Tuesday, October 27, 2009

At what point?

At what point will China and India be expected to start cutting emissions?

The article from Treehugger reports that Australia is the largest per capita emitter, followed by the United States and Canada.

As SDA points out, we're comparing Australia, where the average temperature for the year is room temperature, with Canada, where the average temperature is substantially closer to freezing. Each of these places have their own special needs.

The article then goes on to point out that China and India each emit about 1/10 of the per capita emissions of those three. The article then attempts to make the case that this 1/10 is the reason why China and India should be exempt from emissions requirements.

Except that it's faulty logic. China and India's total emissions are each top ten in the world. This in itself makes them part of the ongoing problem. Given that these two countries encompass 1/3 of the world's population, they must be included in any climate targets, even if their targets involve intensity targets and not absolute caps.

But there's another perspective on this - one that the author tries to skirt by blaming the rich in countries such as Canada, Australia and the United States. What the author fails to mention, is how much of the emissions from China and India come from their upper and middle classes or as a result of the development of their middle classes. In China alone, 90% of the population live in poverty and emit no more than as much as a candle and a cow emit in a year. This has the effect of severely diluting their numbers to make them look better than they actually are. This also has the effect of allowing them to abdicate responsibility by hiding behind misleading numbers.

If China and India truly want to hide behind their development to avoid responsibility for their emissions, that's fine with me, but by the same token, I object to their being held up as environmental leaders simply because of their massive numbers in poverty.

Now excuse me while I go turn up the thermostat.

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