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The Tragedy of Maldistribution: Climate, Sustainability, and Equity
Sustainability 2012, 4(4), 656-681; doi:10.3390/su4040656
Article

“Decent Living” Emissions: A Conceptual Framework

1,*  and 2
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 which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

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

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