The climate conference that starts in Glasgow this weekend is turning into a global prisoner’s dilemma.
It is, of course, in all countries’ interests to pursue the common good by reducing carbon emissions so that potentially catastrophic global warming, a definite economy killer over the long term, is averted. Reduced output also cleans the air we breathe, spurs the growth of a vast renewable energy industry and helps ensure that carbon sinks – forests – are not eradicated. Everyone wins.
But it is also in each country’s interests to pursue immediate GDP growth to create wealth and jobs. The most efficient way to do so is to burn fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas – as quickly as possible. That’s the dilemma – common interest or self-interest?
There is a distressingly good chance that the burn-baby-burn approach will win the day at the climate conference, known as COP26 (Conference of the Parties). There is no compelling reason to think that this conference will be any different than all the previous ones.
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