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Who should reduce first ?

september 2003

website of the author : www.manicore.com - contact the author : jean-marc@manicore.com

 

Today, the CO2 emissions per capita are about ten times lower in developping countries than in developped countries (roughly 0,4 ton of carbon equivalent per person in the developping countries versus 3 in the OECD countries). One is therefore tempted to consider that rich countries should start to reduce first.

But a "business as usual" forecast conludes that China will be the first greenhouse gas emitter in a couple of decades, before the US. Some occidental countries (including the US, that bear the responsibility for 25% of the emissions) are therefore tempted to say that occidental countries can start to reduce only when developping countries are firmly committed to decrease their emissions in the future, with a precise timetable linked to that comitment (which is not the case as of today).

It is nevertheless obvious that the developped world will have to give the example of a major decrease of its energy consumption first, and give it quickly, given the time needed to meet significant results. Developping contries have only one model to follow : ours !

Developped countries are their cultural references as far as "way of life" is concerned (a "globalization" which is much helped by the worldwide diffusion of more and more audiovisual programs). Pretending to have the student reason differently without changing the content of the lesson does not make sense,

Technologies - and therefore energy efficiency possibilities - essentially come from developped countries,

We are the ones that try very hard to sell them energivorous device such as planes, cars, plants, decentralized urban concepts, etc... Not one state visit during which a secretary of State (or equivalent in Europe) is not accompanied by several high ranking executives that try to get back home with a pocketfull of contracts for such devices !).

We are the ones that try to prolongate as long as it will be possible (eventually it will not, of course) the perpetual "economic growth", that today can only be met with an increase of the fossil fuel consumption,

etc.

It is therefore totally illusive ( and illogical) to try to change their evolution pattern, which basically reflects what happened in developped countries 50 years ago, without changing ours first. One could summarize the situation with the following question : can one decently ask his neighnour to be quiet when one's own dog constantly barks at night ?

Cearly we ought to "shoot first" in this case.

 

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