Saturday, November 28, 2009


Anyone following our governments' efforts to unite to save the environment would surely notice a gaping rift, that between developing and developed countries. The former is represented by: the U.S. and fighting for the developing countries is the up-and-coming kingpin of the world economy: China.Side by side? Not when it comes to the environment.

The story goes like this: since the Chinese are building the equivalent of two coal-fired power plants every week, developed countries insist developing countries should be bound to cut emissions by as great a number as the developed countries must do themselves. This is true, since new data shows developing countries now account for 54% of CO2 emissions worldwide, and that developed-country emissions are starting to come down. Thank God.
The Chinese, still developing, love cheap coal. The Germans, developed, get along much better with solar.

According to developing countries, however, developed countries are mainly responsible for global warming. True, since in the past, developed countries did emit more then developing nations, and since there's a lag time before CO2 starts heating the planet, past developed countries are responsible for most of the CURRENT warming we are experiencing. Developing countries also insist that they are still developing and should be allowed to do so without interference. And, they say that if they are to cut emissions, developed countries must fund it and provide the technology.U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman. On climate change, Mr. Anifah says: "Give us the tools and we will act." Wonder how Mrs. Clinton feels.

There are numerous reasons for both sides taking the positions they do. Mainly, it is economic- developing countries do not want to have to pay for the high upfront costs. Developing countries who depend largely on oil also do not want to have to give it up. After all, if they keep resisting the switch to renewables, high oil prices will benefit them greatly. Plus, clean technologies are right up the alley of rich countries, who have the money and expertise to control the market, and developing countries do not want to lose out. That might also be why they demand for clean-tech transfers from rich countries. This is highly regrettable, as the long term returns from going green are way higher.

Socially, developing countries prefer to focus on economic development, as opposed to environmental preservation. As I have written before, the level of environmental consciousness in developing countries is tragically low. People here prefer jobs and cash to hybrids and recyclables. In China, the Communist Party is bound to increase the standard of living drastically, to compensate for the lack of freedom under communist rule. If they were to slow this improvement in favour of the environment, the Party could very well face riots that might kick them out of power.The Communist Party needs a roaring economy to stay in power. Too bad for the Earth.

These thinking patterns do no good to anyone. In fact, if they continue, then developed countries might give up their own efforts to cut emissions, and just when they were starting to go green too. Regardless of what developing country governments say, shouldn't we stand up and start the change?

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