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Minimum Ethical Criteria for All Post-Kyoto Regime Proposals

Full title: Minimum Ethical Criteria for All Post-Kyoto Regime Proposals: What Does Ethics Require of a Copenhagen Outcome?

The Kyoto Protocol http://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/items/2830.php, ratified by 184 countries (but not the United States) since its adoption in Kyoto, Japan in 1997, set binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change, amounting to an average of five per cent below 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012.  Not only have these targets not been met, but the main provisions of the treaty expire in 2012.

At the UN climate change conference in Bali, Indonesia in December 2007, the international community agreed to negotiate a new climate change regime that will constitute the second commitment period under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change http://unfccc.int/essential_background/items/2877.php.  The first negotiating session took place in Poznań, Poland in December 2008 and the second is scheduled for December 2009 in Copenhagen.  Little progress was made in Poznań on the architecture of the new commitment period, but various proposals were considered on a vision statement to guide negotiations.

This paper, from www.climateethics.org, argues that different post-Kyoto regime proposals may lead to different ethical conclusions but all proposals must satisfy two minimum ethical considerations by:

  • Requiring sufficient greenhouse gas emissions reductions to assure that the international community is on a reduction pathway that will prevent dangerous climate change harm (environmental sufficiency criteria);
  • Beginning to base differences among national allocations on the basis of equity and justice (equity criteria).

“Minimum Ethical Criteria for All Post-Kyoto Regime Proposals: What Does Ethics Require of a Copenhagen Outcome?” by Donald A. Brown