Letter: Rich world's pollution

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The Independent Online
Sir: Sue Birley (letter, 2 December) draws attention to the relationship between population and total carbon dioxide emissions of developed countries. From a global point of view, the country with the most alarmingly high population and growth rate is not any developing country like China or India, but the USA. Americans are responsible for far more fossil fuel consumption per head than any other people, and their population is continuing to grow rapidly.

Internationally, one of the most widely acceptable formulae for allocating C02 emission reductions between the nations of the world, is to allow each country a C02 quota per existing head of population. The poorest countries, having a low present use of fossil fuels, would not have to cut back so much, and the poorest could even expand. The rich countries would be the ones that had to make cuts - the very ones with the capacity and technology to do so. But this approach would also bring home to everyone the relationship between total numbers and wealth. The rich countries would discover that it is they, and not the Third World, that are the truly over-populated ones.


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