Mapping global to local carbon inequities in climate governance- a conceptual framework

Mahendra Sethi

Earth systems are increasingly becoming vulnerable to rampant use, misuse and abuse of natural resources by the humankind, carbon being the most critical. Across the globe, there is an unprecedented demand of fossil-carbon to fuel national economies, while it is their urban centres that act as the guzzling engines of energy and carbon rich fuels. As the world urbanizes further, the 21st century poses a serious challenge in tinkering the global inequities in access and allocation of carbon. Traditionally, disparities were evaluated and negotiated from purely economic or ‘state of development' perspective. While current global climate governance is in policy paralysis over differences in access and allocation of the carbon space, this research attempts to address the fundamental issue of equity and fairness in this debate. It explores theoretical discourse on (a) how carbon inequities thrive within the prevailing climate regime (b) growing role of ethics, fairness and justice in climate governance, and (c) empirical access and allocation of carbon. The paper challenges the ‘North-South' duality and devises a conceptual framework to empirically measure the varying patterns of carbon access from global to local scales. The research bridges links between major global changes- carbon space and urbanization and would be of utmost interest to researchers, policymakers and avid readers of international environmental governance. In view of the inclusion of cities as Goal 11 within the upcoming sustainable development goals and the COP21 to be held in Paris in 2015, this paper offers a shifting paradigm in global climate governance.

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