Surely we should be solving our problems first…
Yes, but then again the problems are much larger in the developing world. The graph below shows metric tons of carbon emissions per capita and the number of people living in extreme poverty in various global regions over the past 30 years. What is clear is that regions that have seen extreme reductions in poverty, specifically East Asia and the Pacific and South Asia, have increased their carbon emissions by almost 200%. The only region that has decreased its carbon emissions over this time period, sub-Saharan Africa, has seen the number of people living in extreme poverty almost double.
Reducing poverty rates and boosting economic growth is at the top of many of the developing nation’s agendas. It is extremely important for the world to figure out how to decouple economic development and carbon emissions.
The short answer is therefore:
- There’s obviously a need to help ‘developing countries’ by investing in relatively expensive non-fossil fuel energy options.
- Perhaps it is a good thing for developed countries to give the example of really valuing our global-siblings’ “me-too” yearnings, rather than just protecting our superior lifestyle. We could of course decide to change the global socio-economic paradigm—whichever route is easier or more moral…
- Will, Ingenuity, Technology* and big money have proved fruitful in actually achieving the developed world’s quantum leaps in the past eg. the Space Race from 2 Aug 1955 ~ 20 July 1969. So, why not in global energy/transport areas too? Tesla is proving that W.I.T.* & cash can radically change the 1st world; so let’s also ‘push’ resources towards needier countries who desire the lifestyles we’re constantly selling—thanks only to fossil fuels).
- In the meanwhile the developed world (you and me) can do both: review/change our own life-style choices and help the poor billions who (surely) have a right to more material ‘happiness.’
Thus, since September 2019, PET is ‘buddying’ its UK tree planting project with its Brazilian Rainforest offset project: plant one tree+offset one tonne CO₂ respectively. In this way your ‘developed world’ carbon offset gets multiplied—neutralising your 1st world emissions and producing surplus oxygen in the ‘developing world.’
Let’s not forget that the holistic and real challenge will be to make the planet’s lifestyle choices functional, adaptable and sustainable, and not just in our lifetime.