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Do Rich Nations Owe Poor Ones a Climate Debt

With technological developments, scientists can now clearly observe climate change and dangers of climate change have been observed globally. Many developing countries are criticized for their carbon emissions, which cause climate change. Climate change is a global issue that involves many countries, and it is hard to reach a consensus to prevent it. We hope to analyze and explain the behaviors of rich and poor nations on climate change using the game theoretic methods and search for the result with better outcomes.

As can be seen in previous climate-change summits, the U.S. was rather speculative about the climate change issues and would not actively involve in its prevention. This would have been tolerable in the past since the climate change was moderate and putting restrictions for it would cost significant amount and result in more loss than gain.

Today, however, countries face entirely different situations. From scientific researches, we definitely see the increasing trend of disasters recorded each year since 1960s. Countries are facing more natural disasters, which damage infrastructures and slow down GDP growth. Loss caused by these disasters are now significant enough to propel countries to get together and come up with solutions to prevent climate change.

On this climate change issues, we can broadly assume that there exist two Nash equilibrium if we analyze countries using game theory. 1) Equilibrium where countries collaborate to prevent climate change, and 2) equilibrium where only few countries are willing to prevent climate change. In the first case, climate change will decelerate and give positive impacts to all countries around the world, and in the second case, climate change will accelerate and give negative impacts.

In the past, we could see that countries were in second Nash equilibrium where most of them were reluctant to take action to prevent climate change. However, because loss from climate change continues to increase that countries need to collaborate prevent it.

Nevertheless, we see that it is tougher for poor nations to spend money on preventing climate change as they cannot bare loss from putting restrictions to prevent climate change. Without participation from poor countries to prevent climate change, the Nash equilibrium is likely to stay in the second equilibrium. Rich nations should not let this happen as climate change will accelerate and it is hard to reverse it

The article mentions that because climate-change people face today has been caused by rich nations who relentlessly emitted carbon into the air for past decades. Therefore, it is reasonable for rich nations to pay for their actions and fund to prevent climate change. Unfortunately, the richest nation in the world, the U.S. is reluctant to admit that it was the main cause of the climate change and pay for it as the top U.S. climate negotiator Todd stern said, “I actually completely reject the notion of a debt or reparations or anything of the like.” Although the U.S. does not have to pay all costs to decelerate climate change, it should support poor nations to get them involve in process of preventing climate change such that all countries can move to better equilibrium.



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