circulation. While this noise has historically masked much of the signal, we are now reaching a point where the signal rises above the noise. That threshold is in itself very significant as it means that we are beginning to experience conditions beyond the range of natural variability. By breaking through this limit of natural variability, we expose ourselves to the risk that positive feedbacks will develop which would accelerate global warming beyond pour control. Many such feedbacks are possible, but since we cannot say accurately when they kik in or how strong they will be, they are often excluded from the climate models used by the IPCC for its scenarios. Likely feedbacks include the partial melting of the permafrost that will release vast quantities of methane, a powerful ghg, and the melting of ice caps and glaciers that will mean that the Earth absorbs more heat from the sun because of lost "albedo" or reflectivity. Increasing forest fires and other ground cover changes now occurring also constitutes a positive feedback loop with atmospheric CO2. Changes in cloud cover, a very complex and imperfectly understood area, could lead either to positive or to negative feedbacks, depending on the nature and altitude of the clouds.


It takes several decades for ghg emissions to change the global temperatures or cause the sea level to rise. By not reducing emissions immediately, we condemn ourselves to the following chain of events –increased ghg concentrations in the atmosphere followed by rising temperatures, followed by sea level rise and other climatic changes – spread over decades and even centuries into the future. The existence of this chain obviously heightens the risk that we will provoke harmful positive feedback mechanisms to kick in and be unable to do anything about them. A major and rapid climate change will have occurred with totally unpredictable consequences. The lags involved in a 450 ppmv and a 550 ppmv scenario are demonstrated in Annex 2 which stretches the analysis two centuries into mankind’s future.

In its first report in 1990, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggested humanity would need to reduce its ghg emissions by a minimum of 60% immediately in order to stabilise concentrations at the then current levels. The IPCC did not state that this had to be done because that was beyond its remit. It was left to the world’s political leaders to decide what concentration of ghg’s in the atmosphere it was safe to reach before storms became too serious or positive feedbacks kicked in. Since then, the European Union has indicated that it considers a CO2 doubling from pre-industrial levels (280 ppmv in 1800) to around 550 ppmv to be a safe limit. More recently, Bert Bolin, the former chairman of the IPCC has suggested that 450 ppmv should be considered the limit. The truth is, no one knows. Moreover, it must not be forgotten that even the present ghg level of roughly 360 ppmv may prove not be safe because of the time lag between a rise in concentration and the effect that higher level has on the climate. Whatever limit we decide is safe, we still need to reduce our CO2 emissions by at least 60% over some specified time frame if stabilisation at that time is to be achieved.

The delays in the way the climate system behaves are probably the most compelling reason for acting immediately in a comprehensive, risk-averse manner. Now that the basic science is no longer in serious dispute, most politicians have accepted that action is necessary. Nevertheless, there is a general reluctance to take long-term decisions because the electoral cycle of democracies has a built in, short-term focus. Politicians fear that climate change requires hard, short term, changes that will be publicly unpopular and have only medium and long-term benefits. Political leadership, not followership, is needed. For these reasons, the preference up to now has been for a piecemeal approach. Yet, there is only a limited "Budget" of CO2 emissions left for the next century before any particular emission limit is reached.

We need to plan now in order to ensure a relatively smooth transition to a low-emission economy dictated by this "budget". The consequences of delay are examined in Annex 3, where three possible scenarios of future action are compared.


Already at AGBM 8 August 1997, four months before Kyoto, the Africa Group of Nations delivered the following statement regarding the global derivation of equitable allocations of emissions entitlements to the final plenary session.

Let me begin by adding the Africa Group support for the statement made by the Chairman of the Group of G-77 speaking on behalf of the G-77 and China. And speaking on behalf of the Africa Group, I wish to commend you on the manner in which you have presided over the negotiations in the AGBM process.

This has been an extremely difficult session of meetings. However, what is crucial is to try to evaluate whether or not the Parties have made headway in trying to strengthen the commitments under Article 4.2 (a) and (b) and advance the implementation of Article 4.1 as was mandated to us by the Berlin Mandate. We shall pack our bags and return home with a sense of concern about the pace of progress that has been made. Unfavourable climatic conditions will continue to plague our economies, our crops will continue to fail, national external debts will remain a problem to us and our basic social infrastructure will continue to suffer as a result of the impacts of climate change. Yet the Annex One Parties –in particular those parties that have chosen to refrain from giving us their numbers – will go home smiling, celebrating their success in holding back the negotiation process. We are grateful to those Parties who have given us their proposals and we look forward to evaluating these proposals in order to access the impacts they will have on our socio-economic infrastructures.

