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

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  • Relationships Australia Canberra and Region
  • University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Abstract and Figures

Countries export much of the harm created by their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions because the Earth’s atmosphere intermixes globally. Yet, the extent to which this leads to inequity between GHG emitters and those impacted by the resulting climate change depends on the distribution of climate vulnerability. Here, we determine empirically the relationship between countries’ GHG emissions and their vulnerability to negative effects of climate change. In line with the results of other studies, we find an enormous global inequality where 20 of the 36 highest emitting countries are among the least vulnerable to negative impacts of future climate change. Conversely, 11 of the 17 countries with low or moderate GHG emissions, are acutely vulnerable to negative impacts of climate change. In 2010, only 28 (16%) countries had an equitable balance between emissions and vulnerability. Moreover, future emissions scenarios show that this inequality will significantly worsen by 2030. Many countries are manifestly free riders causing others to bear a climate change burden, which acts as a disincentive for them to mitigate their emissions. It is time that this persistent and worsening climate inequity is resolved, and for the largest emitting countries to act on their commitment of common but differentiated responsibilities.
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Scientific RepoRts | 6:20281 | DOI: 10.1038/srep20281
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Global mismatch between
greenhouse gas emissions and the
burden of climate change
Glenn Althor1, James E. M. Watson1,2 & Richard A. Fuller3
Countries export much of the harm created by their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions because the
Earth’s atmosphere intermixes globally. Yet, the extent to which this leads to inequity between GHG
emitters and those impacted by the resulting climate change depends on the distribution of climate
vulnerability. Here, we determine empirically the relationship between countries’ GHG emissions
and their vulnerability to negative eects of climate change. In line with the results of other studies,
we nd an enormous global inequality where 20 of the 36 highest emitting countries are among the
least vulnerable to negative impacts of future climate change. Conversely, 11 of the 17 countries
with low or moderate GHG emissions, are acutely vulnerable to negative impacts of climate change.
In 2010, only 28 (16%) countries had an equitable balance between emissions and vulnerability.
Moreover, future emissions scenarios show that this inequality will signicantly worsen by 2030. Many
countries are manifestly free riders causing others to bear a climate change burden, which acts as a
disincentive for them to mitigate their emissions. It is time that this persistent and worsening climate
inequity is resolved, and for the largest emitting countries to act on their commitment of common but
dierentiated responsibilities.
e current generation is the rst to feel the eects of anthropogenic climate change1,2. Despite their well-known
harmful impacts to the world’s climate system1,3, greenhouse gases (GHG) are deliberately emitted by countries
to drive economic growth and enhance human wellbeing4. Spatially localised environmental issues, such as city
air pollution5, may result from high GHG emissions, but the most damaging and long lasting consequence, that
of global climate change6, is not constrained within the border of the emitting country1. Rather, by polluting the
Earth’s atmosphere with GHG emissions through fossil fuel combustion, deforestation and agricultural activi-
ties, emitting countries are degrading the world’s climate system, a common resource shared by all biodiversity,
including people7,8.
Because the impacts of GHG emissions can be felt beyond a country’s border, and the impacts of climate
change on countries are highly variable, there is potential for some emitters to contribute more or less to the
causes of climate change than is proportionate to their vulnerability to its eects9–11. is inequity has not gone
unnoticed in international climate negotiations or global reporting1,3. As far back as 1992, the United Nations
Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) committed to the principle of “common but dierenti-
ated responsibilities, in which countries have a common responsibility in reducing GHG emissions, but historic
emissions and dierences in current development levels mean that countries have dierent levels of emissions
reduction obligations9. Both of the previous IPCC Assessment Reports have acknowledged the inequity in
the causes and eects of climate change1,12 although operationalising the principle has proved dicult13. is
is primarily because developing and developed countries continue to disagree over the extent of each other’s
responsibilities13,14. One major impediment to resolving such debates is a poor quantitative understanding of the
magnitude of the global inequity in emissions and impacts. ‘Free rider’ countries contribute disproportionately to
global GHG emissions with only limited vulnerability to the eects of the resulting climate change, while ‘forced
rider’ countries are most vulnerable to climate change but have contributed little to its genesis15,16. is is an issue
of environmental equity on a truly global scale17.
