Shaping the climate change regime has been fraught with challenges. While the science of climate change1 has shown considerable progress, the politics surrounding the multilateral process of negotiations have faltered. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),2 the international regime for global action to address climate change, emerged some twenty years ago in 1992 during the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development or Rio Earth Summit. Central to the long-standing impasse in the climate change negotiations is the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR).”3 The principle was derived from some early discussions on the concept of responsibility and subsequently the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 44/228 attributed historical responsibility for certain global environmental problems to developed countries. But it was the Earth Summit that clearly stated the CBDR principle, a key element in the UNFCCC as well as in many other multilateral environmental agreements. In recognizing the

common responsibility of States to protect the environment, or parts of it, at the national, regional and global level as well as the need to take into account the different circumstances, particularly each State’s contribution to the problem and its ability to prevent, reduce and control the threat4

the multilateral process has tried to be fair. Furthermore, to strengthen global response to climate change, the Kyoto Protocol (KP),5 which stipulates differences in commitments between and among developed and developing countries, was adopted in accordance with CBDR. Fairness to all Parties in the UNFCCC and KP, both legally binding agreements, is addressed via the concept of historical responsibility. The Protocol, which is of great significance to developing countries endorsing differential

treatment in their favor, has become contentious. Over recent years, it has been observed that a changing or evolving approach is taking place within the climate change regime.6