Equity is of fundamental concern in the quest for international cooperation to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations by the reduction of emissions. By modeling the carbon cycle, we estimate the global CO2 emissions that would be required to stabilize the atmospheric concentration of CO2 at levels ranging from 450 to 1,000 ppm. These are compared, on both an absolute and a per-capita basis, to scenarios for emissions from the developed and developing worlds generated by socio-economic models under the assumption that actions to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions are not taken. Need and equity have provided strong arguments for developing countries to request that the developed world takes the lead in controlling its emissions, while permitting the developing countries in the meantime to use primarily fossil fuels for their development. Even with major and early control of CO2 emissions by the developed world, limiting concentration to 450 ppm implies that the developing world also would need to control its emissions within decades, given that we expect developing world emissions would otherwise double over this time. Scenarios leading to CO2 concentrations of 550 ppm exhibit a reduction of the developed world's per-capita emission by about 50% over the next 50 years. Even for the higher stabilization levels considered, the developing world would not be able to use fossil fuels for their development in the manner that the developed world has used them.
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