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Building North-South cooperation to fight the ‘tragedies’ of climate change

Building North-South cooperation to fight the ‘tragedies’ of climate change

This post draws from a chapter for a book I wrote in 2020: “Overcoming the tragedy of distance – cooperating with our friends’ friends” in Living with the Climate Crisis ed. Tom Doig. Bridget Williams Books, Wellington, New Zealand

I believe that finding ways to work more intensively and effectively with people with very different resources, cultures and life experiences is critical to rapid global decarbonization.

For me, the unprecedented challenge from climate change is that most mitigation has to occur in countries with fewer resources. Key high-emitting countries such as India, China, Indonesia and Brazil, as well as smaller countries such as Laos, Ethiopia, and Peru are all projected, in business as usual forecasts, to have rising emissions as they develop.

These countries have strongly competing priorities, as they also need to address poverty or resolve internal conflict. They are unlikely to mitigate greenhouse-gases fast enough without help. Yet, to stabilize the climate, those countries and all others must reduce their emissions to net zero and the faster the better.

Models by EDF(2019, pp. 200-232) and IETA(2019) suggest that we could double the amount of global carbon dioxide mitigation to 2035 with no extra cost if richer countries can support emerging and developing countries effectively, but that’s hard. ‘International trading’ of mitigation, where richer countries, or their companies, support developing countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, has long been a goal, but it has not yet lived up to its promise.

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