Impact of US InAction on Climate Sustainability and Carbon Equity

On sustainability and equity grounds, the CEEP scenario is far superior to the BAU path. Implementing the CEEP scenario requires both groups of nations (i.e. Annex 1 and nonAnnex 1) to make commitments for reducing and curbing their emissions. This is particularly urgent in the case of the US, which accounts for more than 40% of emissions by Annex 1 countries (CDIAC 2006).

To reach sustainable emission levels not exceeding 450 ppm in 2050, all industrialized nations need to begin reducing their emissions no later than 2010. To demonstrate this point, an analysis is presented in which US CO2 emissions are initially projected to climb according to the EIA (2006) forecast, and later emissions are reduced to the 2 tonnes CO2 per capita level. Figure 2.10 displays the path of emissions projections for this scenario. The rest of the world is assumed to follow the CEEP scenario. The derived results show that even if other industrialized and non-Annex 1 nations meet their proportionate obligations under a 450 ppm policy regime, global concentrations increase to a probable 480 ppm by the conclusion of the century. Even an extreme case in which both the EU and Japan lower their emissions by 2030 to zero will result in a probable global concentration of 465 ppm (see Fig. 2.11).

10 For a mathematically evolved discussion of the Gini coefficient and Lorenz curve, see Gastwirth (1972).

Fig. 2.10. Per capita CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning, in the US and other countries under different scenarios (tCO2 per person).

Global concentration 480 ppm 465 ppm 450 ppm

1900

1950

2000

2050

Global concentration 480 ppm 465 ppm 450 ppm

1850

1900

1950

2000

2050

2100

Fig. 2.11. CO2 concentrations under different scenarios (ppm).

The zero emissions case is not only unlikely but will also increase the inequity of carbon emissions among nations, as demonstrated in Fig. 2.12. Under Scenario 1, where all Annex 1 countries follow the CEEP scenario, the Gini coefficient falls to 0.17. For Scenario 2 in which the US delays action, y almost doubles to 0.33. If the EU and Japan try to compensate for US inaction, y rises to 0.39 because inequality persists between Annex 1 and non-Annex 1 countries and inequality within the Annex 1 group is exacerbated by delayed US action (see Scenario 3 in Fig. 2.12).

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