As chair of the Climate Change Commission for Wales I would wish to support the principles of contraction and convergence as an essential basis for the negotiating framework.

Best wishes


Peter Davies
Sustainable Futures Commissioner

Chairman Climate Change
Commission for Wales

Welsh Assembly, Welsh Sustainable Development Forum & Cambridge Programme for Industry
Living with a Carbon Ration

The concept of carbon emissions ‘contraction and convergence’ was first proposed by the Global Commons Institute (GCI) in 1990, and has since been endorsed by many national and international bodies. It is founded on two principles: firstly, that global CO2 emissions must progressively reduce; and secondly, that average emissions of people in different parts of the world must converge to the same level. Creating such an equally shared ‘carbon ration’ has both a moral and a practical dimension. Since global warming and climate change will impact every country, there is no moral justification for some to generate more CO2 than others. In practical terms, the process of trying to agree individual carbon quotas for each of the world’s countries would be a never-ending task. Using a common carbon ration simplifies the process to agreeing what is the maximum level of CO2 emissions that the atmosphere can absorb without serious destabilisation of our climate, and then agreeing a timetable for global per capita CO2 shares to converge to that level. The existence of globally accepted carbon rations would allow for countries and individuals to trade carbon-emission rights, reflecting the principles already operating in carbon emissions trading amongst businesses today. Such a system would involve each adult having an equal ‘right to pollute’ in terms of a carbon ration (with a proportion for children), which would reduce over time to try to reach a global emissions level that is sustainable. Elements of consumption such as heating and lighting, the energy embodied in food consumption, and use of personal and public transport would all have to be included within the calculations. Such a system would have to be mandatory and policed by governments. As the carbon ration available to individuals reduced over time, it would provide clear incentives for governments to invest in cleaner forms of energy production and companies to develop more energy efficient ways to meet consumer needs.

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