New Globalization Might Have Major Climate Consequences

Last week Nature Communications published a report that raised concerns about how economic shifts in the developing world are impacting global efforts to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change.  


The researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and partners in China and the U.S have identified “a new phase of globalization. This new kind of globalization is a trade between developing countries, and it is called the South-South trade. It has increased by more than two times between 2004 and 2011.  

There are a lot of positive things for this shift in developing countries trading with each other including people in developing countries raising themselves out of extreme poverty. For example, according to the world bank over 1.9 billion people lived in extreme poverty; today that number has dropped to 836 million.  

One of the contributing factors involves trade and globalization, just like the United States and other western nations these countries are going through a period of industrialization and industry that is harsh in a lot of ways, but the net outcome is a middle class.  

The negative outcome of this shift is climate related. To provide and industrialize an economy means using fossil fuels since a lot of these developing countries don’t have access and are not using or wind to produce much of their struggling economies.  

Rapidly developing countries like China and India and lesser developed countries like Bangladesh and Vietnam are constantly producing raw materials and intermediate goods, but this has serious consequences for the success of the Paris agreement.  

The study of carbon emissions from exports from less developed countries has increased, but the carbon emissions in China has neither slowed or decreased.  

According to UEA’s School of International Development Dabo Guan explained in a recent UEA press release, “The carbon intensity of the next phase of global economic development will determine whether ambitious climate targets such as stabilizing at [two degrees Celsius] will be met, and our findings depict the nascent rise of -intensive and emissions-intensive production activities in other Asian countries such as Vietnam and Pakistan.”  

Guan raised the possibility that China and India have a chance of meeting their Paris commitments by outsourcing high-emissions to other less developed countries who do not have ambitious commitment.  

Guan also said, “Successfully mitigating climate change therefore urgently depends on decarbonizing not only energy systems in developed countries but also the entire process of industrialization,” 

According to the study, the process of moving production towards less developed countries increased a lot after the financial crisis of 2008. During 2005 and 2015 international trade between the South-South grew even fast, and more than tripled in that same time. This accounted for more than 57 percent of all exports in developed countries by 2014.  

Phycologist Steven Pinker and economist Thomas Sowell don’t agree on much, but they do agree that these less developed countries must go through this kind of economy that involves a lot of pollution before they could develop. They also believe that solar companies will take their business towards less developed countries, and we’ll see more of these countries develop and produce solar has a result.  

India already has the largest solar panel in Asia, and China installed the first solar highway. Which is proof that as these countries rise from being less developed, they begin to care more about the environment around them. 




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