Sharing the Climate Change burden: new study suggests how global carbon cuts could be fair

The UK and other developed nations will have to make far bigger cuts in their carbon emissions than currently planned to meet their fair share for tackling climate change, a new study has revealed. Published ahead of September's UN climate summit in New York, the Fair Share study by Friends of the Earth, the Stockholm Environment Institute and Jubilee South presents for the first time a fair system of carbon cuts for nations across the world to provide a reasonable chance of limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial limits, whilst also lifting the world’s poorest out of poverty.

The analysis takes into account each nation’s responsibility for historical emissions and their capacity – based on average per capita income - for making cuts. As well as making substantial reductions in their own emissions, some developed nations will also be required to make financial contributions to help fund carbon-cutting and mitigation measures in less developed countries.

“It’s the wealthy industrial nations that are overwhelmingly responsible for the climate crisis we currently face – it’s only fair that they face up to their responsibilities by making large cuts in their emissions and funding climate action in the developing world too," said Friends of the Earth’s International Climate Campaigner Asad Rehman.

“The choices are clear – either we lock billions of our fellow citizens into poverty and condemn them to a bleak future where their very lives and livlihoods will be threatened - or we accept that ‘business as usual’ is no longer an option.

"The Ban Ki Moon Summit will see plenty of warm words on climate but very little concrete action – this report shows how far away current climate plans are from what’s needed. It’s a final wake up call.”

The study’s findings include:

  • The UK would need to make cuts of between 65-75% on 1990 emission levels by 2025 – significantly more than currently planned. It would also need to transfer up to $49bn (£30bn) to developing countries.
  • The USA would have to make emissions cuts of up to 65% on 1990 levels, and transfer up to $634bn to make a fair contribution
  • Given its population, wealth and limited historical responsibility, China could say it has the right to increase its current emissions by up to 47%. But if the world is to make the 1.5 target, China needs to cut its emissions on today's levels by 25-45% percent. That difference could cost up to $497 billion - transfers which would need to be made via access to technology to help the China grow cleanly and lift millions of its citizens out of poverty.

The Climate FairShares report is at

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