EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Quantifying the contribution of an individual to making extreme weather events more likely

Fraser Lott1, Andrew Ciavarella1, John Kennedy1, Andrew King2, Peter Stott1, Simon Tett3, and Dongqian Wang4
Fraser Lott et al.
  • 1Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, United Kingdom
  • 2School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  • 3School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • 4National Climate Center, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing, China

Probabilistic event attribution aims to quantify the role of anthropogenic climate change in altering the intensity or probability of extreme climate and weather events. It was originally conceived to calculate the costs associated with any increased likelihood of the meteorological event in question. However, only recently have such studies attempted to divide liability between polluting nations and ascribe a cost. Recent protests indicate a perception that older generations have the greater responsibility for climate change. In this paper, we examine how a portion of the cost of an event can be attributed to any individual person, according to their age and nationality. We demonstrate that this is quantitatively feasible using the example of the 2018 summer heatwave in eastern China and its impact on aquaculture. A relatively simple technique finds sample individuals responsible for between 0.53 and 18.10 yuan, increasing with their age and their country’s emissions over their adult lifetime since the first international consensus on carbon emissions was reached. This provides an illustration of the scale of such responsibilities, and how it is affected by national development and demographics. Such data can support decisions, at national and international levels, on how to fund recovery from climate impacts. It offers a simple quantitative approach for individuals to know their impact on the climate, or for governments to use in making policy decisions about how best to distribute costs of climate change.

How to cite: Lott, F., Ciavarella, A., Kennedy, J., King, A., Stott, P., Tett, S., and Wang, D.: Quantifying the contribution of an individual to making extreme weather events more likely, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-705,, 2022.