Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (ICPCC) recently said when the IPCC released its fourth report of the year that "If there's no action before 2012, that's too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment." It is hard to but it better than that. However, it appears the “we” which Pachauri refers to includes only the developed countries because in a statement made at the world conference on climate change being held in Bali, Indonesia he said that to get millions people out of poverty developing nations need to boost carbon emissions. In an AFP article Pachauri is quoted as saying that “If you have the case of India, a half billion people who do not even have electricity, what mitigation (of carbon emissions) can you carry out?”
Pachauri’s view is opposite to the conclusion from a report by the Center for Global Development (CGD) which I described yesterday. That report said that an increase in carbon emissions by developing counties to get large populations out of poverty would result in catastrophic climate change regardless of what developed countries did. Perhaps the president of the CGD, Nancy Birdsall, has the answer to this dilemma when she says as reported in DailyIndia that “To avoid a shared global disaster, we in the rich countries need to cut our own emissions quickly and do much more to help developing countries shift to a low-carbon future while at the same time meeting the just aspirations of their people for a better life.” The latter task is likely to be a tough sell in the developed countries but it may be our best hope.