In this article we present a new framework called ‘Greenhouse Development Rights’ (GDRs): a formula for the calculation of national obligations on the basis of quantified capacity (wealth) and responsibility (contribution to climate change). GDRs seek to preserve the ‘right to development’ by exempting from obligation any income and emissions under a ‘development threshold’.
By taking into account the distribution of income and emissions within countries, and calculating national obligations as if they were the aggregated obligations of individuals, the framework treats every global citizen identically, and allocates obligations even to poor countries that are proportional to their actual middle-class and wealthy populations. When coupled to a trajectory of rapid emissions reductions (for example, 80 per cent reduction below 1990 levels by 2050), the framework results in larger reduction obligations for both rich and poor countries than they currently seem prepared to accept. However, the formula may be ‘fair enough’ to break the impasse that currently separates rich and poor countries in the negotiations.