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Argument: Developing world growth will not negate developed emissions cuts

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Kevin A Baumert and Nancy Kete. "Will Developing Countries' Carbon Emissions Swamp Global Emissions Reduction Efforts". World Resource Institute. 2002 - One of the concerns regarding the Kyoto Protocol has been that it exempts developing nations from targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Accordingly, many people worry that developing country emissions will skyrocket as they develop economically, effectively swamping the expensive efforts of developed countries required to make large investments in lowering their emissions. However, evidence has shown that this is not likely.

The view that developing countries should adopt legal emission commitments carries the implicit assumption that such actions would lead to a better global environmental outcome. Two factors make this assumption suspect. First, emission projections vary wildly for developing countries, confounding efforts to make reliable forecasts that could form the basis of legal commitments. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, China's emission levels in the year 2020 could range anywhere from 1,115 to 2,059 million tons of carbon (EIA 2001). Translating such vague projections to legally binding emission controls presents substantial technical difficulties, as well as environmental and economic risks for the country in question (Baumert et al. 1999). Although uncertainties over emission projections are common in many developing countries, they are much smaller in mature industrialized countries, where economic and emission growth rates are steady and relatively predictable year to year (1).

Second, and perhaps more significantly, developing countries are already taking substantial actions to reduce emissions growth, even in the absence of international commitments (Biagini 2000). Although Mexico, India, Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia rely on coal and oil for electricity, they have all established national goals to increase renewable energy and improve energy efficiency. Thailand and Brazil have made comprehensive, successful national efforts at demand-side management. In Argentina, 10 percent of the automobile fleet runs on compressed natural gas. India has implemented natural gas use for heavy vehicles in its major cities and for most of New Delhi's public transport system. Many countries—including Indonesia, an OPEC nation—are phasing out fossil fuel subsidies. These measures have required leadership and entailed political and economic costs, for which these countries deserve recognition.

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