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Room to move: ‘ecological space’ and emissions equity

Tackling climate change will involve a monumental balancing act. How can we effectively curb emissions while ensuring that poor countries are not restricted in their efforts to develop sustainably? The concept of ‘ecological space’ offers a viable solution. By measuring and comparing countries’ greenhouse gas emissions, we can pinpoint their share of the total remaining emissions the planet can sustain without serious disruption to climate. The relatively low emissions of poor countries — and the per capita levels for the poorest are just 2 per cent of those in the US — allow them the ecological space for non-restrictive economic development. Overall, the concept is a workable guide to achieving emissions equity while collectively moving towards a low-carbon future.

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