“Measuring a fair and ambitious climate agreement using cumulative emissions” – Glen Peters – 10/18/16
Date: 18 October 2016
Location: Wean Hall 3701 Conference Room
Speaker: Glen Peters
Topic: Measuring a fair and ambitious climate agreement using cumulative emissions
Policy makers have called for a ‘fair and ambitious’ global climate agreement. Scientific constraints, such as the allowable carbon emissions to avoid exceeding a 2°C global warming limit, can help define ambitious approaches to climate targets. However, fairly sharing the mitigation challenge to meet a global target involves human values rather than just scientific facts. We apply a framework based on cumulative emissions of carbon dioxide to compare the consistency of countries’ current emission pledges to the ambition of keeping global temperatures below 1.5°C and 2°C. The EU and US pledges are close to a 2°C level of ambition only if the remaining emission allowance is distributed based on current emission shares, which is unlikely to be viewed as ‘fair’ by others who presently emit less. China’s and India’s emission targets are inconsistent with a 2°C level of ambition across a range of measures of fairness, primarily owing to emissions that continue to grow into the 2020s and are often close to Business as Usual. Given the diminishingly small allowable carbon dioxide emissions, lifting ambition consistent with a 1.5°C or 2°C limit requires unprecedented emission reductions in all countries for all reasonable fairness criteria.