Three Climate Negotiators Walk into a Bar….

You and your friends have been socializing at a bar. Some arrived at lunch, some in the last few minutes.  At the end of the night, the bill arrives. So one friend throws down a 20. Another a pile of ones. Another a handful of change. And on and on.

But imagine a world where no one can add up all the money to see if you’ve covered the bill!

That’s where the international climate negotiation process is right now. No way to link commitments to outcome goals. EU says emissions down 20% by 2020, China says 20% decrease in emissions intensity, US cap emissions in 2025, etc. but, as the negotiators report,  no fast feedback on whether we’ll achieve 350 ppm, 450, or 750, 2 degrees C or 3 degree C or 6!

The primary purpose of C-ROADS (formerly called Pangaea) is to address this problem — to help leaders add up global commitments to see if we are getting the climate results we need, and do it in “real time”, in the middle of conversations and negotiations, not just in computer labs.

I shared this analogy with SI colleague Beth Sawin and she just added, next, the secondary purpose of C-ROADS — to provide data (per capita emissions, cumulative emissions, emissions per gdp, for example) to inform decisions about who ought to pay for mitigation and adaptation. Back to the bar analogy — we want to help think through how much each friend should pay.

And the tertiary purpose — to show how the first folks to lay their money down get their money returned with a dividend soon after. As Rocky Mountain Institute, McKinsey, and others have shown, many emissions-reducing actions save more than they cost!

Tom Fiddaman of Ventana Systems just wrote with the kicker: “The waitress (aka Mother Nature) on the other hand has no trouble adding up the cash; when she finds out that her patrons stiffed her on the tip, she won’t get mad, she’ll get even.”

Note, I stole the post title from Tom Fiddaman’s excellent post here.



  1. [...] Friday Video Break: Climate Negotiations, doing the math, & the Violent Femmes Published April 23, 2010 Uncategorized Leave a Comment So, it looks like the UNFCC may officially add up climate goals to see how close this gets us to needed targets… at the very least, a working group within UNFCC has formally proposed that this is a really, really good idea. After a very long evening, someone is pulling out the calculator and saying, “Hey. everybody! how about we tally up the bill?” [...]