1School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, University of Queensland, Queensland, 4072,
Australia. 2Wildlife Conservation Society, Global Conservation Program, 2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10460-
1068, USA. 3School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, Queensland, 4072, Australia. Correspondence
and requests for materials should be addressed to G.A. (email: g.althor@uq.edu.au)
Received: 30 July 2015
Accepted: 30 December 2015
Published: 05 February 2016
OPEN
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Here, we measure the current pattern of global climate change equity, and assess whether the situation will
improve or worsen by 2030, using data on GHG emissions17 and newly available national climate change vul-
nerability assessments18. We address the lack of a contemporary, qualitative assessment of global climate equity
that incorporates key variables. Previous studies have been limited to CO2 emissions datasets, omitting the most
potent and long lasting GHGs1,6,16, and used vulnerability variables that do not capture the complexity of climate
change threats, and cannot be forecasted. Here, we use the most recently available datasets based on comprehen-
sive national vulnerability assessments and comprehensive GHG emissions data to produce an easily replicable
snapshot of the relationship between countries’ GHG emissions and their vulnerability to the negative eects
of climate change17,18, and forecast this to 2030. We employ economic metrics, the Gini and Robin Hood coe-
cients19, to quantify the present level of equity in GHG emissions. Only through a proper empirical understanding
of the pattern of climate equity now, and how it will change in the near future, can signatories of the UNFCCC
make meaningful progress toward resolving the inequity in the burden of climate change impacts.
Results
Greenhouse gas emissions are spread highly unevenly across the world’s 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 coecient 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. A Robin Hood index of
64 indicated that 64% of GHG emissions would need to be redistributed to achieve an even distribution among
countries19. Vulnerability to the impacts of climate change was also unevenly spread among countries, with 17
countries acutely vulnerable to climate change impacts in 2010 (Fig.2). e majority of these were island coun-
tries located in the Atlantic, Pacic and Indian oceans (n = 7, 35.3%) and African countries (n = 8, 47%). By 2030
Figure 1. Global inequity in the responsibility for climate change and the burden of its impacts. (a) Climate
change equity for 2010. (b) Climate change equity for 2030. Countries with emissions in the highest quintile
and vulnerability in the lowest quintile are shown in dark red (the climate free riders), and those countries with
emissions in the lowest quintile and vulnerability in the highest quintile are shown in dark green (the climate
forced riders). Intermediate levels of equity are shown in graduating colours, with countries in yellow producing
GHG emissions concomitant with their vulnerability to the resulting climate change. Data decient countries
are shown as grey. Maps generated using ESRI ArcGIS36.
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the number of acutely vulnerable countries is predicted to rise dramatically (n = 62; Fig.2), and the majority of
these will again be island (n = 20, 32.8%) and African (n = 27, 44.2%) countries.
Countries least vulnerable to the impacts of climate change were generally the highest GHG emitters, and con-
versely those most vulnerable to climate change were the least responsible for its genesis. is inequity held true
for both 2010 and 2030, with a negative relationship between emissions and climate vulnerability in both years
(2010: ρ = 0.4, n = 175, p = 0; 2030: ρ = 0.37, n = 175, p = 0). e only exception is in 2030, where countries
acutely vulnerable to climate change will have slightly higher average emissions than those in the severe category
(2030: severe = 48.83 mtC O2e, acute = 103.13 mtCO2e).
In 2010, of the 179 countries assessed, 28 (15.6%) were in the same quintile for GHG emissions and vulnera-
bility to the negative impacts of climate change. is indicates that their vulnerability to climate change approx-
imately matched their relative contribution to its genesis (Fig.1). Ninety countries (50.3%) had GHG emissions
in a higher quintile than their 2010 climate vulnerability, and 20 (11.2%) countries were free riders, with GHG
emissions in the highest quintile and climate vulnerability in the lowest quintile (Fig.1; see Supplementary Table
S4 online). Sixty-one (34%) countries had GHG emissions in a lower quintile than their climate vulnerability, and
six (3.4%) countries were forced riders, with GHG emissions in the lowest quintile and climate vulnerability in
the highest quintile (Comoros, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu;
see Supplementary Table S4 online).
By 2030, climate change inequity will rise further, with an increase in the proportion of countries that are
forced riders (n = 20; 11.2%), but fewer free riders (n = 16; 8.9%) and equitable countries (n = 23; 12.8%; see
Supplementary Table S4 online). Free riders are typically located in the worlds sub-tropical and temperate
regions, while forced riders are frequently located in tropical regions (Fig.1).
