Interesting news from Copenhagen this morning. It seems that emerging industrial countries led by India and China have brought the climate change talks to a screeching halt with demands that industrialized countries accept deeper cuts in their emission levels.
At first glance this appears to be punishment by the developing world for the success of the West (and Japan). However, there is a certain justice in their demands. The current global momentum toward cooperative action on climate change would deny developing countries the opportunity to grow their economies as cheaply as the first world did.
Western Europe, Japan and the United States built themselves into world powers by burning fossil fuels. Any serious attempt at climate legislation would force these developing countries to make a jarring switch to renewable energy sources which are more expensive to implement in the short-term.
Furthermore, most of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere up to this point has been put there by Japan and the industrialized West. The West continues to emit more greenhouse gases than China and India, even with the size of their population. It seems only right that the West dedicates itself to more meaningful cuts to its emissions. At the very least such a pledge would get the Copenhagen talks moving again and raise hope for a comprehensive and enforceable climate change agreement.
If the United States and Western Europe expect China, India, and the rest of the world to take the harder road to development, then we should also set the example by accepting these cuts.