Historical Responsibility in the UNFCCC
2007 (English)Report (Other academic)
This report tracks the history of historical responsibility in negotiations to and under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The concept aims at attributing individual country burdens in mitigating climate change based on the relative levels of past emissions. A hermeneutic approach and discursive theory has been applied to the empirical material consisting of documents form the main bodies of the UNFCCC. The historic narrative constitutes a basis for an analysis of how the UNFCCC framing of historical responsibility have affected discussions on equity and inclusiveness across the North-South divide. Even though the concept was part of the discursive struggle over the content of the UNFCCC, it has been more central in the struggle to make the principles on equity, established in the Convention, operational. Historical responsibility has been most elaborated in a proposal by Brazil to the 1997 pre-Kyoto negotiations. This proposal combined a biophysical approach (preferred by the North) with that of a political economic approach (preferred by the South). However, the proposal was soon pushed off the central agenda and discussions on the topic turned technical and centred on scientific uncertainties. The biophysical framing excluded discussions on equity. As the proposal was marginalised within UNFCCC as a whole it became central in discussions on comprehensive approaches to historical responsibility. Any who wanted to discuss comprehensive approaches were referred to this forum wherein talks on equity were excluded by rules of discussion. This echoes a world system with a periphery in the global South dependent upon core countries in the global North. The last mentioned have the capacity to set the agenda. The resulting discursive rules, excluding talks on equity, have not been good to the inclusiveness of Southern participants in the discussion process nor favoured much needed dialogue across the North/South divide in climate change negotiations.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Norrköping: Centre for Climate Science and Policy Research , 2007. , 70 p.
CSPR Report (Centre for Climate Science and Policy Research), ISSN 1654-1529 ; 07:01
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-20094ISBN: 978-91-85715-03-9OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-20094DiVA: diva2:233089