The ‘under 2%’ club

This chart from Simon Holmes a Court is something else.

A common argument against countries like Australia, which is responsible for just 1.3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, taking action to reduce their emissions is that their contribution would be so small. Better to do little to nothing and let the big hitters like China, the US and the EU do the heavy lifting.

Intuitively this makes sense. But this is where Holmes a Court’s chart comes in. Take a look at it again.

2% club

That bar on the right, the tallest of all, is the total emissions of all countries whose national emissions are under 2% of the global total (like Australia). If every one of the ‘under 2%’ countries followed the logic that their contribution to fighting climate change was too insignificant to bother we’d all be screwed.

Global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change are complex and heavily negotiated. Countries look to similar countries to see that they too are taking action. So for one ‘under 2%’ country to do nothing sends a signal to others that they needn’t bother either. We’re all in this together and every country, no matter the size of its emissions compared to others, has a responsibility to take action. Suggesting that an ‘under 2%’ country do nothing to reduce its emissions is irresponsible and undermines the global fight against climate change.


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