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Allocation and architecture in climate governance beyond Kyoto: lessons from interdisciplinary research on target setting

Kanie, Norichika, Hiromi Nishimoto, Yasuaki Hijioka, and Yasuko Kameyama. 2010. Allocation and architecture in climate governance beyond Kyoto: lessons from interdisciplinary research on target setting. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 10 (4): 299-315.


The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change envisions that all countries will follow the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibility’ in terms of their responsibility to protect the earth’s climate system. However, its concrete application has always been controversial. The Kyoto Protocol framed this allocation issue in terms of quantified emission reduction and limitation objectives (QERLOs) in its Annex B, but this also triggered the refusal of the United States to ratify the Protocol. This article identifies some of the problems associated with allocation, and its problems inter-linked with governance architecture, by examining the case of the allocation of reduction commitments for greenhouse gas emissions in the context of climate governance beyond 2012. Three broad criteria are used in the discussion, namely, responsibility, capability, and efficiency. Target numbers for individual countries differ with the criteria used, but they also differ even within the same criteria category, due to different ways these conceptual criteria are translated into quantitative calculation formulas. Sometimes this makes a large difference for individual targets. Our calculations using different criteria and formula to come up with medium-term targets for selected developed countries show that differences in results are caused by the choice of allocation principle, differences in allocation formula under a given allocation principle, and different calculation criteria used under a given allocation formula. Assumptions in modeling and the choice of data also affect results. Importantly, interests are often embedded explicitly or implicitly behind these different ideas. Although allocation and architecture seems to be different problems of governance at first glance, there is also a link between limited data availability for allocation calculations and the form of governance architecture proposed. This is an area where further scientific research is required.

Keywords: Allocation; Architecture; Greenhouse gas emission reduction; Mid-term target; Quantified Emission Reduction and Limitation Objectives (QERLOs)

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