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Burden-sharing made simple

Who should foot the bill for saving the planet?

By Vijay Joshi   November 2009

Delegates at Copenhagen will be bitterly divided on how the cost of tackling climate change should be shared between advanced and developing countries. After all, the concept of ideal fairness is highly controversial: philosophers have debated it for centuries. When it comes to a deal on global emissions, is such a thing even possible?

Developing countries (DCs) make two arguments about fair burden-sharing. The first is based on historic responsibility for the accumulated stock of carbon emitted by advanced countries (ACs). The ACs have used up a large part of the safe carbon-absorbing capacity of the atmosphere and should compensate…

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