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Towards a Global Compact for Managing Climate Change

Global Wamring by Kevin Dooley

Global Warming by Kevin Dooley

Despite an enormous amount of work done to persuade the world of the dangers of climate change and the need for quick corrective action, there is little progress toward a global compact for managing climate change.

In fact, there are some basic differences of perspectives on climate change policies between developed and developing countries which may bedevil future global agreements on climate change for quite some time.

Among the reasons for these differences are the issues of historical responsibility for carbon emission by the developed countries, the need for lifestyle changes in both the developed and developing countries, suspicion in the developing countries about the motives of developed countries and too much focus of current discussions on the very long-term and global effects of climate change.

Ramgopal Agarwala of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements has written a paper entitled “Towards a Global Compact for Managing Climate Change” that presents an approach where the perspectives of the developing and developed countries are sought to be reconciled.

According to Agarwala’s paper, a credible global compact for climate change must satisfy five criteria:it must be comprehensive, equitable, realistic, efficient and effective.

Realistic Target For Reduction In Carbon Emissions

Based on these criteria, it seems that the target of at least 50% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 is unrealistic. A more realistic target is stabilization of CO2 emissions at present levels until 2050 and a 50% reduction by 2100. With the target of per capita equality in CO2 emissions by 2050 and allowing for developmental needs of the developing countries, this approach leads to a target of 5% annual reduction in carbon intensity of GDP for both the developed and developing countries.

In terms of overall CO2 emissions, this leads to a 3% annual decline in developed countries and a 1% annual increase in developing countries. The targets for the developed countries are mandatory in so far as they can be achieved by national action. For developing countries, the targets are conditional on receipt of funding and technology from international sources.

Funding Issue is Crucial

The funding issue is crucial for a global agreement and there is no solution in sight on that count. The developed countries seem unwilling to make commitments on massive transfer of resources to developing countries for managing climate change and the latter are unwilling to make any commitments on emissions without such resource transfers. Clearly some innovative ideas are needed, one of which could be the use of seigniorage in global finance for funding the truly global public good of managing climate change.

Download and read the complete text of “Towards a Global Compact for Managing Climate Change” here.

Image Credit: flickr (Kevin Dooley)

Written by Reenita Malhotra

Reenita Malhotra Hora is an Ayurveda clinician, entrepreneur, writer and mom. Her experience has ranged from running Ayoma, an Ayurveda business to running a natural health practice at San Francisco's California Pacific Medical Center.

Reenita is a published author of two books books about health and wellness: ‘Ayurveda - the Natural Medicine of India’ and
‘Inner Beauty’. She is also the Editor for Green Options Media's business blogs and a freelance writer for a variety of print and web publications.

In quieter moments, she likes to spend her time hiking, swimming the warm seas, cooking with the family or writing fantasy fiction adventure stories for kids from from 2 to 92.

Check out her wisdom at


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  1. Upper levels for stabilizing a safe world for ourselves and those to follow may as some are reporting have already been breached. We need to forget our myopic focus on cost and the economy and acknowledge our responsibility to those who we are putting in harms way.

    Bob Williamson
    Greenhouse Neutral Foundation
    Author of ZERO Greenhouse Emissions – The Day the Lights Went Out – Our Future World

  2. I am curious about on what per capita carbon consumption reduction % is necessary relative to the requirements of business under this 2050/2100 stabilization formula. I agree that consumer behavior modification is critical and would like to have more insights on individual responsibility vs. corporate (other than “we simply all need to do our part”).

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