Exploring the role of ‘high-emitting’ groups in accelerating the transition to a low-carbon society

Policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change have been ‘universal’; aimed either at society as a whole (for example carbon tax, carbon trading), or at specific sectors (e.g. forthcoming EU legislation on gCO2/km for cars).

In this regard, policies and mechanisms for reducing emissions have paid little attention as to whether actual emissions are skewed significantly towards particular groups within society and, if they are, whether ‘tailoring’ polices may provide for a more effective, efficient and equitable delivery of a low carbon society. Provisional evidence within the UK suggests greenhouse gas emissions are highly correlated with particular social groups based on, for example: occupation, residential location, income/wealth, educational background, etc. Similarly skewed distributions are likely to exist in all societies and the general Pareto principle would imply that ~20% of society could be responsible for ~80% of its emissions. However the shape and differentials of such distributions will vary in accordance with the behavioural, political and socio-economic framing of nations. 

This proposal will undertake a detailed analysis and comparison of emission profiles within China, the UK, and Sweden. It will use comparisons between these countries to provide guidance on developing low-carbon technologies and policies specifically tailored to the high-emission groups within each case-study nation or region. It will identify the conditions that ensure technological and behavioural measures successfully reduce emissions in high-emitting groups, and integrate high-emitting groups in Tyndall’s Community Integrated Assessment System (CIAS).

Project leaders: Prof Kevin Anderson (Manchester) and TBC (Fudan)

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