Carbon junkies and nicotine addicts

The comic in the July 12th issue of The Economist is quite a good one. It shows an American eagle, mouth crammed with cigarettes and a cigarette package labelled ‘Greenhouse’ in its talon, telling a tiger labelled ‘India’ and a dragon labelled ‘China’ that it is: “Time to cut back.” Both the tiger and the dragon also have mouths and fists crammed with smokes.

The tiger says to the dragon: “He wants us to follow his lead.” To which the dragon replies: “That’s what we have been doing.”

It does a good job of encapsulating the whole “you developed in a dirty way so we have the same right” argument, as well as the poisonous “there is no point in acting ourselves if other big emitters won’t do so” argument. The best answer to all this is:

  1. The developed world does owe some assistance to the developing world, largely on the basis of the effects the latter will suffer because of the past emissions of the former.
  2. Developing countries have an excellent opportunity to carry out the process of development in a more sustainable way than has been employed elsewhere.
  3. Cutting back on fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions is a temporary sacrifice, but a long-term boon. In the end, it will be the societies that do the best job of transitioning to a low-carbon future that will be the most successful in decades and centuries ahead.

Hopefully, the basic truth of those positions will be able to carry through into the ongoing global negotiations and we will have something big and meaningful to show for it at COP-15 in Copenhagen next year.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

One thought on “Carbon junkies and nicotine addicts”

  1. Misguided Energy Policies

    Posted by Robert Rapier on July 21, 2008 – 10:00am

    I have a friend who is addicted to nicotine. His liberal friends tell him that this addiction is bad, and point out that it is costing him too much money. Therefore, they want policies passed that ensure that he can continue to consume as much as he likes, and not hurt his budget too much. They are sure that nicotine substitutes will come along soon to save the day. For reasons I detail below, I call this the Boxer approach, but it could just as easily be the Pelosi/Democratic Party approach.

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