In the UNFCCC countries agreed to prevent dangerous climate change: 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.
At present they are failing in this task. One element holding them back from the necessary action is the concern that they will be asked to do more than is their fair share, and conversely that other countries will ‘free ride’. A common understanding of fair shares – even if it is only approximate – can help overcome this trust barrier and lead to higher levels of ambition from all.
This paper adds to the understanding of what an equitable effort sharing agreement might look like. It outlines the fundamental effort sharing principles contained in the UNFCCC and expands on these principles, presenting an organized set of fundamental and subsidiary principles relevant to assessing fair-share effort-sharing frameworks. It briefly describes thirteen existing frameworks and assesses these frameworks against effort sharing principles.
Cancun was a modest success as it buried the ghost of the failure of Copenhagen. However, the Cancun Agreements postponed important issues that underpin the success, or otherwise, of efforts to fight catastrophic climate change.
The Cancun Agreements provide real opportunities to advance global cooperation in adaptation, forests, climate finance and technology transfer. If all opportunities outlined within the Cancun Agreements are grasped, and parties take the following thoughtful and logical next steps, it is possible that COP17 in Durban could establish the basis for a fair, ambitious and binding global climate change regime. If this does not happen, if instead there is delay and lack of ambition, then we risk losing the chance to keep global warming below 1.5oC and we must face the catastrophic consequences for loss of life, economic growth and natural habitat. Without adequate mitigation, finance, technology and capacity building we will have to accept that poor communities and countries who are already feeling the impacts of changing climate will be picked off the planet.
This is why CAN believes that a compromised or low-ambition outcome is not an option for Durban, and why we set a high but achievable bar for COP 17. Parties can confront this historic challenge with new levels of solidarity and partnership and avert this pressing climate reality, by taking the steps outlined here.