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Effectiveness, efficiency and equity issues in reducing emissions

Comments on Brendan O'Neill “Green-industrial complex gets rich from carbon laws”, 3/07/2009, http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25724257-5013479,00.html

There is a need to combat global warming, if that is achievable by human beings. Although there are some different views on human induced global warming, it seems that the overwhelming scientific evidence suggests the argument that human activity is a cause of the current global warming. Unless there is convincing scientific evidence that can prove the opposite, there is a cause of action that human should take to minimise the adverse effects of global warming.

Of course, there is the issue of how to reduce global warming. The best actions require effectiveness, efficiency and equity among all participants.

Effectiveness means two important things in this particular issue. The first is the global actions in limiting or reducing carbon emissions are effective in reducing global warming. If it can’t be done, there is no point to do it.

The second point of effectiveness requires that the efforts in reducing emissions are effective in achieving the specified targets. Otherwise the efforts cannot be said to be effective.

There is another point in effectiveness in terms of individual country’s efforts in reducing emissions to achieve its targets.

In terms of the issue of efficiency in combat global warming, it requires also efficiency at different levels. The different levels involve individuals, firms, industries, countries, and the world as a whole. Efforts at each level need to be made to make their actions are efficient.

Then the last important issue in combat global warming is equity. There are also multi-levels in terms of equity. O’Neill talked about the equity issue in terms of different industries and different firms in terms of their size. This issue is obviously true and exists. It is the focus of most governments in countries which are having explicit targets of reduction and those countries which are planning to do it.

There is also an important equity issue that is at the international dimension. It is important because it directly involves differential targets and actions by different countries. The most important manifestation of this equity issue in reducing global emissions is how to get developing countries into a global agreement of actions.

This last point is more difficult than the equity issues at the domestic levels. But unless this international equity issue is successfully and fairly addressed, global efforts are likely to fail, given that emissions from developing countries are important at the global scale.

There should be and must be some internationally acceptable framework in addressing the international equity issue, especially the equity issue between developed and developing countries. There are also very diverse income and emission levels among developing countries as well.

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