Page last updated at 18:25 GMT, Monday, 3 December 2007

Time to stop the climate blame game

Malini Mehra
Malini Mehra

As a key UN climate change conference gets underway in Bali, Malini Mehra says the current global political system is "abysmally unfit for purpose". In this week's Green Room, she calls for nations to stop playing the blame game, and work together to deliver a low carbon global economy.

Vladimir Putin (left), Angela Merkel and George Bush
If our bloc politics are a constraint on action, we need to change them

Representatives from more than 180 nations have gathered in Bali to begin discussions towards a new global deal on climate change.

The odds could not be higher - climate change is a challenge of civilisational dimensions.

Scientists have coined a term for our new age - they call it the "anthropocene" because human interference with planetary systems is affecting the very life-support systems we depend upon.

They warn that we may be the last generation to live in an age of climate stability, and that we are now entering an era outside human experience.

Jim Hansen - the man who first broke the warnings about the greenhouse effect in 1988 - says: "We are on the precipice of climate system tipping points beyond which there is no redemption."

The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) puts it more diplomatically. In its carefully worded, politically-parsed and vetted Synthesis Report, it warns that "anthropogenic warming could lead to some impacts that are abrupt or irreversible, depending upon the rate and magnitude of the climate change".

More recent studies suggest that phenomena such as accelerated melting of the Greenland ice sheet and less carbon dioxide (CO2) being absorbed by the oceans mean that tipping points and abrupt climate change could actually be much closer than we think.

Breaking the deadlock

If the scientists are worried and calling for action, what has been the reaction of our political leadership?

Protest against deforestation in Indonesia (Getty Images)
Unsustainable practices are a worldwide problem

As I sit here in Delhi, the talk is of Bali being an almighty battle between the "rich North" and the "poor South".

The position of my own government is well known. India is a staunch supporter of the "principle of common but differentiated responsibilities" enshrined in the text of the UN climate convention when it comes to environmental effort.

In short, this holds that as non-historical emitters with large poor populations and negligible per capita emissions, developing countries should not be expected to reduce their emissions.

Development pathways cannot be compromised as a result of climate change, and developing countries need room to develop.

The head of the Chinese delegation at Bali - citing figures suggesting developed countries are responsible for 77% of greenhouse gas emissions prior to 2000 - says: "The primary responsibility for tackling climate change should rest with the developed countries - they should take the lead."

This southern perspective is a bit of a caricature of reality. Outside the handy world view of political blocs such as the G-77/China, the world of the 21st Century is infinitely more diverse.

Cyclist riding through fumes from a vehicle (Getty Images)
Even if the developed world were to stop emitting tomorrow, we would still be locked into long-term climate change, with China's and India's projected emissions tipping us over the edge
It defies the easy categorisation of labels, such as "developing" or "southern" that political traditions and ideological expediency ascribe.

For example, the inconvenient truth is that countries at immediate risk of climate change, such as small island states, are given short shrift by more powerful middle-income nations like India and China, which are more effective at setting agendas on behalf of the developing world.

Indeed, a coalition of small island states now wants China and India to reduce their emissions. China's CO2 emissions now arguably exceed those of the US, while India is the world's fourth largest emitter.

Even if the developed world were to stop emitting tomorrow, we would still be locked into long-term climate change, with China's and India's projected emissions tipping us over the edge.

In it together

Current global climate politics are abysmally "unfit for purpose". The carving up of the world into "developed" and "developing" countries is not only archaic, it has created a pack mentality and self-justifying logic that has hidden diversity, masked interests and obstructed the emergence of truly co-operative global solutions.

Finding a politics more suited to the precarious climate-constrained age we are living in will require a return to first principles, new thinking and new mindsets.

Flooding in Bangladesh (Getty Images)
Global emissions will bring localised hardship to developing nations

The first principle is to recognise a common human interest in a pro-active response to climate change. Playing the waiting game will not benefit anyone - we are imperilled as a species, not as nationalities.

Climate justice requires that we maintain climate stability for poor, vulnerable and marginalised communities in every country. The poor should not be used by others as an excuse for inaction.

