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Kyoko Altman

Hong Kong, China

Kyoko Altman has worked as a correspondent and anchor for CNN and CNBC, and as a news-magazine reporter for Japan's top-ranked news program 'News Station' on TV Asahi. She has covered more than twenty countries. Close.

Kyoko Altman

Hong Kong, China

Kyoko Altman has worked as a correspondent and anchor for CNN and CNBC, and as a news-magazine reporter for Japan's top-ranked news program 'News Station' on TV Asahi. more »

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China – World's Next Eco-Villain

China is set to overtake the U.S. as the world's biggest carbon emitter as early as this year. Like other developing countries, its leaders argue that rich countries should clean up their own emissions instead of restricting others' growth. But China's poorest citizens already suffer from the effects of environmental damage.

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All Comments (16)

JRLR:

The FP document referred to by Lilnev appears to lack any sense of urgency, in the circumstances. It presents a proposal it claims to be “realistic”, yet asks “…what if a move to equal per-person allocations took place gradually, over a negotiated period of DECADES (my emphasis)…?”. To believe that we still have decades to play around with such proposals, THAT, I suggest, is itself totally unrealistic.

But what exactly is proposed to developing nations here? In what terms? Let us have a closer look.

1. Well, from now on, while you guys underpollute and develop clean, you will let us overpollute (continue to pollute mostly as we like) and overdevelop; at this stage of the game, we are even prepared to pay you for letting us do so.

2. But we need to save a little in the process, you know, so that money we shall “give” you will replace foreign aid (“around $100 billion each year, including debt relief”?). We know you’ll understand. After all, we are prepared to make a lot of concessions to win your hearts and minds and for the sake of mutual cooperation.

3. Therefore, from now on, foreign aid will be replaced by emissions trading. “Trade not aid.” will become for you “a major source of finance for development”. – How is that? Fair is fair! We so much want you to develop, and quick, you know.

4. See, this will give YOU “every incentive to invest the proceeds of emission permit sales in renewable energy and clean technology (“we are even prepared to sell you that technology… that’s cooperation for you!”)… Not to mention it will keep YOUR emissions down and allow you to continue selling permits (“you guys should thank God every day that we ourselves are prepared to forever pollute, all that in YOUR best interest, of course...”).

Why that particular proposal at this time, by FP?

“To succeed, says FP, policymakers need the cooperation of developing countries, without which there can be no genuine solution to climate change… No one can force them to participate in a global climate deal if they don’t think it’s fair. The key is to find a solution that demonstrates that a sustainable world can be a profitable one too.”

While this business proposal (“we overdevelop dirty, you develop clean”) may not be the most conclusive on fairness, cooperation and on what a sustainable world could be, it does demonstrate, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that for the patient ones unwilling to mend their ways, this world can be a very, very, very profitable one indeed.

JRLR:

Those surprisingly numerous suggestions that old Malthusianism (or is it neo-Malthusianism?...) is the answer to Global Warming, in so far as it ensures we, the rich polluters, can carry on with our insane, unsustainable lifestyle at the expense of future generations, is laughable at best. This is one of the non-solutions or "pseudo-solutions", as you please!

Anonymous:

Chris:

I'm seeing an entire planet of people running with scissors. Why?

Litinev:

If they shrunk their populations, their economies would not be a problem.

lilnev:

Three main objections were raised to Kyoto:
1) Global warming isn't happening, or isn't human-caused. The scientific evidence has only gotten stronger that it is, and it is.
2) Reducing emissions would be too expensive. It's true that there will be costs, but there are also costs associated with climate change. We can't afford to stop emitting completely, but I'm pretty sure the cost-benefit analysis favors doing "something" rather than "nothing at all".
3) An agreement that doesn't include China et al is flawed -- it will just drive high-carbon industries overseas (metallurgy, chemicals, cement, etc). This point has some merit. An agreement to replace Kyoto needs to include everyone.

I think what we need is a global cap-and-trade system with quotas initially based on current (or recent historical) emissions levels, but transitioning to a per-capita system over a couple of decades. Wealthy countries don't face an immediate jolt of having to buy vast numbers of permits from poor countries. Poor countries know that their economies can grow to match their populations, and if they do so in energy-efficient ways, they can profit from it. See:

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3699

peace,
lilnev

Chris, Washington DC:

Never mind all that. Are you seeing anybody?

Anonymous:

I'm not so sure why everyone is so worried about the environment. It will recover once people have made this earth so polluted they make themselves extinct. We need to worry about ourselves. Greed crosses all borders, even cultures. People can become rich and powerful at the expense of something that cannot defend itself (nature), so we rape it until there is nothing left. How does this surprise anyone anymore? Its been happening for millenia. Nature is the biggest sacrificial lamb of 'civilization'.

