Yachts do it. Limousines do it. Even air-conditioned mansions by the sea do it. The trappings of wealth tend to emit lots of climate-warming carbon dioxide. Which is sort of the idea behind a new strategy for sharing the burden of fighting climate change. Take a look at the Reuters story on this here.
Instead of the two-tier world envisioned by the carbon-capping Kyoto Protocol — where developed countries have the lion’s share of responsibility for cutting emissions, while developing countries including China and India have few requirements — environmental strategists from Princeton, Harvard, the Netherlands and Italy say it might be better to track the wealthy, who live in every country.
On the grounds that individual rich people emit more carbon dioxide than most other people, these strategists suggest setting an international individual cap on the emissions that spur global warming. Rich people in rich countries are likely to hit this cap sooner than rich people in poor countries, so rich countries are likely to have to do something about their emissions before poor countries do. But eventually, every country that emits more than its share will have to take action, under this scenario.
At least one conservative blog has taken aim at this plan as a tax on the rich, but that’s not necessarily the idea, according to the study’s authors. They just want policy-makers to have this as an option to help persuade reluctant countries to join a global effort to reduce greenhouse emissions.
This report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is meant to help climate diplomats figure out where to go after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. And if negotiators at this week’s climate meetings in Italy at the fringes of the Group of Eight industrialized nations take note, that would probably be fine with the study’s authors too.