The heart of the conversation regarding emissions reduction really begins with your assumption about this question. Oftentimes the impulse we have in response to a global situation is naturally “well the problem is global so we need something just as large and just as global to address the issue.” While we might not think so robotically, it is a reflex…and lets be honest it does roll off the tongue; Global problem? Global Solution! This type of reflex was seen during the financial crisis when you had the speaker of the house suggesting an international tax on Wall Street (one of many other examples    ).
So back to the original question, do global problems require global solutions. In short my answer is no, as some may have already guessed. Rather I believe the very existence of a global problem shows that a global policy solution is not required. We frequently hear about globalization and how all the nations are so tightly connected. As a result of this global connection naturally we should see that the policies and decisions one country makes will inevitably affect other nations.
Up until now I have deliberately refrained from defining the “problem” or the “policies” in question primarily because the problem is so ill-defined. When discussing climate change and greenhouse emissions, we can see and feel the symptoms so we often define the problem in terms of symptoms and solutions in terms of directly attacking those symptoms. Let me take a crack at defining the problem that produced the symptom, dramatic increases in emissions, which has the potential of placing a burden on the global environment. Problem-symptom sequence: 1) weak dollar policy plus perception of demand for dollars around the world due to its reserve currency status causes the dollar itself to be our number one export 2) U.S. ends up shifting its economy from production to consumption and production is shifted overseas (~70% consumption based economy) 3) With lower environmental standards overseas and a high demand for consumer goods we find countries, such as China, willing to pick up the production slack 4) Production takes energy so we see 2-4 coal plants being created per week in China 5) Causes more greenhouse gas emissions for both the consuming country (U.S.) and the producer (China). Admittedly I skipped a few details so I wouldn’t have a 20 step sequence but in general I believe this captures my thought.
My follow-up question is, why do we have to play this silly waiting game of the U.S. waiting on China who is waiting on the India who is waiting on the U.S. in order for emissions to be reduced? The U.S. is in a unique position to act through monetary and REAL fiscal policy reform (due to the dollars reserve currency status) that would in turn effect production and emissions behavior around the world, or at least from our largest trading partners. I realize this isn’t a politically favorable way to address environmental problems but do you really believe 60+ world leaders and delegates representing 60+ nations will come to a mutually beneficial agreement that is good for each economy and for the environment in two weeks or ever? A global solution seems to be the unfavorable one in my book….
Written by AHMED TAWFIK.