The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) calls on all parties to protect the climate system in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. This principle of justice was formulated at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and still serves as a model for the development of criteria to ensure a fair distribution of burdens under the UN climate regime. However, since then, countries` responsibilities and capabilities have changed considerably, both in terms of climate protection and protection from the effects of climate change. In this context, it is clear that the current criteria for burden-sharing and financial transfers are both unfair and ineffective in terms of climate policy, particularly with regard to financing adaptation to climate change; inefficient reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In terms of financing adaptation measures, vulnerability to the consequences of climate change is the main criterion for allocating the climate regime. However, this criterion still needs to be applied in practice, as there is no objective measure of the effects of climate change. Many normative decisions need to be made, but there is no sign of consensus between academics or politicians. Since the Framework Convention and the Kyoto Protocol are not defined, the Adjustment Fund and the future Green Climate Fund, for example, will not be able to fairly allocate limited resources on the basis of the vulnerability criterion. Currently, vulnerability to security is not taken into account when priorities are set for access to adaptation financing under the UN climate regime. As far as climate protection is concerned, it is clear that global warming cannot be limited to 2oC if the burden is shared in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol.
The division of countries into countries with or without commitments on climate change has so far proved ineffective: traditionally, large emitters have made little or no contribution to reducing emissions; Large new issuers are not obliged to do so. If the international community wants effective and equitable protection of the climate, it must stop dividing the world into two categories and, instead, define new criteria for burden-sharing and allocation on the basis of the principle of justice. This step has not been taken in Copenhagen and is unlikely to be taken in Durban, given its considerable impact. Does this mean that the question of justice is becoming a dead end in international climate policy? The current analysis shows that, in a world that remains characterized by large differences in wealth, differentiation is still necessary if a just and negotiated solution is to be found. However, it is equally clear that the criteria for implementing the principle of equity should be developed taking into account the capabilities of each country. In terms of adaptation financing, this means distinguishing developing countries based on their “response capacity,” that is, their ability to respond to climate change. To reduce emissions, everyone should have the same emission rights under a fixed global carbon budget and all countries should be required not to exceed their national budgets. This would allow for common standards comparable at the international level. Implementation would be supported by negotiable rights and financial transfers. References to `burden-sharing`, `sharing responsibilities` or what the Lisbon Treaty now prefers to call `solidarity between Member States` are often heard within THE framework of EU policies.