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New Study Proposes Tracking & Limiting An Individual’s Carbon Emissions

Deborah Zabarenko
Reuters [1]
Tuesday, July 7, 2009

WASHINGTON, July 7 (Reuters) – To fairly divide the climate change fight between rich and poor, a new study suggests basing targets for emission cuts on the number of wealthy people, who are also the biggest greenhouse gas emitters, in a country.

Since about half the planet’s climate-warming emissions come from less than a billion of its people, it makes sense to follow these rich folks when setting national targets to cut carbon dioxide emissions, the authors wrote on Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study suggests setting a uniform international cap on how much carbon dioxide each person could emit in order to limit global emissions; since rich people emit more, they are the ones likely to reach or exceed this cap, whether they live in a rich country or a poor one.

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By counting the emissions of all the individuals likely to exceed this level, world leaders could provide target emissions cuts for each country. Currently, the world average for individual annual carbon emissions is about 5 tons; each European produces 10 tons and each American produces 20 tons.

With international climate talks set to start this week in Italy among the countries that pollute the most, the authors hope policymakers will look at the strong link between how rich people are and how much carbon dioxide they emit.

Is this a limousine-and-yacht tax on the rich? Not necessarily, Shoibal Chakravarty (Princeton Environment Institute) said, but he did not rule it out: “We are not by any means proposing that. If some country finds a way of doing that, it’s great.”

Full story here. [1]