Let's say my country is very environment conscious, has lots of trees and animals, protects the forest, uses clean/green energy, and has all kinds of environment friendly policies you can imagine. Will my country be safe from climate change?

Or will that be useless when other countries don't take those measures, because we all share the same atmosphere?

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    $\begingroup$ Climate change is a global problem. Your country's contribution is not useless, however small the country, but it will not deal with the problem alone. $\endgroup$ Oct 5, 2018 at 13:06

2 Answers 2


The main driver for anthropogenic climate change is carbon dioxide because it is very long-lived and hence relatively evenly distributed within the atmosphere. And even if you'd somehow manage to keep reduced levels of $\ce{CO2}$ in your country's atmosphere, you'd still be affected by large-scale weather changes. So yes, your country would be affected just like any other country.

Of course other benefits from climate-friendly policies, such as better air quality due to reduced combustion or better public transport due to investments in that sector, have a stronger local impact.


If no-one does anything the result will be bad for everyone.

If only a small number of countries (or global regions) do something and the rest of the planet does nothing the effect will be minimal or negligible of a global scale. The greater the number of regions doing something useful, the greater the effect and the benefit.

For an impact to be made globally, a critical mass of regions needs to do something useful.

If your country does something and its neighbors don't, parts of your country may have better local conditions. It also depends on what other countries, elsewhere are doing. We are all in a canoe being moved by a strong current. We need everyone to paddle to get us to safety, not just a small number of people paddling.

  • $\begingroup$ can you name those critical regions or is that controversial ? $\endgroup$
    – user1066
    Oct 5, 2018 at 9:26
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    $\begingroup$ Fred did not claim that certain regions are critical - they said that a "critical mass" of regions is needed. Outside physics, this is a colloquialism that can loosely be translated as "sufficient". $\endgroup$ Oct 5, 2018 at 13:07
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    $\begingroup$ @SemidiurnalSimon And my question is there a way to mathematically define what is "sufficient" ? $\endgroup$
    – user1066
    Oct 5, 2018 at 16:01
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    $\begingroup$ Fair enough. I guess one of the problems here is that don't know what sufficient is. I mean, a return to 1990 levels in the atmosphere would be sufficient, but it's far too late for that. So perhaps "sufficient" is "not triggering any major positive feedback loops". But, there's a lot of uncertainty around what level that is... $\endgroup$ Oct 5, 2018 at 18:02

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