Greenhouse gas emissions were positively correlated with GDP (2010: ρ = 0.84, n = 175, p = 0; Fig.2c), while
climate vulnerability declined with increasing GDP (2010: ρ = 0.69, n = 175, p = 0; 2030: ρ = 0.65, n = 175,
p = 0; Fig.2d). Our analysis considers the absolute contribution of each country to climate change, but we also
examined climate change equity in per capita terms to provide a more complete picture of emissions responsi-
bilities. e patterns were broadly similar, with, for example, Australia, Russia and the United States of America
remaining free riders (see Supplementary Fig. S3 online). However, several populous major emitters (e.g. United
Kingdom, China, and Brazil) were no longer categorised as free riders.
Discussion
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,
Figure 2. Vulnerability to climate change, mean GHG emissions, and mean GDP. (a) Number of countries
in each climate change vulnerability category, derived from DARA vulnerability data18, for 2010 (blue bars) and
2030 (green bars). (b) Mean GHG emissions for 2010, derived from CAIT GHG emissions data17, shown in CO2
equivalent units and climate vulnerability categories for 2010 (blue bars, with standard error) and 2030 (green
bars, with standard error). (c) GDP shown in current US$ (in billions), derived from the World Bank GDP 2010
data28, and 2010 GHG emissions. (d) Mean GDP for 2010 shown in current US$ (in billions) and climate change
vulnerability for 2010 (blue bars, with standard error) and 2030 (green bars, with standard error).
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countries suer low economic growth and severe, negative climate change impacts (see Supplementary Table S4
online). e beneciaries 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 mech-
anisms that are being implemented still do not exist. is has serious consequences for our ability to slow the rate
of climate change, and reduce the wellbeing implications for forced rider countries.
ere are several global policy frameworks currently being debated that could address elements of the prob-
lem. e Paris Agreement20, secured at the 21st UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP21), for example, sets
an ambitious target of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels. However, the 160 indica-
tive 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 2°C22 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 rst step in ensuring the burden of cli-
mate change is not amplied in the future. However, the historic commitment to GHG emissions reduction by
key free riders has been slow. Only 50 countries ratied 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.
Likewise, the Paris Agreement calls for urgent and adequate nancing of US$100 billion per year by 2020 for
climate mitigation and adaptation through the Financial Mechanism of the Convention (FMC)20. However, there
is no legally binding mechanism under which parties are responsible for providing this funding. History suggests
such funding goals are not always met. For example, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) was established in 2010
under the UNFCCC to mobilise funding support for the least developed countries that are most vulnerable to
climate change, yet it remains poorly funded, with only US$10.2 billion received in pledges by November 201526.
Addressing these issues around climate funding will play a critical role in addressing climate inequity27.
Conclusion
It is clear climate change inequity must be addressed. If the commitment to the principle of common but dieren-
tiated 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 negotia-
tions, 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. e provisioning of these policy mechanisms will require a distribution of resources and responsibilities
and we believe our results provide one way to understand where these responsibilities lie. e Paris Agreement
may be a signicant step forward in global climate negotiations. However, as the Agreement’s key policies are yet
to be realized, member states have both an exceptional opportunity and a moral impetus to use these results to
address climate change equity in a meaningful manner.
Methods
We quantied climate change equity, dened as the distribution of climate change benets and burdens, using
data from two publicly available datasets and national GDP data. National level data sets suer from some weak-
nesses such as a lack of accounting for sub-national variability and scaling. Nonetheless, they are still highly useful
as global metrics as they provide aggregated assessments at the national level, which is the most meaningful for
international policy negotiations.
We extracted data on national vulnerability to the negative impacts of climate change from DARA’s Climate
Vulnerability Monitor (CVM)18. e CVM uses 22 climate vulnerability indicators across four impact areas
(Environmental Disasters, Habitat Change, Health Impact, and Industry Stress) to evaluate the vulnerability of
184 countries to climate change impacts for the years 2010 and 2030. Each of the 22 indicators is individually
aggregated from various data sources and models and then combined to determine a country’s overall climate
vulnerability, measured by impact to share of GDP and mortality (as these impacts are comparable across the
wide range of countries). e CVM calculates vulnerability projections for 2030 using human population growth,
mortality and GDP predictions. e CVM uses ve vulnerability categories (low, medium, high, severe and acute)
which are determined using a mean absolute standard deviation method18. e CVM categories do not of course
capture the full complexity of national climate vulnerability, as capturing this would require an impractical degree
of data. However, we consider the 22 indicators used by the CVM as capturing a high enough level of complexity
to provide a meaningful approximation of national vulnerability.
