The principle of equity in the context of new climate change regime (completed)

Rosa Manzo’s doctoral research investigates the role of the principle of equity in shaping the new climate change regime.

About the project

The adoption of the Paris Agreement challenges the common understanding of the principle of equity in the climate change regime. So far the principle has been interpreted synonymously with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR/RC). This has put the burden of mitigation obligations exclusively upon developed countries as those historically responsible for CO2 emissions. While the Paris Agreement does not contain any reference to historical responsibility, references to the principle of equity are made in important provisions.

First of all, the preamble to the Agreement encompasses a direct reference to intergenerational equity. This is followed by a set of provisions in the body of the Agreement. According to Art. 2.2, the Agreement will be implemented to reflect equity and CBDR in light of different national circumstances. Art. 4.1 instructs the Parties to “undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with best available science, […] on the basis of equity”. Last but not least, Art. 10 sets the regime for a collective assessment of national efforts (hereafter global stocktaking) which is to be carried out in the light of equity and the best available science. 

While the first couple of provisions have a potential impact on the adoption of the rules of implementation and accordingly on the implementation of the Agreement itself, the last ones pertains a specific mechanism which has to be set up.

Rosa Manzo’s research project aims to find an answer to the following questions:

  • How is the principle of equity defined in the context of the Paris Agreement? What is the difference between the concept of equity and the abstract concept of justice?
  • Could equity be defined in terms of due diligence?
  • How is the Agreement defined in light of equity?
  • Based on which criteria should the rules of implementation be evaluated?
  • How could equity be operationalized when it comes to the global stocktaking?

The overarching plan is that the first part will be focused on the theory of law on the concept of equity in public international law and environmental law. From there the research focuses on the role played by the equity principle in shaping the Climate Change Regime. It will track the principle from its first formulation in United Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to its most recent adoption in the Paris Agreement.

Rosa Manzo is particularly interested in the development of the transparency framework being the most useful tool for assessing the fairness of Parties’ contribution as well as in the establishment of the global stocktaking mechanism. In order to do that, Rosa Manzo is looking at the contribution in form of submissions, inputs and informal papers handed by the major players US, EU, India, and China- to the Ad Hoc Working Group for the Paris Agreement (APA) which is in charge of releasing the rules for the implementation of the Agreement in 2020.

The topic itself is timely as well as controversial, making it very interesting. Literature on this specific subject is not extensive. This topic is still under discussion at the table of the APA. Therefore Rosa Manzo is engaged in a comparative work by looking at how the principle of equity has been operationalized in other environmental and non legal regimes.

Published May 18, 2017 9:19 AM - Last modified June 8, 2021 10:36 AM