The US contains 5% of the global population and produces roughly 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. also produces roughly a quarter of world GDP. Does the U. S. have a moral obligation to reduce emissions? Why or why not? What are the ethical implications of different approaches? What are the factors associated with this problem that make it so challenging to address?
The basic argument in favor of placing the responsibility for the environment on developed nations is that they are in the best position economically to do something. Developing nations simply do not have the resources to make progress in this front. The third world is a major issue environmentally. The people there are just too poor to really care about how much damage they're doing, so governmental regulations are really essential. In the developed world, the public is somewhat concerned and will support companies that comply.
The argument for having undeveloped nations share in the effort is that while it is true that they are currently producing most emissions, this is changing rapidly. At the present rate of increase, global CO2 emissions will increase by 55% by 2030, and this is due to developing nations' increasing use of fossil fuels. This was the reason why President Bush refused the sign the Kyoto protocol, which would have placed a large burden on the US economy while asking very little of ...