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The Right to Development in a Climate-Constrained World

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11/24/2008

The vast majority of emission reductions required to prevent an intolerable level of climate change must occur in the developing world, where most emissions now occur and where emissions are growing most rapidly. Yet, the human development aspirations of the developing world require epanded energy services, which in turn seem inexorably to imply increasing carbon emissions. This seemingly inviolable syllogism is at the very core of our climate predicament, as developing countries have unambiguously insisted that, as important as it is to deal with climate change, a solution cannot come at the expense of their development.

The Greenhouse Development Rights framework is a climate regime architecture explicitly structured to safeguard a right to development. As a burden-sharing framework, it defines and transparently quantifies the obligations appropriate to the world's comparatively wealthy individuals – both in the developing countries and industrialized countries – in terms of the UNFCCC's touchstone principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities".