We Need to Make Climate Freeloaders Pay Up! Per Capita Carbon Emissions of Some 'Developing' Nations Exceed Those of the US, Europe


Bahrain is among the nations singled out as being a climate freeloader. Despite having per capita carbon emissions exceeding those of the Europe and the United States, they have no emissions reduction targets. Photo: Harold Tejada via flickr

As Fred Pearce puts it in a new piece for Yale Environment 360, it's time to face up to the fact that there are a growing number of countries in the world which, even though they have high per capita carbon emissions (some higher than many European countries), would like you to think that they are still 'developing' and shouldn't have to set carbon emission reductions targets. Fred calls them 'climate freeloaders': China, India May Be National Climate Heavyweights, But Personal Emissions Are Low
Much of the focus on emissions in Asia is on large nations like China, India and Indonesia. As as nations they have high carbon emissions, but on a per capita basis all are far lower than the US or any country in Europe. That's not what Fred's talking about here.

Asian Tigers', Mideast Nations' Emissions Soaring
He singles out Malaysia, South Korea, the Gulf States, and Israel: All of which at the time that the Kyoto Protocol was signed didn't have the sort of emissions they now do.

Pearce points out that now Malaysia not only has a higher GDP than many European countries, it has higher per capita emissions than the United Kingdom. South Korea now has higher per capita emissions than Japan; but while the latter has emission reductions targets, South Korea does not.

In the Middle East, Abu Dhabi has higher per capita emissions than the United States, as do Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait (double the US's emissions!). Israel's emissions have doubled since 1990 and are now higher than the UK's. Pearce points out the worst freeloader in the region though has got to be Qatar, which has per capita carbon emissions eight time those of the UK and three times those of the United States.

These Nations Must Have Emissions Reduction Targets
It seems obvious that the international scenery has changed significantly in the past ten years in terms of carbon emissions and this needs to be recognized in any post-Kyoto climate change agreement. This is how Pearce puts it,

Clearly we have a problem here. To label countries like Qatar and Taiwan as "developing" is a myth. It is certainly true that they have been emitting carbon in substantial amounts for far less time than Europe or North America. But it is increasingly untenable for them to hide at international negotiations with the nations of Africa and poor parts of Asia, piously opposing any emissions cuts for the developing world.

Give us a break. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and South Korea and the rest are not poor nations. In any international negotiations, we need fairness in allocating emissions targets. And that, I believe, means allocations based on population size. We might need some separate rules for nations that still have fast-rising populations (though I can't believe that any country would surreptitiously boost its population to get a few more emissions permits). But long term we should be headed for national entitlements based on population.

Read the full article: The Climate Freeloaders: Emerging Nations Need to Act
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Tags: Carbon Emissions | Developing Nations | Global Warming Solutions | Malaysia | Saudi Arabia | South Korea

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