Advertising | Metro Eireann | Top News | Contact Us
Governor Uduaghan awarded the 2013 International Outstanding Leadership Award  •   South African Ambassador to leave  •   Roddy's back with his new exclusive "Brown-Eyed Boy"  •  
Print E-mail

Charles Laffiteau's Bigger Picture

Last update - Thursday, July 16, 2009, 17:54 By Charles Laffiteau

Many of us can – and do – blame our political leaders for failing to take more concrete steps to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels for energy. But before you do, stop for a moment to ask yourself: how active have you been in supporting politicians who favour more stringent measures to protect the environment?

Maybe you defend our inaction by taking the position that we wouldn’t agree to cut our own CO2 emissions until the developing world agrees to reduce their use of fossil fuels.  Unfortunately, many citizens in the developing world don’t have the same democratic political rights that we have. And even in those that do should be excused, because most of them are simply trying to survive economically and feed their families by whatever means possible.
While I was disappointed that the political leaders of developing countries, led by China and India, refused to commit to specific goals for cutting their carbon emissions by 2050 at the G8 summit in Italy last week, I am sympathetic to their arguments.
After all, these countries are merely following the same path out of poverty that the nations of the industrialised west once took. If we want them to develop economically by using cleaner forms of energy, then we must help them to do so. After all, why should they now be expected to slow down their own economic development in order to fix the damage caused by those who precipitated global warming in the first place?
Even as I applaud the fact that the west has finally agreed to cut its own CO2 emissions by 80 per cent come 2050, their agreement at last weeks G8 summit nonetheless leaves open the question of setting realistic mid-term goals to achieve this reduction during the next decade.
It’s little wonder, then, why the developing world has thus far refused to agree to cut its own emissions so that a 50 per cent global reduction can be achieved by 2050.
Emerging countries want to see interim goals for reducing emissions as well as firm commitments to provide financial and technological help from more developed counties before they will agree to their own CO2 reduction targets. Clearly they don’t trust us, but given our past history of not meeting such goals, why should they?
Regardless of however we may choose to justify the lack of concrete action to deal with the causes of climate change and global warming, we cannot escape the roles we play as individuals in dealing with this problem. If we don’t take the time to vote for change on the issue, then we must share the blame.
Even closer to home, we must also accept responsibility for our own actions (or lack thereof) to address the causes of climate change. Will we take the time to learn what we can do in our own homes and businesses to reduce our carbon emissions, and take the appropriate measures?
How many of us are willing to leave the car at home – or even sell it – and take public transport instead? How many of us are willing to conserve energy by turning down the thermostat or turning out the lights when we leave our homes or workplaces? How many of us are willing to pay for better insulation or more energy-efficient appliances? How many of us are willing to pay carbon offset taxes on the petrol and electricity we use?
If we are honest about it, from where I sit the answer to these questions is: not many.      
Charles Laffiteau is a lifelong US Republican from Dallas, Texas who is currently pursuing a PhD in International Relations at DCU with a focus on environmental policy

Latest News:
Latest Video News:
Photo News:
Kerry drinking and driving
How do you feel about the Kerry County Councillor\'s recent passing of legislation to allow a limited amount of drinking and driving?
I agree with the passing, it is acceptable
I disagree with the passing, it is too dangerous
I don\'t have a strong opinion either way
Quick Links