Transboundary haze pollution. An agreement between various countries in southeast Asia regarding this type of pollution from land and forest fires created a system in which countries communicate and work together to prevent, monitor and stop any fires that can lower air quality. These countries are also willing to work together to offer mutual assistance during these fires and offer any information relevant to the situation to neighboring countries.
That sounds like a great representation of countries working together in order to clean up the pollution emitted from forest and land fires. But can a model similar to this one be transferred over to the global issue of transboundary pollution? I believe the answer to that question is, unfortunately, not that simple. Look at pollution: it follows its own rules, is found all over the world in varying amounts and it likes to negatively affect everything around it. Also, it loves to displace the blame it receives onto other things, even though it also loves attention and wants to be a part of everything that happens. But, no matter how much we try to ignore it and push it away, it will always come back, usually even whinier than before. So then what happens when one country decides to step up as the older sibling and try to deal with their persnickety younger sibling, but fellow neighboring countries still want to play in the mud and ignore the situation? Or, what happens when one older sibling gets really, really bossy and honestly kind of mean and then the other siblings do not even want to deal with this situation anymore because they are tired and hungry and are gonna tell Mom?
For example (in case my personification of pollution has failed you) let us look at India. India is, according to Forbes.com, the fastest growing economy in the world, as well as the largest population, and will stay that way for this decade and soon it will be the fifth largest economy in the world. This is great news for India, a country that has been struggling to raise itself out of the five poorest economies in the world for quite some time. With this exponential growth with no seeming cap, foreign and internal investment has skyrocketed this country into a prospective future, bringing their GDP out of level with poor countries like Indonesia. With nearly one-fifth of the world’s population on his shoulders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s response at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference was very reasonable. He stated first of all, the problem with the Paris climate deal was that all countries were only focusing on global warming in the present time and not seeing how it had came to be. But India, and especially the party backing up Prime Minister Modi, had big plans to industrialize and thus bring electricity and a more stable economy to all of its people. Also, up to this point, India and numerous other developing countries had barely contributed to the amount of greenhouse gas emissions- India accounted for, at this time according to TIME magazine, 3 percent of all emissions compared to the United States with 27 percent. As Prime Minister Modi brought up, India is currently experiencing rapid growth, both in economy and population, and there need to be jobs for the growing population. Putting them to work on lessening the regional disparity in wealth distribution by updating cities to coal-centered energy producers is logical and efficient. Bringing in renewable energy sources is something India agreed to do at the Paris deal, but they clearly made it known that renewable energy alone will not be enough to support their estimated demand for energy. Piyush Goyal, the prime minister of power, coal and renewable energy sources, stated at the conference regarding the Paris agreement, that “(it) does not in any way stop the government or any country from meeting its energy needs from whatever sources of energy one may choose.” And who can blame India? The United States, most of Europe and even China to some degree were allowed to industrialize without any repercussions, and then once their economies were stable they started to tackle the idea of finding renewable energy sources. One could argue industrializing countries did not yet know the harm they were doing to the environment with the first industrial revolution, but does that justify telling growing nations like India they cannot industrialize and bring the quality of life of their numerous citizens up just because now we know it is detrimental to the earth?
Imagine your older brother tells you that you have to tie bags filled with rocks to your ankles as you learn to ride your bike. This is unfair- he did not have to do that so why should you? You are just trying to achieve the same goal as him. Until the United States steps up as a leading example (regardless of who our president is or what they believe) and stops ordering our fellow brothers around, there will be no growth and no resolution to this problem, and the United States will continue to masquerade as the mature older brother, telling everyone else what they can and cannot do while we still emit tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year ourselves.