Thursday, October 28, 2021

Michael Roberts Blog — COP-out 26

Which countries are to blame for this failure to do anything remotely close to avoiding the environmental disaster. China is usually picked out as the main culprit. It is currently by far the world’s biggest emitter of CO2 and is planning to build 43 new coal power plants on top of the 1,000 plants already in operation. But China has some excuses. It has the largest population in world and so its per capita emissions are much lower than most other major economies (although it’s the mass that counts). Second, it is the manufacturing centre of the world providing goods for all the rich countries of the Global North. As a result, its emissions are going to be huge because of the consumer demand for its products globally.

Moreover, historically, cumulative emissions built up in the atmosphere in the last 100 years come from the rich previously industrialised and now energy consuming North. There is a direct, linear relationship between the total amount of CO2 released by human activity and the level of warming at the Earth’s surface. Moreover, the timing of a tonne of CO2 being emitted has only a limited impact on the amount of warming it will ultimately cause. This means CO2 emissions from hundreds years ago continue to contribute to the heating of the planet – and current warming is determined by the cumulative total of CO2 emissions over time…
Implies that the geoeconomic system based on capitalism's assumption of unlimited growth must be reconfigured. Michael Roberts is pessimistic about this happening. Too many interests and too much investment involved.
Michael Roberts Blog — blogging from a marxist economist
COP-out 26
Michael Roberts