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Proposals for reducing emissions must balance with development needs

12/22/2011 – How to integrate developing countries into global CO2 reduction schemes is subject of an ongoing debate. An approach for balancing climate change mitigation and the need for development is now being presented by the North South Project of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). The study shows that emissions of societies up to now are closely linked to their human development levels under parallel consideration of the 2 degrees target. The 2 degrees guardrail by 2050 has been accepted by states around the world in order to prevent dangerous climate change.

“Developing countries tend to rely on cheap fossil fuels to achieve their development targets. This social dimension of emissions is often neglected when agreements are negotiated,” says Luis Costa, lead author of the study. The scientists extrapolated current trends of both, development and emissions, for more than 140 countries. “These results represent a plausible near-future world, with still limited global implementation of renewable energy technologies and emission trading,” Diego Rybski stated, a co-author of the study. “We find that the emissions necessary for continued economic growth of the developing countries consume 20% to 30% of the 1000 billion tonnes CO2 budget that has to be set if one wishes to attain a good probability of limiting global warming to two degrees,” says Jürgen Kropp, leader of the research team and also one of the study’s authors.

The calculations give an assessment of how emission rights could be allocated in a way considering certain development levels. According to the proposed reduction scheme, developing countries could continue using fossil fuels until they reach the current development of OECD countries. Beyond this value they need to reduce emissions as well. Consequently, rich countries would have to take greater responsibilities for emissions reduction. The authors emphasize that such a differentiated country based and dynamic allocation system for emission rights is an option to be considered.

Weblink to Costa L, Rybski D, Kropp JP (2011) A Human Development Framework for CO2 Reductions. PLoS ONE 6(12): e29262. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029262

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