[indoor-gardening] ENVIRONMENT: GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE : COUNTRIES : POVERTY : IMPACTS: How Climate Change Unfairly Burdens Poorer Countries

 

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ENVIRONMENT: GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE :

COUNTRIES :

POVERTY :

IMPACTS:

How Climate Change Unfairly Burdens Poorer Countries

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How Climate Change Unfairly Burdens Poorer Countries

Justin Worland

February 5, 2016

Time

http://time.com/4209510/climate-change-poor-countries/

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The U.S. emits the second most greenhouse emissions but is largely shielded from the worst effects

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Wealthy countries that have contributed the most to climate change tend to be most immune to its effects, according to new research, a finding that has implications for the question of who bears responsibility for addressing the crisis.

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The study, published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, shows that more than half of the highest-emitting countries rank among the least vulnerable to climate change and nearly two-thirds of the countries with low or moderate emissions are acutely vulnerable to the effects.

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Researchers classified more than 10% of countries as free riders, ranking in the top fifth in terms of emissions and the bottom 20% in terms of vulnerability. These countries include the United States, much of Europe and Australia.

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On the opposite end, six countries were classified as forced riders with relatively low emissions and high vulnerability. Some island countries with low emissions, like Kiribati, could be wiped off the face of the Earth thanks to rising sea levels.

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The new study provides a new way for policymakers to quantify inequality when it comes to tackling climate change. Countries around the world have agreed on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities since the early days of climate negotiations in the 1990s. That principle calls on wealthy emitters like the United States to do more to address global warming than poorer countries who emitted less historically.

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Global mismatch between greenhouse gas emissions and the burden of climate change

Glenn Althor, James E. M. Watson & Richard A. Fuller

Scientific Reports 6,

Article number: 20281 (2016)

doi:10.1038/srep20281

nature.com  scientific reports  article

http://www.nature.com/articles/srep20281

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Results

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Greenhouse gas emissions are spread highly unevenly across the worlds countries (Fig. 1), with the top ten GHG emitting countries generating

60% of total emissions, and three countries, China (21.1%), the United

States of America (14.1%) and India (5.2%) being by far the largest contributors. A Gini coefficient of 80.9 indicated extreme inequality in the distribution of emissions among countries, given that the index can only vary between 0 (perfectly even responsibility) and 100 (one country responsible for all emissions)19.

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snip

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Discussion

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Climate change inequity is globally pervasive, and correlated with economic output. Some countries, such as China and the United States of America, are in a win-win position of achieving economic growth through fossil fuel use with few consequences from the resulting climate change, while many other, mostly Island and African, countries suffer low economic growth and severe, negative climate change impacts (see Supplementary Table S4 online). The beneficiaries of this climate inequity have few incentives to meaningfully reduce or halt their GHG emissions. Despite many of the broad issues around climate equity being well known1, well-funded global mechanisms that are being implemented still do not exist. This has serious consequences for our ability to slow the rate of climate change, and reduce the wellbeing implications for forced rider countries.

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There are several global policy frameworks currently being debated that could address elements of the problem. The Paris Agreement20, secured at the 21st UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP21), for example, sets an ambitious target of limiting global warming to 1.5C above preindustrial levels. However, the 160 indicative nationally determined contributions (INDCs) pledges submitted by signatories to the UNFCCC prior to COP2121, indicate that current targets for GHG emissions are unlikely to limit warming to below 2C22 With no binding agreement established at COP21 for INDCs, there is no clear indication of how successful the Paris Agreement will be20. Addressing GHG emissions is clearly an important first step in ensuring the burden of climate change is not amplified in the future. However, the historic commitment to GHG emissions reduction by key free riders has been slow. Only 50 countries ratified the previous Doha Amendment to the Kyoto protocol, which did not include key free riders such as the United States and Russia23. Furthermore, some countries have actually backtracked on their commitments to emissions reductions (e.g. Canada and Australia)24,25.

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snip

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Conclusion

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It is clear climate change inequity must be addressed. If the commitment to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities that was widely accepted early on in the UNFCCC is to be acted upon, member states now need to do much more to hold climate free riders to account. To ensure equitable outcomes from climate negotiations, there needs to be a meaningful mobilization of policies, such as the Paris Agreement, that achieve national level emissions reductions, and to ensure the vulnerable forced-rider countries are able to adapt rapidly to climate change.

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The complete articles may be read at the URLs provided for each.

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Sincerely,
David Dillard
Temple University
(215) 204 – 4584
jwne@temple.edu
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