Interests and the Failure of the Kyoto Process
In 1991 there was conflict between experts at the US-based World Resources Institute (WRI) and non-Western scientists at India’s Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). WRI research focused on current GHG emissions, which, if they were to be cut, would place a higher burden on developing countries than would have been the case with a ranking based on cumulative emissions over a longer time. The burdens would have been different again if calculated as per unit area or per capita, or even per income group. The troublesome issue of ‘equity’ had been raised. The CSE group went so far as to argue that WRI’s methodology was flawed. It disregarded not only the West’s higher per capita emissions, but also placed the ‘essential’ agricultural emissions of the world’s poor (‘subsistence emissions’) on a par with ‘non-essential’ emissions from the world’s wealthy (‘luxury emissions’) (Jasanoff, 1998, 179–80; see also Hammond et al., 1991; Subak, 1991; Agarwal and Narain, 1991). It was not that a significant group of wealthy Indian citizens did not also emit at high levels per capita, but the general point was made: the reasons for emitting had been ignored and therefore given equal value. The ethical debates surrounding the climate change issue are more complex than this distinction allows, of course. The middle classes in industrializing countries are growing, so the distribution (not just the average per capita) of emissions among income groups inside countries should be part of any genuine ethical debate; anything else becomes a mere...
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