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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Sharing a quota on cumulative carbon emissions

  • Author(s): Raupach, Michael R
  • Davis, Steven J
  • Peters, Glen P
  • Andrew, Robbie M
  • Canadell, Josep G
  • Ciais, Philippe
  • Friedlingstein, Pierre
  • Jotzo, Frank
  • van Vuuren, Detlef P
  • Le Quéré, Corinne
  • et al.

© 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. Any limit on future global warming is associated with a quota on cumulative global CO2 emissions. We translate this global carbon quota to regional and national scales, on a spectrum of sharing principles that extends from continuation of the present distribution of emissions to an equal per-capita distribution of cumulative emissions. A blend of these endpoints emerges as the most viable option. For a carbon quota consistent with a 2°C warming limit (relative to pre-industrial levels), the necessary long-term mitigation rates are very challenging (typically over 5% per year), both because of strong limits on future emissions from the global carbon quota and also the likely short-term persistence in emissions growth in many regions.

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