European Capacity Building Initiative

The Oxford Approach: Operationalising ‘Respective Capabilities’

Whether or not the regime emerging from the current negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be based on an explicit cost/burden sharing formula, the debate about (implied) costs/burdens will be central. Such a debate cannot be genuinely meaningful in the absence of an acceptable operationalisation of Article 3.1 in general, and of the concept of ‘respective capability’ in particular.

The Brief proposes a measure for national 'differentiated economic capabilities ('ability to pay') as integral part of an operationalisation. The primary purpose of the measure is to define or assess climate change cost/burden sharing (schemes). To illustrate the potential use of this methodology the Brief considers two examples: assessing the fairness of a given cost distribution; and developing a (rule-based) 'graduation scheme' regarding obligations to pay.

This is a second revised edition of the original ecbi Policy Brief by Benito Müller & Lavan Mahadeva that served as summary for policy makers of a technical report by the same authors published by the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, available at the link below. The revision is mainly with regards to the final section on determining ‘Levels of Capability’

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