First, the binary distinction should be replaced according to the HDI, an index between 0 and 1 that ranks countries by their levels of development. I propose dividing countries into High HDI (above 0.8), Medium-high HDI (0.65 to 0.8), Medium-low HDI (0.5 to 0.65) and Low HDI (less than 0.5). The planet is thus divided into four sections.
The High HDI group contains 70 countries, with a total population of 1.6 billion. These nations would make major, non-conditional emissions cuts, as specified by the UN. Over time this group will expand. According to the Human Development Report 2005, published by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), there were 57 nations in this group in 2003, with a total population of 1.21 billion, 19.2% of the global population. An increasing number of nations will become non-conditional emissions reducers.
The Medium-high HDI group (of which China is now a member) has a population of 2.44 billion, 37.41% of the world total. These nations would be second-tier emissions reducers: conditional reducers. Targets would be set according to the gap between the nation’s HDI figure and the 0.8 threshold; the smaller the distance, the greater the obligation. When the country enters the High HDI group, they become non-conditional reducers. In the case of China, the country’s HDI in 2005 was 0.777. In 2010, it will reach 0.8, and China will then become a non-conditional reducer of greenhouse-gas emissions. A UN agency to monitor the actions and achievements of these two groups should be established.
The Medium-low and Low groups would not be obliged to reduce emissions, but voluntary reductions should be encouraged where possible.