It is widely recognized that industrial emissions of CO2 are affecting the earth’s climate in many visible ways – and will do so increasing in future. There has been much acrimonious argument over responsibility for climate change, who should pay for damage and how to share responsibilities for decreasing them in future.

This paper is first study that seeks to quantify the damage to the earth on the basis of country-by-country records of emissions. Therefore it is useful in the climate debate as offering a way of measuring responsibility for past and future actions.

We used two advanced models (one Chinese the other from the US) of the whole Earth climate-ice-biological system to simulate the effects of CO2 emissions from developing countries or developing countries only and compared them with what has actually happened with combined emissions. We find that both models suggest about 2/3 of impacts on sea ice, ocean warming, snow cover decrease and temperature rise is from developed world emissions, even though they presently account for less than half total CO2 emissions. This is because they emitted them earlier and the climate system takes many decades to fully respond. In the future emission restrictions as outlined in the international Cancun accord and expected continuation is important from both developing and developed countries. Both groups need to make serous mitigation efforts or the temptation will be to employ risky geoengineering without sufficient research into unintended consequences.
Figure: CO2 emissions observed from all countries over the last 160 years compared with those coming from the developed and developing world countries.

The paper is available at this link

John Moore,
Research Professor, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland and Chief Scientist, College of Global Change and Earth System Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China.
Tel +358 400 194850,