Sharing Carbon Budgets with Developing Countries


The mitigation potential in developing countries is huge (precisely because most of the infrastructure that is implied in their future emissions trajectories is not built yet) but we cannot justifiably expect them to shoulder all the effort of avoiding these emissions without assistance (financial, technological and in terms of capacity building). The fact of our past, current and continuing overuse of the carbon budget is the moral imperative to do that. This also implies finance and other assistance for adaptation and for dealing with the unavoidable Loss and Damage.

There are a number of different sharing strategies of varying degrees of "fairness". Click here to read an overview of various sharing strategies by Australian Government Climate Change Authority

Population-based Sharing

This is also referred to as Equity sharing. The share of the budget that a country gets will match their share of the global population.

Canada's population is approximately 0.5% of the global population.

Emissions-based Sharing

The global carbon budget could be shared on other principles such as a country's share of global emissions (also referred to as Inertia).

Canada's share of global emissions is approximately 1.7%.

Problems with Both Population and Emissions-based Sharing

Population-based sharing is deeply unfair and inequitable. It is not as inequitable as "emissions-based," but pretty much as bad. As far as using them as approaches to share a remaining budget, they are mainly flawed because the arbitrary "decision" (which is typically implicit only) that the smallest possible slice of a remaining carbon budget is zero. This is arbitrary and the root of most of the fairness issues with budget-sharing approaches: taking into account past responsibility and current capacity, many wealthy countries have used more of their fair share of the total carbon budget and have accumulated a "carbon debt," suggesting a negative slice of the remaining budget for them - using any approach that arbitrarily limits the size of the smallest possible slice to zero is structurally biased towards these wealthier countries, as the expense of the poor people of this world.

Contraction and Convergence

Contraction and Convergence strategy consists of reducing overall emissions of greenhouse gases to a safe level (contraction), resulting from every country bringing its emissions per capita to a level which is equal for all countries (convergence). Developed countries reduce their emissions at a faster rate than developing countries. For information on Canada and Contraction and Convergence click here.

Common but Differentiated Convergence

This strategy aims at equal per capita allowances in the long run. In contrast to contraction and convergence, it considers more the historical responsibility of countries. Annex I countries would have to reduce emissions similarly to contraction and convergence, but many non-Annex I countries are likely to have more time to develop until they need to reduce emissions. Non-Annex I country participation is conditional to Annex I action through the gradually declining world average threshold. No excess emission allowances (“hot air") would be granted to least developed countries.

Gross Domestic Production (GDP)

This strategy is based on a country's share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Canada's share of global GDP is approximately 2.0%.

Fair Shares Methodology


Fair Shares strategy was proposed by Civil Society Review in the lead up to the Paris COP in 2015. It is based upon equity and fairness and requires significantly scaled up cooperation between developed and developing countries. For information of Canada and fair shares click here.

International Money Fund

Developed countries have to come up with $100 billion per year in climate finance by 2020. Or the provision in the Paris Agreement that 50% of that money has to go to adaptation.

It has been calculated that Canada’s fair share of the 2020 total is $4 billion. To this point, the federal government has committed $2.65 billion over five years, peaking at $800 million in 2020. We must also recognize that Indigenous and Arctic communities across Canada are seeing severe climate impacts today.