Climate Change Solutions In Developing Nations Require Diplomacy, Not Dogma

Given the recent spate of advertising by Britain’s leading supplier of gas, one might be forgiven for believing that gas was a ‘green’ product. Make no mistake, gas is a fossil fuel. Its burning flame is blue -apparently so it can be recognised when it’s turned on. It emits black carbon into the atmosphere which contributes to global warming and thus, the climate change that’s constantly in the news these days.

But such is the rush to jump on the ‘green bandwagon’ that developed nations run the risk of believing that what they are doing is enough to solve the problem in the west. This is whilst emerging industrialists in developing nations continue to pollute at an alarming rate.

Although historically, the truth is that the west has been responsible for creating most of the pollution, risking devastating consequences for the whole of the world; only new developing countries are beginning to follow suit. Some believe that unless we over-promote the actions we are taking to reduce emissions, others will simply fail to do enough in order to have the desired effect.

Others prefer to be totally open and up-front with its customers. Yes, there is concrete evidence that continuing to use fossil fuels in the way we have done is not a long-term option. However, standards of supply conditions don’t change overnight, and for the foreseeable future, we will be dependent on fossil fuels to power businesses and households. In order to minimize the effects of such a reality, it will be necessary to cut down on wastage and become far more energy efficient.

This is the number one message that must be passed onto developing nations for the world to avoid witnessing a repetition of past events. It would unfair to attempt to deny the developing world the opportunities that the west takes for granted just because it simply got there first and has exhausted the ability of the ozone layer to absorb anymore C02.

For example, millions of Indian commuters are ecstatic about the prospect of being able to drive the simplest of cars which will shortly become available at an affordable price from multinational giant, Tata. These are expected to provide additional safety and comfort for the millions who have until now depended on the basic moped to travel to work and carry their children in roads often flooded by the heavy monsoon rains.

With hope of preserving the ozone layer whilst enabling such a developing nation to show its potential; it is therefore much better to advise them on how to use these new vehicles most economically to avoid wastage and promote the conservation of fuel; an initiative that has just recently been announced in the UK with regard to our own vehicle use.

Given the reputation of the US as the world’s heaviest polluter – who still have no qualms about promoting coal as its number one source of fuel. It is essential for such a dominant force to tread carefully in persuading these developing nations that they too must do their bit to help save the planet.

A recent climate conference held in Berlin highlighted some of these problems being encountered between developed and developing nations. During the conference, German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel emphasised the need to accelerate the marketing and spread of climate-friendly technologies and that the UN Climate conference in Bali this December as would provide an ideal forum for talks on a new climate agreement post-2012 when the Kyoto arrangement expires.

Other than the difficult task of finding common ground of over 200 nations involved, Gabriel proposes the agreement includes ‘a long-term goal, ambitious and obligatory commitments from the industrialised world and fair contributions from the larger developing nations’. However, Gro Harlem Brundtland, the UN special envoy on climate change highlights the growing tension: ‘deep-rooted lack of trust between the industrialised and developing countries’ this is where the western belief is there is little motivation and action from developing countries, whilst industrialised nations have ‘defaulted on the promise of financial and technology assistance’.

But some believe that German Chancellor Angela Merkel may have thrown them a lifeline by suggesting that a per-capita emissions quota be considered when it comes to fair burden sharing between developed and developing countries in the future. If this approach was universally adopted, it could allow representatives of the industrialised world to finally realise that getting agreements from developing nations on climate change will require far more of the same diplomacy?