Differences in the depth of carbon footprints are linked to the history of industrial development. But, they also reflect the large ‘carbon debt’ accumulated by rich countries—a debt rooted in the over-exploitation of the Earth’s atmosphere. People in the rich world are increasingly concerned about emissions of greenhouse gases from developing countries. They tend to be less aware of their own place in the global distribution of CO2 emissions (Map 1.1).
Extreme inequalities in national carbon footprints reflect disparities in per capita emissions. Adjusting CO2 emission accounts to factor in these disparities demonstrates the very marked limits to carbon convergence (Figure 1.6).
Carbon footprint convergence has been a limited and partial process that has started from different emission levels.
The distribution of current emissions points to an inverse relationship between climate change risk and responsibility. The world’s poorest people walk the Earth with a very light carbon footprint. We estimate the carbon footprint of the poorest 1 billion people on the planet at around 3 percent of the world’s total footprint. Living in vulnerable rural areas and urban slums, the poorest billion people are highly exposed to climate change threats for which they carry negligible responsibility.
Note: The boundaries and names shown and the designations used on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations. Dotted lines represent approximately the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir agreed upon by India and Pakistan. The final status of Jammu and Kashmir has not yet been agreed upon by the parties.