Saturday, January 05, 2008

Global warming, global economy

Vino S notes that China overtook the USA last year to become the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide.

But: “Given that China has a much larger population, though, the US still emits more per capita.”

True. From the climate’s point of view, though, it doesn’t care whether a total quantity of CO2 comes from a few rich Westerners or a lot of poor Chinese.

But, more to the point, much of China’s economic growth – and hence its carbon growth – is being driven by exports being bought by rich Westerners. As we’ve outsourced and ‘offshored’ our heavy industry, so emissions have shifted.

Emissions cuts should be made wherever they can be biggest. I’m glad that UK political parties are committed to reducing UK emissions (and likewise for many other developed countries), but it’s at least as important to seek policies that will lead to results elsewhere.

We should be throwing green technology at developing countries, and rewarding with trade deals those that improve their carbon efficiency. We should also be paying Brazil and Indonesia not to deforest.

An international emissions deal won’t work if it’s just ‘we’ll sort our country out if you do yours’ – that’s a recipe for backsliding, dodgy accounting and ineffectual haranguing. What we need are genuinely collaborative, transnational projects.

1 comment:

Andre said...

I agree with you on incentivising polluting countries - now that they finally have a chance to gain economically it would be a shame to have them loose it on expensive green technologies.

But are these governments ready to listen?