Planet Gore

Op-Ed of the Day

Shikha Dalmia writes in Forbes on “Why Poor Countries Won’t Curb Emissions.” An excerpt:

If I were an environmental activist, I would be despairing right around now about ever getting meaningful action on global warming. Over the last eight years, eco-warriors had managed to convince themselves that the main obstacle to their grand designs to recalibrate the Earth’s thermostat was a stupid and callow U.S. president unwilling to lead the rest of the world.

But with Barack Obama in office they no longer have that problem. In fact, they have a charismatic and savvy spokesman who combines a deep commitment to their cause with considerable powers of persuasion. Yet his call to action at last week’s G-8 summit in Italy yielded little more than polite applause, and that only when he issued a mea culpa. “I know that in the past, the United States has sometimes fallen short of meeting our responsibilities,” he said amid cheers. “So let me be clear: Those days are over.”

What did this brave self-flagellation yield? To be sure, he got the attendees to collectively declare that they would never ever let the Earth’s temperature rise two degrees centigrade from pre-industrial levels. This is supposedly a prelude to the real horse-trading over emissions cuts that will begin in a Copenhagen, Denmark, meeting this December.

But the depressing thing for climate warriors was that Obama could not get developing countries, without whose cooperation there is simply no way to avert climate change, to accept — even just in theory — the idea of binding emissions cuts. India’s prime minister took the occasion to position his country as a major victim of a problem not of its making. “What we are witnessing today is the consequence [of] over two centuries of industrial activity and high-consumption lifestyles in the developed world,” he lectured. “They have to bear this historical responsibility.” And even before the summit began, China declared the West had “no right” to ask it to limit its economic growth.

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