Some of our countries are already in the process of implementing activities to address the problem of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). We wait in anticipation for Annex One countries to show the necessary commitment. As we negotiate the reduction of GHG, the countries of Africa believe that there should be certain principles that need to be clearly defined.

  • There must be limits on all ghg’s if the danger to our climate is to be averted. The IPCC scientific assessment report provides us with the basis for global consensus on such limits. The contrary view does not enjoy much emotional, political or indeed scientific support.
  • A globally agreed ceiling of GHG emissions can only be achieved by adopting the principle of per capita emissions rights that fully take into account the reality of population growth and the principle of differentiation.
  • Achievement of a safe limit to global GHG emissions can be achieved by reducing the emissions of Annex One while at the same time ensuring that there is controlled growth of future emissions from Non-Annex One countries, reflecting our legitimate right to sustainable economic growth. We strongly believe that this will take us along a path to responsible climate management that allows us to reach our goal of defining a mutually agreed point of convergence and sustainable development. Such a convergence must ensure that we maintain a global ceiling on emissions to prevent dangerous interference with the climate system.

When we look at time frames, we believe that insufficient commitment by Annex One countries will only result in delaying our influence on the climate system. If this course is maintained, then we will all suffer and the burden will be even greater for humanity in general. The burden for any future mitigation efforts on those of who have not been historically and currently responsible for creating the problem will be greater.

We recognise that per capita emissions rights, as a form of differentiation is not an easy goal. It calls for deliberate actions to attain reduction targets over time by Annex One Parties and sustainable growth in the Non-Annex One Parties. To do this Africa would need predictable financial resources, technology transfer, education, training and public awareness, systematic observation and research. We look forward to renewed co-operation with other Parties in implementing our commitments under Article 4.1.

We must focus our attention on the most appropriate, reasonable and acceptable timeframe for action. There is an over-riding pre-requisite. The time frame can not be too far away into the future if we are to avoid at all costs the dangers that global climate change poses. The current scientific evidence indicates that Africa faces decline in water resources, agricultural production and economic performance. It is therefore for this reason that we wish to register the seriousness with which we view the effective implementation of the Convention and future agreements emanating from it. Finally, we could request that the Secretariat takes note of the views expressed in this statement on behalf of the African Group of Nations and Parties to the Convention. We look forward to meaningful targets and timeframes for consideration at the next session of the AGBM.


Produced at the 13th General Assembly – Cape Cod, 24-26 August, 1998

Global Response to Climate Change

Recalling the agenda adopted at the XIIth General Assembly of GLOBE International in 1997;

Recognising the threat of climate change and its possible consequences for all the world’s countries, and in particular for the world’s poorest countries;

Recognising that a first step was taken in Kyoto, Japan, at the third Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in response to this threat;

Aware that the Kyoto Protocol leaves some issues unresolved, and that specific rules will have to be agreed to in course of the forthcoming negotiations;

Recognising that changes in climate have serious adverse effects on ecosystem, and thus on human health and well being, and recognising that preservation and restoration of ecosystems is one effective way of slowing down climate change;

Aware that our countries together have a responsibility to lead in the climate change negotiations, and determined to continue to drive the process forward;

Recognising the need to identify gaps and overlaps among the Rio instruments in order to create synergy and identify ways in which linkages between climate change and conservation of biological diversity can be used to slow climate change;

Recognising the work by IPCC outlining marine and terrestrial biotic responses to environmental change and feedback to climate;

Aware of the evidence showing that considerable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved in most industrialised countries at little or no net cost, especially by reducing the waste of energy;

Committed to working in close cooperation with each other, as well as with colleagues from developing countries, to find a way forward, which is agreeable to us, all;

Reaffirming our commitment to the objective of the UNFCCC as stated in Article 2, that the ultimate objective is "the stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate change system" and that "such a level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.

We, Members of GLOBE International:

