Full Title: G20 Climate Action – a turning point?
Author(s): Climate Transparency
Publisher(s): Climate Transparency
Publication Date: 11/2015
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G20 countries represent two thirds of the world population, and four fifths of global economic output, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP). Collectively, these countries currently emit three quarters of global annual greenhouse gases (GHG). Average per capita GHG emissions in G20 countries are nearly 11 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e). To keep global average warming below 2 degrees Celsius (2°C), global average per capita emissions – not just of the G20 – should be around 1-3 tCO2e, by 2050.
Most of the world’s top 20 annual GHG emitters are G20 countries. That is unsurprising, given their large economic size. However, some of these countries would not appear on a top-20 list of the world’s biggest cumulative emitters. And fewer than half would appear on a top-20 list of the world’s biggest per capita emitters. Emerging economies, for example, still have smaller per capita emissions than most industrial nations.
There are good reasons to draw attention to the climate mitigation action of the G20. Because of their collective size, it is vital that G20 countries reduce their per capita emissions to the safe range mentioned above, even though this would be insufficient on its own to tackle climate change. Because of their enormous political and economic power, these countries help determine the dynamics of the global economy. For example, much technological innovation arises from within the G20. And their share of global trade is even higher than their share of the world economy. Collectively, G20 countries drive the global trend in greenhouse gas emissions, evening out structural economic changes which may shift emissions one way or another in individual nations.