North–south convergence and the allocation of CO2 emissions
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Mankind must cooperate to reduce GHG emissions to prevent a catastrophic rise in global temperature. How can the costs of reducing GHG emissions be allocated across regions of the world and simultaneously address growth? We postulate a two-region world and, based on sustainability and egalitarian criteria, calculate optimal paths in which a South, like China, and a North, like the United States, converge in welfare per capita to a path of sustained growth of 1 % per year by 2085, while global CO2 emissions are restricted to a conservative path, constructed from the Representative Concentration Pathway RCP3-PD scenario, that leads to the stabilization of concentrations around 450 ppm CO2, providing an expected temperature change not exceeding 2 °C. It follows from our analysis that growth expectations in the North and the South should be scaled back substantially, not only after 2085, but also in the transition period. Feasible growth paths with low levels of emissions would require heavy investments in education and knowledge. Northern and Southern growth should be restricted to about 1 % and 2.5 % per year, respectively, over the next 75 years. Politicians who wish to solve the global-warming problem should prepare their polities to accept this reality.
JEL ClassificationD63 F53 O40 O41 Q50 Q54 Q56
We are indebted to three referees and the guest editors of Climatic Change for detailed and useful suggestions. We thank the audiences in various presentations, in particular in the Workshop on Multi-disciplinary Perspectives on Climate Ethics, Como, Italy. We also thank Thomas Stoerk for very diligent research assistantship. Humberto Llavador acknowledges financial support from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness through the Severo Ochoa Programme for Centers of Excellence in R&D (SEV-2011-0075) and the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation through the research grants (ECO2011-28965) and (EC-2012-36200).
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