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Competitive Emissions Reduction : Climategames

The climate negotiations in Paris have very little teeth. Most countries are at emissions reduction trajectories that are almost natural considering the advantages of renewables over fossil fuels. Not trying to set binding targets makes the COP20 very weak, but the question could be asked: Is that the right strategy anyway. Herman Scheer already dismissed it as “Globally acting, locally postponing”, a deeper problem may exist.

A carbon emissions satellite image

How do you know what impact a climate target will have on your economy? You really have to know your economy to begin with, then there are many unknowns to consider, especially in a free market economy. What would setting a global reduction target to stay below 2 degrees mean anyway? What counts is how it would be executed, and setting that in some kind of contract is next to impossible.

COP Meetings are basically fossil fuel representative gatherings where they can argue about who can use the most the longest

Even if a system gets introduced to curb CO2 emissions, for instance the Emissions Trading System or ETS, we see that it is on the one hand used to financialize (increasing emissions) and on the other hand weakend by an abundance of ‘rights’, there will be a 2 billion surplus in 2020. Such a solution that is introduced over a large zone proves less effective than the cure to its flaws applied in the UK : A local carbon tax that leads to a minimum price for ETSes bought by companies in the UK.

Perhaps states should not be asked to agree on targets, but compete over them. They should show to be the lowest emitter year on year or even month on month in return for a serious bonus. Judgement should be pooled in one organization under the UN, or IPCC. A constant tally of all emissions per jurisdiction should be kept and every month and year, a reward for reduction should be payed out from a global fund everyone pays into. The goal would be to lower the emissions per capita and even make them negative (something some consider impossible, but which is as simple as planting a tree and not burning it).

A precentage reduction metric would slow down progress eventually, because 5% of 100 = 5 but 5% of 20 = 1

What is lacking right now is insight into the numbers. There are complex models but we have not seen a ranking of countries by emissions that is detailed to show individual actions that led to the reductions yet. Many states instead still choose (or are corrupted into) increasing emissions.

Divide the CO2 above a territory by its surface area and you have its CO2 score. This score could be compared by month or even week, year on year. Ranking is by approximation of 1990 CO2 ppm levels.

A competitive system makes it unnecessary to agree, except on the rules of the competition, which are pretty clear and will become more clear as more satelites can observer CO2 pollution directly. Of course care must be taken to find the sources of CO2 so to attribute them correctly. Alternatively this can be considered a ‘known bug’ competitors simply have to deal with.

Climategames can be divided in leagues, with the little league for developing countries taking small steps and the big league for big countries

It’s a “I don’t care how you do it, just do it!” method that seems much more efficient than giving the fossil fuel economy every opportunity to defend itself in COP negotiations.

Climate lottery

Another way to incentivise action is to have a running lottery. The advantage is that it delivers bigger prices (to fewer). A point about any climate game is that it has to reward the citizen, not the government. Then if you consider the popularity and low cost of lotteries citizen will appreciate it when they recieve prices for their territory making most headway. The choice of which territory gets a reward is based on science, the choice of who will recieve that reward is based on a lottery.

 You are in the lottery by definition, or maybe you have to sign up to be able to recieve a price

Perhaps the lottery can use the metric of the trajectories so that if a country is faster than it’s business as usual trajectory it gains points.