CONTRACTION AND CONVERGENCE DEFINITION STATEMENT
The Global Commons Institute [GCI] was founded
in 1990. This was in response to the mainstreaming of global
climate change as a political issue. Realising the enormity of
the climate crisis, we devised a founding statement on the principle
of "Equity and Survival".
In November 1990, the United Nations began to
create the Framework on Climate Convention UNFCCC]. GCI contributed
to this and in June 1992 the Convention was agreed at the Earth
Summit in Rio. Its objective was defined as stabilizing the
rising greenhouse gas [GHG] concentration of the global atmosphere
at a non-dangerous level. [See Annex 2 paragraph 2] Its principles
of equity and precaution were established in international law.
[See Annex 2 paragraph 2] Climate scientists had showed that a
deep overall contraction of GHG emissions from human sources is
prerequisite to achieving the objective of the UNFCCC. In 1995
negotiations to achieve this contraction began administered by
the specially created UNFCCC secretariat.
Between 1992 and 1995 and at the request of
the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC], GCI contributed
analysis highlighting the worsening asymmetry, or "Expansion
and Divergence" [E&D] of global economic development.
It became clear the global majority most damaged by climate changes
were already impoverished by the economic structures of those
who were also now causing the damaging GHG emissions. [See paragraphs
To create a sustainable basis on which to resolve
this inequity, GCI also developed the "Contraction and Convergence"
(C&C) model of future emissions.[5,6,7] In 1995 the model
was introduced by the Indian Government [See paragraph Annex 4
paragraph 1] and it was subsequently adopted and tabled by the
Africa Group of Nations in August 1997. [See Annex 4 paragraph
Negotiations for the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC
ran from 1995 until 1997. In December 1997 and shortly before
they withdrew from these negotiations, the USA stated, "C&C
contains elements for the next agreement that we may ultimately
all seek to engage in."
Since then C&C has been widely referenced
in the debate about achieving the objective of the UNFCCC. In
2000 C&C was the first recommendation of the UK Royal Commission
on Environmental Pollution in its proposals to government.
In December 2003 C&C was adopted by the German Government's
Advisory Council on Global Change in its recommendations.
In 2003 the secretariat of the UNFCCC said the objective of the
UNFCCC, "inevitably requires "Contraction and Convergence"."
The Latin America Division of the World Bank in Washington DC
said, "C&C leaves a lasting, positive and visionary impression
with us." In 2004 the Archbishop of Canterbury took the
position that, "C&C thinking appears utopian only if
we refuse to contemplate the alternatives honestly."
In 2002, the UK Government accepted GCI authorship of the definition
statement of C&C, recognising the need, "to protect the
integrity of the argument."
This statement follows and is available in thirteen
languages. It has been acknowledged by the House of Commons
Environmental Audit Committee and in part in the UN's forthcoming
"Millennium Assessment." In 2005, the UK Government
will host the next G-8 summit. The Government has already committed
this event to dealing strategically with the problems of Africa
and Climate Change. Numerous civil society and faith groups are
now actively lobbying the Government to have C&C adopted as
the constitutional basis for avoiding dangerous future climate
1. "Contraction and Convergence"
(C&C) is the science-based, global climate-policy framework,
proposed to the United Nations since 1990 by the Global Commons
2. The objective of safe and stable greenhouse
gas concentrations in the atmosphere and the principles of precaution
and equity, as already agreed in the "United Nations Framework
Convention of Climate Change" (UNFCCC), provide the formal
calculating basis of the C&C framework that proposes:
A full-term contraction budget for
global emissions consistent with stabilising atmospheric concentrations
of greenhouse gases (GHGs) at a pre-agreed concentration maximum
deemed to be safe, following IPCC WG1 carbon cycle modelling.
(See Image ThreeGCI sees higher than 450 parts per million
by volume [ppmv] CO2 equivalent as "not-safe").
The international sharing of this
budget as "entitlements' results from a negotiable rate of
linear convergence to equal shares per person globally by an agreed
date within the timeline of the full-term contraction/concentration
agreement. (GCI suggests [a] between the years 2020 and 2050,
or around a third of the way into a 100 year budget, for example,
for convergence to complete (see Image Four) and [b] that a population
base-year in the C&C schedule is agreed).
Negotiations for this at the UNFCCC
should occur principally between regions of the world, leaving
negotiations between countries primarily within their respective
regions, such as the European Union, the Africa Union, the US,
etc (See Image Two).
