Chapter 3: The reinterpretation of common but differentiated responsibilities in the climate regime
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The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) has guided international climate politics as a fundamental norm ever since the adoption of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992. In the context of global power shifts however, the operationalization of this principle has become increasingly contested. In the area of climate mitigation, the exemption of developing countries has gradually given rise to a more individualized as well as a more informalized system of differential treatment. At the same time, differential treatment has expanded in the area of climate finance. On balance, these changes reveal an unmaking of the system of differential treatment as we used to know it. Compared to the initial version, the revised interpretation not only puts a stronger emphasis on the ‘common’ element. It also operationalizes the ‘differentiated’ element in a way that is more nuanced, more informal, more voluntary, more individualized, and more forward-looking.