Ending Poverty, Fighting Global Warming Can Be Compatible, Study Finds

Ending Poverty, Fighting Global Warming Can Be Compatible, Study Finds

Eradicating extreme poverty by 2030 and keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius are compatible goals, a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland finds.

According to the study, which was published in the journal Nature Communications, the United Nations' Sustainable Development goal of eradicating extreme poverty — defined as an income of less than $1.90 a day — does not threaten realization of the 2 degrees Celsius target set by the Paris climate accord. However, to lift the world's poor to the next rung on the income ladder, or $2.97 a day, will require ramping up climate mitigation efforts significantly to avoid adverse consequences related to a warming climate.

To calculate carbon footprints for different income groups, the research team used a multi-regional input–output approach, enabling them to account for carbon emissions across global supply chains, which were then allocated to the end consumer. For the first time, the approach also used detailed expenditure behavior for consumers in developing and rich countries combined with global data on countries' production technologies and trade flows to determine their impact.

"Given that the top 10 percent of global income earners are responsible for about 36 percent of the current carbon footprint of households," said University of Maryland geographical sciences professor and lead study author Klaus Hubacek, "the climate change discourse needs to address income distribution as well as lifestyle and behavioral changes if we are ever to become a low carbon society and truly sustainable world."