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The Carbon Inequality Era

This paper examines the starkly different contributions of different income groups to carbon emissions from 1990–2015. It draws on new data that provides much-improved insight into global and national income inequality and national consumption emissions to provide an analysis relating emissions to income levels for the populations of 117 countries. Future scenarios of carbon inequality are also presented based on different possible trajectories of economic growth and carbon emissions.

Sivan Kartha, Eric Kemp-Benedict, Emily Ghosh, Anisha Nazareth / Published on 21 September 2020
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Citation

Kartha, S., Kemp-Benedict, E., Ghosh, E., Nazareth, A. and Gore, T. (2020). The Carbon Inequality Era: An assessment of the global distribution of consumption emissions among individuals from 1990 to 2015 and beyond. Joint Research Report. Stockholm Environment Institute and Oxfam International.

In the 25 years from 1990 to 2015, annual global carbon emissions grew by 60%, approximately doubling total global cumulative emissions. This has brought the world perilously close to exceeding 2°C of warming, and it is now on the verge of exceeding 1.5°C.

This paper examines the starkly different contributions of different income groups to carbon emissions in this period. It draws on new data that provides much improved insight into global and national income inequality, combined with national consumption emissions over this 25-year period, to provide an analysis relating emissions to income levels for the populations of 117 countries. Future scenarios of carbon inequality are also presented based on different possible trajectories of economic growth and carbon emissions, highlighting the challenge of ensuring a more equitable distribution of the remaining and rapidly diminishing global carbon budget.

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SEI authors

Profile picture of Sivan Kartha
Sivan Kartha

Senior Scientist

SEI US

Eric Kemp-Benedict
Eric Kemp-Benedict

SEI Affiliated Researcher

SEI US

2018 portrait of Emily Ghosh
Emily Ghosh

Scientist

SEI US

Anisha Nazareth
Anisha Nazareth

Associate Scientist

SEI US

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