Monday, March 23, 2009

Cash Is Critical for Climate Deal

Does this seem like a good idea?

23 comments:

Ben Goetsch said...

This debate again demonstrates the need for universal commitment to reducing emissions. While advocates of this sort of aid to developing countries argue that the European Union should not use their aid as a bargaining tool, the EU is justified in refusing to put money on the table while China and India demonstrate a lack of commitment towards the reduction of emissions. First of all, it is not the obligation of the European Union to provide aid. The EU would only give money if it felt that the benefit would be great enough. It is reasonable to say that if China and India are not full participants in the discussion then the benefit is not sufficient to justify the provision of funds by the EU. Therefore, more international cooperation among the developed and developing countries is necessary before Europe, which is in a dire financial situation already, will give aid to these developing countries.

Michelle Clark said...

How much of a moral obligation do developed countries have in supporting poor countries efforts to decrease emissions? Developed countries are feeling heavy financial strains from the current global economic crisis, but it is a general rule of thumb that the poor are the most adversely affected because they do not have the technology or funds to adapt. This is especially true since many private charities and investment that they look to for help are at struggling.

The developed countries need to step forward and recognize that they have been the largest contributors to our current carbon issues. It is asking a lot for developing countries to foot a huge bill from emissions taxes and green technology. I predict that in future global discussions, developing countries under attack, such as China and India, will demand for developed countries to pay retributions for their past damages to the environment.

Coleman Nalley said...

Well... I am kind of in the middle on this idea. Yes, everyone needs to reduce their carbon emissions: developed and developing countries. Both are contributing to climate change and low-level ozone that is causing bronchial problems in children (especially in the poorer countries). And I do believe that the developed countries should help out the developing countries with the funds, technology, and other assistance to help them sequester their carbon and use other forms of energy. However, should the European Union do it all? I agree with Ben that it is not the EU's obligation to provide aid, and it is completely reasonable that they refuse to give so much money if the BRIC countries aren't showing any initiative or commitment in lowering emissions themselves. The world economy is horrible right now, and I believe that all of the richer nations should contribute aid to the developing countries. If more countries show initiative to reduce their emissions (especially the ones that pollute the most), then the EU will more likely to be on board.

BillyMurray said...

Although I do believe developing nations deserve our support, I do not think a pledge of a large amount of cash is a smart way to get the world behind developing efficiently. Without any formal plan in place, I believe it is pointless. Now more than ever, I believe it is important to be fiscally responsible. The developed world should not be throwing money around without plans. If we were to have this sort of fund, countries asking for money should have an exact plan as to how they will use the money. I believe a global tax is a far more effective way to encourage reductions in carbon emissions. It will would be incredibly hard to get everyone on board, but the world would reap the benefits in the long run.

Ryan Welsh said...

I do believe it is important to show our resounding support for poorer countries to cut their emissions as well, but I do not know if pledging a large sum of money at this point in time is the right thing to do. Until we can find a proven efficient way that works at cutting emissions, we cannot afford financially to put that kind of money forth at this time of economic crisis. I do believe that this is an important problem though that does need to be addressed in the next 10 years if we want to stand any chance at globally stabilizing emissions. Furthermore, I think for the time being, the best response to countries that refuse to cut emissions is to not import products from them. Stemming trade with these countries with be detrimental to their economy and eventually force them to look into emission reduction.

Tanner Wallace said...

I agree with Michelle that the developed world has been the largest contributor of carbon emissions to date; as such, the developed world might want to consider taking a larger role in rectifying global climate change. However, large financial projects without very detailed and regulated spending plans tend to result in reckless monetary allocations (*cough* AIG executive bonuses). As such, it is necessary to lay out a concrete plan, get all developed countries involved, and commence the plan immediately. Unfortunately, the “concrete” plan is probably going to continually transform as the global economic crisis influences both developed countries’ room for environmental “charity” in their budgets and developing countries’ plans for the construction and expansion of energy facilities. Likewise, the article already pointed out that particular developed and developing countries alike are resisting such a project. While the spirit of the project is respectable, the layout seems ineffective. One policy that might work involves the developed world reducing barriers to trade for products from developing countries that were manufactured using carbon-free energy or energy with reduced carbon emissions. This would provide the right incentives for developing countries while possibly increasing their ability to export.

Christine Balistreri said...

The topic of helping developing nations maintain and decrease their emission levels stems a major debate that concerns the moral ethics of the situation and the reality of improvement.

First, it is important to remember that emission levels in one country affect the entire rest of the globe. The location of emissions does not matter when global warming is concerned. Thus, by the UN helping developing nations to decrease emissions, the whole world receives the positive externalities from it.

