I’ve just read a paper called “Analysing Mechanisms for Meeting Global Emissions Target – A Dynamical Systems Approach.” In it Shyam Ranganathan and Ranjula Bali Swain produce several interesting results.
One is that the data show we will overshoot the 44 gigaton target for 2020 by 27.6%. 44 gigatons is supposed to keep warming below 2 degrees.
Another useful fact is that the top five emitters were responsible for over 50% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2005. The Ranganathan and Swain model suggests China wll be emitting nearly 50% of the world’s greenhouse gasses by 2020.
Following up on this they discover that if the world’s 25 biggest emitters were to cut their emissions they could save the world. The Big 25 would have to cut by a bit more than 27.6% to make up for for 175 countries that didn’t cut, of course, but the key message is that the Big 25 don’t have to wait for the rest of the world.
Ranganathan and Swain don’t include the possibility that the Big 25 could also force reduction on the others through trade sanctions.
What this tells us is that even though meetings like COP20 struggle for any agreement, we don’t need to wait for consensus. Expanding the number of players in agreements like the recent one between the US and China may be the way to go.