PRESS RELEASEAs usual, I violate journalistic protocol by failing to mangle the press release and then pass it along as my own work. If a press release is interesting, I think the press just ought to print it.
Bolivia responds to US on climate debt: "If you break it, you buy it."
In response to the US chief negotiator Todd Stern's rejection of paying it's climate debt - the principle of polluter pays -- Pablo Solon, Bolivia's ambassador to the United Nations said the following:
"Admitting responsibility for the climate crisis without taking necessary actions to address it is like someone burning your house and then refusing to pay for it. Even if the fire was not started on purpose, the industrialised countries, through their inaction, have continued to add fuel to the fire. As a result they have used up two thirds of the atmospheric space, depriving us of the necessary space for our development and provoking a climate crisis of huge proportions.
"It is entirely unjustifiable that countries like Bolivia are now forced to pay for the crisis. This creates a huge draw on our limited resources to protect our people from a crisis created by the rich and their over-consumption.
"In Bolivia we are facing a crisis we had no role in causing. Our glaciers dwindle, droughts become ever more common, and water supplies are drying up. Who should address this? To us it seems only right that the polluter should pay, and not the poor."
"We are not assigning guilt, merely responsibility. As they say in the US, if you break it, you buy it."
Background: Todd Stern in a press conference on 10 December said: "We absolutely recognize our historic role in putting emissions in the atmosphere up there that are there now. But the sense of guilt or culpability or reparations - I just categorically reject that."
It certainly seems plausible that this is the position of Bolivia, though I have no way of determining whether I'm being spoofed.
This time I'm going to comment, though.
In this case I agree with neither the claimed position of Bolivia nor that of the US.
The US should not have to take responsibility for past emissions in the sense of reparations before the date it became clear that these were problematic. Nations should be held culpable only for those emissions which exceed those which reasonably might have been expected after the problem became internationally recognized. Fortunately, we have a date and an emissions scenario.
The fractional culpability of each nation could well be argued to be the ratio between the excess of their emissions over those negotiated at the Kyoto protocol to the total of historical emissions. In the case of the most "developed" nations this quantity will not be insignificant, but it will be much less than our total emissions.