As Michelle previously noted, the past actions of developed countries are the reason for the huge global warming predicament the world is in. In order to make up for past mistakes and inefficiencies, the developed nations should be committed to fixing the future since they can not undo the past.

However, in exchange for the monetary supplements, the developing nations need to be committed to decreasing pollution. In class we discussed how Italy gave huge sums of money to China to reduce their emissions. China did not use this money in the most useful ways. Consequently, there was not a significant decrease in emissions levels. We need global consensus on participation and commitment (especially India and China) to make strides forward in solving the problem, unlike the Koyoto Protocol--ineffective due to incomplete participation . If there is no responsibility taken by the developing nations, the large sums of money will not be efficiently utilized. Also, there must be a plan with explicit goals in place before any of the money is dispensed.

Lastly, it is important to remember that it is typically easier to make the developing nations more efficient than the already semi-efficient developed nations. Due to the lower Marginal Abatement Costs in developing nations, it makes sense to spend money towards improving emissions in these countries.

Although it may be difficult in terms of the current state of the economy, the donation of money to developing countries seems to make sense if the proper plan is implemented. The EU needs to do a complete cost-benefit analysis and create a promising proposition in order for this to be reasonable.

Katherine Fenwick said...

I personally found this article extremely frustrating. On the one hand, it seems as though countries are finally starting to realize that something needs to be done about our carbon emissions, which is the first step to achieving environmental policy. However, no progress is going to be made as long as each country continues to point the finger of blame at someone else. No one is willing to take responsibility for their emissions, everyone believes that it is someone else's problem.

The fact is that developing countries cannot currently afford to pay for cleaner, more efficient factories that will reduce carbon emissions. And lets be honest, current developed countries who claim they are no longer the problem are lying to themselves. Developed countries have gone too long without paying the true cost of their emissions, and now is the time for them to step up and pay the true cost. They need to realize that although they may now have the technology for reduce their own emissions, this is a global issue. Without every country cutting emissions, we will fail. It's time for developed countries to step up and help out so all countries can cut emissions and fix this problem.

Jordan Weber said...

This reminds me of game thoery, where one side's move depends on the other side's move. If everyone goes to Copenhagen level-headed and willing to negotitiate then we may get a global deal. I hope countries do not show up at the meeting having already made up their minds. Such an appearance would clearly be for reasons concerning public relations. Goetsch is right though- if some countries institute a policy and others don't then the others will benefit and pay none of the costs leading to a comparative advantage.

Logan Pettigrew said...

I think throwing money at the problem only corrects a portion of the issue. Climate Change is about more than simply enacting new policies and technologies. Ideologies and patterns of consumption must change. If took decades for people, generally speakings, to come to a consensus that Global Climate Change/Global Warming was even an issue. We need to continue to educate and mitigate simultaneously to prevent the repetition of history. However, rich countries do have an obligation to help poorer countries develop in a sustainable way. Many wealthy nations, including the US, built their economies in part thanks to the lax environmental regulations in poorer nations. We must now recognize that fact and help them implement policies that will not only make them more economically viable, but also sustainable into the future.

Estefania McPhaul said...

I think that this example of bargaining displayed by the EU (they wont pay until India and China start changing their emissions behavior) illustrates the cyclical nature of this problem. In order to break away from this trap, the EU and the US should collaborate and take initiative as role models for the rest of the world and help mitigate the carbon that will be emitted in the future. Although the developed world and the developing world have very diverging views on this issue (developed countries have had years of uncontrolled carbon emissions during their development process and the developing countries are counting on the same to continue to develop their economies but are facing constraints by the West) both need to find a middle ground to stop hindering the process of environmental protection.
Due to the disadvantage developing economies will face with the carbon emissions constraints, the EU and the US should give financial aid to carbon sequestration processes in fast developing countries like India and Japan so that these don’t have to bare the immediate costs of cleaner technologies to reduce emissions that were emitted by the EU and the US 50 years ago. This aid, however, should diminish over time in hope that by then the developing countries reach a point of sustainability they will be able to internalize the cost of their own emissions without foreign assistance.
In general, I just don’t think it makes much sense to expect developing countries to be committed to carbon reduction initiatives if the EU and the US wont set up to the plate first (the US isn’t even a member Kyoto). Especially given the fact that the West is responsible for the current levels of carbon in the atmosphere in the first place. Yes, India and China will cause problems in the levels of future emissions but we need to take responsibility for our actions in the past and for our consumer behavior in the present (we like cheap things from China so China will continue to produce cheap things for us without caring about how much carbon they emit). China and India aren’t necessarily wealthy countries and they are striving to move forward with they can. If we are able to educate them in environmentally safe means of production and are willing to bare the costs of both: helping them financially to implement these technologies and also importing things at higher prices, then we might have a chance of salvaging our planet. Basically, I think this is a global problem and as such everyone should be willing to take responsibility for their actions. The idea here is cooperation and willingness to bare some costs on each side.

