In the latest issue of TIME, Bryan Walsh has written a fairly balanced piece on carbon emissions – which unfortunately is marred by a (deliberately?) provocative headline, “The Third World Smoke Alarm” (Interestingly, the European edition of the magazine has dropped the “Third World” prefix and has printed the article simply titled “Smoke Alarm”).
It was the sub-heading though that first caught my eye. It read:
“To stop climate change, developing nations must wake up and smell the carbon”…I wish I could have added …”and developed nations must share the burden”.
I have written on this issue before and it is interesting to observe how the blame surreptitiously gets shifted to the developing nations (e.g. the alarmist title – “Third World” Smoke Alarm….surely, if it is an alarm, it is probably a “Global” Smoke Alarm?).
*** Some excerpts below ***
“…Once home to some of the most extensive rain forests in the world, Indonesia is now losing trees at a faster rate than any other nation, to flames but also to rampant logging. …Indonesia’s rapid deforestation is the main reason why this country of 245 million is the third biggest carbon emitter in the world after the U.S. and China.
But as in other developing countries, the Indonesian government says it needs to focus on economic growth to raise its people out of poverty—and that likely means that trees will be cut, cars will be added and carbon emissions will only go up.
…Drawing on the work of thousands of scientists vetted by officials from over 100 countries, the IPCC reported that future carbon emissions could be controlled using current technology like nuclear or renewable energy—and that it could be done without bankrupting the global economy. “Measures to reduce emissions can, in the main, be achieved at starkly low costs, especially when compared with the costs of inaction,” said Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
…As economic growth shifts to the developing world—especially Asia—so will future carbon emissions.
Whether the world can effectively combat climate change will be determined by countries like Indonesia and India—and particularly China, which could pass the U.S. as the world’s top carbon emitter any day.
…But if developing countries choose to ignore global warming, even the most radical actions out of the developed world could be rendered meaningless.
…Because developing nations have emphasized that they can’t afford to jeopardize the pace of economic growth for the sake of the environment, the only climate-change solutions they’re likely to accept will be ones that come cheap.
Fortunately the IPCC says that’s possible—the new report concludes that the cost of stabilizing global carbon emissions by 2030 could require as little as one-tenth of a percentage point per year of global growth through the end of the century.
Those costs will have to be borne by someone, and the developing nations will rightly push for North America and Europe to pick up the check.Expect that argument to be renewed at the next major U.N. climate-change meeting in Bali, Indonesia, at the end of the year.
Developing nations make the point that they’re not responsible for the vast majority of carbon dioxide hanging around in the atmosphere—which was put there by Western countries during their own development over the past 150 years.
They argue that their own per capita-emissions rates are still far lower than those of the West, and that, therefore, climate change isn’t their responsibility.
But future global warming will hinge on how we deal with future carbon emissions—most of which will come from developing Asia. The center of gravity of climate-change politics has moved to China, India and Indonesia. Their decisions will shape the world we live in.”
*** End of Excerpts ***
Find the article in full here.
Finally, here’s a useful chart showing world carbon dioxide emissions by country between 1990 – 2035.