80% greenhouse gas reduction by 2050 for G8 nations - remember Pareto

Stuff.co.nz had a report “Wealthy nations vow greenhouse gas cuts” which included the following:

“The United States and other G8 nations set a goal of reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent or more by 2050. That’s part of a plan to have all such gases, from rich and poor nations alike, fall by 50 percent globally by that year.”

Following our one-day cricket analogy we now know the required run rate - 80% in 40 years or 2% per year. Remember, for every year the required run rate isn’t reached it goes up - and keeps going up if the new higher rate isn’t reached.

The one-day cricket analogy is a good one to bring in the focus of getting started as soon as possible. But in cricket the maximum possible runs per over is 36 in the first over and 36 in the last over - the maximum rate possible is the same at the start as at the end.

When we get out into the real world, we have to remember Pareto, the 80/20 principle, which tells us that reducing that last 20% of greenhouse gases is going to be 80% of the effort (others might suggest that 80% of the effort will be getting rid of the first 20%). So, when we project reduction rates out into the future we can’t assume a flat capability but a reduced capability - it gets harder to reduce the more we reduce.  What does this mean? Once again, we can’t delay getting started.

To paraphrase a Confucius quote, journey of 80% reduction in greenhouse gases begins with a 1% reduction. When that first 1% step is going to be taken is critical.

Here’s a last few words from Charles Darwin:

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

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