Matt Hauer is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Florida State University and a faculty affiliate in the Center for Demography and Population Health.
“Determining who is most responsible for climate change is of paramount importance for properly accounting for climate damages. While attributing responsibility often involves countries, major historical carbon emitters, and corporations, these perspectives overlook the interplay of demographic factors, consumption habits, and time varying emissions. Drawing on formal demography, I use a demographic perspective to identify cohorts within specific countries that bear the greatest responsibility for carbon emissions. Among completed cohorts in 2100, cohorts born between 1950 and 1975 are top emitters under moderate emissions scenarios (RCP4.5), while those from 1980 and 2000 are top emitters under aggressive scenarios (RCP8.5). Allowing for incomplete cohorts shifts the top emitters along RCP8.5 to 1990-2020, demonstrating the urgency of curtailing future carbon emissions.”