Sharing a quota on cumulative carbon emissions
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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- Journal articles 
Original versionNature Climate Change. 2014, 4 (10), 873-879. 10.1038/nclimate2384
Any limit on future global warming is associated with a quota on cumulative global CO2 emissions. We translate this global carbon quota to regional and national scales, on a spectrum of sharing principles that extends from continuation of the present distribution of emissions to an equal per-capita distribution of cumulative emissions. A blend of these endpoints emerges as the most viable option. For a carbon quota consistent with a 2 °C warming limit (relative to pre-industrial levels), the necessary long-term mitigation rates are very challenging (typically over 5% per year), both because of strong limits on future emissions from the global carbon quota and also the likely short-term persistence in emissions growth in many regions.