Saner approaches to climate change mitigation

D. Murali | Updated on: Jul 05, 2011

BL25BOOK | Photo Credit: Scanned in Chennai_grkrm

Daniel Bladh opens his essay titled ‘Global solidarity for climate change mitigation: Role of the European Union' with ‘a tragic irony' that the ones who have wrecked the environment the least are the very ones affected the most. “In Bangladesh, every citizen is responsible for the release of 0-2 tonne emissions of carbon dioxide per year and China 4 tonnes, while each US citizen is responsible for emissions of about 20 tonnes. The average in Europe is around half of the US,” informs Bladh, in the essay, which is part of ‘ Sustainable Development and Climate Change ,' edited by Sunjoy Joshi and Marlies Linke ( ).

Financing proposals

Climate being a concern of the planet, a persistent question has been how the poor countries will obtain the gargantuan resources required to cope with the ill-effects of climate change. Bladh's essay argues that international negotiations on climate change should be focused on global justice and historical responsibility; and that it is the responsibility of the rich to support those being most affected.

He lists some of the proposals on generating the required resources and transferring the same to the poor countries. Such as what the Norwegian government proposed in Bali (2007) that a small proportion of the emissions trading rights in the global trade be auctioned for the period 2012-20. “Even if two per cent were to be auctioned, it would generate around $15-25 billion for mitigation activities in poor countries.”

The calculation is based on a carbon dioxide price of $70-90 a tonne, which can be contrasted with the current price in the EU of around 16 euros a tonne, the author notes. Hence, he suggests that the price of carbon dioxide be significantly increased if the reduction system is to prove worthwhileAnother proposal is of Switzerland, that financing be based on a carbon dioxide tax on fossil fuels combustion by all countries, barring those with low levels of emissions. “Individual countries could choose to introduce it on a minimum taxable basis. The income would then be transferred to fund mitigation programmes in poor countries.”

Policy changes

While there are many ideas on the financing mechanism, what is first needed is an acknowledgement of the historical responsibility for emissions of green house gases (GHG), the author reminds. He observes that several areas of EU policies would need to be changed, not the least being its internal market policy, where there is need to boost local production with the aim of cutting down the use of energy involved in the transport of goods imported from all over the world.

To counteract global warming, not only do we need intelligent and aggressively-proactive environmental policies, but also put on the global table, a critique of the basic flaws inherent in the present system, urges Bladh. “It must also emphasise the point that it is not enough to focus on the relative growth levels of different countries: what would be of relevance is to estimate the total, absolute production capacity in a certain country and contrast this with the actual needs and social demands of that country.”

Such an estimate, he reasons, would clarify, at least for rich countries, that the essential problem in many countries is not the lack of resources, but a complete societal failure in the way these resources are being distributed.

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Published on June 25, 2011
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