Data on GHG emissions (by countries) were exported from the World Resource Institute’s (WRI) Climate
Analysis Indicators Tool (CAIT)17, a database of national and international GHG emissions derived from multiple
sources. e CAIT data set compiles data for the six main GHG gasses (carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4),
nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrouorocarbons (HFCs), peruorocarbons (PFCs) and sulfur hexauoride (SF6)) from
185 countries over the period from 1990–2012. We used the 2010 data for this study to match the CVM vulner-
ability data. e WRI compiled GHG data from UNFCCC reports and complemented with data from several
NGO sources17, including emissions data from six major sectors (Land Use Change & Forestry, Energy, Industrial
Processes, Agriculture, Waste, and International Bunkers) and several subsectors. e CAIT data set reports at
the national level, however we extrapolated per capita emissions results by dividing data by 2010 and 2030 popu-
lation data from the World Bank28 (see Supplementary Table S4 online).
We excluded the ten countries (Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Montenegro,
Nauru, Niue, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Serbia, Somalia and Taiwan) with data missing in any dataset, and 179 remained
for analysis. In addition, there were also insucient data available for many of the world’s island and archipe-
lagic countries. Given the negligible GHG emissions and high climate change vulnerability of such countries, the
majority are highly likely to qualify as climate forced riders29,30 and as such, we expect that climate forced rider
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countries are likely underrepresented in our results. National GDP (measured in Current US$) was extracted
from the World Bank Group28, who measure GDP as the gross value of all resident producers in an economy plus
taxes.
We created a Lorenz curve to represent the variation of GHG emissions among countries using the CAIT data-
set, and calculated the Gini index to measure inequity in GHG emissions among countries, and the Robin hood
index to measure how much of the total global emissions would have to be redistributed to achieve equity among
countries (see Supplementary Fig. S2 online).
We compared the CAIT GHG data and the CVM vulnerability data both in 2010 and 2030 to assess whether
the most heavily polluting countries were also those least vulnerable to the negative eects of climate change. We
divided the CAIT GHG emissions into quintiles, matching the CVM data, to enhance comparability between the
datasets and enable visualisation of climate equity in the recent past (2010) and near future (2030). We placed
the emissions quintiles on a scale between the highest (acute emissions) and the lowest (low emissions) emitting
countries. We also tested the correlations between GHG emissions and GDP against vulnerability to climate
change by treating vulnerability categories as ordinal data and undertaking spearman’s rho tests using R statistical
soware31. R has a computational limitation for p-values lower than 2.2e-16, as such, where values this small
were reported we wrote “p = 0”. Additionally, we counted countries in each CVM category and compared them
between each time period.
In common with other studies of inequity in climate change32, we used terminology from the economics lit-
erature to dene ‘free riders’ and ‘forced riders’33, recognising that a strict denition of these terms oen applies
only to situations where one agent’s use of a resource does not directly incur a cost to another agent. We dene
climate free riders as those countries in the ‘acute’ GHG emissions quintile and the ‘low’ vulnerability category,
as they disproportionately receive benets from climate change (via the national wellbeing generated by GHG
emissions) but pay few costs in the sense they are the least vulnerable to negative climate change eects34,35.
Conversely, we dene climate forced riders as those countries that fall within the ‘acute’ vulnerability category and
the ‘low’ GHG emissions quintile, as they are the most susceptible to the negative consequences of climate change
but receive the least benets. ose countries that we dene as equitable, fall in the same emissions quintile and
vulnerability category (for example, low emissions quintile, low vulnerability category), as their emissions benets
are concomitant with their climate change burden.
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Author Contributions
G.A., J.E.M.W. and R.A.F. designed the analysis. G.A. performed the analysis and analysed the results. G.A.,
J.E.M.W. and R.A.F. wrote the paper.
Additional Information
Supplementary information accompanies this paper at http://www.nature.com/srep
Competing nancial interests: e authors declare no competing nancial interests.
How to cite this article: Althor, G. et al. Global mismatch between greenhouse gas emissions and the burden of
climate change. Sci. Rep. 6, 20281; doi: 10.1038/srep20281 (2016).
