Conclusion

With respect to the U.S. policy, given that we will have increased emissions at least in some quarters and all other things being equal, those increased emissions should be allowed more in countries with currently low emissions. That is assuming that there is a correlation between increased emissions and a higher standard of living. That increase will mean more to those living in the developing nations than to those living in the U.S. Again, this is an application of diminishing marginal utility, discussed at the outset of the chapter.

Of course, in the end, the U.S. may just be like the agent who hoards some good, unwilling to give it up. But appeals to 'fairness' will not work here.

What the U.S. has tried to do, in my opinion, is moralize a position that is really based on pure short-term self-interest. Utilitarian moral theory has the resources to suggest a morally appropriate course in this matter. Since the U.S. is in a position to create positive change it ought to do so. While I believe that individuals cultivating green virtues is a good idea I do not believe it offers a sufficient solution. The government must act to regulate behavior to avoid everything from free-riding, bad conscience, to problems arising from lack of proper coordination.

That being said, it is a separate issue as to what realistic measures can be taken to encourage U.S. policy to change in a more favorable direction. I favor, myself, the pragmatic approach: one that would allow the U.S. to use emissions trading schemes as a way to maintain its emissions output, in balance with the rest of the world. Singer (2002, p. 46) has noted that some view this approach as unfair, since it "...allows the U.S. to avoid its burdens too easily '' However, he adds, "...the point is not to punish nations with high emissions, but to produce the best outcome for the atmosphere." Another strategy would be to allow the creation of carbon sinks to count against emissions produced. Yet another would be to figure out a mechanism by which the U.S. could trade on its technological strengths to get credit for making technological advances that would reduce the effect of emissions. Of course, not being a specialist on the technical aspects I leave this issue to other writers. My aim has simply been to address one moral concern raised by those in the U.S. administration against the Kyoto Protocol, or any other protocol, for that matter, that fails to demand full compliance.

0 0

Post a comment