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Sustainability 2012, 4(4), 656-681; doi:10.3390/su4040656

“Decent Living” Emissions: A Conceptual Framework

1
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Schlossplatz 1, A2361 Laxenburg, Austria
2
School of Public Policy at Georgia Institute of Technology, D. M. Smith Building, 685 Cherry Street, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 2 February 2012 / Revised: 4 April 2012 / Accepted: 9 April 2012 / Published: 18 April 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Policy on Climate Equity)
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Abstract

There is very little elaboration in literature of the phrase “equitable access to sustainable development” that is referenced in the Cancun Agreement on climate change. We interpret this at a minimum as people’s right to a decent living standard, which gives rise to claims by countries to an exemption from mitigation for the energy and emissions needed to provide a decent life to all. We elaborate a conceptual framework for a comprehensive quantification of such an energy requirement, including the energy required to build out infrastructure to support these living standards. We interpret decent living as the consumption by households of a set of basic goods including adequate nutrition, shelter, health care, education, transport, refrigeration, television and mobile phones. We develop universal indicators for these activities and their infrastructure requirements, and specify a methodology to convert these to energy requirements using energy input-output analysis. Our main recommendations include estimating bottom-up, country-specific energy and emissions requirements, incorporating a minimum for methane emissions, and using international benchmarks at the sector level to encourage the reduction of countries’ energy and emissions intensity.
Keywords: climate change; equity; energy; sustainable development; human rights; basic needs climate change; equity; energy; sustainable development; human rights; basic needs
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Rao, N.D.; Baer, P. “Decent Living” Emissions: A Conceptual Framework. Sustainability 2012, 4, 656-681.

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