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... Decision-makers rely on climate models to understand and plan for changes in climate, but current climate models are computationally too expensive: as a result, they are hard to access, cannot predict local changes (< 10km), fail to resolve local extremes (e.g., rainfall), and do not reliably quantify uncertainties [97]. For example, running a global climate model at 1km resolution can take * Equal contribution 1 ...
... Environmental disasters will become more frequent: from storms, floods, wildfires and heat waves to biodiversity loss and air pollution [57]. The impacts of climate change will not only be severe, but also unjustly distributed: island states, minority populations, and the Global South are already facing the most severe consequences of climate change, while the Global North is responsible for the most emissions since the industrial revolution [1]. Decisionmakers require better tools to understand and plan for changes in climate and limit the economic, human, and environmental impact [97]. ...
... A.3. 1 ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Numerical simulations in climate, chemistry, or astrophysics are computationally too expensive for uncertainty quantification or parameter-exploration at high-resolution. Reduced-order or surrogate models are multiple orders of magnitude faster, but traditional surrogates are inflexible or inaccurate and pure machine learning (ML)-based surrogates too data-hungry. We propose a hybrid, flexible surrogate model that exploits known physics for simulating large-scale dynamics and limits learning to the hard-to-model term, which is called parametrization or closure and captures the effect of fine- onto large-scale dynamics. Leveraging neural operators, we are the first to learn grid-independent, non-local, and flexible parametrizations. Our \textit{multiscale neural operator} is motivated by a rich literature in multiscale modeling, has quasilinear runtime complexity, is more accurate or flexible than state-of-the-art parametrizations and demonstrated on the chaotic equation multiscale Lorenz96.
... There is stark inequality in the way countries bear the brunt of climate impacts globally-where the majority of countries with the highest emissions are the least vulnerable to climate change impacts. At the same time, of the lowest greenhouse gas emission countries, the majority are extremely vulnerable to climate impacts (Althor et al., 2016). Developing countries are more likely to experience less habitable land, less hospitable conditions for human settlement, and less food and water availability (Morton, 2007). ...
Book
This open access book presents a nuanced and accessible synthesis of the relationship between land tenure security and sustainable development. Contributing authors have collectively worked for decades on land tenure as connected with conservation and development across all major regions of the globe. The first section of this volume is intended as a standalone primer on land tenure security and its connections with sustainable development. The book then explores key thematic challenges that interact directly with land tenure security, followed by a section on strategies for addressing tenure insecurity. The book concludes with a section on new frontiers in research, policy, and action. An invaluable reference for researchers in the field and for practitioners looking for a comprehensive overview of this important topic.
... Western, advanced industrialized nations have historically contributed a disproportionate proportion of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the burning of fossil fuels for electricity production, transportation, industrial production, and mass consumption. At the same time, nations that have contributed fewer emissions, often drastically fewer historical emissions, are much more vulnerable to the damages and harm of climate change now and in the future (Althor et al., 2016). Climate justice perspectives argue that this imbalance in the causes and consequences of climate change needs to be at the forefront of every effort to address climate change. ...
Chapter
The EJ literature has generally focused on the injustices experienced by different groups based on their racial background, as persons are often marginalized based on their ethnicity, spatial location, and household income (Banzhaf et al., 2019; Bullard et al., 2020). There remains, however, a dearth of research on the environmental injustices experienced by the elderly within the Caribbean region. One of the reasons for this may be because the concept of age is hardly discussed within the EJ literature, as elderly persons are often considered to be a part of the economically vulnerable segment of the population (Day, 2010). The EPA (2014) acknowledges the importance of the elderly in EJ issues, as they are more vulnerable to nvironmental stressors. According to the World Health Organization (WHO, 2021), the social and economic resources needed by the elderly to make healthy choices are indeed limited and must be covered to ensure that they are present in society and communities. Given the importance of this topic to the EJ literature, this chapter made use of a literature review-type methodology to not only examine the social and economic implications of EJ for the elderly but to also design a specific social and economic blueprint for social work interventions to cater for the needs of the Caribbean’s elderly population affected by EJ issues.
... When considering the causes of anthropogenic influence on climate change and their consequences, surprisingly, 20 of the 36 highest greenhouse gases (GHG)-emitting countries are among the least vulnerable to the negative impacts of present and future climate change, while 11 of the 17 countries with low or moderate GHG emissions are acutely vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change (Althor et al., 2016). These contrasting outcomes are related to the exposure and vulnerabilities of societies and are proof that impacts on a global scale issue are not equitably distributed. ...
