Read about the importance of the common but differentiated responsibilities principle against climate change.

Environmental Law has been historically characterized by a reacting nature, rather than a preventing one. What lawmakers are trying to do is preventing the damage designing proper policies to protect the environment which has a priceless value. Since the issue of climate change is probably the most challenging of our time, there is the need to act now, preventing other impacts. The Rio Declaration has embodied the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities which is a crucial guideline in the process of shaping the international environmental law regime. The concept of differential treatment is part of both the WTO law and environmental law. On the one hand, in WTO law there is a special and differentiated “treatment” for developing countries, while, on the other hand, under the Rio Convention, there are common but differentiated “responsibilities” for both developed and developing countries. Thus, WTO law establishes two different and parallel regimes but, normally, for a limited time. On the contrary, environmental law takes a more vertical approach, using a principle applicable to all Parties as a basis for differentiated legal obligations. Therefore, the different regimes are complementary and it seems they are also without time limits. What is worth noting is that the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities has also been linked to the common fight against climate change. Differentiated obligations have been at the core of the climate regime. Climate decisions usually refer to contextual norms of differentiation, linking to general criteria such as national or special circumstances, priorities, and needs. Because of its uniqueness, it seems certain that the CBDR principle will never disappear from international climate law. The whole regime has been built upon it, and parties are far too used to negotiating over it. It is definitely part of the fabric of climate law. What will need to be taken into account is that parties’ obligations will have a fundamental role in the future. For this reason, the climate regime a balance between commitments and assistance needs to be kept. Indeed, although adaptation to climate change and assistance are truly important issues, one has to realize that the fight against climate degradation cannot be carried out without commitments from stronger polluters to reduce their emissions.