Correcting course: the emission reduction potential of international cooperative initiatives

Lui, Swithin et al.
External Publications (2020)

in: Climate Policy, 25 August 2020, 1-19


This article quantifies the aggregate potential of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions in 2030 from the assumed full implementation of major international cooperative initiatives (ICIs). To this end, a methodology is proposed to aggregate emission reduction goals of the most significant and potentially impactful global initiatives. We identified the extent to which reductions are additional to national policies, assuming these actions do not displace climate actions elsewhere, and accounted for overlap ranges between the ICIs. The analysis was conducted for 17 initiatives, selected from an original list of over 300 with a series of testing criteria, across eight sectors and ten major emitting economies. These initiatives include cities, regions, businesses, and other subnational and non-state actors, cooperating with each other and sometimes working in partnership with national governments or other international organizations. Our analysis shows that the combined achievement of initiatives’ reduction goals could reduce global emissions in 2030 by 18–21 GtCO2e/year in addition to current national policies (total of 60–63 GtCO2e/year), down to 39–44 GtCO2e/year. If delivered fully, reductions from these 17 initiatives would help move the global emissions trajectory within the range of a 2°C-consistent emission pathway by 2030, although a significant gap would remain to reduce emissions to a 1.5°C-consistent pathway.

About the author

Chan, Sander

Transnational and international environmental politics and governance


Further experts

Aleksandrova, Mariya

Climate risk governance 

Baumann, Max-Otto

Political Science 

Brandi, Clara

Economy and Political Science 

Breuer, Anita

Political Scientist 

Dick, Eva

Sociologist and Spatial Planner 

Dippel, Beatrice


Donnelly, Aiveen

Politcal Science 

Ekoh, Susan S.

Environmental Research 

Fasold, Maximilian

Political Economy 

Goedeking, Nicholas

Comparative Political Economy 

Haldenwang, Christian von

Political Science 

Houdret, Annabelle

Political Scientist 

Lehmann, Ina

Political Science 

Leininger, Julia

Political Scientist 

Mathis, Okka Lou

Political Scientist 

Morare, Ditebogo Modiegi

Political Science 

Never, Babette

Political Scientist 

Nowack, Daniel

Political Science 

Pegels, Anna


Roll, Michael


Srigiri, Srinivasa Reddy

Agricultural Economist