India’s booming airlines

2010-01-25

in Economics, Politics, Science, The environment, Travel

There are few elements of global climate change policy trickier than the relationship between climate change and development. Developing states insist that they have a right to get rich as fast as they can, with no particular heed paid to their greenhouse gas emissions. The figures for air travel in India show one small part of this:

According to the Airports Authority of India, the total number of domestic and international passengers was 10.7 million in October 2009, up 23% on the same month a year earlier.

Aircraft movements climbed by almost 59% in the same period.

And yet, if billions of people in the developing world follow a high-carbon path to development, the eventual emergence of catastrophic climate change is all but assured.

The future of human prosperity depends fundamentally on a stable climate. Achieving that end will require the recognition in developing states that they cannot pursue a high-carbon form of development indefinitely. To do so would be to grant a bit more wealth to those working now, while undermining the basis of prosperity for all future generations. At the same time, developed states need to show that it is politically and economically possible to have a society with rapidly falling emissions.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Tristan January 26, 2010 at 1:05 am

In a Cap and Trade system, could rich countries pay to replace air infrastructure with high speed rail infrastructure in other countries in exchange for pollution credits?

Tristan January 26, 2010 at 1:10 am

“The future of human prosperity depends fundamentally on a stable climate. Achieving that end will require the recognition in developing states that they cannot pursue a high-carbon form of development indefinitely. To do so would be to grant a bit more wealth to those working now, while undermining the basis of prosperity for all future generations.”

Sure – but this same logic demands that rich states drastically reduce their wealth immediately – because such reductions would still put them absolutely ahead of poor countries and would stabalize climate more quickly and safely.

Milan January 26, 2010 at 8:04 am

Countries can design carbon pricing systems however they like. For instance, they could allow firms to use international offsets (which could come from things like rail projects) in place of buying domestic permits.

If you allow that sort of thing, however, you no longer have a hard domestic cap.

Milan January 26, 2010 at 8:05 am

this same logic demands that rich states drastically reduce their wealth immediately

In the end, we only have a real shot if we can make wealth and emissions independent of one another. Achieving that comes down to replacing our energy sources with low and zero-carbon options.

R.K. January 26, 2010 at 10:10 am

Trying to curb air travel in places like India will just create massive resentment – especially when Londoners are still happy to zip off to Barcelona for a warm weekend.

It makes more sense to focus on providing help in areas where it can make a difference, such as helping to protect forested areas or improve agricultural practice.

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