The UN Climate Change Conference is coming to an end in Doha tomorrow (Friends of Europe has a factsheet on the talks here). There has already been the usual horse-trading between national governments over who should carry the greatest part of the burden for mitigating climate change (though, as we’ve discussed in a recent post, there is also an argument that “greening” the economy could offset this cost). Yesterday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon weighed into the debate with the following comment:

The climate change phenomenon has been caused by the industrialisation of the developed world. [It is] only fair and reasonable that the developed world should bear most of the responsibility.

This could be a difficult message to sell in Europe, especially whilst the continent is struggling with eye-watering levels of unemployment and protracted economic stagnation. However, Connie Hedegaard, the EU Climate Action Commissioner, has argued that this shouldn’t prevent the EU from playing a leading role in tackling climate change:

We cannot wait until the economic crisis is over before we tackle the resources, environmental and climate crises. We must address all these at the same time and so include climate and environmental concerns into all our policies. This strategy gives businesses and politicians the long-term view we very much need for making the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon society in Europe.

What do YOU think? Because Europe has, from the industrial revolution onwards, contributed historically to climate change, should we (along with other developed countries) pay more to help mitigate the effects? Or, with China now the world’s biggest emitter of CO2, should developing countries share more of the burden? And should we rather be talking in terms of investments in a sustainable economy, instead of using the language of “costs” and “burdens”? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – AZRainman

49 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Hasan Özdemir

    Europe should make pressing USA, Canada and Mexico to sign and/or to approve of Kyoto Protocol firstly. Besides the developing countries might obey much more easily to the Kyoto Protocol, because the structures of them are placed yet districtly like developed countries and they have to share the burden also.

  2. avatar
    Jovan Ivosevic

    For better or worse, Kyoto is dead. And it was a different world when it was negotiated, where China and India were far less important players. There needs to be a new treaty that unlike Kyoto, China will be a party to. If China doesn’t want to, it should be made VERY clear to them that the new treaty which will be signed will make companies either unable, or subject to a huge excise tax if their goods are manufactures in a country that is not a signatory to this treaty. That should bring them around.

  3. avatar
    Hasan Özdemir

    Sorry : Mexico had signed and approved since 2000, Canada will start to implement that month too. But USA is a big problem concerning Kyoto. Meanwhile China and ?ndia are obeying since ages. ? do not know at all that Why the Kyoto is a dead ? ?t is force yet but we should realise better agreement in the carbon emission.

  4. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    If you find the money to pay for something like that let me know…Right now most EU economies are struggling… We should stick to the current agenda and focus on solving the crisis and kick-starting our economies again… once we do that, then we can focus of this issue and spend more money on that… In other words, great as an idea, not a priority right now.. Solve the crisis in Europe, and then I agree to spend more on the cause mentioned above….

  5. avatar
    Stoner Rokas

    All of the countries have to share this burden. Climate is change is happening in the whole world, so it is everybody’s problem. We can’t just focus out attention on the developed countries, soon developing countries might be emitting just as much CO2 into the atmosphere. Tho I agree that we must press China, USA, Canada to do something about their situation.

  6. avatar
    Ivan Drvarič

    Yes it should. But in the way to invest in greening projects in Sahara, posioned and desserted industrial regions, …There are also structural reforms that suppose to be done in EU buraucracy and criteria for financing from structural EU pools. More green oriented programs on public greening projects and green logistics fro public logistic.

  7. avatar
    Miguel Verissimo

    The question is: does EU really believe in its Energy Climate 2020 strategy? If so, it’s not a question of numbers or pay…. It’s the foundations of a new development model. So, let’s keep the line and forget others. They will follow us, and that’s leadership as far as I’m concerned.

    • avatar


  8. avatar
    Borislav Sotirov

    Depends for what is this bigger payment. Renewables, energy efficiansy, fighting the petrol problem – all this is meaningfull to pay more.

  9. avatar
    Ignasi Meda

    Good iniciative, but I was wondering why is not possible to vote for everyone’s culpability on this debate. Climate change is not about finding out some countries as more guilty than others but trying to make an effort against it and finding agreements that enable to find better solutions.

    • avatar

      Comment: I\’m not sure all at Planet 3.0 noticed Nathan Urban\’s # 60 :I am a chtoaour on a manuscript in revision, , which has a climate sensitivity analysis from modern (historical instrumental) data, using a similar UVic perturbed-physics ensemble approach. It finds a little under 3 K for ECS (best estimate).This result should not be surprising given that the lower LGM sensitivity is tied to finding the LGM not so cold after all. A question (hoping Nathan Urban is still around):You are not in a physics department but instead at Princeton\’s Program in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. From my viewpoint you are still doing physics planetary physics, a fine and challenging field. Do you still see yourself as a physicist? And in view of your experience so far, would you encourage a young physicist to go into planetary physics?

