Setting ‘Fair’ Member States Targets

To achieve the ambitious global changes set out in the latest IPCC report an “equitable and fair” allocation of carbon reduction and carbon removal targets is necessary. However, there is uncertainty in how countries should take action as the Paris Agreement’s nationally determined contributions (NDCs) do not include carbon dioxide removal (CDR) activities, only those of carbon reduction.

Most economic transition pathways rely on CDR technologies in the quest to limit the rate of global warming. The amount of CDR deployment varies widely across modelled scenarios, with the latest projections suggesting a cumulative global CDR requirement of between 348 and 1,218 Gt CO2 by 2100 to limit warming to 1.5°C, demonstrating the importance to include CDR targets in the NDCs. A challenge in the inclusion of CDRs is the lack of clarity on responsibility and efforts required by individual nations towards meeting a global cumulative target. Furthermore, modelled scenarios typically use technologies which may be more expensive than emission reduction measures, or could generate adverse impacts, therefore the allocation of an overall CDR target is likely to be a sensitive issue that requires a great degree of cooperation amongst nations.

In order to address the inclusion of CDRs in the derivation of targets, a burden-sharing principle can be applied to ensure “fair” targets are set. The most popular principles are based on “Responsibility”, “capability”, and “equality”. With these principles in focus, NEGEM project has reviewed recent framework literature to provide indicative bounds for CDR targets in Europe. 

As this allocation is very complex there is no straight conclusion from this initial research but many points of discussion and directions for further research. To start with, further regional specific appraisals are needed to derive the technical potential for CDR in each country, by accounting for the carbon removal efficiency, and permanence of removal, of each CDR activity.

Another area for further research regards domestic CDR potential (ie. reforestation) against the three principles. Domestically there is insufficient potential to meet targets determined by Responsibility and Capability principles, but sufficient potential to meet those set by the Equality principle.This assessment needs to be expanded to include other relevant CDR options (ie. soil carbon sequestration).

The greenhouse development rights (GDR) framework seeks to balance obligations assigned to nations based on a combination of responsibilities (contributions) and capacities (ability to pay). This framework introduces a Responsibility and Capacity Indicator (RCI) in which equal weightings have been given to both responsibility and capacity in the view that those who pollute more and/or who are more wealthier should contribute more. This framework also uses a ‘development threshold’ concept which is used to identify exempted individuals due to low incomes. The latter requires further justification and regular updating.

There is an obvious need for principles to be agreed and accepted by national bodies and governments to negotiate CDR targets due to the differences in regional shares of the global target. This deliverable concludes that targets should be set using burden-sharing principles, but due to the subjective nature it is recommended that several weighting methods should be used in conjunction to derive ‘fair’ CDR targets.

Download the full report: Member States Targets

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