Top-down Proposals for Sharing the Global Climate Policy Effort Fairly: Lost in Translation in a Bottom-up World?

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    Abstract

    A range of scholars and policy advocates have proposed formulaic (or 'top-down') approaches for calculating countries' fair shares of the global effort to mitigate climate change. The practical relevance of top-down proposals has become increasingly uncertain as climate change negotiations since the 2009 Copenhagen Accord have adopted a 'bottom-up' or 'pledge-and-review' approach that allows states considerable latitude in how they frame their pledges. With many commentators expecting that the post-2020 climate change agreement currently under negotiation will adopt a largely bottom-up approach, a major concern is whether and how an approach of this kind is compatible with securing equity and integrity in the climate regime. In this chapter I argue that a more nuanced perspective on the top-down/bottom-up debate is required. I proceed by endorsing the commonly held view that top-down proposals typically prioritise distributive equity over institutional feasibility, whereas the converse holds for bottom-up proposals. However, I argue that a more comprehensive evaluation of proposals for sharing national efforts also needs to take account of their procedural equity. Top-down proposals frequently provide less clarity than bottom-up proposals on how procedural equity could be assured. Accordingly, a hybrid approach combining elements of top-down and bottom-up proposals may be better suited to advancing both substantive and procedural values simultaneously. In the latter part of the chapter I argue that, even if top-down proposals are not formally adopted in a multilateral climate agreement, they may nevertheless exert an important positive influence on the equity and integrity of the climate regime. I distinguish three ways in which top-down proposals could boost accountability and deliberative quality: as input into multilateral assessment of national pledges; as an anchor point for civil society campaigns; and as guidance for national policy-makers
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationEthical Values and the Integrity of the Climate Change Regime
    EditorsHugh Breakey, Vesselin Popovski, Rowena Maguire
    Place of PublicationAldershot, United Kingdom
    PublisherRoutledge
    Pages89-104
    Number of pages16
    ISBN (Electronic)9781315580302
    ISBN (Print)9781472469595
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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  • Cite this

    Pickering, J. (2015). Top-down Proposals for Sharing the Global Climate Policy Effort Fairly: Lost in Translation in a Bottom-up World? In H. Breakey, V. Popovski, & R. Maguire (Eds.), Ethical Values and the Integrity of the Climate Change Regime (pp. 89-104). Routledge.