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Argument: Developed/developing have common but differentiated responsibilities

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The Rio Declaration from The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development states - "In view of the different contributions to global environmental degradation, States have common but differentiated responsibilities. The developed countries acknowledge the responsibility that they bear in the international pursuit of sustainable development in view of the pressures their societies place on the global environment and of the technologies and financial resources they command."[1]


"The Principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities: Origins and Scope". The World Summit on Sustainable Development, 2002 - States have common responsibilities to protect the environment and promote sustainable development, but due to different social, economic, and ecological situations, countries must shoulder different responsibilities. The principle therefore provides for asymmetrical rights and obligations regarding environmental standards, and aims to induce broad State acceptance of treaty obligations, while avoiding the type of problems typically associated with a lowest common denominator approach. The principle also reflects the core elements of equity, placing more responsibility on wealthier countries and those more responsible for causing specific global problems. Perhaps more importantly, the principle also presents a conceptual framework for compromise and co-operation in effectively meeting environmental challenges.

[...] Differentiated Responsibility appears in number of treaties. The 1972 London Convention requires measures to be adopted by parties “according to their scientific, technical and economic capabilities.” The special needs of developing countries are expressly recognised at article 11(3) of the 1976 Barcelona Convention and in the preamble to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, where account is to be taken of their “circumstances and particular requirements,” of their “specific needs and special circumstances,” or of their “special conditions” and “the fact that economic and social development and eradication of poverty are the first and overriding priorities of the developing country parties.” Other treaties identify the need to take account of States’ “capabilities,” “economic capacity,” the “need for economic development,” or the “means at their disposal and their capabilities.”

The principle of differentiated responsibility has also been applied to treaties and other legal instruments for developed countries. Examples include the 1988 EC Large Combustion Directive, which sets different levels of emission reductions for each member state, the 1991 VOC Protocol, which allows parties to specify one of three different ways to achieve reduction, and the 1992 Maastricht Treaty which provides that: “Without prejudice to the principle that the polluter should pay, if a measure [...] involves costs deemed disproportionate for the public authorities of a member state, the Council shall, in the act adopting that measure, lay down appropriate provisions in the form of temporary derogations and/or financial support from the Cohesion Fund.” Differentiation within developing countries is specified, for example, in the Climate Change Convention which recognises the “special needs and special circumstances of developing country parties, especially those that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.” Similarly, the Desertification Convention requires that “Parties

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