Poverty eradication in a carbon constrained world
Nature Communications, 8: 912. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-00919-4
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The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change aims to keep warming below 2 °C while recognizing developing countries’ right to eradicate extreme poverty. Poverty eradication is also the first of the Sustainable Development Goals. This paper investigates potential consequences for climate targets of achieving poverty eradication. We find that eradicating extreme poverty, i.e., moving people to an income above $1.9 purchasing power parity (PPP) a day, does not jeopardize the climate target even in the absence of climate policies and with current technologies. On the other hand, bringing everybody to a still modest expenditure level of at least $2.97 PPP would have long-term consequences on achieving emission targets. Compared to the reference mitigation pathway, eradicating extreme poverty increases the effort by 2.8% whereas bringing everybody to at least $2.97 PPP would increase the required mitigation rate by 27%. Given that the top 10% global income earners are responsible for 36% of the current carbon footprint of households; the discourse should address income distribution and the carbon intensity of lifestyles.
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