Equity in Climate Change: An Analytical Review

51 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

See all articles by Aaditya Mattoo

Aaditya Mattoo

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Arvind Subramanian

International Monetary Fund (IMF); Center for Global Development

Date Written: July 1, 2010

Abstract

How global emissions reduction targets can be achieved equitably is a key issue in climate change discussions. This paper presents an analytical framework to encompass contributions to the literature on equity in climate change, and highlights the consequences -- in terms of future emissions allocations -- of different approaches to equity. Progressive cuts relative to historic levels -- for example, 80 percent by industrial countries and 20 percent by developing countries -- in effect accord primacy to adjustment costs and favor large current emitters such as the United States, Canada, Australia, oil exporters, and China. In contrast, principles of equal per capita emissions, historic responsibility, and ability to pay favor some large and poor developing countries such as India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, but hurt industrial countries as well as many other developing countries. The principle of preserving future development opportunities has the appeal that it does not constrain developing countries in the future by a problem that they did not largely cause in the past, but it shifts the burden of meeting climate change goals entirely to industrial countries. Given the strong conflicts of interest in defining equity in emission allocations, it may be desirable to shift the emphasis of international cooperation toward generating a low-carbon technology revolution. Equity considerations would then play a role not in allocating a shrinking emissions pie but in informing the relative contributions of countries to generating such a pie-enlarging revolution.

Keywords: Climate Change Mitigation and Green House Gases, Climate Change Economics, Environmental Economics & Policies, Air Quality & Clean Air, Environment and Energy Efficiency

Suggested Citation

Mattoo, Aaditya and Subramanian, Arvind, Equity in Climate Change: An Analytical Review (July 1, 2010). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 5383. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1650474

Aaditya Mattoo (Contact Author)

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
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Washington, DC 20433
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HOME PAGE: http://econ.worldbank.org/staff/amattoo

Arvind Subramanian

International Monetary Fund (IMF) ( email )

700 19th Street NW
Washington, DC 20431
United States

Center for Global Development

2055 L St. NW
5th floor
Washington, DC 20036
United States

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