Rethinking development

2008-06-14

in Economics, Politics, The environment

When discussing global solutions to climate change, a constant distinction is drawn between three groups of states (two of which we sometimes pretend are the same). There are the ‘developed’ states and a ‘developing’ set which consists of those that are growing rapidly (India, China, Brazil, Russia) and those that are stagnant or even getting poorer (Zimbabwe, Sudan).

An alternative way of thinking about the situation is this. Imagine the states as human beings. The ‘developed’ ones grew up in the very unusual situation of huge amounts of cheap, easy energy everywhere. (Sci-fi nerds might appreciate how they could be equated to Guild Navigators.) As a consequence, they developed in a deformed way. Their economies can only keep going in their present form while that unusual situation continues. The rapidly developing states are following the same line of development, despite the certainty of climate change and the probability of energy prices rising in the long term.

The ‘developed’ states may be all grown up, but they have developed into monsters. ‘Developing’ states may want to muster the determination to mature more gracefully.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

. June 16, 2008 at 11:36 am

The United States still has a vast lead in carbon dioxide emissions per person. The average American is responsible for 19.4 tons. Average emissions per person in Russia are 11.8 tons; in the European Union, 8.6 tons; China, 5.1 tons; and India, 1.8 tons.

Several things to note about this. First, while China’s large and growing emissions lead means that they’re going to remain a focus of international pressure, cries from American figures that China needs to take the lead before we do anything are a little silly, since the average Chinese person emits just a fourth as much as the average American (and the average Chinese person is quite a bit poorer than the average American). But China is terrifying, because we can expect per capita emissions to reach European levels, at least.

. June 18, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Climate Change and Global Warming, in terms of Google searches

. June 19, 2008 at 11:35 pm

Business chiefs urge carbon curbs
By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website

Their blueprint for tackling climate change is being handed to Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda ahead of next month’s G8 summit in Japan.

Companies involved include Alcoa, British Airways (BA), Deutsche Bank, EDF, Petrobras, Shell and Vattenfall.

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