Once we have agreed to preserve climate stability, we need to ensure there is a fair share of the global commons for everyone and that all countries can gain from the opportunities presented by moving to a low carbon economy. Weaning the world off oil will be of greatest benefit to the poorest countries.

Thirdly, if our bloc politics are a constraint on action, we need to change them. Thinking "out of the box" may be difficult for bureaucrats and others with a vested interest in the institutional status quo, but change is possible.

Progressive politicians, business leaders, civil society organisations and opinion formers have a key role to play in articulating a new global ethics and a politics of the possible that drive change in a new forward-looking direction.

Climate change must be seized as a new agenda of hope and opportunity to galvanise a new generation of leaders for whom action, not rhetoric, counts and who are committed to making positive change happen.

As the delegates in Bali reflect on our future, they would do well to think as human beings.

Malini Mehra is the founder and chief executive of the Centre for Social Markets, which specialises in corporate responsibility, sustainability and climate change

The Green Room is a series of opinion articles on environmental topics running weekly on the BBC News website

Do you agree with Malini Mehra? Is the current political approach towards climate change failing? How can the international community deliver the necessary cuts in emissions? Is there ever going to be a global consensus on the best way to tackle global warming?

For over a 100 years, countries in the west have been heavily polluting the atmosphere. However, poor non-industrialized countries like Bangladesh seem to be paying the heaviest price. I think it is about time the West takes responsibility for the damage it has caused to the Environment. And start putting money where its' mouth is !!!!
prem chander, San Diego, CA

Surely 'developing' countries need to stop 'developing' and 'developed' countries need to cut back to 'developing' countries standards. If you look at the carbon footprint per capita for nations, less developed nations lead the way. I don't think this means living like a peasant, i think in the UK some people could do with more hard work rather than being pampered by fossil fuel subsidised technology.
Paul, Portsmouth, UK

Malini Mehra has testified against the labelling of "developing" and "developed" countries when it comes to global climate change issues. I find this to be unsound. It seems that she testified against it out of her own convenience and persuasion that people should work together. However, this labelling have been used by United Nations and World Bank decades before the climate change were recognized. If such labeling is not suitable in today context, why don't we suggest to UN and World Bank to label all countries to be "developed" countries? In such case, all differentiality will be vanished and we are "in it together".
Tzeng Yih Lam, Corvallis, USA

Malini got her minutes of fame,she chose to speak against her native land and people.butI think Malini can lead by example.She should stop using a car,electricity and running water (all of these require energy converted from fossil fuels)then she should preach about leaving a vast majority of those who hope to have a better life in destitute condition.And for what? To pay for the fun times by the western nations in their ogre of consumption.If the world goes down so be it...we may as well enjoy it as long as it lasts rather than letting the westeners have all the fun, all the time. We want a piece of action..even if we have to pay for it...after all who gave the west to consume and burp and then preach....either we all go to iceage and suffer,or those who are most responsible pay deal
sid, Delhi

I disagree with Charles feelings, though I understand where he is coming from. Climate has fluctuated through the ages, in large glacial and interglacial periods in a major way (every 2000 years) to smaller fluctuations within periods (which are still very significant to us). There are several reasons why it's our effect rather than just natural variation, well explained on other parts of this site. In essence the strong link between CO2 rises and temperature rise, the rate doesn't fit the natural fluctuations completely (climate is fairly predictable, bar the odd volcanic eruption, meteorite strike etc). It is the rate that is the important point here though, not necessarily the fact there is a change- even if it was a modest temperature increase the rate of rise is quite phenomenal. It is whether society can cope with this that is the real issue. There are also very real reasons to reduce emissions anyway, given the political repercussions of hitting peak oil, and the fact we don't have unlimited resources. For every action there is a reaction, and it seems unfeasible there wouldn't be a reaction from producing CO2 or any other kind of pollution.
Ben Toone, London, UK