  1. Believe that the Kyoto Protocol is a sound basis for further work in response to climate change, and call for early ratification of the Protocol in order to ensure achievement of the agreed reductions.
  2. Are committed to ensuring that the Kyoto Protocol delivers real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from industrialised countries by 2008-2012;
  3. Will work to ensure that the COP agrees to unambiguous, clear and fair rules to regulate Joint Implementation, the Clean Development Mechanisms and Emissions Trading;
  4. Will support ways of ensuring that the political will is developed to implement domestic action as required by the protocol.
  5. Will support ways of ensuring that flexibility mechanisms are "supplementary to domestic action", as required by the Protocol; and call upon the European Union, the United States and other interested parties to agree upon the interpretation of this phrase at the earliest possible date.
  6. Will work to ensure that the various flexibility mechanisms are designed to support the preservation and extension of biologically diverse forests.
  7. Support the adoption of a mandate at Buenos Aires to redefine the way in which greenhouse emission cuts are currently shared between countries, following the principle of equity enshrined in the Contraction and Convergence analysis, and urge the summit of the Non Aligned Movement countries meeting in Durban, RSA, to persist in demanding an equitable approach as a precondition for their participation in COP4 at Buenos Aires.
  8. Work for the creation of a synergistic framework linking the Rio instruments which will eliminate redundancies and fill the gaps among them to create a system to effectively address climate change, and endorse the idea of a Convention Watch to enable parliamentarians to identify discrepancies between existing international conventions.
  9. In the light of the above, we will undertake actions such as holding a debate in our parliament to review our countries’ strategy for Buenos Aires regarding how our country will fulfill the commitments we have signed up to Kyoto.
  10. We call upon our parliamentary colleagues from all parties and from all countries to work with us in seeking to achieve the objectives of this Action Agenda.


PREVENTING global warming raises a very serious question for the world’s nations. It means putting a cap or a limit on the world’s greenhouse gas emissions which are accumulating in the world’s atmosphere and threatening to overheat the Earth which has the potential to wipe out humanity, at the worst, and disrupt and dislocate many economies and populations. But since the current process of economic growth is so intensely linked to the use of fossil fuels which are the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, and the world economy is highly unevenly distributed, the key question is: How should the responsibility for this cap on greenhouse gas emissions be shared? The challenge becomes further compounded when we recognise that controlling greenhouse gas emissions has certain economic costs. Therefore, how do nations deal with global warming in a way that is ecologically effective, that is, effective in controlling global warming, and yet equitous and socially just?

The rich nations are trying to frame the rules for trading in emissions. However the methods being used to allocate these are questionable. CSE argue that the rights and responsibilities of both rich and poor countries must be carefully defined in the context of entitlements and also in a way that curb greenhouse gas emissions and that developing countries must take the lead in proposing a system of entitlements, and North-South trading, which is both ecologically effective and socially just.

Equal per capita entitlements

Equal per capita entitlements could be built on one for a combination of the following concepts:

A common per capita emission concept will alone help to move rapidly towards a non-carbon energy world and thus prevent global warming. There can be no better chance to have a socially just and ecologically effective strategy.

  • The emissions absorbed annually by the global atmospheric sinks, especially which arise out of common resource like the oceans, could be distributed equally amongst all the people of the world thus providing each person with an equal entitlement.
  • A long-term per capita emissions convergence target could be identified and each person could be given that as entitlement. This target itself could be kept flexible that can be moved up or down based on latest scientific information available of the seriousness of the emerging threat of global warming.
  • Future atmospheric concentration targets for different greenhouse gases could be agreed upon, keeping in mind that the targeted concentration does not threaten to seriously destabilise the global climate, and then the global emissions budget that would allow humanity to reach that concentration target could be equally distributed among all nations on the basis of equal per capita entitlements. Such a "contraction and convergence" stategy would again hurt industrialised countries economically if the principle of equal per capita entitlements was implemented immediately. Once the principle is accepted, the national entitlements can be steadily phased in towards a convergence point of equal per capita entitlements over successive commitment periods. At the same time the targeted atmospheric concentration could be kept subject to review based on latest scientific information available.

It is obvious that in the future the world will have to accept some common maximum per capita emission for each country in order to deal with global warming. We can’t have a world in which some countries have to freeze their carbon dioxide emissions at one level and other countries at another level. This would mean freezing global inequality. A convergence principle towards a just and sustainable norm can be the only rational principle in such a situation – those who have higher emissions than the norm cut back to the norm and those who have emissions below the norm can reach up to the norm. The per capita principle may sound harsh to many in industrialised countries. On the other hand, it is a very gracious position for developing countries to take because such a position is only asking for the future benefits of the atmosphere to be shared equitably. It is not asking for the factoring in of the past emissions of the industrialised countries which began with the Industrial Revolution and which have already accumulated in large quantities in the atmosphere.

In sum, what developing should not – and nor should industrialised countries expect them to – accept is the principle of trading emissions or, for that matter, international cooperation to prevent climate change which is built on the argument that developing countries a lucrative opportunity to reduce emissions cheaply than in industrialised countries. Trading and cooperation must be built on equitable emission entitlements. Trading cannot simply be carried out to achieve economic efficiency. It must be undertaken in an environment that also promotes ecological efficiency and social efficiency (or social justice).