We Need: a Fair Deal
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.