Contraction and Convergence

The Global Solution to Climate Change
(Schumacher Briefing)

Posted: 25 June 2003

Author: Aubrey Meyer
Green Books, 2000, £5.00

Aubrey Meyer has done that rare thing - to come up with a simple and elegant solution to an apparently intractable problem. Contraction and Convergence is Meyer's solution to the climate crisis, a crisis which he states bluntly is nothing less than a "survival" issue for humancivilisation.


Briefly, C&C involves three elements: the establishment of a global 'cap' on fossil fuel emissions (eventually well below current emissions levels, hence 'contraction'), the allocation of the resulting 'carbon budget' on the basis of per-capita equity amongst all the world's countries, and the phased transition and trading of these allocations whilst 'convergence' is achieved.

As Meyer points out, such a system would resolve the concerns of many in the South that climate change avoidance will freeze their economic development, whilst at the same time providing a framework to avoid dangerous global warming impacts. And as he correctly states, anything else - including Kyoto and the myriad of other proposals out there - are just "guesswork" in comparison with the logical "framework" of C&C.

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Reviewer: Mark Lynas

Reviewer Info: Mark Lynas is a specialist in Climate Change. His new book, High Tide: News from a warming world, will be published by Flamingo/HarperCollins in March 2004.