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Edited by Tony Fitzpatrick
Chapter 2: Unequal emissions - unequal policy impacts: how do different areas of CO2 emissions compare?
It is increasingly clear that radical policies to mitigate anthropogenic climate change (hereafter 'mitigation policies') are urgently required as its impacts are already threatening food security, damaging ecological systems and creating new social inequalities, for example related to severe weather events. Such impacts are set to worsen and contribute to mass migration, resource conflicts and other catastrophic outcomes if greenhouse gas emissions from human activities continue to accelerate. An important element of mitigation policies will be to reduce the combustion of fossil fuels, and thus the release of carbon dioxide (CO2), the greenhouse gas which contributes the most to current warming. From a social policy perspective, an important question is how mitigation policies can be designed such that unjust distributional effects are, so far as possible, avoided. This requires proportionality in terms of people's financial capacities as well as in terms of their relative contribution to emissions. This is important both from a fairness perspective and for the public acceptability of such policies. Acceptability is likely to influence the likelihood that governments adopt them, as is borne out by the available policy research (Bristow et al. 2010). Such policies are unlikely to be implemented without a new global agreement on climate change mitigation. The current United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process would only implement such an agreement by 2020 at the earliest under the 'Doha Gateway' set up at the latest Conference of the Parties (COP) meeting (Ritter and Casey 2012).
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