Global Carbon inequality, poverty alleviation, and the Paris agreement.
University of Groningen
Extreme inequality is a major challenge. Global wealth is concentrated amongst a few, while hundreds of millions still live in extreme poverty, and half of the global population lives on less than US$3.50 in purchasing power parity (PPP) per day. To tackle these persistent problems, the first of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aims to end poverty in all its forms everywhere by 2030. In the same year as the SDGs were established, the global community adopted the Paris Climate Agreement (PCA) and proposed to keep global temperature increase below 2°C or 1.5°C. This leaves humanity with a limited carbon budget to emit and, thus, requires significant reductions of yearly carbon emissions. The two agreements, SDGs and PCA, do not describe in any way how these goals can be achieved simultaneously (without one jeopardizing the other) or how the burden of responsibility may be shared. Is it possible to lift millions of people out of poverty without a substantial increase of carbon emissions? This is especially pertinent given that developed countries are responsible for most fossil fuel-related CO2 emissions, and the fact that less than a fifth of the global population shares ‘First World’ living standards. To answer these questions, we want first to look behind the scenes and quantify the connections between consumption and carbon emissions across the world. We will discuss how Covid-19 inadvertently contributed to achieve the PSG, whether it really did so, the effects of the EU’s Green Deal and the current energy price increase on global income distribution, and if there is any space for carbon taxation given the cost-of-living crisis and already large income disparities.
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Klaus Hubacek is a Professor in Science, Technology and Society at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands