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Developing Countries Should Not Be Punished for Global Warming

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With every tree cut down, the world is growing more and more concerned. We are slowly starting to realize the unavoidable price of destroying mother nature. The conversation around global warming is getting more and more substantial among us with each passing day. The Paris Climate Accord is one of the most common examples of global initiatives taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is a global action plan designed to reduce climate change by keeping the global warming average below 2ºC. So far, 195 countries have signed onto it.

Another example is the carbon tax. There are a lot more disputes when it comes to this. Saskatchewan is the only province in Canada to not sign onto it, although the federal government has refused to let Saskatchewan back away from the carbon pricing plan, and the efforts of the government to enforce this will see the province fight the carbon tax in court. According to Premier Moe, “If we want to address what is a global challenge […] in climate change, we need to start talking about carbon emissions on a global basis.”

He is not the only one pointing his finger at other nations. I have heard many who believe countries with higher emissions should pay more for global warming. The common argument is always: why should we be paying more when countries such as China have a greater carbon dioxide emission? This portrayal of victimization from developed countries such as Canada and United States not only diverts attention from the main issue but also hurts developing nations.

China and India were among the top ten emitters of greenhouse gases in 2015. Does that mean they should be held accountable to the same standards as the United States and Canada? Definitely not. A crucial detail that is many times overlooked in simple tables like these is the population of these countries. China and India have the highest population in the world. Compared to the U.S. and Canada’s population, these countries are bound to have a higher emission rate.

This portion of the numbers is usually ignored by people who aim to avoid gaining credit for their own choices. Per capita, we have a much higher carbon emission rate. China’s per capita rate is half of Canada and America’s. Should India have to pay more because their emission is high? Their per capita rate is 10% that of U.S.

North America should be held to higher standards when it comes to global warming simply because they have contributed more to global warming. Since 1850, the U.S. and the countries currently making up the European Union have been responsible for more than 50% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.

There’s a fundamental inequality when it comes to global emissions. A lot of wealth in richer countries has come from burning fossil fuels, yet as the poorer countries are trying to do the same to grow their economy, they are being looked down upon.

Outsourcing is also a critical issue. During the early 2000s, these “emissions transfers” were growing at a stunning pace, nearly 11 percent per year, as more and more Western manufacturing was shifting to Asia. Factories making computers, electronics, apparel, and furniture would close in the U.S., open up in China, and then ship their products back home to the U.S. The Global Carbon Project found that wealthy OECD countries consumed more than they committed within their borders.

Complaining about how everything is made in places like China and India do not justify the want to not owning up to damaging choices. Don’t just look at where the product is made, look at the brand and where it is based.

Photo credit: Pexels

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