Climate Change


The safety of the universal environment has become the vital objectives of the international society. The foremost environmental issues such as change in climatic conditions, diminution of ozone layer, deforestation, problem of biodiversity are comprehensive.[1] Increasingly change in climatic conditions is a long-standing dilemma that involves multifaceted connections with environmental, economic, political, social and technological processes. The global society has taken lawful steps to fight environment transform.


The United Nations Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol are some of the legal instruments which target environment change alleviation creating a dissection between the countries through the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in terms of obligations and responsibilities in regard to their developed and under-developing nature..[2] The urge for the development, application and understanding of international environmental law has developed the rule of common but differentiated responsibility.[3]

The first international legal instrument and the most comprehensive international attempt that addresses the adverse changes to the global environment is “The Framework Convention on Climate Change” which was signed at the 1992 United Nations “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro. Principle 7[4] of the Convention provides that “states shall cooperate in a spirit of global partnership to conserve, protect and restore the health and integrity of the Earth's ecosystem.. The concentration of the dangerous gases that raises the greenhouse impact and avert hazardous anthropogenic intrusion in the climate structure[5] is the most intervening objective of the Convention on climate change.

The Kyoto Protocol, 1997 is a protocol of the United Nations convention on Climate Change to implement some law to reduce the global warming and minimize the greenhouse effect on global environment.[6]


The principle “common but differentiated responsibilities” is two fold i.e. the pressure that developed countries lay on the global environment and other resources like technology which they control. Despite the fact that the developed countries are unenthusiastic to own up the first basis, the developing countries have a well-built influence to persuade the former to admit differentiated conduct in their support.[7] The principle gives warning to the world in two aspects, one is "double standards" regarding the environment protection and their implementation in regard to developing countries and the other is the assistance provided by developed countries to the developing countries for their sustainable development.[8]

The Principle 7of the Rio Convention is a controversial issue between the developed and the developing countries. The developed countries are not ready to accept the liability to disturb the global climatic conditions because of the processes undertaken by them for their development. On the other hand developing countries are not satisfied that it will have control on the activities of the developed countries which are having adverse affect on the global climatic change.[9] It also represents the problem of the CBDR Principle as a great phenomenon.

The concept of common but differentiated responsibility is comprised of two diverse but inter-reliant components i.e. “common responsibility and differentiated responsibility”. The common responsibility represents the common obligations of the States regarding the safety of the environmental resource.[10]The second component relates to differentiated environmental principles which are articulated around abundant factors of environmental problems like particular requirements and conditions, potential economic progress of countries.[11]All these circumstances contributed in establishing the importance of Article 10 of the Kyoto protocol.[12] The Kyoto protocol is the comprehensible and most recent effort to convert CBDR from a legal perception to a strategic instrument.[13]


The principle of CBDR is the outcome of the United Nations Convention on Climate and then after the Kyoto Protocol. Several mechanisms has been adopted for the effective implication of the CBDR Principle in relation to the environment law proposed for the protection of the global environment and keep a check on the activities of the countries.

On the basis of the legal notion of justice it is treated as a legally binding obligation on the developing and developed countries to end the environmental problems which are converting this world and global environment into highly unsecured place for surviving not only for humans but whole biodiversity. Even though the developed nations are not ready to accept the duty to provide any such assistance to the developing countries as clearly stated in Principle 7 of the Convention on climate change.


The principle of CBDR has contributed much towards the protection of global environment but then also it possesses many shortcomings. The main problem is that the principle was established to increase sustainable developmet reducing the harm that may be conflicted by the activities of the nations. The Kyoto Protocol was a measure to stop such happenings but many of its provisions acts as discretionary towards the developing countries by allowing them to do such activities as required for their development even aftr knowing the fact that they may highly contribute towards the environment degradation. [14]

As per the research of several scholars it has brought into notice of the world community that the pollutants emitted from the developing countries is much higher than that emitted by the developed countries. The Kyoto Protocol and Rio Declaration are not so effective to lead to the sustainable development as there are so many loopholes in the instruments which gives favour to one nation is agiant the other and indirectly raises the problem to much more advanced level.

Inspite of so many weaknesses there are still some areas where the environmental instruments are effective i.e. the use of technological and financial and resourse incentices through “CDM The Clean Development Mechanism” in which the developed countries transfer their technology to the developing countries in return of which they receive the credit towards the use of its emission reduction obligations.

The principle of CBDR put atleast some kind of liability on every state but the Kyoto Protocol has freed the developing countries from any such responsibility and has put the whole burden on developed countries only which renders the principle bearing no importance. the main weakness is the lack of the binding nature of the Kyoto Protocol and the CBDR Principle. As if we take the example of the United nations has refused to ratify it because of these weaknesses as it is not serving the purpose of protecting the environment but giving undue favour to the developing nations for their industrial development.. [15]


The need of the time is that both developed and underdeveloped countries should unite to eradicate such a serious problem of environment change. It is required to interpret the CBDR Principle in such a way that it will not only work as tool in the favor of developing countries but will also bind them to incure the responsibility towards the sustainable development. With their capabilities and responsibilities, the developing countries should also take some alleviating measures to reduce the threat caused to the global climate. The principle of CBDR is attracting world level debate because of the necessity and the advantage of the principle for the global climatic protaction.

[1]French, Duncan, “Developing States and International Environmental Law: The Importance of Differentiated Responsibilities.”International & Comparative Law Quarterly,49, pp 35-60

[2]Mustapher, Ntale, “Rethinking the Application of the Principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities in the International Climate Legal Framework (December 6, 2008).” Last assessed on 14 March 2010.

[3] Agarwal, Bharat, The Principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibility, Last assessed on 16 march 2010.

[4] Rio Declaration on Environment and Development 1992 .

[5] United Nations Conference on Environment and Development: Framework Convention on Climate Change, May 9, 1992, art. 2, 31 I.L.M. at 854.

[6] Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 1997.

[7]Artilce on International Environment Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer Netherlands, Edition June 2002, Vol. 2, pg. 151-170

[8] ibid 7

[9] French, Duncan. “Developing States and International Environmental Law: The Importance of Differentiated Responsibilities.”International & Comparative Law Quarterly,49, pp 35-60.

[10] P. Sands, Principles of International Environmental Law: Frameworks, Standards and Implementation, 1st edn. (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996) at 217.

[11] Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Covention on Climate Change 1997.

[12] Ibid 10.

[13] Christopher C.joyner, Common but Diffentiated Responsibility, Proc 358 (2002).

[14] Scarpace, Ericka k., “The Common but Differentiated Responsibilities Principle: A burden or benefit to international environment law.” Last assessed on 14 March 2010.

[15] Todd. M., Lopez, A look at climate change and the evolution of the Kyoto Protocol, Edition 2003 at pg. 286-310.

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