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close this bookThe Global Greenhouse Regime. Who Pays? (UNU, 1993, 382 p.)
close this folderPart II Resource transfers
close this folder5 North-South carbon abatement costs
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentClimate change convention
View the documentMethod overview
View the documentImplications for the South
View the documentNotes and references

(introduction...)

Climate change convention
Method overview
Implications for the South
Notes and references

Peter Hayes

The signing of the Climate Change Convention in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992 was a momentous event. With hindsight, however, it will recede into a waypost on a much longer journey toward international cooperation on climate change. The hard work of achieving abatement still lies ahead. The signatories to the Convention must now negotiate subsidiary agreements or protocols which will determine how much abatement each country must achieve over time; and who should pay for the costs and who should reap the benefits that will flow from this activity. If successful, these protocols will provide substance to the Convention's rhetoric (see the Appendix to this book).

In this chapter, I estimate the cost of abating carbon dioxide from fossil fuel usage over a transition period to a 'sustainable' level of emissions. I do so by aggregating nations into three categories: rich, industrial nations (North), transitional nations (the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe), and poor and modernizing nations (South)b. This approach makes it possible to determine the costs for the South to comply with the Climate Change Convention.

Greatly simplified, this calculation requires at least ten sequential steps plus many intermediate assumptions, explained below. Conservative estimates, combined with reasonable 'medium' assumptions in face of uncertainty, render this method capable of approximating the rate and magnitude of probable carbon abatement costs.

I begin by providing the reader with an overview of the method. Next, I outline the ten steps that must be taken to estimate abatement and other greenhouse-related costs. Finally, I estimate the overall incremental cost to the North, East, and the South for various abatement costs.

Before discussing abatement costs, however, I must first delineate the critical characteristics of the Climate Change Convention under which protocols must be developed to abate carbon emissions.