Chapter
Climate change is affecting the availability, distribution, and quality of water around the world. The impacts of climate change are not happening in a vacuum, but rather, are layered onto and exacerbate pre-existing inequalities and injustices. In this chapter, we argue that water justice and climate change are intertwined in three critical ways. First, we argue that water injustice creates climate change vulnerability and climate change entrenches water injustices. Therefore addressing water injustices will also reduce climate change vulnerability. Second, we argue that the proposed solutions to climate change can and will have implications for water justice. In some cases, mitigation and adaptation solutions will create or deepen existing water injustices while other solutions may represent a space for positive action. We examine six examples of how responses to climate change are poised to affect water justice: lithium mining, REDD+/Payment of Ecosystem Services, hydropower dams, rural to urban water transfers, desalination, and adaptive management. Third, water justice and climate justice struggles can and should build greater unity. By building unity (not uniformity) between water justice and climate justice struggles, movements could gain better insight into the local-global connections that exist between water injustice and climate injustice. Importantly, we also caution scholars against viewing climate change as the driver of water injustice. Climate change, as a discourse, can naturalize water scarcity and obscure the power and politics that drive water injustice. By exploring these important intersections between climate change and water justice, we argue that water justice and climate justice struggles and scholarship would benefit considerably from one another.
... When considering the causes of anthropogenic influence on climate change and their consequences, surprisingly, 20 of the 36 highest greenhouse gases (GHG)-emitting countries are among the least vulnerable to the negative impacts of present and future climate change, while 11 of the 17 countries with low or moderate GHG emissions are acutely vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change (Althor et al., 2016). These contrasting outcomes are related to the exposure and vulnerabilities of societies and are proof that impacts on a global scale issue are not equitably distributed. ...
Chapter
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Through the efforts shared in this chapter, we embrace the hypothesis that local representations of our changing climate offer a key angle for facing climate change. We describe the coconstruction processes of climate services in five sites across Europe: Bergen (Norway), Brest, Kerourien (France), Dordrecht (the Netherlands), Gulf of Morbihan (France), and Jade Bay (Germany), to share novel ways of transforming state-of-the-art climate science into action-oriented place-based climate services that can be integrated with social understandings and practices of coping with change in Europe. The formal context for “modes of representation” enabled us to recognize the importance of explicitly linking social transformation intentions with local challenges and values, and to connect from there with national and European Framework Directives related to climate services. We reiterate the importance of having local stakeholders engage in the climate services coproduction process in order to forge common commitments and incorporate value perspectives, even those that may be polarized, throughout society as a whole.
Article
Global dairy production, consumption, and trade are growing rapidly, driven by population and per capita income growth and increasing health concerns mainly from developing countries, which has aroused concerns about the related carbon emission (mostly in the form of methane) increase. If all of the dairy products consumed were produced locally/domestically in the developing countries/economies (a counterfactual scenario), the carbon emissions in 2018 would be 28 Mt CO2-equiv higher than its status quo (a factual scenario). The present study indicates that unlike in many global trade cases in which carbon leakages are from developed to developing countries, global dairy trade is characterized by net embodied carbon flows from developed to developing countries/economies due to the fact that there is an overwhelming one-way-flow of dairy products from developed to developing countries/economies. The differences in the carbon emission factors between the developed and developing countries/economies provide an opportunity that global dairy trade and production specialization can help to reduce carbon emissions from increasing dairy product demand, and the total reduction potential is estimated to be about 414 Mt CO2-equiv from 2018 to 2030. Free trade agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership will incentivize larger carbon emission reduction benefits through promoting dairy trade.
Chapter
This chapter explores how land tenure impacts households’ resilience and adaptive capacity in the face of a changing climate. Following a review of the ways in which climate change adds pressure to land availability and natural resources, the chapter highlights how land tenure can constrain individuals’ options to adapt to shifting environmental conditions. An exploration of a case study of protracted drought in an agricultural region of Bolivar, Colombia, demonstrates how landlessness, socioeconomic vulnerability, and confusion regarding complicated land tenure policies in a post-conflict environment guided families’ resilience strategies and adaptive capacities. This case demonstrates that it is necessary to nuance understandings of (in)secure tenure to include local knowledge of land policies and precarious tenure claims as predictors of adaptive capacities in vulnerable, climate-stressed regions.
