Who is responsible for global warming? That is a question that has dominated recent climate negotiations, most notably the failed 2009 climate convention in Copenhagen. Developing countries were putting the responsibility for historic carbon emissions and thus global warming on the developed nations. Developed nations on the other hand demanded that developing countries reduced their carbon emissions. The developing countries refused this because they felt that the rich nations had to reduce their carbon emissions and allow developing nations to continue to emit carbon in the quest for economic development. The rich nations in turn argued that we are all in it together and that from now on developing nations will be the greatest carbon emitters. The deadlock over historic carbon emissions remains to this day.
A recently published article entitled “Counting carbon: historic emissions from fossil fuels, long-run measures of sustainable development and carbon debt” attempts to uncover whether the developing countries have a point about the historic responsibility for carbon emissions by the developed nations or whether this question is more complex altogether. The lead author of the Counting Carbon paper, Jan Kunnas, an independent researcher from Finland who was until recently affiliated to the University of Stirling in Scotland, discusses the question of historic responsibility of carbon emissions on this episode of the podcast.
Jan Kunnas, Eoin McLaughlin, Nick Hanley, David Greasley, Les Oxley, Paul Warde, “Counting carbon: historic emissions from fossil fuels, long-run measures of sustainable development and carbon debt”, Scandinavian Economic History Review.
Jan Oosthoek, “The IPCC and the Ozone Hole: a Warning from History”, Globalizations, March 2008, Vol. 5, No. 1, 63-66. Download paper.