Fair-share carbon dioxide removal increases major emitter responsibility

Date Published 2020, July 27

Authors Claire Fyson, Susanne Baur, Matthew Gidden, Carl-Friedrich Schleussner

Journal Nature Climate Change

The Paris Agreement long-term temperature goal is to be achieved on the basis of equity. Accomplishing this goal will require carbon dioxide removal (CDR), yet existing plans for CDR deployment are insufficient to meet potential global needs, and equitable approaches for distributing CDR responsibilities between nations are lacking. This study applies two common burden-sharing principles to show how CDR responsibility could be shared between regions in 1.5°C and 2°C mitigation pathways.

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Equity approaches

We consider how the burden of deploying CDR over the century could be ‘fairly’ distributed among countries and regions. For this we use two approaches that are based on the widely used equity principles of responsibility, equality and capability: ‘cumulative emissions per capita’ (CPCE) and ‘ability to pay’ (AP).

Temporal evolution of cumulative emissions per capita (CPCE) and GDP per capita (AP).

Model based CDR distribution vs. equity-based CDR distribution: CPCE & AP

Regional distribution of CDR for assessed least-cost pathways in the Integrated Assessment Models versus CDR allocation based on the CPCE and AP equity approaches.

Coloured boxes show the 25th and 75th percentiles across all pathways, with whiskers indicating the 5th and 95th percentiles.

Relationship between near-term emission reductions and long-term CDR burdens

Comparison of cumulative 21st-century CDR fair shares for each region with gross emissions in 2030 for the CPCE and AP equity approaches. Stars show where estimated 2030 emission levels under the current NDCs would fall on the regression lines.