The human race cannot afford to debate our impact on this planet any further. The argument should not focus on which nation is entitled to produce more carbon emissions; instead, we should look at what role politics can play to do some good by us for once in the annals of history. Undoubtedly, we are in danger of losing our most valuable natural resources and causing irreparable change to our climate. Western lifestyles overemphasize consumption, throwing away and littering when we should be reusing and recycling. The issue is that most inhabitants of the developed world will not change through mere will power but rather, we require government-enforced programs to develop sustainable markets that can salvage our economical structures as much as humanly possible, albeit with a concentration on preserving what is still good on Earth. Presently, the livelihood of our children and the very survival of future generations may depend on our resolution. If we do not act decisively a! nd unanimously, all of the flora and fauna will perish. We need a clear beacon of leadership to radicalize our consenting world citizens and effect this change. Everything and everyone must change if we are to succeed.
Guivion Zumbado, San Jose, Costa Rica and New York, NY

I agree that the urgency of the problem require cooperation of countries across all spectrum of economic development. But do the economically developed nation have the strength to put their money where their mouth is. Won't it be easier to persuade China and India to reduce greenhouse gas and other emissions if the West shows demonstrably long term action in this regard even if that is affecting it's own economic development. If the situation is indeed so bad (and i dont think it isn't), then all the more reason for the developed nation to stop the preaching and get down to business. That will put tremendous pressure on China and India to follow likewise.

First and formost, I am tired of hearing from ignorant people who do not understand and appreciate the science behind climate change facts (and they are facts). If you believe that the sort of climate change we are up against right now is unremarkable or not outside the range of natural variation, I urge you to take a look at any intro level geology textbook for a brief summary of the past 4.5 billion years or so. If that is not compelling enough, then there are over 50 years of sound data that supports the science behind climate change facts. If you are buying into the idea that humans are not forcing climate change then you are buying into some serious first world capitalistic propoganda. All of that aside, I think that countries need to stop seeing each other in terms of developed or not developed. We need wake up together as a one unified planet and recognize the very real climate crisis that we are facing. Much like the Roman empire rose and fell... I believe we have se! en the rise of capitalism and that the fall of capitalism is likely not far away. Perhaps the demise of our pocket books and bank accounts will be the wake up call that draws the most attention.
Jen Doxey, Humboldt, Saskatchewan

The author is quite correct in pointing out the deficiencies in the current global political order when it comes to climate change policy. But unfortunately global politics is mostly a failure, examples like Sudan, Iraq illustrate this. The UN is a great body to bring nations together to talk, but has very little legitimacy in the eyes of poor developing nations like India (due to its undemocratic structure) and also rich countries like the US (due to its impotency).
Vikram, Mumbai, India

I agree completely with Malina Mehra. Unless ALL countries participate, no agreement will save the planet. Even the poorest countries can participate by reforestation, population control, anti-desertification, etc. Yes, the developed countries need to massively convert to 21st century technologies that do not rely on fossil fuels. But just as importantly, the developing world needs to develop with sustainable technologies rather than with 20th Century technology.
Patrick , Washington, D.C. USA

I fully agree with the statement. But I have started to feel frustated when expansion projects that harm the environment with increased carbon emission are justified on economic reasons, like the 3rd runway at heathrow.......well will malini mehra explain how third world countries are to fight over this
nadeem ameer, bromley

For those of you who are towing Malini's line just be aware of these facts. About 400 million people in China and another 500+ million people in India have never ever switched on a light bulb. For the developed countries to say to these countries you'll need to fix this problem is audacious and plain right wrong. These are the most resourceful people on the face of the planet. The problem here is ideal v/s real and in reality it means for these people you continue to live your lives the way you'll do while the west continue to be wasteful as ever. Another very important point is these people are living & dying without the bare necessities of life and telling them they are equally responsible for this mess is seriously taking the mickey. It's like taking lessons on hygiene from a pig. Take a good look at yourselves before you paste ideal, ill-informed and irresponsible statements from the comforts of your air-conditioned offices, from your computers and probably farted and bu! rped while doing that after the fast food meal you consumed earlier in the day. I mean you get the point...
Bebedi, London, UK

