Monday, December 15, 2014

Gwynne Dyer Explains Why the Lima Climate Summit Failed and Why Paris Will Too.

When it comes to thwarting catastrophic global warming, we won't have it.  It's that simple.  On climate change - as on the companion dilemmas of over-population and over-consumption - the people of the developed world and our leaders will not accept the obvious solutions.

Gwynne Dyer explains why the Lima Summit ended in failure and dooms the Paris Summit next year to more of the same.

This is the deal killer. You cannot get the developing countries to cap their greenhouse gas emissions unless they get subsidies from the rich countries to help them build “clean” energy sources instead. And the developed countries regard this demand for subsidies ($100 billion a year was the figure on the table at Copenhagen five years ago) as outrageous.
It is not really outrageous at all. In view of the history of greenhouse gas emissions, it is quite fair. But almost nobody in the developed countries knows that history.
It’s quite simple. The developed countries are rich because they started burning fossil fuels between 100 and 200 years ago and industrialized early. The developing countries only started burning fossil fuels in a big way 30 or 40 years ago, and are still climbing out of poverty. So 80 percent of the greenhouse gases of human origin in the atmosphere were put there by the rich countries.
The rich countries caused this climate crisis; the developing countries only inherited it. So the responsibility for dealing with it—and paying for it—rests mostly with those who caused it.
Until public opinion in the developed world understands that this deal is fair, no government in the rich world will dare to sign up for it. It would be political suicide. And until that deal is signed, no major developing country will agree to cap its emissions.
In the developing world, everybody who counts politically understands the history of greenhouse gas emissions very well. One does sometimes wonder if the rich world’s apparent ignorance of this history is a little bit self-serving.
It is the same intransigence on the climate change front that will undermine any effective action on over-population and excessive consumption of our planet's resources.  We can't solve any of these truly existential threats without solving them all and no one is willing to accept the peaceful solutions.  We'll mumble and dither and drag our heels as those best solutions, difficult as they may be, those peaceful solutions, one by one slip through our fingers and are foreclosed forever.


Lorne said...

An abject failure of leadership that will doom the planet, Mound. But where is the outrage that our fates are being determined by the puppet masters?

The Mound of Sound said...

Hi, Lorne. There's a term for it - Andean fatalism. I first became aware of it through my courses in Latin American studies in undergrad. I found it morbidly fascinating that mountainside villages could leave themselves exposed to obvious natural disasters with a "when your time's up, your time's up" outlook.

I'm not sure that we've developed our own thought to the level of sophistication of those Andean villagers. They're not indifferent to peril, merely accepting of it. It's how they travel by clapped out buses on their crazy and treacherous mountain roads.