We Need: a Fair Deal

The fairest way to assess how countries contribute to climate change is to look at their emissions per head of the population, and their capacity to act.
The differences in emissions between citizens in different countries are huge.

Per capita figures usually represent current emissions.

But what about past emissions?

Because much of the gas stays in the atmosphere for centuries, this is a critical component of current responsibility for climate change.

Taking a historical perspective, the responsibility of industrialized countries is even greater.

This represents the legacy of early industrialization.

The USA and Europe contributed 30% and 28% respectively of the CO2 released during the 20th century.

While the fast-growing economies of Asia are contributing more to emissions each year, they are still only responsible for around 12% of historic emissions.

These figures underline the obligations of rich industrialized nations both to help protect developing countries from the consequences of climate change and to invest in low-carbon technologies that will allow them to develop on a different path.

Annual per capita emissions from burning fossil fuels in tonnes
© WWF, source: CDIAC

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