India, responsible for 5.6% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, is facing a social and environmental catastrophe. The Himalayan and Tibetan glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, which is endangering the food and water supply for millions of people. If the glaciers were to dry up, so do the rice fields that are watered through irrigation systems. “The vanishing of mountain glaciers in Asia,” according to author Lester Brown, “represents the biggest threat to the world food supply that we have ever seen.”
Despite this urgent threat, India is not calling for a binding global treaty to restrict emissions. They, along with other developing countries, have been calling on developed nations to take on the bulk of the responsibility to reduce global emissions while they continue to develop their economy with the energy at hand.<
At least this is how the debate is always framed—the rich countries that want to maintain the status quo versus the poorer nations that want to build their economies. But as the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reports, on closer inspection the same forces are slowing progress in these countries all over the world, industry lobbyists:
“Wherever nations have taken the first modest steps to stave off a looming environmental calamity for future generations, they’ve triggered a backlash from powers rooted in the economy of the past. Opponents of climate action may have different methods as they pressure different capitals, but the message is consistent: Be afraid that a cherished way of life may be lost. Be afraid that a better standard of living will never be had.”
ICIJ reporters are on the ground in Copenhagen reporting on a side of the negotiations that is not often talked about but felt: the industry lobbyists. Follow their stories of the insider deals on their website: http://www.publicintegrity.org/investigations/global_climate_change_lobby/
Do developing nations have a point? Should they be given a pass for now? Post your comments below.