There are various green technologies in development that will help to reduce global C02 emissions i.e. electric cars, cheap solar thin film photovoltaics, ground source heat pumps, carbon capture, solar thermal, geothermal, wind and wave power sources etc. However in addition to the above technologies the easiest way to achieve large CO2 reductions is to set a realistic price for CO2 and the other green house gasses emitted. Thus suddenly all those cheap goods produced in China / India will become far more expensive and give the business based in the said countries incentives to invest in cleaner more energy efficient processes to produce and transport the said goods. Renewable energy from the big power companies and micro power generation by individual households becomes more cost effective compared with fossil fuel based sources of energy.
Mark Tebbutt, Chorley Lancs England

This planet is one big boat. We are all in it together. The rich, the poor, the developed, the developing. Damaging the environment is like making a hole under your own seat and claiming you have the right to do so because it us under your seat. The boat is a common property. It does not matter much for the future as to who made the holes so far. We all need to start plugging those.. asap... or else we will all sink. As of now the boat is flooding.. but there is still hope. We can plug the holes and empty out the water. If we ALL work in the same direction. The world community should launch a seriously major program to protect the planet from greenhouse effects. The program should be funded by all nations. It should sponsor research aimed at reducing dependence on carbon-based fuels and reverting the effects of greenhouse. As a species, we have the competence and the ingenuity to overcome difficult challenges. The real question is do we have enough sense of urgency to stop bickering and start acting?
Madhav Kale, Aurangabad India

Global warming isn't the problem - it's just one of the symptoms of the real problem - OVERPOPULATION. Until there is a global effort to reduce population - which means getting rid of economic models based on growth - no force on earth will stop the climate crisis, depletion of natural resources, habitat loss,....
John E, Eastleigh, UK

Frightening ! - all of it talking about "developing" - all the lovely money we can make from our new low carbon economy - and what do we do with that money ? - have more people, who in turn want more stuff, and so turn the screw another notch on the planet. Yes we need another mind set alright. If we want the human race to survive, we need to get rid of the 'Business as usual More More More' mindset and "develop" a Fewer People, Less Impact mindset. CO2 ain't the end of this; we are stacking up a whole series of catastrophes in front of us, till we figure out; we cannot carry on breeding like rabbits, and ripping up the planet shopping for more stuff we don't need. If this is the extent of the "it's OK, it's low-carbon !" thinking; then enjoy the extinction - it has already begun.
Steven Walker, Penzance

Who buys all the stuff that is made in China and India in the dark polluting mills? We do! This way we still get our goods produced for peanuts without the inconvenience of slavery, get rid of those smelly factories and power stations to feed them, and, best of all, can stand on the moral high ground muttering about the awful pollution being created by those who service our wasteful life-styles! Why would we want to hold back the "liberalisation" of the "developing world"? Malini is, of course, right to point out that CO2 has no nationality, but nobody will want to hear her. We all have too much to loose.
nick davis, falmouth, uk

The irony of climate change is that it is inextricably linked to economic exploits.As a researcher in this field(relationship b/w the northern & southern hemispheres in sharing global responsibilities for mopping up the earth),i find the high stake politics & justling (both amongst Developed & developing Countries)abhoring.I am researching on the flexible mechanisms (of the about to expire) Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC, and the only principle yet, that is capable of taking into account, the plight of Developing nations (by delivering sustainable development), has been turned into an economic and political football(ie, the disproprtionate spread of clean development mechanism projects). It is unfortunate that issues like these reflect that the western world leaders (probably because of public pressures) make all the right noises but are not ready to put their money into real action, but go for low dangling solutions. how pathetic.
sam okoro, london, england.!

It would be better if Malini wakes up and embraces reality. China and India admittedly while a part of the problem have approx 2/3rd of the worlds population to sustain; much of which is on basic levels of sustainance. Complete ignorance of the fact that the US is not even a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol. None of her options for 'fixing' things is based on concrete proposals, just wishy-washy airings of an idealist. Changing for Climate Change comes at a cost, and to levy that cost on the worlds poor is an obnoxious claim. Even though she says the distribution should be pro-poor, there are no suggestions as to how one would achieve that. Too many flaws, too little time. India and China are responsive to change, possibly more than they should be in the first place.
Adnan Millwala, London, UK

