National Fair Shares: The Mitigation Gap – Domestic Actions & International Support

The National Fair Shares report is a systematic attempt to present the implications of the equity reference framework represented by the Climate Equity Reference Calculator for twelve representative countries and a   selected set of illustrative “cases.” As explained in its abstract:

“We provide illustrative results for various alternative levels of ambition, for various equity settings, and for various estimates of national emissions reductions. We also show that the differences between the cases are much less significant than the similarities, and that a great deal of the detail can therefore be set aside in favor of an “equity band” that is bound by “High Equity Settings” on one side and “Low Equity Settings” on the other. We have defined this equity band to span a wide range of perspectives on fairness, but of course more work remains to be done on this front. In particular, as we explain below, it is easier to argue that the “Low Equity Settings” are “too low” than it is that the “High Equity Settings” are “too high.”

In the course of this analysis, a notable pattern emerges.

  • Countries with relatively high capacity and responsibility are generally found to have fair shares that greatly exceed their own domestic mitigation potential; therefore, if they are to fulfill their entire fair share, they are required to contribute financial and technological support to other countries. For these countries – “Support Contributors” – national fair shares are presented as a combination of domestic and internationally-supported mitigation.
  • Conversely, countries with relatively low capacity and responsibility are able to act entirely within their own borders. It is assumed that they use international support to undertake mitigation in excess of their own fair shares of the global mitigation effort, and by so doing exploit their full national mitigation potentials. For these countries – “Support Recipients” – the national fair share is reported along with the additional mitigation that could be undertaken, assuming sufficient international support.”

This paper aims to demonstrate that the fair-shares discussion can be more than a sterile and frustrating battle of opinions. It  charts out a charitably broad range of fair-share perspectives, and derives a plausible range of fair shares for countries. While these “equity bands” are in some ways quite broad, they are narrow enough to yield clear conclusions about countries’ pledged efforts. In particular, they are narrow enough to tell us if a given nation’s contribution is even remotely consistent with the demands of science and equity, and whether it marks that nation as a leader or a laggard.