When leaders of the G-8 nations meet this week their discussions of climate change policy should focus on ways to accelerate the transition of technologies presently used in their own countries to the developing world, with particular emphasis on China and India.
The international dimensions of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are frequently overlooked in discussions about climate change policy in the U.S. China and India are on pace to surpass the CO2 emissions of the U.S. and others in the developed world. Within the next two decades, China alone will be burning another 500 million tons of coal annually and thereby adding roughly twice the amount of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere that might be reduced under the most optimistic assessments of the Kyoto Protocol.
“Nations seeking action on climate change would be well focused to explore ways to transfer energy-saving technologies to these nations and others where the environmental returns would greatly exceed the emissions reductions anticipated by regulatory proposals for the G-8 economies,” Marshall Institute President Jeff Kueter concluded.
“The regulatory approach to cap or otherwise control CO2 emissions will curtail energy use, slow economic growth, and likely fail to reduce emissions,” said William O’Keefe, Marshall Institute CEO. “The U.S. approach, which focuses on technology development and deployment while simultaneously exploring the uncertainties in climate science, will yield much better results.”
Reflecting on the G-8 Summit’s focus on Africa, O’Keefe continued: “African nations, with their rich natural resource base, could enjoy the benefits of economic growth and reduce the devastating problems of poverty if they had access to developed country technology and institutions that encourage greater private investment.”
Research presented at recent Marshall Institute events documents the importance of approaching developing economies, emphasizing technology development in developed economies, and devising incentives for the private sector to adopt and implement those technologies.