Thinking Ahead: Moving To Equal Per Capita Emission Rights

July 24, 2001

While welcoming the breakthrough in the international climate negotiations yesterday, Friends of the Earth (Australia) expressed disappointment that the progress of some Annex B countries was being impeded by Australia.

'International negotiators should be thinking beyond the Kyoto commitment period about moving to equal per capita emission rights,' said Friends of the Earth Climate Justice spokesperson Allan Nam. 'Instead they are wasting years establishing rules that ensure the short-term economic interests of a few industries in Australia are placed before the interests of the rest of humanity. Simultaneously they have resisted giving generous financial contributions to help poorer countries adapt to climate change, while some industrialised nations have made significant commitments in this regard.'

Australia has one of the highest levels of per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world, with each Australian emitting ten times the greenhouse gas pollution of Chinese or Indian citizens. Despite this, the Australian government continues to cite 'developing country participation' as an issue impeding its acceptance of the Kyoto Protocol.

Theories such as 'Contraction and Convergence' propose methods of reducing per capita emissions in developed countries (Annex B) while those in developing countries (non-Annex B) are able to increase their per capita emissions in order to develop economically and achieve a fair standard of living. Eventually per capita emissions will 'converge' at a per capita level.

'Issues of equity and fairness have been considered secondary throughout this whole process, yet climate change is going to be the biggest social justice issue ever, as well as the most critical environmental issue', Nam continued. 'It is time to think ahead to a world where everyone has equal rights to the earth's atmosphere.

further details of the Bonn negotiations are available at: http://www.foei.org/

For more information contact:

Allan Nam
Friends of the Earth Climate Justice spokesperson
Mob: 0407 324 743