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Climate protesters demonstrate outside the local government legislature’s offices in Johannesburg Climate protesters demonstrate outside the local government legislature’s offices in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sept. 20, 2019 (AP photo by Themba Hadebe).

Climate Diplomacy Must Take Africa Into Account

Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021

The standard, “flirting with apocalypse” narrative that dominates U.S. media coverage and political debates regarding climate change goes something like this: China, which is the world’s biggest carbon emitter, and India, which is lightly industrialized and still quite substantially poor, currently represent the biggest threats to saving the environment. The supposedly more altruistic West, by contrast, is prepared to make huge investments to forestall disaster.

People who cling to this all-too-easy framing correctly say that if the world’s two most-populous countries do not radically constrain their carbon output, nothing the United States or Europe can do, including rapidly attaining net-zero emissions, will be enough to spare the world from catastrophe. Adding to this, conservatives warn that if China and India don’t agree to difficult and costly reforms in their use of energy, Western publics will find it unacceptable to bear these burdens themselves. ...

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