How much should my Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction be?

As individuals, companies, industry sectors, and nations take action to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, it helps to know whether these actions are adequate. For the sake of argument, for example, we might say that if a single industry sector generates x% of all GHG emissions,then that sector should be responsible for x% of the overall GHG reductions proposed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This one-page document was created as an experiment in telling the mathematical story of how an individual, company, industry sector, or nation would go about calculating its unique responsibilities on the basis of this logic.


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An individual, company, industry sector, or nation can be held responsible for 'generating' emissions in a number of ways. For example, emissions can be calculated on a direct basis (e.g. 'How many GHG emissions did I generate from my own activities) or an indirect basis (e.g. 'What are the upstream emissions that result from my economic activity/demand?') There is no 'right' answer on this point, and much of the politics of international climate change negotiation revolve around how to balance these perspectives, which are sometimes referred to as 'Scope 1' and 'Scope 3' emissions, respectively. The proposed mathematical method works for either perspectives, but its simultaneous use for both perspectives would result in double-counting of impacts.