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Article

Изменение климата и неравенство: потенциал для совместного решения проблем

Economic growth in developing economies and the transition of large population groups to the middle class lead to a surge in energy consumption and hence in greenhouse gas emissions. The solution to such issues as poverty and inequality comes therefore into conflict with climate change mitigation. The existing international climate change regime does not address this contradiction. The existing international system of climate regulation does not address this contradiction. Today, the global climate governance relies on the estimates of aggregate emissions of countries not considering the level of development and the distribution of emissions among income groups within each country. Emissions from production are being monitored, while consumption-related emissions, albeit known be experts, rarely underlie decision-making. Meanwhile, income distribution has a higher impact on consumption-based emissions in comparison to the production-based ones. Decisions on the emission regulation are made at the national level by countries with different development agendas where the climate change mitigation often gets less priority in comparison to other socio-economic objectives.

The paper proposes a set of principles and specific mechanisms that can link both climate change and inequality within a single policy framework. Firstly, we highlight the importance of modification of the global emission monitoring system for the sake of accounting for emissions from consumption (rather than production) by income groups. Secondly, we suggest the introduction of a new redistribution system to address climate change including a "fine" imposed on households with the highest levels of emissions. Such a system follows the principles of progressive taxation but underlies climate mitigation objectives and can rather be treated not as taxation of high incomes but as payment for negative externality. Thirdly, we outline the need for adjustment of climate finance criteria: priority should be given to projects aimed at 1) reducing the carbon intensity of consumption of the social groups entering the middle class, and 2) at adaptation of the poorest population groups to the climate change. The special role in the implementation of these principles may belong to BRICS countries which could use it as a chance for proactive transition to the inclusive low-carbon development.