With the creation of the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change in the 1990s and its ratification in 1994, came the emergence of the “common but differentiating responsibility” Article. The developed (Annex 1) nations such as the U.S., Britain, and Germany (the three greatest Industrial powers in the 1860s) were able to use “dirty” methods in factories in an effort to modernize Industry and bring about an economic development. However, under the scientific research, the fossil fuels that were burned produced polluting emissions such as CO2 (climate change) and sulfur and nitrous oxides (acid rain) that damaged the environment. The UN came together to mitigate and to adapt to this new security challenge by reducing the amount of emissions. According to the developing nations (Non-Annex 1 countries), these Annex 1 countries had been allowed to develop their industries and spark GDP increases without knowing that the side effects were so damaging, yet the Non-Annex I countries were not allowed to have the chance to develop their economies through industry building. Hence a common (fighting climate change) but differentiated (developed take more responsibility) challenge.
This is ridiculous. Developing countries continue polluting the air with emissions that cause climate change–a phenomenon that will hit the developing world hardest. Take Africa for example, most nations there are under the classification of Non-Annex I countries. There has been something of a mini-industrial revolution in certain cities. (People are moving away from their farms or tribes in the African “country-side” towards the city looking for work in factories, creating very much similar situations in the 1860s.) The factories want to use cheap factors of production–coal and burning fossil fuels–to keep costs down. However, these areas experience first hand the side effects of this. The desertification of the North Africa with more droughts and less food….. driving more people to the city looking for work. South East Asia has also seen the increase in industrialization, yet constantly see heavy flooding and the disappearance of their coastal areas where people still live in fishing communities. One would think that as these as these countries see the devastating affects of climate change, and must pay to provide aid and adaptive methods like sea walls and wells that the governments would be on board with trying to eliminate/ lessen a problem that cause instability and the divergence of money that could be spent elsewhere like in clean energy technology.
Another solution, gradually invest in the development and research of clean technologies. And isn’t the investment in technology one of the biggest contributions to increase a country’s GDP??? Nothing has to be so immediate that it causes the economies to spiral down. But no one said that the key to economic growth is emitting dangerous contaminates into the environment. For example, in the 2000s the economy saw a boost from the Technological Revolution.
China needs to step up and acknowledge that they are a developed nation. Their GDP is one the largest. Their economy is growing at fast rate. They own debt of several developed nations. The U.S is dependent on China as a trading partner. No China… No strong U.S economy. A healthy economy is part of being a developed nation. If classified as an Annex I member then China would have a binding requirement to reduce the emissions, and as one of the largest world emitters this would create a significant effect.
These countries, in particular those who control the governments, are just using this “identity” (developing country) as an excuse to not take part in a communal problem, letting other people deal with the issue, free riding on the works of others. It is the tragedy of the commons in another form. No one wants to take the initiative and do something really shocking and beneficial towards the universal issue of climate change (the EU has been the closest). Every country should pitch in and help. CO2 and methane collect in the air and the effects will continue to be felt for centuries, so what these “developing” nations emit now will just undo their own economic progress as well as what being done by other countries who are at least trying to do something. Stern notes that “the emissions of developing nations are likely to raise more rapidly.” To make a large impact and reduce the temperature so not to have to the worst possible scenario predicted by the IPCCC and climate scientists every nation must develop and follow through on policies of reduction, mitigation, and adaption.