Thursday, January 02, 2014

How to split the costs of carbon

New York Times article on the costs of carbon.  Nice iPhone example.  This is an age old problem that we have covered in the blog many many times.  More papers are now being published on this are rightly so.

There is still no simple answer as the NY Times acknowledges.

 Rethinking How to Split the Costs of Carbon [New York Times]

 It is probably a safe bet that very few Americans unwrapping a brand-new iPhone left under their Christmas tree are thinking about its impact on the global climate. 
I have some good news for them, and some bad. 

No, Apple hasn’t managed to produce the device without adding heat-trapping carbon to the air. The company expects an iPhone 5s to inject 70 kilograms — about 154 pounds — of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere over its lifetime, 11 pounds less than the iPhone 5 that Apple introduced last year. 

The “good” news is that under the standard accounting of carbon emissions bandied about at climate talks, it’s not, mostly, Americans’ fault. About three-quarters of the carbon dioxide is considered the responsibility of other people — in places like China and Taiwan, South Korea and Inner Mongolia — where the phone and its parts were made. 

The bad news is not just that the effort to curb global warming is as stuck as ever, but that, whether we like it or not, we’re all in this together. 

The obstacles remain significant. Countless summit conferences since the Kyoto Protocol on climate change was adopted more than 15 years ago have failed to budge the fundamental roadblocks standing in the way of collective action: How should the costs be divided? Who did what to whom?

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