The industrialized countries are alone responsible for 78% of the greenhouse gas emissions accumulated in the atmosphere, though they represent only 15.5 % of the world population.
Greenhouse gas emissions and economic development go together: for example, in industrialized countries, on average, an individual emits up to 5 tons of CO2 per year (11 tons for a French person) whereas the average in the developing countries is around 400 kg of CO2 per year, per inhabitant.
The GHG emissions of each country are proportional to its surface area.
Fairness in combating climate change.
It is undeniable that certain countries carry a heavier responsibility than others for climate change. The sharing of efforts to reduce must then take into account this responsibility; consequently its priority for the North. Also fairness requires that the industrialized countries pay off their "ecological debt" to the developing countries by helping them, through financial means and appropriate technology, to adjust to the consequences of climate change.
This fairness in combating climate change is one of the guiding principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC): the principle of common but differentiated responsibility.
The Criteria of Differentiation are as follow:
- Responsibility: accumulated emissions of CO2 of fossil origin between1990 and 2000
- Capacity: The human development index and the GDG per inhabitant
- The potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: the quantity of emissions and the percentage increase in emissions per inhabitant.
The developing countries are making strong demands that the industrialized countries take up the incremental costs of combating climate change on the grounds of their historic responsibility. . Ecofairness (www.ecofairness.org) and the Stockholm Environment Institute have developed a tool called the "Greenhouse Development Right - GDR". This tool is based on the right to development in a world under carbon constraint. At its core are two indicators: responsibility and capacity.
By «responsibility", we mean the known and cumulative emissions of a country. "Capacity", refers to the "health" of the country concerned and then to the degree to which it is able to respond to the problem. By combining these indicators, the GDR is evaluated for each country:
- Its financial contribution towards the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions (within its frontiers but also outside)
- Its financial contribution towards the implementation of adaptation policies and programs in developing countries.
The respective responsibility and capacity of each State, the guiding principles of this tool, could for example help to guide international discussions so as to guarantee that, when it comes to the sharing of effort, the principle of fairness is adequately taken in to account.
To go one step further
> Lire le livre "Géopolitique et changement climatique", François Gemenne, Editions Armand Colin, 2010.