The principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities are central to international climate agreements. Analyze how the current global approach to combating climate change conforms to or diverges from these principles.


A recent study on future emission scenarios of IPCC found that disparities in income, energy use, and emissions between developed and developing nations are projected to continue up to 2050, highlighting the challenges in achieving global equity in climate action.


  • Introduce your answer by defining the principles of equity and CBDR and highlight their role in climate agreements.
  • In the main body, discuss how global climate strategies align with or diverge from these principles. Alignment: Mention key initiatives like the Paris Agreement, financial mechanisms, and technology transfer efforts, etc. Departures: such as inadequate reduction targets, financial commitments, technology transfer challenges, etc.
  • Conclude by emphasizing the importance of fully implementing these principles for an effective and inclusive global response to climate change.


The principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) lie at the heart of international climate agreements. Equity implies that nations’ contributions to climate action should account for their capabilities and historical emissions, recognizing the disproportionate impact of climate change on developing countries. CBDR emphasizes that while all countries are responsible for combating climate change, developed countries should lead due to their historical emissions and greater financial and technological capabilities.

The global strategy to address climate change primarily involves reducing greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing carbon sinks, and transitioning towards renewable energy. However, their effectiveness and fairness are often debated, particularly their adherence to equity and CBDR principles.

Alignment with Equity and CBDR Principles:

  • Paris Agreement Implementation: allows countries to set their own nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to global emissions reduction. This flexibility recognizes the different capabilities and responsibilities of countries, encouraging all nations to participate in global climate efforts according to their own circumstances.
  • Financial Support Mechanisms: Developed countries’ pledge to mobilize $100 billion annually to support mitigation and adaptation efforts in developing countries.
    • Green Climate Fund (GCF) is a prime example of operationalizing equity and CBDR. It prioritizes projects in the most vulnerable countries, including SIDS and LDCs.
  • Technology Transfer Mechanisms: of the UNFCCC, including the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) and the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN), represent a commitment to CBDR by enabling developing nations to leapfrog to cleaner, more sustainable development trajectories.
  • Assessment of the initiatives: considering the principles of equity and CBDR in assessing global efforts and national contributions.
    • Global Stocktake Process under the Paris Agreement.
  • Emphasis on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Integrating climate action with broader development goals ensures that efforts to combat climate change also support equitable development.

Departures from Equity and CBDR Commitments:

  • Insufficient Reduction Targets: Many developed countries have set greenhouse gas reduction targets that are deemed insufficient to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to well below 2o This shortfall in ambition does not align with the historical responsibility and greater capability of developed nations.
  • Continuing Per Capita Emission Disparities: between developed and developing countries, with the former often maintaining higher levels of consumption and emissions.
  • Lagging Financial Commitments: Developed countries pledge to mobilize $100 billion annually has been missed, with significant gaps in both the quantity and quality of financial support provided.
  • Inequities in Climate Financing: Funding for adaptation is particularly scarce, disadvantaging countries that are least responsible for climate change but most affected by its impacts.
  • Technology Transfer Challenges: Despite recognizing the need for technology transfer, progress is slow due to intellectual property rights and high costs, contradicting the CBDR principle.
  • Lack of Accountability Mechanisms: for NDC implementation allows countries to underdeliver on their commitments without facing significant repercussions.
  • Limited Recognition of Loss and Damage: Despite the operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund in COP 28, its inadequate recognition as a core climate action pillar fails to meet the needs of the most vulnerable countries.
  • Carbon Market Issues: like concerns over double counting and environmental integrity, pose a risk of undermining domestic emission reduction efforts in developed countries by shifting the burden to developing nations.

While the global approach to combating climate change acknowledges the principles of equity and CBDR, significant gaps remain in their full implementation thus placing undue burdens on developing nations and future generations. Addressing these challenges is vital for a fair, inclusive global climate response and sustainable development.

‘+1’ Value Addition:

  • The Paris Agreement approached differentiation of countries’ responsibilities to address climate change by departing from the rigid distinction between industrialised and developing countries.
  • The outcomes from COP 28 highlight the need for the energy transition to be just and equitable, taking into account the differing circumstances of nations.
  • Most finance issues, including the adoption of a new climate finance goal to replace the current $100 billion annual commitment, were deferred to COP29.
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