Originally published on The Huffington Post
Negotiations have resumed in Copenhagen after a walkout by the African delegation on Monday. African governments were concerned with the lack of commitment by rich country governments to reducing their own emissions. This follows on the heels of last week’s leaked “Danish text” controversy; the text contained proposals that have the world’s poorest countries carrying the largest share of the environmental burden. How the Obama Administration deals with fairness questions in Copenhagen will also signal what we can expect domestically as we respond to the recession by building a green economy.
Wealthy countries have done the most environmental damage — the top 10 contribute nearly 70 percent of all carbon emissions. Yet the Danish draft ignores these numbers, requiring the poor to reduce twice as much as the wealthy. This is expensive — it’s cheaper and faster to use existing energy sources to produce plastic, say, rather than to develop new energy for new products that don’t hurt the environment. The great irony, of course, is that poor countries have already paid for the damage caused by rich ones. I can’t recall the last time a drought or tsunami killed hundreds of thousands of Danes.