US leads in per capita and total emissions. It’s time to shut off fossil fuel development.

Infographic: Do or die. For the world to meet the Paris target of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, nations would have to slash their CO2 emissions to zero by 2050, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Even staying below 2°C of warming would require massive cuts. In reality, emissions are still rising under existing policies and environmental pledges.
Infographic: Fairness. Current emissions are only one way of looking at the problem. Although China is now the largest producer of CO2, it is responsible for just 13% of all emissions over time. Its per capita emissions are rising quickly, but the US leads in per capita and total emissions.

…issues of moral responsibility and social justice, by focusing on evidence that climate disruptions will most harm the people who have contributed least to the problem. Such concerns led Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, to declare that climate change is “an unconscionable assault on the poor” in a report to the Human Rights Council in June. Figueres says the youth activists are absolutely correct and totally justified in their anger. The question is whether righteous anger can push society to make immensely difficult and urgent decisions. “This transformation needs to happen in the next ten years,” she says, “and it has to involve everyone.”

Climate change’s heavy toll

As global temperatures rise, they put billions of people at risk of heatwaves, water shortages and a range of other problems. And these impacts fall hardest on the poorest and most vulnerable people. The map below shows the cumulative risks from major climate impacts with 2 °C of warming; the chart estimates how many people would be affected by a selection of those risks.Source: IPCC/E. Byers et al. Environ. Res. Lett. 13, 055012 (2018).

This article is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 media outlets to highlight the issue of climate change. Share this story. PDF version