Differentiation makes the difference 

9 June 2015

ECO has been listening—in the hallways, the plenaries, even the cafeterias—for ideas on how to move forward with differentiation.

In Lima, Parties agreed that the way forward would respect the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” (CBDR+RC), as refracted through the lens of “national circumstances”.

It’s a start, but far too vague to serve as the basis of the principle-based, dynamic differentiation regime needed to ensure ambition within the new agreement, and for it to be equitable to all. This regime will be bottom up. But take note, INDC minimalists—it can’t be entirely bottom up. Not if we want it to incentivise both support and action on the necessary scale.

ECO anticipated this moment, and here’s our advice. The differentiation regime in the new agreement should be based on the Convention’s principles. It will need to operationalise those principles via a set of reference equity indicators that allow us to understand and measure national levels of development.

The facilitated dialogues on various sections here in Bonn need to capture and express the concepts that are floating in the air. The dialogues on mitigation, adaptation, transparency, finance, and legal form need to engage the concrete realities of a world divided between developed and developing, more or less vulnerable, rich and poor. They need to go beyond binary categories to recognise emerging economies and any other relevant categories.

Whilst the facilitated dialogues might not reach exactly the same conclusions, they’ll find real convergence if they look for it.

Lima did leave us with a problem: one defined not only by the conundrum of CBDR+RC but also by the problem of “national circumstances.” Isn’t it obvious that the circumstances of a country’s development stage—per capita income, for example, or more generally per capita capability—is of utmost importance?

No matter how this Bonn meeting ends, the model of differentiation that is negotiated here—mostly in the elements dialogues—is going to set the framework. ECO hopes that this framework serves the basis for the informal ministerial dialogue that the French presidency intends to convene.

And maybe the end result will be a good one: a shared understanding amongst Parties to pave the way for a cooperative and equitable agreement.

Differentiation makes the difference 

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