Sunday, March 16, 2008

Blair: poor nations must cut emissions

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair called on developing nations to share the burden of cutting global greenhouse gas emissions. "The dilemma is this: how to cut a deal that has both the developed and developing in it, recognizing that the obligations on the one can't be the same as the obligations of the other," Blair said. He went on to say that developed industrial nations - the Untied States, Japan, and the countries of Western Europe - should have the primary responsibility for cutting gas emissions, but that developing economies - particularly China and India - must do their share as well.

I think that Blair is right on this one. China, according to some experts, may already be the world's largest producer of greenhouse gases. If not it will soon pass the US to take the top spot. Yet China continues to argue that it deserves exemptions because of its status as a developing nation under the Kyoto Protocols.

But China has grown a lot since Kyoto was negotiated in the early 1990s, and part of the reason they were able to grow so quickly is because pollution-reduction treaties like Kyoto did not hamper them. The result is that China today is horribly polluted, a situation that will only continue to get worse.

If the goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, then all the major producers need to share in the effort, whether they are "developing nations" or not. Besides, it’s much easier (and cost-effective) to build factories and power plants that are environmentally friendly from the beginning rather than to go back and try to retrofit "dirty" facilities. In the long run it’s the smartest move for both China and the planet.
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