  10. avatar

    Climate change is a natural cycle in the history of the planet, for heavens’ sake! If it hadn’t been for climate change, the whole Northern hemisphere would be under 3km of ice right now.

    Industrialization plays a very small part (if any) in the climate change. The position of the earth axis, solar activity, oceans, are among the main reasons, so please, please stop repeating that nonsense.

    Climate change is just a new business for some and a foreign policy tool in the war between economies. For the average citizen, it is just a new tax burden.

    Having said this, I am not saying we should not go for renewable energy, recycling and cleaner fuels, but we are going to do this because of the limited resources, common sense and better quality of life and NOT because we can stop climate change.

    Who knows, maybe the next step for the mighty human will be to stop the earth from turning!

    • avatar

      Projections for climate change and the anomalous temperature increases take the Milankovitch cycles, solar activity and ocean carbon uptake into account and can attribute warming to anthropogenic activity with 95% certainty which is as close as you get to 100% in science.
      I do very much like your argument though that we should change our ways because of limited resources though. You’re right it IS common sense and I don’t see why that isn’t foregrounded to achieve common ground and action, sidelining any disagreement on causation!

  11. avatar
    Michael Tsikalakis

    Climate change is the world’s No1 vital issue that we should treat with respect no matter the cost. Europe can do a lot here but it has to be with its united costume. If Europe is not united, little or nothing is going to change. When and how this is going to happen ?It remains to be seen.

  12. avatar
    catherine benning

    It doesn’t matter how much we pay, it isn’t going to change a thing. We will be paying to simply fill the pocket of fat cats who make a fortune out of this con. The amount of ‘damage’ Europe does, in the scheme of things, is insignificant to the USA and China. Unless the entire planet is prepared to take issue with this and fully unite as one, then even discussing it is a waste of time.


    • avatar

      Have I told you Catherine that I am in love with the way you see things lately?

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      A meeting of minds then? Or, symbiosis.


      Thank goodness I’m not entirely alone in my thinking on this site.

      Not that I mind being the odd man/woman out! It goes with the territory.

  13. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    A mundaça climática é um compromisso de toda a sociadade global somos nós que temos que pagar esta factura agora os politicos globais com as suas ideologias politicas devem parar de encher os blosos a gatos gordos eles devem é encontrar acordos que permitem as melhores soluções por um mundo sustentável

    • avatar

      Carbon Free is more of an attitude of mind. We will becmoe carbon free if we set out to becmoe free from the menace of CO2 imbalance and are prepared to do whatever we can to reduce our carbon emissions.If Carbon Free Sunday helps to raise awareness of just how difficult it is to be totally free from generating carbon emissions, like it has for you, Chris, then perhaps it will help us to find ways to move further towards our goal of bringing down CO2 levels to 350ppm.

  14. avatar
    Hugo Gonzalez de Oliveira

    The only way to resolve this endless cop reunions that end without IMPORTANT solutions and cclear commitmens is to oblige usa and china (the greatest green gas emitters) to assume a commitment with clear objectives and purposes, and not a “declaration of intentions” like they always do. But somehow I think this is a lost cause. yesterday was already too late if you know what I mean…

  15. avatar


  16. avatar

    Apart from the occasional crazy people, the sort that howl at the moon and mutter about conspiracies, most people believe what the vast majority of scientists. Nearly all agree that climate change is man made. Sure, in the past, the earth has been through lots of stages of hot and cold but not changing this rapidly.

    And those who want to whinge about China and the USA and say we shouldn’t bother… well that’s a lame excuse. If we did that with everything we’d never get everywhere. We can’t sit about waiting for others to take the lead, Europe has done that too much in the past, we need to get on and set the example for the rest of the world to follow.

    I know cynicism is all the rage these days but it really won’t get us anywhere.

  17. avatar

    Its quite unbelievable how many lefties want to make you believe that by giving tons of money to leftist organizations they can stop a natural phenomenon.

    Climate change is a natural phenomenon and not man made. We cannot stop it, we can only adapt. And we have to adapt. Ask species who didn’t adapt… oh wait, you can’t.

    Scientists agree that climate change is real. Well duh! Natural phenomena tend to be real. But man made it is not. There have been far more and violent climate changes without any human influence. The part where they want tons of money is a fraud. Follow the money. Al Gore is a polluter himself, who would earn billions if his plans were carried out.

    • avatar

      “Climate change is a natural phenomenon and not man made.”

