Who's doing more to reduce emissions, the North or the South?

The “comparability of effort” debate is hotting up, and there’s no cooling on the horizon.

This debate is fundamental to the “blame game.”  Recall, for example, the cold shower that was Copenhagen, and the storms of China-bashing that followed.  The blame for the debacle, you see, belonged to the “emerging economies,” who refused to carry their shares of the global stabilization burden.  Or so it was said by legions of disappointed, overly-certain pundits across the political spectrum.

Someday, it will be easier to make solid judgments about who’s doing their share, and who’s free riding.  Before that fine day dawns, though, two things will have to happen.  First, the national pledges of action that countries – northern and southern, large and small – have committed to deliver to the UN Secretariat, the pledges in which they lay out their emission-reduction action plans, have to get a whole lot easier to read and compare and interpret.  Second, we have to reach at least a rough international consensus on what different countries, at different levels of development, should do, in the light of historically-informed and principle-based comparisons that take, say, wealth and responsibility into account.

Continue reading “Who's doing more to reduce emissions, the North or the South?”