Zac White said...

I completely agree with Ryan. Support for poorer countries would definitely help and may even be necessary. But, I'm not sure those groups can really put a number on how much the EU SHOULD contribute. How did they come up with $50 billion?

Ben also makes an interesting point about the EU refusing to supply money. At this point, its hard to think about any countries being extra charitable to others when they have their own economic problems. On the other hand, I'm not sure its fair to say the EU shouldn't contribute because "China and India demonstrate a lack of commitment towards the reduction of emissions". Should developed countries only contribute if they all contribute? Maybe one or a few countries are going to have to make a sacrifice so that others can see the potential benefit with more support. I'm not sure it matters which country supplies the money as long as it is being supplied efficiently.

This is just another example of how difficult it is to convince everyone how serious emissions problems can be. It's a global issue that involves and affects everyone.

Will Lewis said...

I think it is important for Europe and other leading nations to show an overall commitment to restricting emissions. This can be done by pumping cash into developing countries to help limit their emissions, but this has a serious flaw. Look at all the foreign aid that is being pumped into developing nations. Little to none of it actually helps because of the corrupt governments of these nations. Leaders skim money off the top instead of investing it in their own countries. I do not see why this trend would not continue with the emissions cash. In the middle of a global recession no counties including the rich ones can afford to waste cash on corrupt governments.

Scott Russell said...

This article, as Ben has said, CLEARLY points out the need for universal, particularly indstrialized nations, commitment to reducing emissions. It seems hypocritical for developed nations, who have accumulated much of their wealth from the exploitation of the environment,to sit with their hands folded as developed nations struggle with the challenge of developing a growing economy as well as reducing emissions to meet "global standards." I think that industrialized nations should feel a moral obligation to assist, be it financially or otherwise (preferably financial in the minds of developing nations), the developing nations of the world. Obviously in today's uncertain economy, it is difficult for developed governments to justify seemingly "charity" donations. However, I don't think that this financial assistance should be viewed as charity, as clearly even developed nations can benefit from a cleaner environment.

David Sternlicht said...

As we read in Kahn's book, in the development chapter, the biggest problem faced by developing nations is accumulating capital. They have barely enough money to meet current consuption needs, and as a result they cannot devote capital to other projects (i.e. increasing efficiency, reducing carbon). As a developed nation, we know what increasing industrialism and a developing economy can do to the environment. If we are going to attempt to force these developing countries to make very expensive adjustments for the benefit of the rest of the world, it is our duty to devote money to them. This article targets $50 billion a year by 2020 from the whole EU. Even if the US matches this donation, it is a small fraction of what we spend annually in Iraq, and it is for a much more important cause. I agree that these countries need to have approved spending plans, but just giving them enough capital to satisfy current needs will allow them the financial leeway to improve public health, which will often result from environmental improvements. The costs of not helping these developing nations will be higher than the price we would pay to help them.

Alexandra Caritis said...

While it does seem crucial for the developed world to aid developing nations, it seems that there needs to be a distinction between aid directed towards the industrializing developing world and the LDCs. The harm that China is inflicting on the environment greatly outweighs the pollution African countries, for example, are emitting. With China's rapidly growing economy, it seems counter productive for the EU to offset Chinese emissions. If the EU were to offset Chinese emissions, there would be no incentive for China to cut back pollution. With its current level of growth and production, China can afford to change their behavior. China, unlike many LCDs, is no longer in the primary stages of development, but is quickly entering into the developed stage. Mandating "green" behavior will not lead to an economic downturn.

Adrianna said...

This article does a great job at pointing out how essential it is for environmental advocates to focus on a global policy rather than just a policy directed at developed nations. As we have recently discussed in class though, developing nations are far behind not only with technology, but in their ability to invest for the future; because of the poverty trap, they are less likely to worry about future environmental developments to lower emissions because they are forced to worry about the short-run problems that they face. It is not only important that the developed nations aid the developing nations in global environmental policy, but there should also be some sort of incentive that will drive nations to perhaps help developing nations figure out ways to invest in capital that can contribute to lower emissions. I think this inability to invest is the major problem that developing nations face, so it is essential that developed nations not only focus on helping them with quick and easy to fix problems, but also with investment for the long run.

Stephanie Hardiman said...

Well, we burned cheap fuel for so long, I guess we do need to pay up for the damage we've done.

The effects of global warming and pollution are too serious to simply grandfather in because developping countries weren't in on the first industrail revolution.

