Carbon Budget and “fair budgeting”

Source: National carbon dioxide emissions: geography matters by E. Neumayer

can be found here:

This journal article is about how we should define the carbon budget.
Cross-country difference of per capita carbon dioxide emissions: Explanations of these differences are mostly reliant on per capita income, but geographical factors may be more effective in explaining these differences. In particular, cold and hot climates, transportation and renewable energy sources are statistically determinant factors of emissions.

Usually determinants of co2 emissions across countries are analysed using the Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC). According to this, emissions rise with increasing income, but at a decreasing rate. While for some pollutants there is a turning point, which is a level of income after which emissions are predicted to decrease with further increases in income, CO2 has a turning point that is beyond currently existing per capita income levels. I.e. co2 emissions in all countries are predicted to increase with higher income levels, albeit at decreasing rate. Geographical variables changed these forecasts substantially (in particular cold or warm climates and availability of renewable energies, less so with transportation requirements).

Conclusion: Geography matters when it comes to explanation of variation in carbon dioxide emissions across countries. Cold climates and renewable energy sources availability have a statistically significant impact on these emissions. This should be taken into consideration in policy that aims at allocating emission rights fairly. Any simplistic allocation rule based on GDP or population numbers cannot be fair as it does ignore important points about geography that affect how much carbon dioxide is emitted.


Source: 5th Carbon Budget, Chapter 1: Approach to setting the Fifth Carbon Budget

(first 4 carbon budgets required 52% reduction in emissions from 1990 by 2025 and all are being met so far. This is due to the financial crisis and the steady progress to date.)

  • Value of CB (=Carbon Budget):
  1. Set 5y (=year) caps on net emissions of GHG in UK
  2. Set 12y ahead of start year (next start year is 2028) and consistent with long term policy
  3. Enshrined by law and can only be altered in case circumstances change “significantly” since budget was set.
  • Scope of CB: Covers emissions of all 6 GHG included in the Kyoto Protocol (CO2, CH4, NiO, and 3 F-gases).
  • Feasibility of delivery

This is dependent on investment clarity, commercialisation of negative emission technologies, which capture co2 from the atmosphere and store it and help mitigate global warming, development of a market and infrastructure and public acceptance.

  • Uncertainty and implication for setting the CB
  1. Barriers scenarios: risks of underdelivery in implementing low-carbon measures
  2. Max scenarios: more is achieved as compared to a mean scenario because of explosive improvement of technology
  3. Carbon capture and storage, ultra-low emission vehicles and heat decarbonisation can give more flexibility to how the carbon budget is met

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