It's unfair, and in a way it could be said that it's racist (White post-industrial nations refusing to allow Asians to do the same thing these white nations did - industrialize and alleviate poverty). The blame game is actually being played by these environmental killers in the West. Chindia is just trying to pull millions out of poverty and expand its economy. The West, which exceptions of course, is just trying to live in selfish luxury and expand its already huge obesity rates. The only thing relevant is the per capita effect on the environment. It's absolutely meaningless and useless to try and get China and India (where the per capita effect is tiny) to stop emissions when the average Westerner causes as many environmental problems as MULTIPLE Indians and Chinese do. If one American stops doing a certain thing that hurts the environment, it's equivalent to MANY Indians and Chinese not doing a certain thing. And the effect would be less on the American because he/she is much richer than the Indian or Chinese person. It's quite clear who's actually playing the blame game...
Akshat Vaidya, USA

I agree with the article that we need to reduce carbon emissions.But there is no point in blaming each other.Each government have to become capable to impose srict measures on top polluters and encourage alternative sources rather than findind excuse about poor people.The pollution caused by any activity of poor will be less than 1%.Are the governments able to tackle the corporate Giants.This is the only question.
Sujith, Ramapuram

I think its all about the changes in the behaviour of human being .The body chemistry of all human being has changed just due to the bad global weather change.stress,lack of optimisim,lack of good beliefs and above all,getting away from religion has cause the big wide gulf between nations .beliefs are no more the same as in the old ages.anger has taken place of love,wellwishing is changed into false arrogence, injustice and envy is ruling and prevailing all over the world.And the only weapon that we can use to change the globe is the solid believe in ones Selfsufficiency and trust worthiness in your own capabilities and thus we can cotrol over Greed .
madiha shakeel, blacksburg,VA -24060..USA

Bottom line is we can't stop developing. It's not human nature to do so. We can be "stopped" or slowed however by Natural Disasters for instance. I personally see this as the only solution. To learn from our mistakes by being repremanded by the planet we seek to exist on. Then; either we'll learn to balance our existence with nature, or we'll go and harvest the Moon, Mars, Asteroids, anything else we can get our greedy hands on! (Guess which it's likely to be!?)
Matt, Bradford, UK

I think that we should admit our mistakes and say that we have polluted more than our fair share for a long time. However following on from this we should agree as a species to urgently reduce our carbon emmissions by setting legally binding targets for every nation. For the developed countries that have caused the greatest pollution (e.g. UK, USA, Australia) then as well as our legally binding reductions we should also offer financial support to help countries such as China and India continue to develop but through green methods, which will show we are not trying to oppress these nations but are trying to save the species, and that we are all in this together.
Adam Taylor, Colchester, Essex

I think the developed counties who have created the mess in the first place should have to pay the price, electricity only on for 10 hours a day in the UK/US/Europe? hmm i don't they would like that, but it seems totally acceptable for the developing countries to have to pay this price. I think let the developing countries keep polluting up to a certain point and the developed nations have to cut back to counter balance. The worlds economic balance is changing and the western countries better wake up to the fact they can no long have their cake and eat it too!
M Grover, London, UK

Just to correct Charles Lockhead - the time period he refers to is known as the Medieval Warm Period and was localised to the North Atlantic region. Comparisons between the MWP temperature and the current (i.e. late 20th / early 21st) global temperature show the current global temperature to be higher. It's the perpetuation of that sort of myth - one encouraged by those with financial or political interest in not curbing emissions - that makes the already tough task of avoiding dangerous climate change even harder. How can we encourage nations - any nation - to reduce their pollution when misinformation like this is being so willingly swallowed and propagated?
Alan White, Glasgow, Scotland

She may very well be right. But the leaders of many "developing" countries (which actually seem to be regressing) need western world funding in order to maintain their Swiss bank accounts. Indian politicians should also reflect that once most of the glaciers in the Himalayas have melted northern India will be subject to a combination of devastating floods followed by nearly dry rivers - every year. As someone has already remarked, a ton of CO2 from India is worth the same as a ton of CO2 from anywhere else.
Ron Ardell, Surrey, UK

