Don’t Cripple the Tigers

COPENHAGEN – This December, global leaders will meet in Copenhagen to negotiate a new climate change pact to reduce carbon emissions. Yet, the way that it has been set up, it will inevitably fail. The best hope is that we use this lesson finally to deal with this issue in a smarter fashion.

The United States has made it clear that developing countries must sign up to substantial reductions in carbon emissions in Copenhagen. Developing nations – especially China and India – will be the main greenhouse gas emitters of the twenty-first century – but were exempted from the Kyoto Protocol because they emitted so little during the West’s industrialization period. Europe, too, has grudgingly accepted that without developing nations’ participation, rich nations’ cuts will have little impact.

Some would have us believe that getting China and India on board will be easy. According to former US Vice President Al Gore, “developing countries that were once reluctant to join in the first phases of a global response to the climate crisis have themselves now become leaders in demanding action and in taking bold steps on their own initiatives.”

But Gore’s fellow Nobel laureate, Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is not so sure. He recently told an Indian audience, “of course, the developing countries will be exempted from any such restrictions, but the developed countries will certainly have to cut down on emissions.”