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“Equitable” Climate Change Mitigation:
A New Formulation
Robert Socolow
Princeton University
Informal Thematic Debate of the UN General Assembly
on Climate Change as a Global Challenge
Panel on Mitigation Strategies
in the context of Sustainable Development
United Nations
July 31, 2007
For further reading, see two papers by Steve Pacala and Rob Socolow:
1) “Stabilization Wedges: Solving the climate problem for the next 50
years with current technologies,” Science, 305 (5686), August 13, 2004,
968-972 (and its Supporting Online Material).
2) “A plan to keep carbon in check,” Scientific American, September 2006,
Billion of Tons of
Carbon Emitted per
14 GtC/y
Seven “wedges”
Goal: In 50 years, same
global emissions as today
Flat path
2.0 
Today and in 50 years, global per-capita emissions are ≈ 1 tC/yr.
Fill the Stabilization Triangle with Seven Wedges
Energy Efficiency
14 GtC/y
Forests & Soils
7 GtC/y
Fuel Displacement by
Low-Carbon Electricity
OECD and non-OECD shares
SourceI Socolow and Pacala, Scientific American, September 2006, p.56
Per-capita Carbon Emissions
Bins III-V in 2030:
Equitable policy:
•9 of 11 Gt/yr emissions
Free pass in 2030 for
the 5 billion people in
Bins I and II
•OECD 45%
•3 of 8 billion people
•OECD 40%
Source: M. Tavoni and S. Chakravarty, 7-07
Can We Do It?
People (we!) are becoming increasingly determined to lower
the risk that we and our children will experience major social
dislocation and environmental havoc as a result of rising
CO2 in the atmosphere
…and we are learning that there are many ways of
changing how we live, what we buy, and how we spend our
time, that will make a difference.
We are in the midst of a discontinuity:
What once seemed too hard has become what simply
must be done.
Precedents include abolishing child labor, addressing the
needs of the disabled, and mitigating air pollution.