Equity and spectrum of mitigation commitments in the 2015 agreement

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To what extent and how can equity be operationalized in a spectrum of mitigation commitments? We approach this question through academic literature review and analysis of Parties’ submissions and statements. We argue that a potentially feasible and constructive way forward is a mutual recognition approach. This approach implies that parties should accept a set or norms, and a range of interpretations of these norms, as legitimate. Parties should also respect a principle of reciprocity, which means that any (interpretation of a) principle of fairness invoked by oneself can legitimately be invoked also by others. We apply this approach to the issue of equity indicators, and propose a non-coercive template of indicators approach, building on two critical components: transparency and open, critical review of Parties’ pledges and justifications thereof.



Review of academic studies

In this brief review we distinguish between two main strands of research. One of these – anchored in philosophy but including contributions from several other disciplines – examines basic concepts and arguments as they apply to human beings and to social life generally. The other – with important contributions from law, political science, and economics – focuses specifically on global climate change and explores the implications of basic fairness principles for mitigation and/or adaptation policies. Since the latter is more pertinent to the task at hand, we will review the “applied” research literature more extensively. A brief look at the philosophical analysis of basic concepts and arguments is, however, appropriate. The specific fairness arguments made in the climate change negotiations seem often to invoke basic principles, and the normative clout of these arguments may somewhat depend on their consistency with principles broadly accepted as valid for social life generally.


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