The importance of developing countries in climate change initiatives
There has been a lot of talk about the recent G8 summits and the unwillingness of developing countries to join environmental programs. It may not seem so important to include these developing economies in a climate control plan. Given the current statistics on energy use and pollution creation with the United States and other developed countries at the top of the list, it stands to reason that what the developing world is doing is not that important. However, there are several key factors that are not being considered that make the developing countries of the world a very important part of any discussion on global climate change.
First of all, as we are seeing now in the US, once you have an established method of power generation, it becomes more difficult to change. The life cycle of a power plant is very long and much of this life cycle is needed to recoup development costs. This means that the power plants that are being developed today in developing countries to meet their growing electrical needs will still be in use 25 years from now. It is much easier to start producing clean energy than it is to transfer it after the fact. If developing countries continue to use dirty power generation to meet current demand, everyone will pay the price in the long run.
The second reason we should be concerned about power generation in developing countries is the size of the population in many of these countries. As countries like India and China start to use more energy per capita and approach the levels of more developed countries, there will be a high demand for electricity generation due to the massive size of their populations. If dirty power generation methods are allowed to continue to meet this demand, they will eventually create a major pollution problem, the effects of which will be felt around the world.
If allowed to continue unchecked, increased dirty power generation in the developing world will offset any reduction in pollution made in developed countries. The world cannot afford to continue producing pollution at current levels, the goal of any environmental plan is to reduce global emissions. Therefore, these developing countries are a great threat to any environmental program that really tries to fix the problem. This does not mean that the developed countries of the world should not reduce their emissions if the developing countries do not agree as well. Any effort to reduce emissions is better than none. However, it is important to get the support of developing countries to stop global climate change. Without your help, nothing we do can really stop the problem, it will just put it off.