Maanantai 1.11.2021 klo 16:06 - Mikko Nikinmaa
The Glasgow Climate Summit has started with most world leaders present. Undoubtedly, we will hear many promises of climate deeds. However, words do not often translate to actions. If the words promising climate deeds had become reality, we possibly would not have the present climate emergency. Further, there are three important world leaders missing, Xi from China, Putin from Russia and Bolsonaro from Brazil. Although reasons for their absence have been given, it shows their preferences: and climate is not their number one.
What is really interesting is that commercial sector seems to be more eager to apply new climate-friendly technologies than many governments. This is likely due to the companies understanding that the new approaches give them an advantage in an area that is definitely becoming important. On the other hand, many politicians are afraid of losing the support of their conservative funders and voters. It is really surprising that almost half of the populations in European and North American countries think that climate change is not a serious problem despite the Arctic heat waves, droughts, floods, wildfires and hurricanes.
In the coming two weeks, it is likely that one of the border lines will again be between the developed and developing nations. Hitherto China has always considered itself to belong to the group of developing nations, which do not need to carry out as drastic climate actions as developed world. For most of the developing nations the carbon footprint per capita is much smaller than that of developed nations: and average European has ten times greater carbon footprint than the average African. How can we rich Europeans say that the poor Africans are not allowed to have the same energy use as we are. However, this argument does not apply to China any more. An average Chinese has a bigger carbon footprint than a European. This means that the energy use for high material standard of living can be diminished, like it has been done in Europe for the past 30 years. Thus, China should stop claiming that it needs to increase its carbon footprint to reach the same standard of living as Europe.
One of the pressing problems with manufactured goods is that much of the energy-demanding and polluting industry has been removed from Europe and relocated in Asia or Africa, where energy and environmental laws are nonexistent or much more lenient than in Europe. Yet, the markets are almost completely here. This being the case, the Climate Summit should generate a mechanism by which the end user would be responsible for the carbon (and other environmental) footprint of any imported product. One could, e.g., require that any product sold/imported to Europe would have a carbon/environmental tax collected towards improving the energy/environmental standards in the place of production to European levels. Naturally this would increase the prices, but wouldn’t it be fair, as the consumer of the product would pay the cost required to combat climate change and other environmental deterioration.
The above would also make the following statement, used by the people who are not willing to do anything to combat climate change, invalid. “Why should we do anything, things are done here already. Climate actions should be done in places, which cause the problem.” If the costs of climate actions were included in the use of imported products, we would only pay for the climate actions caused by us.