IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change Distributional considerations, including equity

Perhaps the most politically charged issue in international negotiations is that of equity. Whether a system of national emission targets within an international agreement can be conducive to social development and equity depends on participation and the initial allocation of emission rights. For example, Pan (2005) suggests that all countries should participate – but that emissions associated with basic needs should be exempt from limits, while emissions associated with luxury activities should be constrained. Conversely, Gupta and Bhandari (2003) suggest that in the initial stages of an agreement, obligations should only be assigned to a limited set of (wealthier) parties. Exemptions to sectors or countries and modifications to the allocation of obligations can help address equity issues. Institutional feasibility

Two aspects of institutional feasibility are critical in reaching successful international agreements: (1) negotiating and adopting an agreement and (2) the subsequent (usually national) implementation of that agreement.

Since international agreements are usually adopted by consensus, successful agreements are often relatively simple and require only a limited number of separate decisions by international bodies. In addition, global agreements usually require that all data and tools necessary for enforcement be widely available and verifiable (or if not, that they become available in the future). While there has been no comprehensive critique of the proposals in Table 13.3 in terms of their institutional feasibility, the latter clearly varies widely – for example, in terms of the extent to which they try to accommodate national circumstances and different levels of technical sophistication. Hence, the feasibility of reaching agreements will also vary accordingly.

A sectoral or technology approach would require multiple decisions: which sectors, which types of technologies, and how to regulate or support them. Choosing the sectors (and determining sectoral boundaries) or technologies for agreement may be difficult – unless participation were voluntary (e.g. the current suite of IEA implementing agreements, or the bilateral and multilateral efforts on specific technologies). This may require compromises on environmental effectiveness and equity. In addition, the assessment of whether a country had fulfilled its obligations would be complex. Philibert (2005a) notes that determining the effectiveness of technology or sectoral agreements could be difficult. In the case of a technology approach, definitive conclusions would likely be delayed until the technologies began to diffuse – and that could mean concomitant requirements for establishing long-lived institutions. The establishment of international institutions to manage coordinated policies and measures or development-oriented approaches may also be complex. While some private sector international institutions exist (e.g., the Aluminium Institute, which has set targets for GHG reductions in aluminium processing among its member companies), most sectors do not have such institutional arrangements. Similarly, while there are institutions designed to promote development (e.g., the Bretton Woods institutions), few have integrated climate change into their portfolios (see Maurer and Bhandari, 2000). Kanie (2006) argues that while the Kyoto Protocol will remain the core of the institutional system, a network will ultimately be both necessary – and increase effectiveness. The creation of a web of institutions tackling climate change and related issues not only ensures that any shortcoming in one institution does not lead to the collapse of the whole system, but it also enhances collective strength.