Feature

Developing countries feel the heat.

The week's news at a glance.

Climate Change

Climate change is every country’s problem, said Canada’s Globe and Mail in an editorial. Now that science has drawn a definitive link between the burning of fossil fuels and the warming of the planet, you’d think there would be no more debate about what to do: Every nation must reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases. Yet the debate continues. Last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change called for international action to slow down global warming. But at the same time, U.N. Environment Program director Achim Steiner reiterated that developing countries—notably China, India, and Brazil—should be allowed to pollute with abandon as “a matter of fairness.” Western countries grew rich by burning oil and coal, he said, and the East and South deserve the same chance. “It is an outrageous position, akin to arguing that developing countries should be allowed to employ slavery to build their economies just because some now-developed countries did so centuries ago.”

Look, we didn’t cause this crisis, said Li Xing in China’s China Daily. It’s unfair of the global press to keep “singling out China and India as potential threats” to the planet because of our large populations and explosive economic growth. Don’t forget that U.S. carbon dioxide emissions per capita are “six times the Chinese level and 20 times the Indian level.” China appreciates the need to curb world emissions. But Western insistence that we adopt some arbitrary cap on emissions is not helpful. A Western offer of advanced technology that we could use to develop our economy in a greener way would be. Western hypocrisy is staggering, said Eliane Oliveira in Brazil’s O Globo. The U.S. and Canada keep complaining that Brazil is not doing enough to protect the Amazon rain forest, a vast region whose trees help the planet by eating up significant amounts of carbon dioxide. Yet if those countries keep polluting the way they are, “the forests will die anyway.” Pollution kills easily as many trees as clear-cutting. Western countries spew out 80 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases, and they are already rich. If any countries need to change their behavior, they should lead the way.Leadership is the key, said India’s Times of India. The United States, as the world’s single greatest polluter, will have to set an example. When America finally goes green, we hope it will do so with its typical “evangelical zeal.” Only enthusiasm coupled with sincere resolve will “ultimately force other recalcitrant countries” to make difficult choices.

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