Emissions budget and why carbon inequality is a disserve to Africa

carbon - climateaction

Emissions budget and why carbon inequality is a disserve to Africa

Climate change is one of the biggest environmental crises we currently face because its impact is felt in almost every aspect of our lives: water, food, wellbeing, etc.


In a bid to tackle the climate crisis, the global community established SDGs, adopted the Paris Climate Agreement, and proposed o keep global temperature increase below 2.0 °C or 1.5 °C. This has left the world with a limited carbon emission budget which requires substantial reductions in yearly emissions.


The problem, however, is that wealth and income are disproportionately distributed among the global population and this is translating into carbon inequality which stems from differences in consumption.


What this means is that the over-consumption of the wealthy minority – comprising countries that make up the rich 10% and are high emitters – is fueling global warming.


On the contrary, the consumption of the majority of people living below poverty lines and who also constitute part of the global bottom 50%, results in yearly carbon footprints of less than 1 tCO2, making up only a small part of emissions.


Now, these poor countries, especially in Africa, have the worse for it when it comes to the impacts of global warming and climate change, and despite already contributing less to carbon emissions, they are expected to compromise for the benefit of a few (the 10%ers) who are high emitters.


It is for this reason that we must highlight the importance of the varying contributions of countries to the climate crisis to allow for a just allocation of the remaining carbon budget and to help policymakers with establishing fair mitigation policies.


High-income countries and large economies like the United States of America and China need to reduce their emissions substantially as their current emissions are already larger than the remaining carbon budget can take.


For the world to stay within the remaining carbon budget, high emitters would need to drastically change their consumption patterns. This also calls for the investigation of the emission patterns of rich countries if we are truly interested in reducing carbon emissions.


Furthermore, there would be a need to improve energy efficiency and push for a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

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