I agree with others who say that a plan needs to be in place. Otherwise it is similar to TARP money or other funds we have given people that we have no idea how they were allocated and/or will probably never get back. What a crock.

National leaders need to come at this problem not necessarily as Americans or Ethiopians or Italians, but rather as citizens of the world. This is something that affects everyone. But we're all so hyper-sensitive about tipping our hand or giving the other countries an advantage, it stagnates the entire discussion. Can't we find someone with no allegiances, born on a boat in the middle of an ocean, to be an impartial decision maker?

Unfortunately, like everything else, this will probably take forever to figure out and by then the problem will have only gotten worse. Gotta love the system.

Robert said...

As we’ve discussed in class, the financial crisis offers tons of opportunities to restructure economies in environmentally-friendly ways. With government spending increasing around the globe, we have a giant window of opportunity to make a concerted move toward cleaner energy sources such as wind, water, solar, and nuclear. Yet, here is a perfect example of the downside with regard to the environment (obviously, the downside is much bigger in total). “Rich” countries will not be quick to offer international aid at a time like this, when their governments are focused almost entirely on domestic economic issues. Any efforts to create any international fund will be stalled by this new survivalist mentality. Some kind of monetary aid from richer countries to poorer countries is necessary in implementing any kind of global environmental policies, because of the burden these policies will put on poorer countries’ development. But in this economic climate, the money will be hard to come by. There is not a strong enough international political structure that will be able to force countries into to funding, and with countries like the United States clinging to isolationist principles, there may be no possible structure.

Will Moore said...

This is an issue of lining up incentives so that countries (with their own interests in mind) will follow through with the already-identified need to cut global emissions. Given past literature, I do not think that one country presented with the facts would argue that cutting emissions on a global scale has essential benefits. Since every country in the world recognizes this need and not every country in the world is willing to reduce emissions, then something must be created to bind firms into following through with this identified need.

An international treaty would be necessary to induce countries to reduce their emissions. The Kyoto Protocol is a good basis for analyzing what this treaty should contain and do. Revisions should address the ineffectiveness of initial emissions level reductions, the lack of provisions to generate future reductions below initial levels, the potential high costs of emissions reductions, and finally and especially the lack of emissions reductions in developing countries. Certainly, developed countries should play a critical role in getting developing countries to reduce emissions. The US could possibly tax imports heavily from countries that produce goods with a large carbon footprint.

Garrott McClintock said...

I like Will's idea of taxing imports from countries that don't do their part to clean up our environment. This way they pay us to do it and we can use the money to develop technologies that are clean and more efficient to sell to the rest of the world (still keeping our economy on top).
Another idea that might come out of revisions to the Kyoto protocol would be a universal cap and trade agreement. This way countries like Brazil could be payed to keep their land forested, thus helping the world by keeping the rainforest. This would also help smaller more industrial countries like the UK have better outlets for payable carbon sequestration. Finally, this would help our world economy since jobs would have to be created to regulate the trading, emissions, and sequestration of all parties involved.
Of course, problems with corruption and trade infractions would inevitably occur, but the system would be a start to limiting carbon output.
Also, it would be far better than giving money to developing countries for no services rendered. They could be payed (through the market) for the land that sequesters carbon already, and could be given more for more land set aside or more green energy infrastructure.

Hilary Grosser said...

China has recently surpassed the U.S., making them the leading emitter of CO2. They are currently building coal-fired utility plants at a rate of two per week, and these plants are built from a low-cost design which are less efficient and emit more CO2, which may be a problem … if China had regulations. The increase in the number of coal-fired utility plants, especially with China’s rapidly increasing demand for energy, will place a tremendous burden on others in the future that are forced to bear the cost.
The developed world should take the initiative to reduce emissions as well as funnel money into the research and development of alternative energy sources. In order to combat climate change as well as prepare for the so-called unknown unknowns, the developed world cannot simply stop at reducing emissions, but must inform and prevent the developing world from building inefficient, environmentally degrading facilities, which would merely perpetuate the problem. One city has already caught on to this idea…
I recently did a current application on China and their carbon emissions for my Globalization class. The Beijing Olympics act as the perfect illustration of the world bearing the cost of China’s emissions. One interesting thing that I came across in my research was London’s One Planet Initiative, which after the controversy surrounding the spectacle that was the Beijing Olympics, aims to hold a “Low Carbon Games.” The London Organizing Committee is working with the government and other agencies to purchase emissions reduction credits and invest directly in clean energy projects in the developing world to offset the estimated 35,000 tons of CO2 that will enter the atmosphere as a result of Olympic travel. In reference to Mr. de Boers comment, “Without a clear commitment from industrialized countries to less developed countries there will not be a deal at Copenhagen,” at least London is headed in the right direction.

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