6 January, 2022

Responsibility of major emitters for country-level warming and extreme hot years


Lea Beusch, Alexander Nauels, Lukas Gudmundsson, Johannes Gütschow, Carl-Friedrich Schleussner, Sonia I. Seneviratne

The contributions of single greenhouse gas emitters to country-level climate change are generally not disentangled, despite their relevance for climate policy and litigation. Here, we quantify the contributions of the five largest emitters (China, US, EU-27, India, and Russia) to projected 2030 country-level warming and extreme hot years with respect to pre-industrial climate using an innovative suite of Earth System Model emulators.

We find that under current pledges, their cumulated 1991–2030 emissions are expected to result in extreme hot years every second year by 2030 in twice as many countries (92%) as without their influence (46%). If all world nations shared the same fossil CO2 per capita emissions as projected for the US from 2016–2030, global warming in 2030 would be 0.4 °C higher than under actual current pledges, and 75% of all countries would exceed 2 °C of regional warming instead of 11%.

Our results highlight the responsibility of individual emitters in driving regional climate change and provide additional angles for the climate policy discourse.