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Global Warming Was Not Created by Developing Countries

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Global Warming Was Not Created by Developing Countries

Leaders of developing countries walked out of the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen yesterday to protest what they called an attempt to kill the Kyoto Protocol. Rich nations are trying to reach a new climate agreement that includes emissions targets for the developing world. Developing countries are not legally bound by Kyoto emissions targets and support its extension beyond 2012, when the protocolís first commitment period ends.

Letís look at this for a moment from the perspective of a developing country, say Bangladesh. Bangladesh stands to lose a lot when sea levels continue the rise. The country has a large open, unprotected delta that faces the Indian Ocean. Bangladesh is already regularly hit by devastating cyclones that kill thousands and thousands of people. But what has Bangladesh contributed to global warming? The country is listed as number 144 on the list of CO2 emissions per capita per country.

The average Bangladeshi emits 0.2 metric ton per capita. By comparison: the average Western European country emits 10 metric tons per capita and the United States tops the list (if we exclude a few small oil states in the Gulf) with about 20 metric tons per capita. In other words an American emits 100 times as much CO2 per capita that a Bangladeshi.

If I would be a Bangladeshi and I would have a conversation about global warming with an American, I would say: “This is your problem. You created it. You should solve it. Don’t expect me to support you with this.” It is not just that Bangladesh did not contribute to the problem of global warming. The country did not benefit from the huge economic gains that the rich world made in the process. The fact that we speak today about a rich “developed” world and a poor “developing” world has a lot to do with this. The process of development went hand in hand with the process of global warming.

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Jurriaan Kamp

The Intelligent Optimist is a community centered around a magazine, a website and online events and courses. We focus on the people, passion and possibilities changing our world for the better.

110 comments

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4:12PM PDT on May 9, 2012

Industrialization, capitalism, consumerism, excessive packaging, a throw away mentality- and more are merits of living in a privileged society. And who really pays the price? Less fortunate countries and future generations the wolrd over.

We need to examine the word: conscencious- what does this mean in a broad sense?

1:21AM PDT on Jun 22, 2010

Thanks

9:13PM PDT on Mar 16, 2010

It seems to be that, if we had minds like you during that fateful conference, then Copenhagen would not have been the disappointment that it was.

Thank you for sharing your insightful thoughts, nonetheless.

1:51PM PST on Jan 28, 2010

China has a lot to answer for, remember.

12:11PM PST on Jan 24, 2010

Thanks for the info.

11:19AM PST on Jan 20, 2010

And they pay the highest price for what more developed nations have done

3:02AM PST on Jan 20, 2010

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3:02AM PST on Jan 20, 2010

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3:02AM PST on Jan 20, 2010

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3:02AM PST on Jan 20, 2010

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