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Humans are not equally responsible for climate change

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As we enter in the decade for action, there is a growing awareness about the climate change problem and the need to cut Global Emissions by 7.6 Percent during the next 10 years to meet the 1.5°C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.

“Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate change means we now must deliver deep cuts to emissions – over 7 per cent each year, if we break it down evenly over the next decade,”

Inger Andersen, UNEP’s Executive Director.

Nevertheless, humans are not equally responsible for climate change. There are significant variations of carbon emissions produced by each of us in the world.

CO2 emissions by country per capita

Statistics and estimates demonstrate that Humans are not equally responsible for climate change in the world, According to our world in Data, if you live in the US, you probably “contribute” with 17 tonnes per year, 7 tonnes per year for a person living in China or 2 in India.

 

Despite the high correlation between standards of living and emissions, there are vast differences between countries with similar standards of living like the UK and the US, that don’t explain such difference. The country’s policy and technological preferences like country energy mix usually justify the disparity.

If we look at the emissions produced per country, China is the biggest emitter with 27% of total emissions (Our World in Data). Moreover, its emissions will most likely keep on growing up to 2022. Still, China’s emissions per capita 7 tonnes per year are just above world’s average and some of its emissions are due to outsourced manufacturing from products consumed in developed countries such as the US or the EU region.

So probably if this data were to be fairly represented, emissions related to outsourced manufacturing should also be accounted for by the country importing them.

Become an outlier, you can make a difference

Beyond the country’s average, your lifestyle can put you way above the average. For example, if you are flying from the UK to New York, you can add 2 tonnes of emissions so 20% of the total’s UK’s average emissions per person. Besides, our diet or products we purchase can have a significant impact.

Ok so if humans are not equally responsible for climate change in the world, can we make a difference in solving the problem? Absolutely.

We can start by understanding what’s our carbon footprint using this calculator or this one, and then be willing to change our lifestyle; travel, going paperless, diet and purchasing habits. As consumers, we have the right to demand brands to inform us about the impact of the products and services we consume by using proper eco-labels so that we can make the right choices. Finally, we have to demand governments to promote policies and solutions to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy.

Carbon emissions vary widely depending on where we live. Still, our lifestyle e can influence significantly in our impact on the planet. Inform yourself and act now, our generation has the responsibility to solve climate change.

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