I think the climate change is completely taken out of proportion. We are heading towards an ice age. The storms are exactly the same on earth. It just more devastating because we as human like to move to places where our ancestor never dared to occupy. All these climate change is a way for rich country to control the world and fantastic opportunity for the tax man to fleece us. Do you know that all human activities don't add more then 1% of yearly emission of greenhouse gases that naturally produced by mother Earth! Do you know that one cow produce more greenhouse gases then 4 by 4 wheel drive car, yet we pay over 80% tax in UK on the fuel of this car an nothing on a cow! Finally I wish that BBC decide at least once to publish my comment despite what disagreement their sponsorship people do prior to publish a comment on their website. I put this statement because despite my numerous comments sent from my self previously, I got nothing published as yet!
Athir, manchester

The reason that the developing countries economies are booming is precisely because the developed world is buying all their surplus output. If Ms Mehra believes the developing countries must have a continuing 'right' to emit, then surely this implies the developed countries must have an equal 'duty' to consume?
Mike Beaudry, Montreal, Canada

The developed countries are responsible for the mess and should pay for cleaning it. Even today despite all this lip service has not the west transferred its carbon emission to China by setting it up as its mnufacturing base. Yes, China & India must develop technology to ensure green house gas emission is minimised but not at the cost of their economic develpment. Let the West pay for the mess it made during the last 100 years
Krishna Jain, Londpn

The climate change is bad news for both the poor and the rich. The fact being advocated that the poor will suffer more than the rich is simply being short sighted. Resources will be limited in case of the world tipping over and the effects will be the same for all. Let us not hide behind wealth which is relative in nature. The biggest producers of greenhouse gases should simply cut them to levels that are beneficial to the climate and those that are producing less should maintain the low levels. We now know that owning cars, aeroplanes etc is not genuine wealth as it is a source of pollution. It is simply destroying the earth. Those who are considered poor are infact rich by living in harmony with mother nature. Let us now define wealth as it affects the global climate change.
Boyson Moyo, Mzuzu Malawi

There has been recently an outburst of journalists like the author of this article. These authors have two things in common, they are against the developing countries and at the same time, their parentage is from developing countries. The former makes them attractive as the messenger against the developing world and the worldview in some odd way mistakenly puts more than required weight on their thoughts.
K Gupta, New York, USA

No-one doubts global warming is taking place, and getting worse. But all man-made? There must be scope for doubt. The presence of the polar ice-caps, still huge, shows we are not fully out of the last Ice Age. Turkey and North Africa, now largely desert, were the bread-baskets of the Roman Empire 2000 years ago. Tree stumps have been found a mile below the North Pole. Surely the real cause is to do with the earth's orbit round the sun, which cause a warming/cooling cycle of some 20,000 years, influenced by sun-flare activity; we are just going to have to get used it and, instead of wailing, seek how to mitigate the effects of warming. Sure, there are regions where man-made conditions are adverse and could be rectified - China (largely because we have outsourced most manufacturing there), rain-forest destruction (and remember that smog over SE Asia a few years ago?), but that is spitting in the wind in globat terms - you only have to look at the planet from space to wonder if! man can really impact such a marvellous and immense machine. And a few volcanic eruptions, timing wholly unpredictable (though Vesuvius is overdue), will more than offset anything man can do
IAN WYLIE, Bodmin, Cornwall, UK

Malina Mehra thinks business leaders have a key role to play in saving the planet-but the problem is that the corporations are playing a key role in destroying the planet. The point of any business is to maximise profits,and under free market economics,they are allowed to pollute and exploit.. Politicians and businesses need to dragged by the scruff of the neck to rediverting the trillions they squander on wars,profiteering and destruction into low-impact, renewable technologies and debt cancellation. And the only way they can be held accountable is by public pressure.
Alistair Wingate, Birmingham UK

The sad fact is that there are more people in China alone than there are in the whole of the developed world put together, so the argument of who is to blame becomes almost irrelevant. Even if you took the whole west out of the equation, China's development on current models would not be sustainable (neither is the wests). For their own sake if nothing else the major developing countries will need to find new solutions. Also, back to blame. The situation is much more complicated that it looks. While the 'west' has a huge responsibility, it is not a question of west bad east okay. Indonesia for example has long been the world's third largest emitter of CO2 (from burning ancient peat forests). Gas flaring by International and African companies puts Nigeria into the top ten too. Furthermore, within the west there are huge disparities. Latest figures show that countries like the US, UAE and Canada emit three times more carbon per capita than most European countries, including the UK. China meanwhile now has per capita emissions nearly half the UK average, but still three or four times more than India.
Alasdair Cameron, London, UK

