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Global mitigation efforts cannot neglect emerging emitters.

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Guan, Dabo 
Wang, Daoping 
Chemutai, Vicky 


International efforts to avoid dangerous climate change have historically focused on reducing energy-related CO2 emissions from countries with either the largest economies (e.g. the EU and the USA) and/or the largest populations (e.g. China and India). However, in recent years, emissions have surged among a different and much less-examined group of countries, raising concerns that a next generation of high-emitting economies will obviate current mitigation targets. Here, we analyse the trends and drivers of emissions in each of the 59 countries where emissions in 2010-2018 grew faster than the global average (excluding China and India), project their emissions under a range of longer-term energy scenarios and estimate the costs of decarbonization pathways. Total emissions from these 'emerging emitters' reach as much as 7.5 GtCO2/year in the baseline 2.5° scenario-substantially greater than the emissions from these regions in previously published scenarios that would limit warming to 1.5°C or even 2°C. Such unanticipated emissions would in turn require non-emitting energy deployment from all sectors within these emerging emitters, and faster and deeper reductions in emissions from other countries to meet international climate goals. Moreover, the annual costs of keeping emissions at the low level are in many cases 0.2%-4.1% of countries' gross domestic production, pointing to potential trade-offs with poverty-reduction goals and/or the need for economic support and low-carbon technology transfer from historically high-emitting countries. Our results thus highlight the critical importance of ramping up mitigation efforts in countries that to this point have been largely ignored.



CO2 emissions, climate change mitigation, developing countries, emerging emitters, net zero

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Natl Sci Rev

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Oxford University Press (OUP)