GLOBAL WARMING IN AN UNEQUAL WORLD
a case of environmental colonialism
Lets do some mind talks for the world
Couponstan as a company and world citizen do worry about Global Warming and we think we need to take steps towards to improve it.
The idea that developing countries like Brazil and China must share the blame for heating up the earth and destabilising its climate, as espoused in a recent study published in the United States by the World Resources Institute in collaboration with the United Nations, is an excellent example of enviromental colonialism.
The report of the World Resources Institute (WRI), a Washington- based private research group, is based less on science and more on politically motivated and mathematical jugglery (1). Its main intention seems to be to blame developing countries for global warming and perpetuate the current global inequality in the use of the earth’s environment and its resources.
A detailed look at the data presented by WRI itself leads to the conclusion that India and China cannot be held responsible even for a single kg of carbondioxide or methane that is accumulating in the earth’s atmosphere. Carbondioxide and methane are two of the most important gases contributing to global warming. The accumulation in
the earth’s atmosphere of these gases is mainly the result of the gargantuan consumption of the developed countries, particularly the United States.
The WRI report is entirely designed to blame developing countries for sharing the responsibility for global warming. Global warming is a phenomenon that could lead to major climatic disturbances, drying up of rain over large areas, and melting of the ice caps leading to countries like Maldives disappearing completely and India and Bangladesh losing a large part of their coastline.
The WRI report is already being quoted widely and its figures will definitely be used to influence the deliberations on the proposed, legallybinding, global climate convention. This kind of data will be used by the US government to strengthen its position, which it took during the ozone negotiations, that it will not pay for ecological reparations. The US government agreed
to the paltry amounts negotiated at the London 1990 meeting for a global ozone fund only after considerable pressure from European countries, particularly the Scandinavian countries.
Many developing countries fear that the proposed climate convention will put serious brakes on their development by limiting their ability to produce energy, particularly from coal (which is responsible for producing carbondioxide), and undertake rice agriculture and animal care programmes (activities which produce methane).
Behind the global rules and the global discipline that is being thrust upon the hapless Third World, there is precious little global sharing or even an effort by the West to understand the perspectives of the other two-thirds. How can we visualise any kind of global management, in a world so highly divided between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the powerless, which does not have a basic element of economic justice and equity. One American is equal to, god knows, how many Indians or Africans in terms of global resource consumption.
The entire debate on the prospects of impending doom is in many ways an excellent opportunity for the world to truly realise the concept of one world. A world which is interdependent and which cannot withstand the current levels of consumption and exploitation, especially the levels now prevalent in the West.
We had hoped that Western environmentalists would seize this opportunity to force their countries to `dedevelop’ as they have used up the world’s ecological capital and continue to overuse it even today. Sadly, instead, the focus today is on poor developing countries and their miniscule resource use is frowned upon as hysteria is built up about their potential increase in consumption. For instance, in the negotiations to reduce ozone destructive gases, the common refrain has been that the future potential of CFC production in India and China — which together produce only two per cent of the responsible chemicals today — constitutes a threat to global survival. As their consumption is bound to increase, the dream of every Chinese to own a refrigerator, is being described as a global curse.
The Washington-based Worldwatch Institute points out in a recent paper : “there remains the extraordinarily difficult question of whether carbon emissions should be limited in developing countries, and if so at what level. It is a simple fact of atmospheric science that the planet will never be able to support a population of 10 billion people emitting carbon at, say, the rate of Western Europe today. This would imply carbon emission’s of four times the current level, or as high as 23 billion tonnes per year”.
Sharing a crucial global common
How can we calculate each country’s share of responsibility for the accumulation of gases like carbondioxide and methane in the earth’s atmosphere ?
It is obvious that the concept of sustainable development demands that human beings collectively do not produce more carbondioxide and methane than the earth’s environment can absorb.
The question is how should this global common — the global carbondioxide and methane sinks — be shared amongst the people of the world ? Several studies on the global warming problem have argued, and we argue ourselves, that in a world that aspires to such lofty ideals like global justice, equity and sustainability, this vital global common should be shared equally on a per capita basis.
Using this principle, CSE has adopted the following methodology to ascertain the net emissions which are posing a threat to the world’s climate: 1) The natural sinks for carbondioxide and methane have been allocated to each
nation on a population basis. These quantities then constitute the permissible emissions of each country. As no natural sinks exist for CFCs, no permissible shares for CFCs have been calculated.
2) The total emissions of each country of carbondioxide and methane (as calculated by
WRI) have then been compared with its permissible emissions (as calculated by CSE)
to ascertain the quantity of emissions that are in excess of the permissible emissions.
3) The unused permissible emissions of countries like India and China have been traded with the excess emitters on a population basis.
4) The permissible emissions, traded from low emitting countries have been subtracted from the excess emissions of each country to obtain the quantity of each country’s net emissions to the atmosphere of carbondioxide and methane.
5) The total greenhouse gas emissions have been obtained by adding the net emissionse Centre for Science and
Environment is a public interest research and advocacy organisation which promotes environmentally-sound and equitous
development strategies. The Centre’s work over the past 14 years has led it to believe and argue, both nationally and internationally, that participation,
equity and community-based natural resource management systems alone will lead the nations of the world towards a durable peace and development.
As a public interest organisation, the Centre supports and organises information flows in a way that the better organised sections of the world get to hear the problems and perspectives of the less organised. Environmental issues are seen in a anthropocentric perspective that seeks to
bring about changes in the behaviour of human societies through appropriate governance systems, human-nature interactions and the use of science and technology.
Though the public awareness programmes of the Centre
are its key strength and current focus of work, it is endeavouring to move into associated areas of work like policy research and advocacy. Learning from the people and from the innovations of the committed has helped the Centre to spread the message regarding environment without its normal association with doom and gloom. Rather, the effort of the Centre is to constantly search for people-based solutions and create a climate of hope.