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Impacts of poverty alleviation on national and global carbon emissions

Benedikt Bruckner, Klaus Hubacek (), Yuli Shan (), Honglin Zhong and Kuishuang Feng
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Benedikt Bruckner: University of Groningen
Klaus Hubacek: University of Groningen
Yuli Shan: University of Groningen
Honglin Zhong: Shandong University
Kuishuang Feng: University of Maryland

Nature Sustainability, 2022, vol. 5, issue 4, 311-320

Abstract: Abstract Wealth and income are disproportionately distributed among the global population. This has direct consequences on consumption patterns and consumption-based carbon footprints, resulting in carbon inequality. Due to persistent inequality, millions of people still live in poverty today. On the basis of global expenditure data, we compute country- and expenditure-specific per capita carbon footprints with unprecedented details. We show that they can reach several hundred tons of CO2 per year, while the majority of people living below poverty lines have yearly carbon footprints of less than 1 tCO2. Reaching targets under United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 1, lifting more than one billion people out of poverty, leads to only small relative increases in global carbon emissions of 1.6–2.1% or less. Nevertheless, carbon emissions in low- and lower-middle-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa can more than double as an effect of poverty alleviation. To ensure global progress on poverty alleviation without overshooting climate targets, high-emitting countries need to reduce their emissions substantially.

Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1038/s41893-021-00842-z

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