• President Obama discusses climate change with experts

President Obama discusses climate change with experts (Photo : Aude Guerrucci/UPI)

A study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Science by climate scientists suggests that the only way to tackle climate change and deal with the burden of emission sharing is for a major country or economy to take the lead, an action that will cause others to follow suit.

According to Malte Meinshausen, a climate scientist with Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the University of Melbourne, "If either the European Union or the U.S. would pioneer and set a benchmark for climate action by others, the negotiation logjam about fair burden sharing could be broken."

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Meinshausen and his colleagues said the best way for any country or economy to take the lead in mitigating the impacts of global warming is to double carbon emission reduction targets - limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius.

The US and Europe among other countries are not agreed on the formula for doing individual parts of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and recently industrialized China and India say emission reduction targets should portray the total history of emission for each country.

"Now we have calculated how much a major economy would have to cut its greenhouse gas output if all the other countries would follow the emissions allocation scheme that is most favorable to them - so some base their reduction number on the equal per capita scheme, others include the historical emissions, and still the 2 degree limit is met," explained co-author Louise Jeffery, climate researcher at the Potsdam Institute.

Speaking on the diversity-aware leadership system, the researchers say when an economy takes the lead in reducing emissions, others who will follow suit will adopt a reduction level that suits their needs in terms of industrializations. But when all the major leaders wait for general consensus, then nothing will be done until it is way too late.

Co-author Sebastian Oberthuer, a climate scientist from Vrije Universiteit Brussel, warned that postponing climate action until a universal agreement is reached on how to fairly allocate emission reduction will cause everyone to lose in the long run, because climate change won't wait for anyone and it will hit everyone together at the same time.