Sunday, October 10, 2010

Climate Change: The Bickering Goes On



The Kyoto Protocol, the only international agreement to fight climate change, will come to an end in two years, 2012. The world, including the US who is not bound by Kyoto, has been trying frantically for over a year to come to agreement on what is to replace Kyoto. The Copenhagen conference, last year, turned out to be totally unproductive. Yet the major players have not given up hope for reaching an agreement that would be legally binding to all its signatories.
Unfortunately the progress has been very slow to nonexistent. The meeting at Tianjin, China ended up last week in total disarray. The meeting which was expected to resolve a few of the obstacles preventing an agreement was described by participants as being full of bickering. "At times it has been like watching children in a kindergarten," said Wendell Tio from Greenpeace International.
Although the talks are scheduled to move to Cancun, Mexico, next month not many are hopeful that the level of disagreement between the US and China will diminish. Kyoto divided the world into two groups, the developed and the developing, with the former subject to strict legal limits on its emissions of carbon dioxide while the latter is subject only to voluntary restraints. And that is the rub.
Officially China has become the largest emitter of carbon in the world, replacing the US but by all conventional metrics China is a developing country and so is refusing to abide by the US demands that China and other large developing countries should be subject to strict emissions quotas also. Obviously the Mr. Su, the Chinese representative at the talks, would have nothing of these demands. Mr. Su likened the U.S. criticism to Zhubajie, a pig in a classic Chinese novel, by saying "It has no measures or actions to show for itself, and instead it criticizes China, which is actively taking measures and actions."
It is this inability to view climate change as a global problem that demands a global solution that has wrecked Copenhagen, is threatening Cancun and will probably doom the final resolution to a meaningless gesture that will do nothing to control climate change. As long as various players are attempting to guard their own selfish interest then no meaningful solution is to be expected. This is a classic case of the tragedy of the commons whereby individual actors believe that they are doing what is good for themselves but wind up in hurting themselves and all other players as well.
What do you think: Should the less developed be exempted from strict limits on emissions so that the developed will shoulder the greater part of the burden of emission reductions? Does nature discriminate on the basis of the national origin of carbon emissions? What would be a fair allocation of the burden and how heavy shed it be?

8 comments:

Jephson Mathew said...

I think that its unreasonable to ask developing countries to bind to strict regulation for climate control. This is because they had nothing to do with it. The ones that caused it are the "developed" industrialized nations like the U.S and i think that they should act first and set an example for developing nations to follow. -Jephson Mathew

catherine said...

It is irrefutable that global warming is the responsibility of the developed countries and their insatiable need for growth and power. Therefore, I believe that it is wrong to place restrictions on the developing world in their attempt to even the global playing field. Unfortunately the people who are responsible for the problem are not the only ones who are suffering the consequences and the developing world seems to be paying heavily for the offenses of the west. I don't think that bickering over who should or should not be burdened with emission reductions would be a very effective subject to dwell on in the upcoming climate talks. I think a good resolution would be for the developed world to invest in renewable energy industries in the developing world. Creating jobs and opportunities for those who are most in need of them, and establishing a basis for sustainable development.

Khari Linton said...

I think both developing and developed countries should have caps on their emissions, with developed countries having a higher cap. Since developed countries produce more, they should have a higher cap to get down to that level that would be reasonable in order for them to still produce. Since developing countries do not produce as much, it should not be a problem for them to have a problem with the restrictions. But sadly the main producers do not see the environmental problems, the developing countries do. So it is up to countries such as the U.S and China to come up with productive solutions to create clean energy and reasonable cap restrictions.

Cody Clement-Sanders said...

Regardless of who caused the global environmental degradation, we all should abide by limitations because we all have to live with the consequences and repercussions. The argument for developing nations to not have to abide by the same limitations as the developed nations, "The U.S. didn't have to follow these regulations", shouldn't even be considered. Times have changed and whether you think it's fair or not doesn't matter because there are no national boundaries or cultural favoritism regarding carbon emissions, the whole world feels the impact.

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