I think this statement is a great starting point:
Only if advanced economies’ climate policies reduce emissions in all countries will we prevent dangerous climate change. The best policies to do this are those that stimulate innovation and make clean energy technology cheaper in all countries.
However, there seems to be an assumption that when Western countries reduce their own emissions, those interventions can't reduce emissions in developing countries as well.
That is the assumption I would challenge, if sustainable/climate interventions to reduce emissions are designed in an open-source fashion.
Consider The Thames Project. It began as a simple, community-led effort to clean up plastic from The Thames River.
A nice neighborhood initiative, but not very impactful on a global scale.
However, the project initiators compiled their knowledge and methodology in an open-source toolkit ... and that enabled 10 more communities in 2 more countries to perform similar river cleanups.
So the original intervention did not only reduce pollution in the location of origin. It enabled further pollution reduction in international communities, presumably because of the intervention's open-source design.
Now let's think about this in the context of emissions reductions.
In the Netherlands, a group called Common Bike is building a decentralized micro-mobility platform, where anybody can put an electronic lock on their personal bike and activate it on a community bike-sharing network.
With so much of the population biking in the Netherlands already, this will have a negligible impact on their national emissions.
However, if this open-source biking platform was adopted in American suburbs, it could enable countless people to transition towards car-free lifestyles (especially if they are within biking distance of a local transit line), and significantly reduce transportation-sector GHG emissions.
And based on its open-source design, that same emissions-reducing intervention could freely spread to developing countries as well -- and potentially shape their future transportation infrastructure to be car-free.
Thus, if an advanced economy invested in an open-source intervention like Common Bike, it seems that it could satisfy the requirement that "advanced economies' climate policies must reduce emissions in all countries."
As another example, consider the Beehive Biomimetic Cooler -- zero-emission cooling technology made from Earthenware pots.
Project Drawdown has identified refrigerant management (the chemicals in our fridges and air conditioners) as our #1 priority for reducing carbon emissions.
With that in mind, it would be pragmatic for advanced economies to prioritize the development + deployment of minimal-emission cooling technologies like the Beehive.
And if they did so in an open-source fashion, the resulting emissions reductions from that investment would not be limited to their own countries.
By open-sourcing that innovation, the technology could likewise be replicated on the ground in developing countries, and drastically reduce their future emissions as well (potentially even enabling them to "leapfrog" over highly-pollutant refrigerants).
To wrap this up, my intention is not to compare the merits of deploying open-source sustainable innovations versus public clean energy R&D.
It's simply to reason that if advanced economies pursue emissions reductions, those emissions reductions are not necessarily confined to the country of origin. And changing that starting assumption could change other aspects of the research.
With that said, there is one critical point that I didn't see mentioned in the original piece.
Say that, starting today, we completely prioritized clean energy R&D for the next 1-2 years. And as a consequence, there will be no interventions to reduce carbon emissions during that timeframe.
What would be the long-term ramifications of total inaction on emissions reductions through 2020? For example -- perhaps due to the acceleration of warming effects -- is the window of opportunity from 2019-2020 more impactful for long-term emissions reductions than the window from 2021-2022 or from 2023-2024?
And if so, what are the chances that the clean energy capability we'd develop from 2019-2020 would drive greater long-term emissions reductions than if we focused on emissions reductions from 2019-2020?
Would love to hear people's thoughts on that.
Finally, for some context, this comment and dialogue with Hauke was inspired by my work on an open-source climate change initiative called Time to Solve.
If anybody has feedback/questions/interest in that project, I am looking for collaborators, and it would be great to discuss it with the EA community.