Is the Paris Agreement targeting the right emissions?

By: Jiesper Pedersen

Global negotiations and policies for climate mitigation, i.e., reducing GHG emissions, have historically been based on projections of what each country is expected to emit in the future, the emission scenarios compiled by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).  However, it is crucial to have a critical outlook on how these scenarios are calculated and reflect historical emissions and socioeconomic trends. Additionally, they may create imbalances between regions and countries in the world. The reality of the global economic changes, and therefore we should regularly reassess the scientific foundations of climate policy to avoid injustices.

A key issue is that country emissions have been calculated based on the total emissions of a country, including, for instance, industrial production, even when most of the production is exported. It is easy to understand how this creates distortions between countries such as the United States, the EU member states, and China – ‘the world’s factory’. In practice, much of the ‘carbon emissions’ have been outsourced to developing countries for decades.

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