At the UN Climate Change Conferences in Copenhagen and Cancun, INS researchers jointly with researchers from School of Business, Economics and Law, Gothenburg University, examined the degree of recognition for different principles for distributing commitments for climate change mitigation and adaptation (Hjerpe et al. 2011).
Another key principle influencing the climate change negotiations is that of historical responsibility. For over 20 years, Parties to the UNFCCC have struggled with the normative significance of history for the differentiation of responsibilities. At the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, historical responsibility was for the first time the recognized by the UNFCCC Parties in a consensus decision. The INS has examined the degree of consensus attributed to the historical responsibility decision, whether delegates believe that the decision will significantly affect future negotiations, and the degree of recognition for conceptual versus proportional formulations of historical responsibility (Friman and Hjerpe 2014).
PRINCIPLES FOR DISTRIBUTING COMMITMENTS FOR MITIGATION
This figure captures the respondents’ degree of recognition for eight principles for distributing commitments for climate change mitigation at two consecutive UN Climate Change Conferences. The principles examined were:
- Proportional reduction based on current emissions
- Result in a decreasing share of total emissions, if Annex 1 country*
- Reduction based in historical emissions since 1850
- Reduction based on historical emissions since 1990
- Reduction based on GDP per capita
- Reduction based on per capita emissions
- Reduction based on the country’s carbon needs
- Reduction based on voluntary contribution
* This principle was re-worded in the COP16 survey, which may explain the large difference between the years.
The figure examines whether the degree of support for the principles differ across geographical regions. The figure illustrates the shares of government respondents indicating strong support (captured as a “6” or a “7” in the survey response) and strong opponent (captured as a “1” or a “2” in the survey response) for the eight principles listed in five geographical regions.