Reducing Climate Risk

Climate policy and governance


SEI’s work sheds light on major ethical issues in climate policy, examines key governance challenges, and offers new analytical frameworks centred on equity.

SEI works with organizations and networks from the international to the local level to find pathways towards effective and equitable climate policy and governance. A large share of this work is built around the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process, which SEI researchers follow closely to provide timely, authoritative and pertinent analysis to support policymakers and negotiators, finance institutions, civil society and other stakeholders.

Recent focus areas for SEI have included transparency and accountability, the governance of climate finance, the roles of specific countries and country groups (e.g. the EU and the BASIC alliance), the post-2012 future of the UNFCCC and, most recently, the fragmentation of international climate governance and the interplay between mitigation and adaptation.

A major area of interest is equity, starting from the recognition that climate and development are closely intertwined. To prevent dangerous impacts, all countries must reduce their carbon emissions, but it is politically unrealistic and ethically unacceptable to expect those struggling against poverty to shift their limited resources to mitigation. Developing countries must still transition toward a low-carbon path, but the global consuming class – the industrialized world and elites within developing countries – must provide the resources.

The Greenhouse Development Rights (GDRs) Framework, developed by SEI and Ecoequity, presents a burden-sharing framework based on a straightforward accounting of national responsibility and capacity that requires those who consume and emit more than a specified ‘development threshold’ to carry the global cost of mitigation.

SEI is also engaged in discussions about equity in a post-Kyoto Protocol age – the relative responsibility of emerging economies, e.g. – and Sivan Kartha is lead author of the chapter ‘Sustainable development and equity’ for the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Equity issues were also at the core of much of the work of SEI’s Climate Economics Group, which was dissolved in September 2012. The CRED (Climate and Regional Economics of Development) modelling framework, an integrated assessment model (IAM) focused on the global distribution of climate damages and climate policy costs, aimed to help break the stalemate between developed and developing countries. The team also produced in-depth analyses of other IAMs, and wrote at length about issues of inter-generational equity in climate economics.


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