Even though no one should have been surprised by the outcome of last month’s global climate summit in Copenhagen, the lack of any meaningful action unleashed a torrent of angry and disappointed rhetoric. “The outcome of Copenhagen doesn’t at all match the needs . . . of mankind,” complained Sweden’s environment minister. “By delaying action, rich countries have condemned millions of the world’s poorest people to hunger, suffering and loss of life,” added Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International. And those were some of the milder comments.
Critics, however, should calm down. If anything, the summiteers did the planet a favor by refusing to endorse a binding agreement to drastically reduce carbon emissions. That’s because their inability to make progress may be the nudge the international community needs to face the real inconvenient truth: that after nearly two decades of fruitless efforts, it’s time to give up our Rio-Kyoto-Copenhagen fantasy and get real about combating global warming.
Two points underlie the issue of global warming: First, developing nations have no intention of letting the developed world force them to stop using carbon-emitting fuels. They are understandably wary of any policy that might curtail the domestic economic growth that is allowing their populations to clamber out of poverty. And that is precisely what drastically reducing their carbon emissions would do.
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