Friday, October 23, 2009

Will (post-)Kyoto climate action keep the poor in the dark?


I'm tempted to write, "that is all", but apparently the latest talking point is that a lack of electricity is killing the poor, and trying in any way to forestall climate change will prolong the misery or make it worse.

To put it bluntly, this is crap, and not even well-formed crap. Kyoto allows low- and medium-income countries to continue growing their carbon emissions. Any conceivable successor agreement to Kyoto will allow substantial growth in CO2 emissions from the global poor, or it will not come in to being.

More than that, for this idea to be credible, you've got to believe that the Prime Minister of Namibia or his equivalent is sitting around, with tons of spare cash to build coal plants, but isn't because of the fear of Greenpeace or a stern talking to from... someone.

In reality, the poor have bad access to quality sources of energy because... they're poor. Grow their economies, and you'll give them more choices for energy. The way the costs of fossil fuels are going, maybe they'll choose renewables, or maybe they'll go with some legacy energy system. But nothing about the fight to reduce carbon emissions in the industrialized west will be a material factor in their decisions. At all.

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