Getting well over 100 countries to agree on reducing CO2 emissions is one of the greatest challenges we face. Even with the 34 countries who took part in the original Kyoto Protocol Agreement at the Earth Summit in 1992, most considered themselves to be a special case! The Agreement has taken 12 years to ratify and only now in February 2005 is becoming legally binding. The US and Australia still consider themselves to be special cases and have not signed.
1n 1990 Aubrey Meyer from The Global Commons Institute put forward the case for an equitable sharing of carbon credits based on maximum sustainable CO2 emissions. The proposal emphasised the need for all countries to be allocated an equal per capita share, not just because this is morally correct but because itís the only way to get agreement with so many countries.
This low emission rate translates to 1 tonne CO2 per person per year. Clearly with the UK and the US exceeding this by an average of 10x and 20x respectively, a massive adjustment in lifestyle and new clean ways of producing energy will be required. This reduction in emissions is described by the word contraction. However this will also take time and allowance must be made for the transition period before targets must be met. The agreement to converge to a base-line figure over time is known as convergence.
Within this system there is also a facility for the trading of credits between countries. If one country lives within its allocation, the surplus can be sold to a country which exceeds theirs.