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Finding an equitable mitigation policy to combat global climate change is a major problem facing society today. Successful mitigation of climate change will require a decrease in global CO2 emissions and economic costs associated with reduced production of consumer goods. A critical consideration is the existence of an uneven distribution of benefits and damages associated with climate change, stressing the need for an equitable way to reduce CO2 emissions. Literature in philosophy provides an outline of carbon allocation methods that advocate the use of ethical and moral reasoning behind international climate policy. However, evidence from recent economic and behavioral studies may be developed into a more equitable method of allocation by taking a capabilities approach, rather than consumption- or income-based measures of human welfare. Using the Human Development Index as a proxy for human welfare and a climate damage function representing the cost of lost ecosystem services, we determine a more equitable global allocation of CO2 emissions. The implication is that developed countries that emit more CO2, may be able to reduce their consumption without necessarily reducing their quality of life. Also, less developed nations, that emit less, have an incentive to focus development efforts on improving the lives of its citizens, rather than increasing consumption of material goods.
Date of Conference: 17-19 May 2010