Article
It is increasingly evident that climate change is intersecting in complex ways with the more traditional drivers of migration, such as poverty and conflict. Yet there remains a startling lack of international agreement on how to address the issue. This article examines the problem climate change-related migration poses in terms of international responsibility and provides a review of two approaches to addressing this challenge. First, the idea that migration in the context of climate change requires the development of a new international protection agreement and, second, the argument that migration should be managed and mitigated through in situ adaptation and development programmes. These approaches differ in terms of how they understand the relationship between migration and climate change and thus differ also in terms of how they situate responsibility and address issues of climate justice. This paper explores these differences and outlines the benefits and challenges of both. Following this, we turn to the case of New Zealand’s immigration tribunal appeals involving claims for climate-refugee status and look at how in situ adaptation, development narratives and arbitrary risk thresholds have been used to legitimise the denial of these claims. Throughout the article, we ask to what extent these approaches acknowledge climate justice, and we conclude by looking at ways that climate (mobility) justice might be better incorporated into solutions that prioritise the needs of migrants in the context of rapid climate change.
Chapter
The environmental impacts induced by climate change have been documented since climate change has emerged as a global issue. However, the environmental impacts from the effects of climate change on water are the most significant of all, because they can affect the health, economic, social, and demographic elements of human societies.
Article
Full-text available
Nature Reports: Climate Change is an online resource from Nature providing in-depth reporting, comment and analysis on climate science and its wider implications for policy, society and the economy.
Article
Rapid growth in global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industry ceased in the past two years, despite continued economic growth. Decreased coal use in China was largely responsible, coupled with slower global growth in petroleum and faster growth in renewables.
Article
The 'pledge and review' approach to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions presents an opportunity to link mitigation goals explicitly to the evolving climate response. This seems desirable because the progression from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's fourth to fifth assessment reports has seen little reduction in uncertainty. A common reaction to persistent uncertainties is to advocate mitigation policies that are robust even under worst-case scenarios, thereby focusing attention on upper extremes of both the climate response and the costs of impacts and mitigation, all of which are highly contestable. Here we ask whether those contributing to the formation of climate policies can learn from 'adaptive management' techniques. Recognizing that long-lived greenhouse gas emissions have to be net zero by the time temperatures reach a target stabilization level, such as 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, and anchoring commitments to an agreed index of attributable anthropogenic warming would provide a transparent approach to meeting such a temperature goal without prior consensus on the climate response.
Article
Mobilizing climate finance for developing countries is crucial for achieving a fair and effective global climate regime. To date developed countries retain wide discretion over their national contributions. We explore how different degrees of international coordination may influence the fairness of the global financing effort. We present quantitative scenarios for (i) the metrics used to distribute the collective effort among countries contributing funding; and (ii) the number of contributing countries. We find that an intermediate degree of coordination—combining nationally determined financing pledges with a robust international review mechanism—may reduce distortions in relative efforts as well as shortfalls in overall funding, while reflecting reasonable differences over what constitutes a fair share. Broadening the group of contributors may do little to improve adequacy or equity unless the more heterogeneous group can converge on credible measures of responsibility and capacity. The analysis highlights the importance of building common understandings about effort-sharing.
Article
Links between emission trading programs are not immutable, as highlighted by New Jersey's exit from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in 2011. This raises the question of what to do with existing permits that are banked for future use—choices that have consequences for market behavior in advance of, or upon speculation about, delinking. We consider two delinking policies. One differentiates banked permits by origin, the other treats banked permits the same. We describe the price behavior and relative cost-effectiveness of each policy. Treating permits differently generally leads to higher costs, and may lead to price divergence, even with only speculation about delinking.
Article
Lack of progress in global climate negotiations has led scholars to reconsider polycentric approaches to climate policy. Several examples of subglobal mechanisms to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions have been touted, but it remains unclear why they might achieve better climate outcomes than global negotiations alone. Decades of work conducted by researchers associated with the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University have emphasized two chief advantages of polycentric approaches over monocentric ones: they provide more opportunities for experimentation and learning to improve policies over time, and they increase communications and interactions — formal and informal, bilateral and multilateral — among parties to help build the mutual trust needed for increased cooperation. A wealth of theoretical, empirical and experimental evidence supports the polycentric approach.