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All people on earth have a right to use energy. A fair global reduction of greenhouse gases must be based on equal per-capita carbon emissions for everyone on this planet. In order to restrict global warming to less than two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), we must reduce worldwide per-capita emissions to 3 tons of carbon per year.

Industrialized countries
However, we are living far beyond our carbon budget. Take for example the 8 following developed countries:

Country
Per capita emissions
% of global emissions
% of global population
Australia 25.5 1.80% 0.3%
USA 23.1 23.80% 4.6%
Canada 23.1 2.60% 0.5%
Germany 12.3 3.40% 1.2%
United Kingdom 10.9 2.20% 0.9%
Austria 10.9 0.30% 0.1%
Japan 10.6 4.60% 1.9%
Switzerland 7.1 0.20% 0.1%
Average/Total 17.8 38.90% 9.7


On average, each person living in one of these 8 countries is responsible for greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to approximately 17.8 tons of carbon per year. With only about 10% of the world population these countries cause almost 40% of global emissions.

Emerging Countries
Brazil, China and India – perhaps the three most important emerging economies – account for 40% of world population but cause only 20% of global emissions. Their per-capita emissions are on average 2.2 tons of carbon per year.

Country
Per capita emissions
% of global emissions
% of global population
Brazil 3.4 2.2% 2.9%
China 3.0 13.7% 19.9%
India 1.0 4.1% 17.5%
Average/Total 2.2 20.0% 40.3%


We must overcome two challenges: reduce high emission levels in the industrialized countries while avoiding emission growth in emerging countries.

Source: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC): National greenhouse gas inventory data for the period 1990–2004 and status of reporting, October 2006; Sixth compilation and synthesis of initial national communications from Parties not included in Annex I to the Convention, October 2005

 

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