Equity and the Allocation of Miigation Burdens: A Carbon Budgets Approach

Friday, 19 December 2014
Tejal Tata Institute of Social Scien Kanitkar, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Mumbai, India
The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR5) provides global estimates of future cumulative carbon dioxide emissions of anthropogenic origin, for various representative concentration pathways (RCP). For example, for an approximately 50% probability of limiting the increase in temperature to 2 deg. C, the table shows that the limit on cumulative global carbon-dioxide emissions is 780 Gt of carbon between 2012 and 2100. We can now ask what each nation will get as a share of the globally allowed cumulative emissions. Corresponding to this share of cumulative emissions, every nation will have the flexibility to consider a range of emissions trajectories within its share. This paper calculates the “entitlements” and potential emissions (based on some reasonable growth and reduction rates) using four different methods for all the four RCPs discussed in the IPCC report – i) simply allocating the remaining carbon space (for the period from 2012 to 2100) on a per capita basis amongst the regions; ii) calculating entitlements for the period between 1850 and 2100 based on total emissions emitted in the past and allowed in the future divided among countries on a per capita basis; iii) the entitlements calculated in (ii) are weighted by per capita GDP to include a measure of ‘capability’ while calculating entitlements; iv) the entitlements calculated in (ii) are weighted by non-income HDI as another measure of ‘capability’. The values are benchmarked against the potential emissions for the future resulting from the commitments already made by different countries and regions towards mitigation. The paper then goes on to provide an estimate for the avoided cost of carbon for India given a range of constraints on emissions that it will have to undertake as a part of such a schema of allocating the mitigation burden.