Bridge the development gap worldwide

Lawmakers should focus on developing countries during the climate change summit in Paris.

Anant Naik

Over the past several days, negotiators from many countries have come together in Paris to determine a sustainable climate change policy. Issues like reducing carbon emissions and promoting sustainable development have been important in this discussion. 
 
Many experts argue loopholes remain in current climate change laws because the countries that contribute most to climate change are not involved in the process of writing environmental laws. 
 
Because development comes with the financial capacity and infrastructure needed to impose regulations on companies and markets, developed countries enjoy an enhanced capacity to cut carbon emissions. 
 
The problem is that not every country has this ability, and when developing countries see developed ones berating them to change, they likely resent the hypocrisy and ill-intent. 
 
As a result, some developing countries are advocating holding the environment hostage. Ivo Cassal, a senator from 
 
Brazil, argued recently that if the international community didn’t pay Brazil to protect the environment, the country would be hard-pressed to find a reason to do so. Ecuador performed the same stunt in 2013, demanding financial compensation from the international community in exchange for conserving its rainforest and not drilling into oil
deposits. 
 
I think the international community should force a discussion about how to develop countries without relying on harmful energy sources like coal. Too often, the discussion about climate change strays away from hunting for viable solutions and toward blaming polluters. Demands by Ecuador and Brazil may seem absurd, but if a country needs a resource in order to maintain economic growth, then a demand’s absurdity is irrelevant. 
 
Nkechinyere Attah at the University of Pennsylvania argues it isn’t productive to continue debating who’s to blame forclimate change — every country is at risk from climate change’s effects. Pointing fingers doesn’t decrease carbon emissions. Instead, developing countries need to invest in natural energy resources. 
 
The disparity between breakthroughs in environmental engineering and what’s being implemented in developing countries is something we need to address. All countries should work together to bridge this gap. 
 
Additionally, I think issues regarding air pollution and responsible infrastructure should also receive priority in discussions of climate change. The Center for Science and the
Environment in India argued that the lack of natural drainage channels made the impacts of recent floods much worse. On the issue of air pollution, we should also hold
China accountable for the heavy smog and pollution that cause health problems for the country’s citizens. 
 
There’s a lot of work to be done, and I plead that countries represented at Paris focus on bridging the gap between developed and developing countries before it’s too late.