Why Climate Talks Move at a Glacial Pace

In the international summits about what nations can do to prevent further global warming, there is one particular debate that pops up every time. Rich (developed) nations will not sign agreements to limit pollution until poor (undeveloped) nations agree to limit or sequester carbon release from coal and fossil fuel burning. There is a very good technical reason why poor nations never agree to this demand. The answer comes after you answer another question. How did all of the rich, developed nations create the infrastructure and industry which one needs to have a rich country? Why, they burn(ed) a lot of fossil fuels and coal of course.

The argument is made every time that most of this fuel was consumed before humanity knew the threats of greenhouse gases. While this is true, it does not change the fact that becoming a rich nation is still the objective of every country in the world, and that objective becomes much harder if creating energy requires more expensive and newer solutions. It also makes these developing nations more dependent upon richer nations that have an understanding, and in many cases, existing patents on alternative technologies. Developing nations desire to be free of globalization forces that might force unfavorable loans or lucrative resource collection deals in exchange for access to new technologies and the training needed to use the same tech.

One can only hope the spirit of compromise will hover over all climate summits from now on. If greed wins the day, and nobody can agree to anything because someone else is getting more cake, well then we might as well throw in the towel on humanity. Compromise allows a long-term business investment strategy for every big trader on the market. Making a little less GDP from an economy that continues to exist is a lot better than making no profit when the economy falls apart during a global warming melt down.