It is unfortunately true, that we are so close to climate disaster that we need all large countries to move as one on mitigating climate change. What is to happen if just a few refuse? An article from a few months ago spells this out, and its not good.
If China Russia Brazil and Australia all follow up on the pledges that they made on carbon reduction the world and the rest of the world followed their example, we as a planet would be looking at warming of 5°C rather the 1.5°C that scientists tell us is needed in order to avoid terrible impacts.
These 4 countries are all part of the G20 (the 20 countries that have the biggest GDP in the world). Now to a certain degree, I feel that these countries should be split up. Russia and Australia have been wealthy countries for a long time. Australia have on occasion made noises about global warming, and certainly it shows very clearly in their country, unfortunately their economy is heavily invested in coal extraction. While this is often not burnt in country, it is still a significant issue and the coal must be left in the ground if we as the human race are to have a long term future. Russia is also a long-term advanced country, though it has been heavily reliant on oil and gas extraction, this needs to change. China has the largest population, and indeed its per capita carbon emissions are far below countries in the west. Never-the-less, China is growing its emissions fast, and does not appear to be making enough changes in order to help the world remain life sustaining. It is also worth noting that within the geographical boundaries of China, much of the land is already desert. With sensible choices China could rapidly become a renewable powerhouse, they have regularly demanded the right to pollute their way to development yet, given the population of China is twice that of the whole of Europe we cannot afford that. Brazil is a slightly different case. Brazil is a vast country, and supports one of the largest rainforests in the world.; at the current time, the Brazilian government is making it clear that they don’t intend to protect it, for themselves or the rest of the world. It should be noted that scientists believe that Brazil would be hit harder than almost any other country on earth, if runaway global warming were to take place.
What should the rest of the world do? Well certainly continue putting pressure on the leaders of these rebel nations, furthermore, with the huge reductions in the price of solar and wind, it is already cheaper to create your power in this way. This means that we might get to the point where heavy polluting countries clean up their act, simply because its cheaper. One example is electric cars – whatever an individuals concern is about pollution, it is cheaper to drive an electric car. Therefore, many people and places will clean up their act regardless of the climate situation. We must make this happen as fast as possible, but it suggests that cleaning power generation and travel is going to happen no matter what the governments think.
It is still a frustrating position to be in, though, where with 195 countries in the world 4 can still sink the whole world – that is just 2% of the worlds country (while it is just 2% of the worlds countries they represent about 1.8 billion people, or nearly 25% of the worlds population.