      Another conspiracy theorist, just what this thread needs. Stop lying. It is man made, get over it. No scientific body of national or international standing has maintained a dissenting opinion since 2007; the last was the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (funny old thing!) who’ve changed their stance to one of noncommittal.

      So either the vast bulk of scientists on the planet are doing what they do best, following the evidence and publishing their peer reviewed findings OR your right and its just a big con by Al Gore…

    • avatar

      What the scientists are saying is that there is an acceleration in the rate changes happen COMPARED to data available, i.e. when the series have started. In the history of the planet that is really a grain of sand. On top of that, scientists are based on computer simulations and models on the accuracy of which you choose to base the survival of mankind.

      At the same time, the so called “hole” in the ozone layer (supposedly man-made) has closed and while the arctic ice sheet is decreasing in size, the antarctic ice sheet is increasing in size. So what on earth (literally) is going on?

      Our very existence relied on climate change, poor dinosaurs disappeared because of climate change, between the 14th and 17th century (before the industrial revolution) we had a small ice age, climate in ancient Greece was found to be 2-3 degrees (C) WARMER in the classic times compared to what it is now oh and I guess Noah had to built the ark because some prehistoric Chinese tribes where burning coal right?

      Oh and since you are saying I am promoting a conspiracy theory, explain to me please why the US (with all the scientific knowledge on the issue) chooses to abstain from every serious effort to limit CO2 emissions?

      Sorry Jack, but there are things that exceed our capabilities. Can’t you see that when tiny humans are saying they can stop climate change they almost insult nature (or God, or whatever you believe at)?

      We came to being because bigger creatures became extinct. We managed to adopt to changes and conquered (?) the planet. One day the time will come for us to become stardust and other forms of life will (hopefully) take our place.

      Dear Jack, if you want immortality, go write a great book or build a Parthenon (no guarantees though).

    • avatar

      I don’t know where your getting that religious nonsense from, they’re the one’s who take the same lethargic view that your touting. I prefer to believe science over your, lets face it, baseless assertions. Yes, climate changes naturally but in this instance scientists have shown that its in direct correlation with human activity.

      And your WRONG about Antarctica, however I’m not surprised to see that stupid denialist argument out again, but I’ll clear it up for you. Although it is gaining sea ice it is losing land ice. And all things never being created equal losing land ice is worse. Here’s a nice scientific explanation for you http://www.skepticalscience.com/antarctica-gaining-ice.htm

      Oh, and the Ozone problem didn’t just magically disappear, that was ‘fixed’ thanks to a global effort to ban chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) with the Montreal Protocol 1987. Basic science history 101. However what isn’t so well known is that the problem still exists and another hole was even announced in 2011 over the Arctic. See here for some facts http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/127568

      I know some climate change deniers like to believe its not our fault because it makes them feel less guilty, presumably, or they’re too afraid/selfish to do anything about it but that won’t stop change. Oh and as to why the US (and the EU etc etc etc) don’t do more about it even with the overwhelming body of scientific evidence its because they’re politicians and change typically isn’t popular. No one wants to enact policies that might cost jobs or, worse, cost profits.

    • avatar

      Oh Jack, I could not get more scientific than that and you’re telling me about religious nonsense. Did I say anything about religion? All I said was that a big climate change is the starting point in the mythologies of all ancient civilizations. I also think that we are really very small to be able to impact really anything at a planetary level.

      I also said that the series models are based upon are so recent that they should not be used as an axiom to explain anything. They may indicate, but you cannot say that you’ve got the answer to the climate change. There have been several claims that the data series used were wrong. I quote one from Australia:


      I quote a line from this report:
      “The most recent research studies provide no evidence that dangerous global warming is occurring; nor that human carbon dioxide emissions will cause dangerous warming in the future. There is no evidence that recent Australian climate-related events fell outside normal climate variability, nor that reducing carbon dioxide emissions will have any discernible impact on future climate” said Professor Carter. (Carter may be opposing your ideas but he is still a scientist as far as I know and a very respected one).

      Dear Jack, for every link you quote, I cam quote another. For every scientist you quote I can find another. All I want from you is to sit under a starry night, look at the stars and then think for yourself, use your own common sense and do not use statements and researches.

    • avatar

      Oh and if we fixed the ozone hole by changing our refrigerators and spray cans, why is there another one now?

      Has the planet come with a hole-free certificate of some kind? Are you sure there have been no holes up there in the past?

      Oh and Jack, things written in blogs (like the ones you quote), are not hard scientific evidence as you like to show.

    • avatar

      Do you deny that climate change is a natural phenomenon?

      I put no faith in any scientist who depends on government handouts for their projects because they are forced to support the government position which is to scam more money out of gullible taxpayers. The scientists were promised a cut if they went along, and all dissenters are cut off from government funding.

