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SEI brief

’Fair shares’ and intended nationally determined contributions: What can we learn from an equity review?

This brief makes the case that despite the contentious nature of discussions on how to fairly distribute mitigation effort among countries, much can still be learned from a systematic review of pledges based on a broad range of plausible perspectives on fair effort-sharing.

Sivan Kartha / Published on 3 December 2014

Kartha, S., T. Athanasiou and P. Baer (2014). ’Fair shares’ and intended nationally determined contributions: What can we learn from an equity review?. SEI discussion brief.

In the lead-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Lima (COP 20), Parties have begun to offer previews of the contributions to global mitigation they intend to make under the comprehensive climate agreement that is to be completed next year in Paris.

The European Union has pledged to reduce its emissions by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030; the United States is aiming for a 26–28% cut from 2005 levels by 2025; China has said it will have its emissions peak around 2030, and it will cap coal use in 2020.

In the coming months, Parties will begin formalizing these ambitions by communicating their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As their name suggests, INDCs are based not on a top-down determination of how much action is required by science and how that effort should be allocated among countries, but rather on what the Parties themselves are currently willing to offer. Many have called for INDCs to be formally reviewed, to ensure all are doing their fair share, and that collective ambition is high enough to match the agreed global objective of keeping warming below 2°C. Deciding what, if any, review process to set up will be a key agenda item at the Lima conference.

This brief, which draws on the EcoEquity and SEI report National Fair Shares: The Mitigation Gap – Domestic Action and International Support, argues that much can be learned from a systematic ex ante assessment or ex post review of national contributions, and demonstrates that even an open-ended approach that encompasses a broad range of fairness perspectives can yield clear and telling results.

Download the brief (PDF, 1.3MB)

SEI author

Profile picture of Sivan Kartha
Sivan Kartha

Equitable Transitions Program Director


Topics and subtopics
Climate : Climate policy, Mitigation
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