Developed nations have a moral duty to curb greenhouse gas emissions. How can you persuade developing nations to cut emissions if you make no effort yourself? On the other hand what is the point in the UK cutting Greenhouse gas emissions when the UK's total emissions are outstripped by the annual GROWTH in China's emissions and when developing nations have to make no committment to curbing Greenhouse Gas emissions?
Steve, UK

If we are serious about tackling climate change, a number of issues will have to be met head on. We will have to accept a hydrogen based economy, because integrates power generation from different sources. The Equatorial and tropical regions will become extremely important for power generation, the buckminster - fuller world electricity grid will have to come online, and fuel cells will be used where they're supposed to, in the home not in the car. Cars etc. should be bio-diesel hybrids. Hydrogen is cheap and plentiful provided you don't have to pressurise it to fit in a tank compact enough for a vehicle.
peter, London

I think everybody in the whole world has realized the climate changing problem. The thing is it's easier to say that 'we need a new mindsets'. I don't see any attitute change on the European politician's behaviours towards China and India. The economic development is still the first of all country's agenda. Developing countries need space and right to develop too. There's evidents that before 2000, over 70% of CO2 was produced by developped countries. Then why developped countries still keep arguing about who's responsible?? You made the mass and we have to deal with it?! Who's going to responsible for those poor Chinese farmers still struggling for a living?! This is a cooperation, then stop the 'we know the best' attitute.
Tina, China

I agree completely. It seems strange to me that countries don't invest heavily in new power technologies, surely the country/company that pioneers a replacement for oil will reap large financial rewards?
George, Haslemere, Surrey

Stop this misinformation. India needs to and will add to the global warming. Nobody can and will stop it. looks like u r being paid by the developed world cartel to bad mouth Indians.
Harish Shankar, Shanghai.

I think Malini's vision and ideals are wonderful but naive. It's utopia yet not practical. Perhaps I'm more of a pessimist but I do believe that because the world is currently set up in different classes and hierarchies, there won't be any kind of indivisibility between species and nationalities. The reason i say this is because i think the world is already going down on the doom train starting with our global capitalistic systems. CEO's at the top want to benefit at the cost of the helpless and powerless - it's human nature to be greedy. Global warming actually has problems that stem from very fundamental roots of our human society. What started global warming? Is it the hoarding of materiality? or perhaps the greediness of colonialist powers and technologies that spawned the prelude to what has become of today's global concern for green house gases. Forgive me if this sounds like western bashing but western nations do have the larger chunk of faults to fix. 70% of the world's private garbage and resources are produced and consumed by western nations - canada, US, australia, germany, uk, france, italy and so forth just to name a few. politically, we need to dismantle the greedy ceos and politician who stand at the top road blocking everyone's efforts for a sustainable future. however that seems very unlucky because the majority of the world's population seem to care more about britney spears or mtv rather than global problems. hope this rant helps :)
Hsu Tian Hsing, Vancouver / Canada

Just for once I do agree. It may be an 'inconvenient truth' but a gigawatt, coal fired power station in China pumps out CO2 that is indistinguishable from the CO2 pumped out by an American car. If you believe in 'global warming' then you must also look for a GLOBAL solution.
John, England

"...we need to ensure there is a fair share of the global commons for everyone..." This is the killer phrase here. It sounds good but if this means I have to live like an Indian peasant then I'm really not interested. Rather, I will do all I can to maintain the status quo, and if needs be deploy my armed forces to achieve this. I think, when push comes to shove, I speak for the majority, increasingly this position is emerging as the the United States' stance is laid bare.
Robert Jones, Taunton, UK

