Sharing the effort under a global carbon budget



Posted on 07 October 2009  | 
Ecofys Carbon Deal report
© WWF / EcofysEnlarge
In order to avoid dangerous climate change there is a growing consensus among now more than 120 countries that average global temperatures should not increase by more than 2°C over pre-industrial levels. This was affirmed in July of this year by the G8+5 nations, a group of countries encompassing all major emitters from the developed and developing world. This is a giant leap forward and provides large hope for success of the ongoing negotiations for a post-2012 treaty to be agreed in Copenhagen at the Climate Summit in December this year.

How can this objective be met? WWF and other members of the Climate Action Network (CAN) are strongly promoting a legally binding mid-term target of at least 40% emissions reductions by 2020 below 1990 levels for developed countries as a group, under common but differentiated responsibilities that require nations that are rich and have high per capita emissions to ‘pay back’ their atmospheric debt. Globally, all countries need to have reduced their total greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 in order for the world to stay below 2°C of warming.

The emissions trajectory between now and 2050 needs to be distributed in an equitable way with the appropriate distinctions made between ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ and between ‘high’ and ‘low’ per capita emitters. To inform the international debate, WWF asked the leading energy research consultancy ECOFYS to elaborate on the practicalities and implications of some suggested methodologies already under discussion and some that are promising and should receive consideration.

Unabated climate change will cost much more socially, economically and environmentally. It will wreak havoc on global food security and freshwater availability, and its impacts will be disproportionately felt by poor and vulnerable communities. What WWF seeks to do with this paper is to kick-start a debate on how to globally share the carbon budget consistent with a trajectory to keep global warming below 2°C. This is not about burden sharing – this is about benefit sharing. Compared to unabated climate change, perceived economic ‘hardship’ is a luxury problem.
Ecofys Carbon Deal report
© WWF / Ecofys Enlarge

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