Archive for December 14th, 2009
Monday, December 14th, 2009
“Ongoing climate negotiations were temporarily upended on Monday when dozens of developing countries, including China and India, threatened to walk out in protest, saying that the world’s richer countries were not doing enough to cut their greenhouse gas emissions,” The New York Times reports.
In an op-ed in yesterday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Smeal’s Terrence Guay argues that the world’s industrialized nations are ethically bound to do more to combat climate change because they have caused most of the damage:
Committing to dealing with climate change is the ethical thing to do. Personal responsibility is a principle advocated by the political left and right. That is, individuals are accountable for their actions, receiving credit when successful and accepting blame for mistakes. We expect steroid-using athletes to take responsibility for their actions, and we demand bankers be held accountable for the role their industry played in the economic crisis.
Most of the responsibility for a changing climate falls on the shoulders of the United States, Europe and the rest of the developed world. Our increased wealth over the past two centuries is in large part a result of economic development that did not always take the best care of the environment.
True, China, India and other rising economic powers comprise an ever-larger slice of the climate-change pie. But those countries with the greatest cumulative impact on the climate, including the United States, should take more substantive steps to clean up the mess they made. It is the fair thing to do.