If there’s a global problem it needs a global solution


Which country does most to protect and least to damage the environment? I wouldn’t put Russia high on my list but under the Kyoto Protocol countries like ours will have to pay Russia if we don’t meet our carbon emission targets.


And will paying millions, maybe even billions, of dollars actually do anything to improve the environment? No. The money would be far better spent on research and development into practices and products which protect and enhance the environment without ruining the economy.


Simon Upton writes about the challenge of halving global emissions while the world’s population doubles. It is worth reading in full and concludes:


As many have observed, even if rich countries eliminated all their emissions, there would still be a problem. So developing countries have to be a big part of any solution.

Lord Stern proposes that all countries should have limitation targets by 2020. But as he observes, it seems unreasonable to expect this “unless developed countries can demonstrate that they can deliver reductions cost-effectively and without threatening growth”.

Developed countries are far from being able to demonstrate that. Some of their policy interventions – like support for biofuels or the continuation of subsidies to fossil fuels – go in the opposite direction. If rich countries can’t cooperate to introduce the least costly policies, why would any other countries consider being saddled with them?


They wouldn’t which is one of the things wrong with current attempts to reduce emissions, including the Kyoto Protocol.


If there is a problem with emissions it’s a global one which needs a global solution, not the piecemeal approach we’ve got now which will cause serious economic damage while doing little to improve the environment and may well damage it more.

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