Dar & Company

Global South Vetoes Carbon Control
(July 16, 2008)

The Global South is, of course, neither global nor south   but the name given to the poor and developing nations south of the U.S., Europe and Japan (excluding, of course, Australia and New Zealand, which are truly south). The Global South, on economic and carbon management issues, is led by a coalition of 5 nations -- China and  India (representing Asia but also one-third of the world’s population and within 20 years quite likely the world’s second and third largest economies in terms of dollar denominated GDP), Brazil  and Mexico (representing Latin America) and South Africa (representing Africa). These 5 nations have started to call themselves the G-5 to distinguish themselves from the G-8 nations, the club of rich nations plus Russia, which likes to be called rich although it is not and is more often aligned with the G-5 on energy issues than with the other members of the G-8.

Until recently it was generally accepted that on matters of global economic, energy and environmental policy the G-8 could impose its will on the world. In effect, this meant that if carbon controllers wanted a rigid regime of global carbon control they needed merely to gain political control of the energy and environmental agenda of the G-8(actually the G-7, since Russia is always viewed with suspicion by the carbon suppression movement) and that would suffice to control the planetary agenda.

To their chagrin, the global carbon controllers, who do not amongst themselves share the same motives or subscribe to the same theories, now find that their fundamental strategic assumption is false. Dominating the G-8 does not lead to global dominance. Geo-politics and the global economy have changed to the point where a new calculus now operates. The Global South will no longer do what the G-8 instructs whether it be on trade or intellectual property or immigration or capital flows or carbon control, Within the G-8 the geo-strategic interests of the US and Russia are diverging both from each other and from the other 6 members. Indeed, on carbon control the G-5 has an effective veto on the G-8.

The Global South has become less timid about rejecting the science and theory that dominates the public or at least the media filtered debate in the West about climate and more assertive about making food and energy security its highest priority. The policy position of the Global South, as far as it can be called a position or accurately discerned, is that carbon control is not relevant to changes in the climate and,  in any case, the consequence of these climatic changes, even if influenced by human activity, is much less frightening than the consequences of food and energy poverty.

Thus, if the Global South, acting through the G-5 is to accept a rigorous carbon control regime it will be in exchange for the West meeting two conditions:

  1. A massive bribe from the West in terms of money, technology transfer and trade concessions. The West no longer has the surplus resources to pay the necessary bribe, which would amount to hundreds of billions of dollars per year in transfer payments. Even if the G-8 leaders agreed, Western consumers will refuse to pay.
  2. A disproportionate and very likely economically crippling share of carbon reductions would have to borne by the West. Even if the citizens of Japan, Canada and Old Europe agreed to this scheme, the citizens of Eastern Europe, Russia, Australia and in most U.S. states will flatly reject it.

Further, the citizens of the West, even if the consented to endure  uncharacteristic and unprecedented  sacrifices  for the sake of a climate  belief system (one that an increasing number of influential Western scientists and public policy makers  are rejecting),  cannot be at all certain that the Global South will live up to the deal. What is to keep the Global South from taking the money and the technology, weakening the West, and tearing up the treaty or protocol? What could the EU, Canada and Japan possibly do about it?