Responses to DTE editorial 'No more kindergarten approach to climate change'
With global warming concerns peaking, China and India are being made villains. Historically climate-profligate nations are being let off the hook. Climate negotiations have struck a dead end
In our May 31, 2007, editorial, "No more kindergarten approach to climate change," we argued that inequity and bad politics mar climate change negotiations. Readers responded. Here is a cross section of views
Getting over blocks
Investments in clean technology face blocks in rich countries and those with poor capita incomes--such as China and India. But there has been some progress. The German feed in law for renewables, for example, has relevance for India. Among the things that Indian ngos could do is to draw attention of the central and state governments to costs of not addressing the downside.Start putting together numbers of what climate change may cost (taking account of uncertainties a 5 per cent chance of a very terrible impact from not investing in clean technology can still be factored as a very large cost). Pay attention to sensible energy use, including the massive savings from more local energy generation that does not come with high transmission losses (sometimes in excess of 70 or 80 per cent)
There's a credible case that atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases actually need to be reduced in order to have a good chance of keeping climate danger within 'reasonable' limits. So, it may not just be a question of reducing emissions but also reducing concentrations.
Blinkers are here too
Your apparent disregard for the developed world's political andfinancial constraints is just as damaging as the developed world's disregard for developingcountries' need for economic growth.As long as both sides continue to insist "we are right", we will never move beyond gridlock.
The us, European Union and Australia will never commit to sufficient binding targets as long as their emissions reductions are likely to end up as leakages to developing country growth.Effectiveness is a real concern, and to simply dismiss those concerns about leakage will result in a stalemate.
Furthermore, fairness and equity concerns are largely a matter of perception, to which no side has a unique claim.Whether correct or wrong, an out-of-workAmerican voter whose job has been off-shored to China is unlikely to feel that emissionshis grandfathermade unknowingly in 1970should count the same as current emissions pumping out of anewIndianfactory. Knowledge and intent are importantin perceptions offairness.
Therefore, while we shouldn't completely discount past emissions and national wealth, the developed worldvoters and their leadershipareunlikely to feel obligated to make "climate reparations", regardless of how much better off they are compared to a typical developing country.
You correctly say, the developing world will face the brunt of the impacts of inaction. But how do we move forward?Right now the North doesn't trust the South to recognise that without some sort of commitment (or timeline/triggers locking in commitments down the road) from developing countries matters cannot improve, and the South doesn't trust the North to fund that necessary transition.Both are probably right, and no side can force the other to agree to anything.
Therefore the only real way forward is for the North to put some real significant money forward, and forthe developing world to agree to some sort of timeline or modest targets in exchange
The question is how much money the developed world should commit and how strict caps the developed worldtakes in return.This is exactly the sort of "kindergraten politics" in negotiationyou disdain.The negotiations willnot be pretty nor satisfying to anyone, and we can only hopenegotiators/leaders from all countries can be practical enough to reach an agreement (as the consequences for failure are dire).But if sucessful, at least then we'll be moving in the right direction.
Give CDM a chance
I agree with some of your conclusions. But I disagree with a few others. For example you say, "Technologies exist (for mitigating climate change), but they are costly." I believe there are many low-cost options for mitigation, and indeed the clean development mechanism (cdm) favours these options.
No one gains by adopting more expensive mitigation options while discarding low cost ones. Therefore, your accusation that, "This mechanism (cdm) has been designed to get the cheapest emission reduction options for the rich world", is contradictory. On the one hand you state, (without any basis I might add) that technologies are costly. On the other hand, you accuse cdm of finding cheap mitigation options.
What ails CDM
National Environmental Fund - Peru
"A right to develop" is something that we have to take into account in a low--carbon--intensity--oriented world. We need to put efforts to define the threshold.
The clean development mechanism (cdm) is not going to be a solution for emerging economies; it was created to reach Kyoto Protocol targets. But it could teach developing world something that probably will go on emission trading systems. Emerging countries must integrate clean energy and low carbon issues into their national and sectoral mid/long term policies.
Unfair on IPCC
Restricting cars is definitely one solution but it will not really help matters totally. There are other significant sources of carbon emissions.
I think we should prioritise on issues and then get the politicians to work on the list from top down. But that is easier said than done. It is not in the interests of politicians to make decisions which will affect them in the long-term as (a) they will be voted out of power by fickle public, and (b) most of them probably won't be around to see the cataclysmic effect of climate change. Politicians by their nature are interested in short-term change, a bit like the stock market.
I agree with you that China and India are unavoidably joining the us as the "villains". It is absolutely fair to say that the industrialised world must assist the developing world in providing the means and technology to raise living standards without much increase in carbon output.
So, I agree with you that money and political commitment are essential in addressing these issues and that the developed world has the responsibility to undertake the task. It is a source of personal frustration and anger that my country (the us) is squandering resources on war and doing its best to obstruct serious action on climate change.
So, how should funds be channelised to the developing world? I believe that only an empowered and well-funded international body with global jurisdiction can address these issues. But I have no confidence that the un (or some alternative agency) will ever be given sufficient money or authority to effectively undertake this role.
I disagree with your views on the ipcc Fourth Assessment Report although, I know that executive summaries were subject to significant political input (especially by the us). The ipcc reports have been perhaps the most significant contributor in creating awareness on the reality of climate change, and it is not fair to rubbish them.
WHY RELY ON THE WEST?
Your article is well argued. But why should India and China depend upon the industrialised nations to supply them with more efficient technologies in order to develop responsibly?What is stopping them from being inventive, resourceful and daring enough to develop using more efficient and not-as-polluting methods on their own (exerting leadership along the way)?For example, why can't China (and perhaps India too) mandate that all cars entering the market from now on will be hybrid or fuel cell-based. With its so-called centralised planning structure, the country has the administrative wherewithal to accomplish this.
the japanese way
Watermanweg, The Netherlands
You make the point that India and China will first add to emissions, make money and then clean up their act. Two reactions to this. The first is that it may simply be too late to clean up, in any case it is too risky to find out whether we can clean up.
Secondly, I think that both India and China can and should become world leaders in clean technology and skip a few steps along the way. I think a good example is Japan, which starting in the 1960s invested hugely in energy efficient technologies.
The accepted notion is that the Japanese economy grew by "copying" us and European products. I believe Japan grew economically because it was able to produce more at lower cost than any other country and because the Japanese were more innovative.
In fact, I think this argument should be put forward to the World Bank and other lending agencies to facilitate techology transfer more quickly than what currently takes place.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.