Forget National Emission Reduction Targets, How About Personal Ones?

chinese rolls royce photo

The idea is that emission reductions have more to do with a person's wealth rather than national origin. Photo: Cory Doctorow via flickr

Here's an idea that definitely falls into the easier to say than do category: Instead of making national emission reductions the cornerstone of a global climate change agreement, everyone should have a personal emissions target based on their individual footprint. This idea was put forward at the Copenhagen Climate Congress last week by Heleen de Coninck of the Princeton Environmental Institute in a session I didn't happen to personally attend but which has been summed up by New Scientist: Every Nation Has a Proportion of Large Emitters
The logic goes that since throughout the world there are wide discrepancies in terms of personal carbon emissions, largely based on wealth, emission reductions targets should reflect this.

Though the average person in China may have a very low carbon footprint, a Chinese businessman driving around in a new SUV may have as large a footprint as the average European; conversely, a poor person in Europe may have a radically lower carbon footprint than his wealthier neighbors, even if still much higher than someone in a developing nation.

Large Emitters in Any Country Would Have to Cut Emissions
De Coninck's proposal would account for this. The biggest carbon emitters, regardless of country would have to individually reduce their emissions to a maximum of 10 tonnes of CO2 per year (average US per capita emissions are around 20 tonnes per year, about double the average of most European nations).

The team calculates that roughly 300 million Chinese and 300 million US citizens [TH note: all of us in the US...] would have to reduce their emissions to meet the 10 tonnes per year allowance—although on average those in the US would have to cut more emissions to meet the target than the Chinese.

via: New Scientist
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