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Developing world's energy needs set stage for fight

Developing nations' urgent need for more energy has become a central issue this year as developed countries push for a global reduction in carbon emissions.

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At a wedding ceremony in New Delhi, the power blinked off just as the groom was placing the ring on his bride's finger. A factory in Nigeria was forced to relocate because the cost and scarcity of electricity made it impossible to turn a profit. Street protests over the chronic lack of power in Karachi, the economic hub of Pakistan, turned deadly as mobs chanted anti-government slogans.

Scenes like these unfolded with increasing frequency this summer across the developing world as the demand for energy expanded but governments eager to create more industrialized economies failed to keep up.

Developing nations' urgent need for more energy has become a central issue this year as developed countries — including the United States — push for a global reduction in carbon emissions ahead of a climate change conference scheduled for December in Copenhagen.

Many African, Latin American and Asian countries want to avoid legally binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions, blamed for global warming. They say that their emissions are well below those of the developed world and that such limits would hinder their efforts to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, even though economic growth would also inevitably expand the nations' carbon footprints as more of the poor gain access to electricity, air conditioners, refrigerators and cars.

The stance of developing nations will also have repercussions in Washington this fall, as the Senate takes up cap-and-trade legislation intended to limit carbon emissions and promote the use of renewable energy. Critics say the proposed emission caps will put US companies at a disadvantage by forcing them to limit their carbon output while businesses in developing countries remain free to pollute.

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