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WIREs Clim Change
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The greenhouse development rights framework for global burden sharing: reflection on principles and prospects

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The Greenhouse Development Rights (GDRs) Framework is a proposal for a global climate agreement in which the obligations assigned to nations are based on a combination of responsibility (contribution to the problem) and capacity (ability to pay). A key feature of the GDRs framework is that it is modeled on the assignment of a ‘right to development’ to individuals, such that individuals with incomes below a ‘development threshold’ are nominally exempted from obligations to pay for mitigation and adaptation. Obligations for those ‘over the threshold’ are calculated in the same way for rich persons in poor countries and rich persons in rich countries. As income distribution within countries is taken into account and all countries have some wealthy people, all countries have a positive obligation to contribute to global mitigation and adaptation requirements, eliminating the sharp distinction between Annex I and non‐Annex I countries. In the last few years, GDRs has become one of the most widely known of the many so‐called burden‐sharing frameworks that have been proposed. In this essay, one of the co‐authors of the GDRs framework presents the framework's fundamental principles, describes its place in the larger discussion of burden‐sharing and climate justice, and reflects on its prospects in the next phase of the global climate negotiations. Hopefully it will be helpful both to readers new to GDRs and to our existing supporters and critics. WIREs Clim Change 2013, 4:61–71. doi: 10.1002/wcc.201

Figure 1.

Total global mitigation requirement, divided into ‘national obligation wedges.’ The widths of the wedges reflect the shares of the global mitigation burden that would be borne by particular nations (or groupings) in proportion to their share of the total global RCI. See text for discussion of BAU and ‘AOSIS pathway.’

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Figure 2.

Obligations expressed as mitigation requirements below BAU for the United States, China, and India. For all countries, estimated cost‐effective reductions are shown by the dotted line labeled ‘Illustrative domestic emissions’, and their GDRs allocation by the dashed line. For the United States, its allocation is less than its domestic emissions, and the lower (aqua) wedge represents the ‘dual obligation’ to support mitigation in other countries. For China and India, their reduction requirement is less than their estimated domestic emissions, thus they can be expected cooperate in meeting this additional reduction goal (shown by the brown wedge) with international financial support and technology transfer. Note that the Y axes have different scales.

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