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The North-South divide
22nd June, 2008
Rich industrialised countries have a responsibility to help others stick to their green responsibilities, argues Helena Norberg-Hodge, not collude in helping shirk themAs signs of climate instability increase, radical and rapid action is becoming ever more urgent. One of the greatest obstacles to global collaboration, however, has been the Bush administration’s foot-dragging and obstructionism, much of it based on the fear of giving developing economies a ‘competitive advantage’ if they are permitted to emit greenhouse gases at higher rates than those in the more developed North. Yet even within the environmental movement there is no unanimity on this thorny question: should the countries of the global South have the right to increase their emissions as they industrialise and ‘develop’?
At first blush, it makes a lot of sense that they should, based both on notions of equity and the feeling that rich countries have no right to make demands of the so-called poor countries: We in the ‘North’ have benefited from ‘development’, how can we deny the ‘South’ the right to follow in our footsteps?
This argument suffers from two key flaws. First, people in the South simply cannot replicate the development path taken by the North: not only has our ‘development’ already used up too much of the...
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