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Sharing a quota on cumulative carbon emissions

Michael R. Raupach, Steven J. Davis, Glen Peters, Robbie Andrew, Josep G. Canadell, Pierre Friedlingstein, Frank Jotzo, Corinne Le Quéré

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.

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