IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change

Distributional and equity aspects

Decisions on climate change have large implications for local, national, inter-regional and intergenerational equity, and the application of different equity approaches has major implications for policy recommendations as well as for the distribution of the costs and benefits of climate policies [2.6].

Different approaches to social justice can be applied to the evaluation of the equity consequences of climate change policies. As the IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR) suggested, given strong subjective preferences for certain equity principles among different stakeholders, it is more effective to look for practical approaches that combine equity principles. Equity approaches vary from traditional economic approaches to rights-based approaches. An economic approach would be to assess welfare losses and gains to different groups and the society at large, while a rights-based approach would focus on rights, for example, in terms of emissions per capita or GDP allowed for all countries, irrespective of the costs of mitigation or the mitigative capacity. The literature also includes a capability approach that puts the emphasis on opportunities and freedom, which in terms of climate policy can be interpreted as the capacity to mitigate or to adapt or to avoid being vulnerable to climate change (medium agreement, medium evidence) [2.6.3].