The inter-regional, inter-national
and intra-national tradability of these entitlements in an appropriate
currency such as International Energy Backed Currency Units [EBCUs]
should be encouraged.
Scientific understanding of the relationship
between an emissions-free economy and concentrations develops,
so rates of C&C can evolve under periodic revision.
3. Presently, the global community continues
to generate dangerous climate change faster than it organises
to avoid it. The international diplomatic challenge is to reverse
this. The purpose of C&C is to make this possible. It enables
scenarios for safe climate to be calculated and shared by negotiation
so that policies and measures can be internationally organised
at rates that avoid dangerous global climate change.
4. GHG emissions have so far been closely
correlated with economic performance (See Image Five). To date,
this growth of economies and emissions has been mostly in the
industrialised countries, creating recently a global pattern of
increasingly uneconomic expansion and divergence [E&D], environmental
imbalance and international insecurity (See Image Six).
5. The C&C answer to this is full-term
and constitutional, rather than short-term and stochastic. It
addresses inertial argument about "historic responsibilities'
for rising concentrations recognising this as a development opportunity
cost to newly industrialising countries. C&C enables an international
pre-distribution of these tradable and therefore valuable future
entitlements to emit GHGs to result from a rate of convergence
that is deliberately accelerated relative to the global rate of
6. The UK's Royal Commission on Environmental
Pollution and the German Advisory Council on Global Change
both make their recommendations to governments in terms of formal
C&C. Many individual and institutional statements supporting
C&C are now on record.[19, 20] The Africa Group of Nations
formally proposed it to the UNFCCC in 1997. It was agreed
in principle at COP-3 Kyoto 1997.  C&C conforms to the
requirements of the Byrd Hagel Resolution of the US Senate of
that year and the European Parliament passed a resolution
in favour of C&C in 1998.
7. This synthesis of C&C can redress
the increasingly dangerous trend imbalances of global climate
Change. Built on global rights, resource conservation and sustainable
systems, a stable C&C system is now needed to guide the economy
to a safe and equitable future for all. It builds on the gains
and promises of the UN Convention and establishes an approach
that is compelling enough to galvanise urgent international support
and action, with or without the Kyoto Protocol entering into force.
 http://www.gci.org.uk/papers/zew.pdf [appendix
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The charts in image five are stacked one above
the other on the same horizontal time axis [1800-2200]. This helps
to compare some of what is known about existing rates of system
change with an underlying assumption in favour of a C&C arrangement
being put in place.
A new feature shown is the rate of economic
damages from increasingly "unnatural disasters' (measured
as "uninsured economic losses' by Munich Re) now rising at
7% per annum, twice the rate of global growth. Another is the
devastating and worsening economic asymmetry of "Expansion
and Divergence" (E&D). This shows a persistent pattern
of increasingly dysfunctional economic growth. One third of population
have 94% of global purchasing power and cause 90% of GHG pollution;
["debitors']. The other two thirds, live on less than 40%
of the average global per capita income, have 6% of global purchasing
power and a 10% share of GHG pollution; ["creditors'].
To escape poverty, it is creditors who embody
the greatest impulse for future economic growth and claim on future
GHG emissions. But this group also has the greatest vulnerability
to damages from climate changes.
Most institutions now acknowledge that atmospheric
GHG stabilization, "inevitably requires Contraction and Convergence".
However, some responses to C&C, see it merely as "an
outcome" of continued economic growth with only tentative
acknowledgement of the damages and little comprehension of E&D.
While C&C is not primarily about "re"-distribution,
it is about a "pre"-distribution of future tradable
and valuable permits to emit GHGs. Its purpose is to resolve the
devastating economic and ecological imbalance of climate change.
GCI's recommendation to policy-makers at the United Nations is
for the adoption of C&C globally for ecological and economic
recovery as soon as possible.
A 3% per annum exponent in the path integral
of growth is starkly asymmetric and unsustainable. Adhering to
economic prognosis based on this is a measure of an increasingly
dangerous economic "growth illusion".
When climate damages are added, it is already
clear that the growth is uneconomic. When damages are subtracted
from this growth, it is clear that the growth is increasingly
Asymmetric and damaging growth is a recipe for
conflict. The bottom-line is that there is no sustainable energy
source that can realistically support this "Expansion and
"Contraction and Convergence" can
help cope with the limits-to-growth and structure and stabilise
the transition to an equilibrium-state based on resource conservation,
global rights, renewable energy and ecological recovery.