Developed and developing world responsibilities for historical climate change and CO2 mitigation
At the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference in Cancun, in November 2010, the Heads of State reached an agreement on the aim of limiting the global temperature rise to 2 °C relative to preindustrial levels. They recognized that long-term future warming is primarily constrained by cumulative anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, that deep cuts in global emissions are required, and that action based on equity must be taken to meet this objective. However, negotiations on emission reduction among countries are increasingly fraught with difficulty, partly because of arguments about the responsibility for the ongoing temperature rise. Simulations with two earth-system models (NCAR/CESM and BNU-ESM) demonstrate that developed countries had contributed about 60–80%, developing countries about 20–40%, to the global temperature rise, upper ocean warming, and sea-ice reduction by 2005. Enacting pledges made at Cancun with continuation to 2100 leads to a reduction in global temperature rise relative to business as usual with a 1/3–2/3 (CESM 33–67%, BNU-ESM 35–65%) contribution from developed and developing countries, respectively. To prevent a temperature rise by 2 °C or more in 2100, it is necessary to fill the gap with more ambitious mitigation efforts.
NB: I think that there is flaw in the framework underlying this research. First, it isolates GHG emissions and climate change from the larger issue of ecological footprint. An effective and environmentally sustainable plan requires taking the wider view of ecological footprint rather than merely GHG emissions and climate change. Second, it should be clear by now that the developed/developing countries dichotomy is an oversimplified reduction of the true picture of world populations. Mass migration and globalization have created a world that cannot be viewed according to the old nationalistic political boundaries. For instance, to what country is an inudstrial plant owned by, say, Chinese or French concerns, but located in say, Nigeria, atrributed? Or, what do we do with mass migration, exile, expatriation and other large people movements? Should, for instance, the large number of Germanic people living outside Germany be considered as part of Germany or the countries, some of them developing, in which they reside. I would suggest that a new categorization system be used based on ancestral genetic identity. I have begun to sketch this approach in the Resource Footprint pages of the Atlas of Genetic Geneaology and Modern Genography. By viewing GHG emission and climate change within the context of the ecological footprint and the by viewing the develpoing/developed world dichotomy in the context of ancestral genetic indentity, I suggest that greater equanimity can be achieved in prescribing remedial action and the impasse created by our existing analytical framework shall be dissolved.