Discussing Greenhouse Development Rights – 17 questions
Some while ago I posted a summary of the Greenhouse Development Rights (GDR) framework here in my blog and wrote also a GYG-discussion paper here on the GYG-website. The concept comes from several actors including the Heinrich Boell Foundation where I am not working.
We had an expert-talk at the Boell and I noted down some questions. It was actually about the difference of GDR and Contraction and Convergance (C&C) but I chose just to pose the GDR-related question.. this is enough I guess.🙂
Discussion Greenhouse Development Rights – The next best solution?
1.Is GDP really the best variable to measure responsibility and capacity? Isn’t wealth better than income, and could HDI be and indicator?
>>> Income naturally has a different value in the different countries. Actually, GDRs is flexible here as long as the new indicator is universally measurable, reportable and verifiable. China actually distributes emission-rights within the country according to the HDI. On the other side: this is about climate-costs and not about “the good life”. To ask provocatively: Shall Cuba finance Brazils mitigation action?
2.Doesn’t this “development” mean the anachronistic way of development – hence allowing the poor to make the same mistakes the Global North made? Shouldn’t they also have some obligations?
>>> They should give/sell their (massive) no-regrets emission reductions to the states that have to reduce a lot. Thus, helping the climate without restricting development.
3.Who defines what (and how much) is “no-regrets”?
4.The calculation wants to be based on individuals, but gives states obligations and hopes that they will be distributed the burden in a just and fair way among their people.
>>> GDR does not want to be an individual model, and just uses the numbers.
5.GDR is based on an individualist assumption. This might work in the Western world, but how about GDRs in a collectivistic society like China?
>>> This is philosophy. The rationale of politics is – call it good or bad – very “westernized” all over the world. Philosophy comes into play when selling this to the people. China can do this (see above at 1.)
6.How does GDR take changing populations into account? Isn’t the framework an incentive to let the population grow – which actually is a problem in most developing countries?
>>> Indeed does GDR give a bonus to higher poor populations. This could be avoided if the amount (total or relative) of people below the development threshold that is taken into the calculation is limited to the initial amount plus X. On the other hand, this would start a division between people inside and outside the calculation and the framework loses its universal approach.
7.The GDR explicitly takes “offsetting” as a mechanism by which the Global North invests in the Global South to reduce overall emissions. Isn’t this bad taking into account all the disadvantages of the current CDM?
>>> The industrialized countries have to reduce so many emissions (over 100% by 2050!) that they have to “offsett”. This is no excuse for the “hide-behind-the-poor-CDM”, but GDR is more radical! Not every country has to mitigate, but the developed ones have to finance mitigation for developing countries in top of their actions.
8.The GDR framework requires a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario to work as an emission-reduction-mechanism (not if it’s just used as a financing-sharing-device). But the BAU is highly political and not set. Further to it, it seems impossible to negotiate 191 different BAUs for all countries.
>>> Keep it simple. Take just the global BAU and calculate form there! The IPCC showed how an intergovernmental science group can direct politics. Alternatively, one might use the Cap and not the BAU… maybe.
9.GDR is talking about this kind of “global middle-class”. But it is just to treat equals as equal and unequals and unequal. This means, if we talk in economic terms, a “middle-class” is different in Sweden from a “middle-class” in Brazil is different from one in Tuvalu or India.
>>> Indeed, there is a “South within the North and a North within the South”. But GDR is the model that comes closest to solving this dilemma. An amount of $7.500 (the development threshold used in the 2nd Edition) may slightly favor the for example the Indian middle-class (which might actually start at a lower income). The disadvantaged “middle-class” of the developed countries (might actually start at a higher income) has some more burden. But firstly, norther nations are more likely to distribute the burden in a just way (discuss!) and secondly they are from the Global North – bad luck! (provocation!)
10.GDR is somehow an end-of-pipe framework. Shouldn’t justice be based on an equal share of atmosphere and not of emissions? After all, the lifestyles and circumstances are different and it might be justified that people in Canada burn more fuel for heating than in Kenya?
>>> First of all, GDR is a device for calculating how much of a burden each Party should carry, it could also be implemented into an atmospheric-regime – if there will be one at some time. Second, it is questionable, if the privatization of the atmosphere (giving a piece to all people, not to the nature or to animals) is real justice. Third, we have a more or less working regime on emissions and mitigation, we should use this thinking and not start the fight at another battlefield – now.
11.Why is resources-capitalization not taken into account by GDR, but jsut emissions.
>>> Because GDR cannot answer all problems of the world at once in the first step (see above at 10.) but it can start at some point.
12.How can GDR be made less complex so that it can be sold?
>>> Good question. But the general idea of taking into account responsibility and capacity to form a number that tells us what the share of burden might be is not that hard to understand.
13.What is GDR doing for a better CDM?
>>> GDR is the device to calculate the burden – it does not give a new “Gold Standard”… there is always more work to do.
14.Which role does actually the past really play? Can’t we just forget it.
>>> The industrialized countries constantly try to forget it, but the developing world is reminding us of the historical debt. It has to be taken into account – somehow.
15.Why does GDR punish countries that are developing in a good way (= increasing income).
>>> GDR does not take the gained wealth away from those countries but welcomes them in the family of responsibility-bearing states. As slowly more and more people will cross the development threshold, the country has a slowly increasing capacity that is taken into account.
16.Wouldn’t it be more feasible to improve the existing markets compared to this revolution?
>>> This would be an in-system solution. It sounds tempting but just because it might be easier. However, we need a revolution in thinking acting and calculating to have a change. There is also the possibility to have side-markets for individual stuff aside the GDR-framework. GDR is not necessarily anti-market.
17.It is always easier to have a model to check your theory. How could GDR be tested?
>>> In theory it could be tried within for example the federal country of Germany. Each single state in Germany gets an RCI-number. Instead of BAU, one can use the new Kyoto-target for 2020. If this works, the framework can be expanded to the EU and then the world.