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Egalite, fraternite, sustainabilite: evaluating the significance of regional affluence and population growth on carbon emissions

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  • Economics


Estimates of the relative contribution of population size and economic growth to global carbon emissions out to 2100 have been made for the industrialised 'North' and populous 'South' of the planet. This was achieved by decomposition of the terms in the 'sustainability' (or IPAT) equation. Historic data, alongside future IPCC emission scenarios, were used to analyse likely changes in CO2 emissions over time. Economic wealth was found to be the most significant driver of such emissions in the industrialised world during the 21st Century. In the South, regional population and economic growth are each likely to play a significant role in affecting future levels of year-on-year carbon emissions. Nevertheless, the cumulative build-up of atmospheric CO2 concentrations is largely a consequence of historic emissions released by the North since the start of its 'industrial revolution' around 1850.

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