"The danger posed by war to all of humanity - and to our planet - is at least matched by the climate crisis and global warming. I believe that t he world has reached a critical stage in its efforts to exercise responsible environmental stewardship."
- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Parliament and Climate Change
Unit 8: Responding to Climate Change through International Negotiations
Contraction and Convergence
While the Kyoto Protocol is the legally binding international regime on climate change, a number of proposals have been put forward as alternatives for future regimes. Brazil proposed setting differentiated emissions reduction targets for Annex I countries ranked according to the impact of their historic emissions on temperature rise. In general, countries with a longer record of greenhouse gas emissions will have a greater share of responsibility for emission reductions than countries where industrialization started later. The proposal was originally designed for application to Annex I countries. However, it could theoretically be applied to developing countries as well. “Contraction and Convergence”, conceived by the Global Commons Institute in the early 1990s, is a framework based on equity. Contraction and convergence uses two principles: contraction of global carbon emissions and convergence of per capita emissions across the world’s population. It proposes reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions to a safe level, or “Contraction”, where global emissions are reduced because every country brings emissions per capita to a level that is equal for all countries, or “Convergence”. The convergence mechanism assists in distributing emission allowances and eventually, at the end of the convergence period, countries will have allowances in proportion to their populations. Developed countries would be the first to make large cuts in their emissions levels, whereas developing countries would be permitted to keep increasing their emissions levels for a period before also beginning to cut their emissions. This framework, intended to form the basis of an international agreement is expressed as a simple mathematical formula, which can be used as a method for stabilizing carbon levels in the atmosphere.