How climate change is like fisheries depletion

2009-05-08

in Economics, Politics, Science, The environment

Fisheries and climate change are both areas where severe common property failures exist: that is, individuals have an incentive to exploit the system, to the detriment of all. A recent RealClimate post ties the two together in a neat analogy, which also covers the evolving practice of climate change denial (or delay). Specifically, it is alluding to the North-South issues in the ongoing UNFCCC negotiations, and the tensions between developing world states who want the rich world to cut first and most deeply and developed states concerned about seeing any emissions reductions they produce overwhelmed by growth in developing states. Beyond the state-to-state negotiations, the tension also provides cover for those who want to avoid taking any action, no matter how severe the long-term consequences of doing so will be.

Both positions have validity, and the mechanisms for resolving the views remain under debate. That being said, the outlines are clear. Every significant emitter will have to take action. Rich states need to start doing so first and more sharply. They also need to provide assistance to developing states, in the form of technology and funding. Through coordinated global action, dangerous climate change can be avoided, and the world economy can be set on a path where it maintains climatic stability in the long term.

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