GCI BRIEFING - also here ICE and ICEx

The Global Commons Institute [GCI] was founded in 1990. This was in response to the mainstreaming of global climate change as a political issue.

Moved by the Penang Manifesto of 1989 and realising the enormity of the climate crisis, GCI devised a founding statement. This was based on the principle of Equity and Survival. [1]

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 is stabilizing the rising greenhouse gas [GHG] concentration in the global atmosphere. Its principles of equity and precaution were established in international law.

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 with the first Conference of the Parties [COP-1]. These were 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. [2]

To create a sustainable basis on which to resolve this inequity, GCI also developed the Contraction and Convergence (C&C) model of future emissions.

In 1995 the model was introduced by the Indian Government. [3] It was formally presented at COP-2 in Geneva in 1996 [3a] and subsequently adopted and tabled by the Africa Group of Nations in August 1997. [4]

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." [5]

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. [6]

In December 2003 C&C was adopted by the German Governments Advisory Council on Global Change in its recommendations. [7]

In 2003 the secretariat of the UNFCCC said the objective of the UNFCCC, "inevitably requires Contraction and Convergence." [8]

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." [9]

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." [10]

This statement follows and is available in thirteen languages. [11] It has been adopted by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee and in part in the UNs forthcoming Millennium Assessment.

In 2005, the UK Government hosted the G-8 summit. The Government has already committed this event to dealing strategically with the problems of Africa and Climate Change.

Numerous academics, civil society and faith groups and many others, actively lobbyied the UK Government to have C&C adopted as the constitutional basis for avoiding dangerous future climate change.

In 2008, after much activity in the UK Parliament and its committees, C&C became the basis of the UK Climate Act.

C&C is now the most widely cited and arguably the most widely supported approach in the debate aimed at achieving UNFCCC-compliance.


1. Contraction and Convergence (C&C) is the science-based, logically constructed global climate-policy framework, proposed to the United Nations since 1990 by the Global Commons Institute (GCI). [1,2,3,4]

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. GCI 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 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.
This would leave negotiations between countries primarily within their respective regions.
For example 'the European Union', the Africa Union, the United States, etc.

* The inter-regional, inter-national/regional and intra-national/regional tradability of these entitlements,
in an appropriate currency such as Energy Backed Currency Units, could be encouraged, but within
the overall C&C framework.

As scientific understanding of the relationship between an emissions-free economy and concentrations develops, so rates of C&C can evolve under periodic revision and be renegotiated.

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. 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.

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 contraction agreed.

6. The UKs Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and the German Advisory Council on Global Change [7] both make their recommendations to governments in terms of formal C&C. Many individual and institutional statements supporting C&C are now on record. 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 meets the requirements of the Byrd Hagel Resolution of the US Senate of that year [12] the European Parliament passed a C&C resolution in 1998 [13] the UK Parliament has reported on C&C and it is now the basis of the UK Climate Act.

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 being in force.

Double Jeopardy Asymmetric Growth and Climate Damages

The next charts below 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 and now rising at 7% per annum. This is twice the rate of global growth. Another is the devastating and worsening economic asymmetry of Expansion and Divergence (E&D).


This shows a persistent and increasingly dysfunctional pattern of economic growth. One third of population have 94% of global purchasing power and cause 90% of GHG pollution. GCI called these debitors. The other two thirds, who live on less than 40% of the average global per capita income, collectively have 6% of global purchasing power and a 10% share of GHG pollution. GCI called these 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 of the response to C&C, sees 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. GCIs 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.

The C&C framework is supported by manifesto commitments from the Welsh Nationalists [Plaid Cymru] and the Scottish Nationalists and the Liberal Democrats and the Greens and the Respect Party: -

Many individual Labour Party MPs advocate C&C, some Conservative MPs do too. http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=29500&SESSION=875 http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=27350&SESSION=873 http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=27080&SESSION=873

The network of support for the C&C framework is now considerable. With its initial introduction in 1990, C&C was established and has been on the record as a formal well-supported position at the UNFCCC since 1996: -

The C&C Booklet 13 languages from COP-11 12/2005: -

An archive with a 15 year history of this campaign: -

The Urgency Briefing: Can we do Enough Soon Enough: History & Future Airborne Fraction of Emissions Increasing
RSA_Occasional_Paper.pdf shows some of the serious consequences of substituting the politics of blame for global strategy It highlights the risks of atmospheric concentrations rising much faster than originally supposed because the fraction of emissions retained in the atmosphere is increasing, above the acceleration of emissions per se.

An issue to some is that C&C merely describes generically an outcome of many future aspirational phases of the Kyoto Protocol. This is what the corporations collectively call an inadequate patchwork, see slides 20/1 here: -

To cure this very randomness, C&C formally means the structure of a full-term, concentration-target-based framework endowed by GCI from the outset, as accepted for e.g. by DEFRA: - Meacher_15_11_02.pdf

and in 2004 by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee: - EAC_response_GCI_300904.pdf

C&C briefing to the May 2006 all-party enquiry into climate-consensus: - APGCCC_Evidence_single_A4_pages.pdf


For full transcript of final COP-3 Kyoto negotiation, see: - COP3_Transcript.pdf

THE AFRICA GROUP [Rungano Karimanzira]: -

. . . . . "we do support the amendment that is proposed by the distinguished delegation from India, and just to emphasise the point of the issues that still need a lot of clarification, would like to propose in that paragraph the inclusion, after entitlementsâ that is the proposal by the delegation of India, the following wording. After entitlements, the global ceiling date and time for Contraction and Convergence of global emissions because we do think that you cannot talk about trading if there are not entitlements, also there is a question of Contraction and Convergence of global emissions that comes into play when you talk about the issue of equity" . . . . .

CHAIRMAN [Raul Estrada Oyuela]:

"I thank you very much. May I ask again the distinguished delegate of the USA if they have another suggestion to propose in connection with the proposals made by the distinguished delegate of India . . . . . he does . . . . "


. . . . "It does seem to us that the proposals by for example India and perhaps by others who speak to Contraction and Convergence are elements for the future, elements perhaps for a next agreement that we may ultimately all seek to engage in . . . . "

For details of widespread support for C&C, see: -