Sharing the Effort

Options for Differentiating Commitments on Climate Change

Matthew Paterson, Michael Grub
Release Date: December 1, 1996

Negotiations launched at Berlin in 1995 call for the industrialized countries to agree, by 1997, on new commitments to limit greenhouse gas emissions in the period after 2000, and for the developing countries to continue advancing their commitments. Several countries have called for the new commitments to be differentiated between the different industrialized countries. Many questions also surround the evolution of developing country involvement, including the differentiation of action among this very diverse group. But little published work has explored options for a fair and efficient distribution of international responses to climate change.

This report presents selected papers from a Royal Institute workshop on the differentiation of commitments, together with an overview of the discussions. The workshop, held in June 1996, brought together leading negotiators and analysts to explore whether and how emission commitments might be differentiated. Topics addressed in the workshop include lessons from historical experience with previous environmental negotiations, exploration of different ways of “grouping” national commitments, proposals for indexing emission targets to GNP, population, or other criteria, and options for developing different commitments for different economic sectors.