What ties together CDM negotiations, Confucian approaches to environmental stewardship, hydroelectric projects in the Mekong River basin and societal strategies for reducing emissions? Not much, on the surface. But in the first two days of lectures and workshops of PSIGCC 2009, certain themes have emerged. Responsibility and equity are two such themes; they have wound throughout every debate of the Institute so far.
When governments send their representatives to Copenhagen this winter for the next round of climate talks, they may very well engage in similar debates as the program participants. Led by GWU Law’s David Freestone, one workshop quickly showed that CDM negotiations will break down without a measure of equity – both Annex 1 nor developing nations will be forced to make concessions in order to achieve meaningful progress. This workshop, it turned out, was an ideal segue into a discussion on ethics led by Dr. Paul Wapner. His overarching question: “How can we take this moral sentiment and turn it into a form of governance like law and economic incentives” touched off a discussion about how responsibility and equality are not merely abstract moral concepts; they may actually be the foundation for forward progress on climate change.