a bulletin on global warming and the Third World

issue 7  January 1993

published by the International Institute for
Environment and Development (London, UK) and the
University of East Anglia (Norwich, UK) with support
from the Swedish International Development Authority in
association with the Stockholm Environment Institute

editorial office:  TIEMPO, c/o Mick Kelly, School of
Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia,
Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK (email gn:crunorwich)


JYOTI PARIKH of the Indira Gandhi Institute of
Development Research in Bombay, India, has criticized
the IPCC Response Strategies Working Group (RSWG) for
unfair treatment of the developing nations in its
estimates of future emission rates (Nature, 360,
507-508, 1992).

In developing its initial  business as usual  reference
scenario against which cuts in carbon emissions could
be judged, the RSWG had to make various assumptions
about regional emission growth rates over coming
decades. According to Jyoti Parikh, the assumptions
that the RSWG adopted imply that  present inequalities
among world regions will increase considerably. 
Moreover, they shift the burden of emission control
from North to South. 

Parikh's assessment is based on a comparison of actual
carbon emission growth rates over the period 1979-1988
and the RSWG growth rates for the period 1985-2025. For
North America, the future growth rate assumed by RSWG
is considerably greater than that observed since 1979
while for the Asian developing regions the future
growth rate is less.

As the growth rates for the North are inflated, these
nations may well find stabilization easier to achieve
in practise than the reference scenario suggests. For
the South, emission reductions may prove that much
harder to achieve.

Jyoti Parikh considers it likely that  those involved
in constructing the original models were not conscious
of the inequality and injustice  but she concludes that
 now there is no excuse for failing to formulate fair
policies for the future.  

The IPCC has recently developed a new set of reference
scenarios based on a broad range of alternative
assumptions about future growth. It remains to be seen
whether or not these require further revision so that
an equitable baseline can be adopted for the emission
reductions specified in protocols associated with the
Framework Convention.