China and the US (could) save the world!

von Dr. Peter Nagel

● By Prof. Mark Beeson, Murdoch University ●

Anyone following the debate about climate change over the last few years might be forgiven for feeling a little cast down. The pessimists, it seems, have the most compelling arguments, and no shortage of persuasive-looking evidence to support the gloomiest of prognoses. So if something even vaguely optimism-inducing comes along, we ought to at least give it the benefit of the doubt.

The most positive news to come out of the United States for a long time was US president Barack Obama’s recent declaration that by 2030 he was going to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power stations by 30%. If realised, this could have a potentially enormous tangible and symbolic impact. Not only would there be a very real and substantial reduction of planet-warming carbon dioxide, but such a unilateral action could have a galvanising effect on other states.

Until very recently the US was responsible for the largest share of carbon dioxide emissions and other states – such as Australia – could argue with some justification that if the US didn’t act there was no point in them bothering either.

Whether you buy that argument or not, it is potentially invalidated by Obama’s proposal. If one of the biggest contributors is actually trying to address the quintessential collective action problem confronting humanity, the moral imperative for joining in arguably becomes more compelling.

I say ‘arguably’ because the harder-headed – some might say bone-headed – amongst us are unlikely to be won over by such reasoning. Dealing with free riders within the confines of national borders is difficult enough; there are simply no precedents for it internationally. Despair seems entirely reasonable in such circumstances – but not just yet, perhaps ...

Zum vollständigen Artikel

2010 - taking positive action

Everything we accomplished and every action we took in 2010 was thanks to you, and millions of Greenpeace supporters like you around the world. Join us in looking back on a year of action, with 99 of the best images in less than two minutes.

Cookies helfen bei der Bereitstellung unserer Dienste. Durch die Nutzung erklären Sie sich mit der Cookie-Setzung einverstanden. Mehr OK