FIGURE 11.2 As the per capita gross domestic product of the developing countries increases, carbon dioxide emissions can either rise to the level of the most energy-intensive developed countries (upper curve) or remain at the level (lower curve and dashed straight line) that the developed world needs to reach to avoid dangerous climate change. PPP, purchasing power parity. SOURCE: Based on EIA and UN data plotted by members of the Office of the Chief Scientist, BP plc. GDP per capita data from the World Bank World Development Indicators 2008 database.

level—or eliminated entirely—in the United States and many other countries. “Zero [emissions] is the answer,” said Robert Marlay. “Zero is a very inspiring technological goal, which has permeated all the thinking in the R&D agencies. This is what we need to imagine is possible. This is what we need to craft our vision and our programs to do. This is what we are going after.”

As John Holdren said, “If you look at how long carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere, we’re going to have to be very near zero by the end of this century or shortly thereafter if we want the impacts of climate change to be manageable. And we’re not going to avoid all of the impacts. I often say that in the climate challenge, we have only three choices—mitigation, adaptation, and suffering—and we’re already doing some of each. What’s up for grabs is the mix. If we want the suffering to be minimized, we’re going to have to do a whole lot of mitigation and a whole lot of adaptation.”

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