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Improving living standards within stringent carbon budgets: the critical importance of climate equity

Working paper

Written by Vidya Diwakar, Marion Davis, Sarah Colenbrander, Alexandra Löwe, Sam Pickard

Working paper

The impacts of climate change are increasingly visible around the world through hotter temperatures, thinning ice, alternating droughts and heavy rains, and more frequent severe storms. While many governments and companies have pledged net-zero emissions by 2050, decarbonisation progress is insufficient to meet the Paris Agreement targets.

This working paper explores the interconnected issues of climate change, poverty, and inequality. It highlights the urgent need for action to address climate change and the insufficient progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The paper emphasises the importance of equitable burden-sharing and proposes a more equitable approach to emission reduction that focuses on reducing emissions from the wealthiest individuals and raising living standards for the poorest. It discusses the concept of a carbon budget compatible with a 1.5°C climate target and presents data on the disproportionate impact of the wealthiest individuals on emissions. Scenario modelling is used to demonstrate the potential emission reductions achieved through equitable distribution and reduced consumption by the wealthy. The paper also examines the feasibility of improving diets and infrastructure while lowering emissions. Based on the analysis, the paper concludes with recommendations for improving the well-being of the poorest while mitigating climate change.

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