I disagree. Developed nations (as traditionally defined) absolutely have an obligation to take the lead on climate change initiatives. We have the resources, infrastructure and technologies required to solve the problems. Putting the onus on undeveloped countries with vastly smaller per capita contributions to greenhouse gases is completely immoral given that most of the CO2 in the atmosphere was put there by the developed world. Instead of solving the problems, the developed world pontificates endlessly, attempting to shift blame and responsibility wherever possible - Malini's rhetoric is no less repulsive an attempt. The problem of fossil-fuel dependence is solvable and the responsibility rests clearly on the developed world to find the solution and make them available at reasonable and competitive cost to the less developed nations. We've been subsidized by the cheap, readily available energy locked in the long-chain carbon molecule for long enough. If we are so sh! ort-sighted as to balk at spending whatever is required of our vast capital stores on ensuring clean, renewable and affordable energy supplies for the future we deserve the inevitable extinction that will follow. It is acutely unfair of course that the 'developing' world will be the first to go down.
Christopher Stephenson, Vancouver, BC, Canada

I agree whole heartedly with this article. As an eco business owner and editor of a environmental blog I know all too well about climate change issues and the developing world. It is easy for political leaders to blame the "West" but we are where we are, and it's the so called less developed countries that will bare the brunt of the negative consequences of climate change. The problem is, leaders in these countries know there is little political capital to be made on this issue. It doesn't register with most people. Where I live in Thailand, we experienced some of the worst air pollution on record last spring, due to slash and burn agriculture and deliberately started forest fires. Political leaders vowed to put a stop to this. Yesterday I was driving home and I counted at least four fields ablaze. So much for political will.
Richard Rhodes, Chiang Mai, Thailand

I totally agree with the article. I can understand why "developing" countries want to raise their own states and people out of poverty. And I wish them the best of luck. But if you imagine the world as a boat, and our boat sinks. Then we all die, not just the developed or undeveloped ones, but all of us.
Brian, Okayama, Japan

Human do not make greenhouse gas by producing but actually by using. I mean if consumers can reduce their unnecessary Consumption, the producers can reduce their greenhouse gas emission. So I think this the best way to tackle global warming, and we do buy a lot of "Unnecessaries". Be sure that we are talking about the planet but not only a few regions, it is very important since we all live together. Though we can force a couple of countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emission, but other countries will replace them quickly. This approach helps nothing without the reduced consumption. Greenhouse gas will be produced as the co-product in manufactories wherever they are. Rich regions can reduce greenhouse gas emission pretty easy because they keep moving their manufactories to the poor regions due to the low labor cost, and most of these industries have high emission and poor working condition. Consumer are also the contributor to the global Warming as they definitely are the participant of producing, like a big engine. How much we produce really depends on how much we want.
Chairmouse, USA NJ

I totally agree with Malini Mehra. Climate change can be seen as God's final test of humanity if you like. Authority and power have acted in their own interests throughout human history; resulting in war after war and massacres of the poor and powerless for the benefit of the rich and influencial. Today it is happening in Iraq, Darfur, Afghanistan etc... but I never thought people (no matter how selfish and power-hungry) would be ignorant enough to destroy themselves. I think because it is still a theoretical issue in the short term for the developed countries, politicians don't care, but would rather focus on money-making and obvious vote winning policies. All the while the world is also ignorant to the extent of the potential catastrophe awaiting us, and the short time we have to act. Therefore the current political approach towards climate change is failing - to save the lives of poorer, equatorial countries in the short term (of course a usual policy line); and to ! save the lives of their children and even themselves in the not so distant future. Politicians need to stop trying to find a way out for their own countries - it is everybody's problem. This is obvious, but maybe even they will act in the interests of the people - and not businesses - if they can only be made to see the urgency of the situation.
Danny Jones, Hackney, London, England

The world was hotter 1000 years ago (Monks making wine in Yorkshire), then got colder (1550 was a bad vintage brother), then started to warm again. The other planets are warming too, the Icecaps on Mars will be gone within a few decades unless those Martians stop driving their SUVs. We didn't cause any of this, and it is only computer models (which can be used to prove anything) that suggest we've suddenly taken control of the Earth's climate. The human worry gene always finds a fear to be exploited... the Witches in the middle ages, the Communists during the McCarthy era, Global cooling during the 1970s. Lets worry about something we can control, not something we can't.
Charles Lockhead, Whangarei, New Zealand

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