      N-A-T-U-R-A-L P-H-E-N-O-M-E-N-O-N
      Deny it.

  18. avatar
    Siobhan Robinson

    Labelling places like China as ‘developing’ completely biases the poll. Ofc, genuine developing countries shouldn’t bare the burden, but I’m not gonna put China in that category and they should definitely be doing more.

  19. avatar
    Richard Knight

    Nice approach Juan… he who makes the mess should clean it up… all the way back in history!

  20. avatar
    Jokera Jokerov

    Nope and the position of the EU commissionaire should be disbanded and all the bureaucratic staff fired out in the datrk cold winter streets of Brussels. :D

  21. avatar
    Hasan Özdemir

    ? presume there is bigger problem in Strazburg. ?f the bureaucratic staff fire out,firstly parliaments and judges fire out in the dark cold winter streets of Strazburg. Because fact responsibles are themselves.

  22. avatar
    Lesley Christensen

    I think that those countries who have colonized another, should take a lion share of assistance to that country.

    • avatar

      I’d rather donate based on merit and genuine need than on perceived historical wrongs. Besides its very difficult to trace how many people and countries benefited in the end. Sure the main culprits are obvious but business and industry cropped up all over Europe and beyond to support colonial endeavors. For example, the Solomon Islands were discovered by a Spaniard from Peru and their discovery led to kidnappings of Solomon Islanders for use on plantations, whose to blame, Spain? Peru? Because of this practice Great Britain declared a protectorate over the islands, later more of the islands passed from German control into British hands. So who should pay? Or pay most?

  23. avatar

    Yeah niemand the stars and universe are big but we’re talking about planet earth here so maybe look down for a bit? I’ll take the word of the masses of, rigorously peer reviewed, UN scientists over any random ‘scientists’ you can dig up. And I’m 100% certain there are more scientists who take my view (well I take theirs but you know what I mean) than take yours, those who don’t agree are very much a tiny minority. The worst thing about the climate change deniers is that even when being included in proper scientific peer review they can’t respect the ethical code of conduct (as evidenced by the recent advanced disclosure of an unfinished UN report on climate change, merely to try and score points over one sentence that was taken out of context by one quack). See here for some more proper science fact; http://www.un.org/wcm/content/site/climatechange/pages/gateway/the-science/causes-of-climate-change

    • avatar

      It is not a matter of who can have more scientists to support his view. It is basically a matter of who is right. If the “man-made change” scenario is paying scientists a better dividend then you get more scientists to support that theory.

      After all, in the course of history, masses where not always right, so I’d take their word with a pinch of salt.

      For me, if there was a real chance that mankind can do anything to avert a disaster then the US (with all its universities, money, military) would be the first to lead the world to that direction. If climate change was a preventable impending doom, the US would not be safeguarding their industrial interests.

      Anyway, let’s survive tomorrow’s end of the world and we can get on that issue again in a few days.

  24. avatar
    Nicky Cazacu

    If only Europe will promote healthy living conditions then the air quality in the big cities will improve. For example: 0 tax for electric cars and a 10 000 EUR incentive when you buy an electric automobile, 0 tax for those who use only public transportation and bycicle, 0 tax for those who use solar energy and/or wind energy for home appliances/ water heating. All these money saved will go directly in a new industry which will produce services and products which assure a long-term benefit for our home, Europe.

  25. avatar

    WARNING: The following comment assumes anthropogenic emissions are almost certainly the cause of present and future temperature anomalies.

    Our historic economic success and development has been entirely at the expense of at ‘less developed’ countries. Perhaps it is the relatively stable temperate climate that has meant that we have been able to develop at an accelerated rate and our exploitation of resources from other countries has been a catalyst for this; regardless, we are where we are now with the luxury of being able to debate issues such as this in the comfort with which we experience because we have mined fossil fuels in huge quantities and burnt them to release the energy (and the carbon) that they store, against the natural grain.
    The result of this will be an average increase in global temperatures; more extreme, erratic weather patterns more often and a rise in global average sea-level. These external ‘costs’ of the development will not however be borne by those that enjoyed the rewards. Projections show that the worst hit will be – to crudely generalize – the poor.
    It is perhaps ironic that only because of this period of rapid development that we were able to advance science enough to recognize the damage that we were and will have caused but the fact is we do know and we know we have to adapt.
    In Europe we have to become more efficient, change our waste streams and improve our methods of energy production, all of which require investment of capital. For those countries that will experience the brunt of the changing weather regimes we could just say “Bad luck” but it is my contention that we also have to invest in technology transfer and aid to enable them to develop in a way we never could have: efficiently.
    This double investment means that yes Europe should pay more.

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