A small part of me is glad its not going to be our country making the largest mess, and the rest of me is terrified that there is someone else that is going to do worse. Apparently prices can be put on being able to breathe and drink clean water. It looks like the price will be, as it usually is, the lives and health of the lower working classes. Their work pads wallets all the way up the corporate ladders and for their work they get a pittance and a terrible environment. Great trade. How did people ever get sold on that?

If there were less people this world would need less. Hence a simple idea: less output of new people. Life is a simple mass balance equation mass in = mass out. Less food produced means less people, means less demand, means less resources consumed. Now if only we could convince the titans of economy of this theory.......that bigger is not always better and that sometimes less means more. But our lives are filled with the need for instant gratification, so more now is apparently worth not looking ahead. We deserve whatever we get from this pillaging of our planet.

Post from hunuh.com:

China is set to overtake the U.S. as the world’s biggest carbon emitter. The U.S. says it will not commit to a reduction in emissions unless countries like China and India also agree. WHEN DID THE U.S. START FOLLOWING...?

GENE SMALLING:

Having just come back from Europe I am convinced most of the developed world is rapidly starting to make the structural changes necessary to deal with global warming. From what I have been reading, China is wisely leapfrogging old technology in many sectors for a greener economy as well. If we are not careful we are going to find ourselves hurting economically because we waited too late to join the party. The new competitive edge will have a green color.

tao chi:

John Murray, given I was not even talking about what caused Katrina, I could not have been "using the strawman argument of global warming causing Katrina". Who cares what caused Katrina?... That's exclusively a US problem.

My only argument was that if the richest nation in the world could not even cope adequately with the aftermaths of a Katrina (I saw it all, no need to make it what it was not!) it is unlikely any nation will be in a position to cope with what global heating has in store for us.

tao chi:

Jonathan Gilligan, you're quite right.

But, you know, people love to play with numbers, thinking we are too dumb to see through the games they play. Yet we are fully awake, believe me. No matter the constant "China is bad ("the no. 1 eco-villain"...), the US is good" singsong.

The US cannot even provide adequately for its own small population. Just imagine what it would be like in Uncle Sam's backyard, should they have a population comparable to China's...

John Murray:

Please stop using the strawman argument of global warming causing Katrina. Based on the new study released by The University of Miami and NOAA, they are saying that hurricanes will be less intense because of a warmer climate causing increased vertical wind sheer. Vertical wind sheer breaks apart hurricanes. Hence, hurricanes are less likely to form and to stay together

Jamie Simmons:

Yes, but that's China. Since when, should we fail to do what is right just because another country is not doing it? Where the U.S. goes, others follow, for good or bad. If we accept the responsibility of leadership, the benefit will be enormous for us and the rest of the world as well.

Jonathan Gilligan:

The average person in the US produces more than five times the amount of greenhouse gases that the average person in China does. The only reason China as a whole will catch up to the US is that it has many more people.

Would the US be willing to sign a pact that set the same per-capita emissions cap on all nations?

If greenhouse gas emissions were calculated per capita instead of by nation, it would present a more accurate picture and it would be clear that the US (together with Canada and Australia) is well ahead of the rest of the world with per-capita emissions over twice those of Europe or Japan and many times those of developing nations.

Joao da Rocha:

Muitos países não estão entendendo que o crescimento com poluição só trará inestimáveis prejuízos para a humanidade e impossíveis de recuperação. Neste momento, o dinheiro não é a peça mais importante da engrenagem mundial para conter a poluição. O mais importante é a consciencia dos países mais ricos, administrando internamente a redução do CO2. Porque o carro está sendo mais importante que o HOMEM? Porque não se busca uma alternativa imediata para o transporte urbano de massa, nas médias e grandes cidades e para o transporte rodoviário, substituindo substancialmente os caminhões por ferrovias e hidrovias?. Os ônibus eletricos poderiam se incluidos nas prioridades ou mesmo os transportes movidos a Gás e Biodiesel.

tao chi:

"Scientists say the people most at risk from climate change tend to be the poorest."

They may be right. But it is the richest that stand to lose the most and who are the most ill-equipped (above all morally) to survive the series of devastating blows.

In the richest country of the world, New Orleans has given us only a split second preview of the chaos ahead... not to mention the prohibitive cost of reconstruction and how long people may have to wait for anything that could be labelled "reconstruction".

frank collins:

why did china sign koyota - because it did not require them to do anything.

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