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While industrialized countries have historically produced most of the carbon dioxide emissions now altering the Earth's climate, the developing countries' share increases every year. Tensions between these two groups continue to be a major obstacle to setting global emission targets, as seen at the G8 summit this week. But analysts say there are signs of progress. A novel proposal from a private research group offers polluters in both developed and developing worlds a more equitable way to help save the planet.

Assigning Blame and Responsibility

According to Annie Petsonk of the non-profit Environmental Defense Fund, "Industrialized countries say, 'Well, we're not going to cap our emissions until major emitting developing countries agree to follow suit,' and developing countries say, 'We're not going to do this, because we didn't cause most of this problem in the first place." Petsonk says this week's G8 summit of the largest industrialized nations managed to bring these high-income countries one step closer to agreement.

"They are committing collectively to reduce industrialized countries' emissions 80 percent by 2050. That's a lot, but 2050 is far away," she said. "Developing countries have said you need to do much more. The G8 said, in addition, 'Well, we all need together to reduce our emissions as a world 50 percent by 2050…' The developing countries have not embraced that yet." According to most experts, the tremendous economic growth of some of the largest developing countries makes their participation in a new climate pact essential.

An Attempt to Find a more Equitable Approach

While government leaders continue to argue about how developing countries should be incorporated into the United Nations' climate treaty, Shoibal Chakravarty of the Princeton Environmental Institute thinks their focus should be on one glaring fact. "Ten percent of the world actually produces 50 percent of the world's emissions," he says.

Chakravarty and his colleagues have published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that puts the burden for emission curbs on those polluters who emit the most, regardless of where they live. The Princeton researcher explains, "If, for example, in 2030 you want the world's emissions to reduce from 42 to 30 billion tons, that's equivalent to saying that nobody should be emitting more than 10.8 or 11 tons of carbon dioxide per year." "The method then produces a national target for each country, dependent solely on the number of people in that country who are above this figure of, in this case, 10.8 tons of CO2 per year," Chakravarty says.

Annie Petsonk argues that whatever the method, something needs to be done quickly. "The Earth is warming. We're seeing it happen now, in our lifetime," she says. "2009 is our best chance for us, for our children, for their children… If we let this chance slip, it will be very difficult to get as good a chance again." World leaders will convene for the next round of climate talks this December in Copenhagen.


16. Nowadays there are a lot of new technologies which can help to save the world’s nature. But can they save the natural environment alone? Let’s discuss this theme on the basis of the following broadcast report:



Every year the environmental research group Worldwatch Institute in Washington releases a study called "State of the World." This year, the study focuses on the need to change the global culture from consumption to sustainability. Many economies around the world have become more environmentally friendly. But most continue to focus on consumption, a new study says. And those values will have to change to avoid more environmental damage.

Chris Flavin, president of the environmental research group Worldwatch Institute in Washington, said "The world has made enormous progress in changing policies, in investing in new technologies, in general raising awareness about environmental problems. But we think that the big piece that is missing is the kind of transformation in human culture, away from consumerism towards a culture of sustainability." The US is the number one consumer in the world, says Erik Assadourian, the study's project director. "America itself is consuming one third of the world's resources on its own," he said.

Change must come through media, education, business, and government, he says. Many changes are already taking place. "During the year, when Michelle Obama was promoting the gardens, garden stores were selling out of seeds." And Hollywood movies, like Avatar, are making a case for the environment.

Flavin says businesses have also had a positive impact. One is the mega-chain Wal-Mart. "On one hand, Wal-Mart's whole business model is based on consumption. On the other hand Wal-Mart has gone through a tremendous effort over the last couple of years to integrate environmental sustainability into not only its own practices but to force this into the supply chain." He says Walmart is seeking suppliers that follow green practices.

But not everyone agrees that consumption must be reduced. Patrick Michael from the conservative Cato Institute doesn't address environmental issues around consumption. He says environmentalists have been repeating the same tragic predictions for decades. "That the population is so high that there will be a major population crash, that we will run out of food unless we change our ways, this just turns out not to be truth."

But religious leaders, like Pope Benedict, have been reminding the faithful that consumption is not the way to find meaning. Assadourian insists that money doesn't buy happiness. "If we keep defining our happiness through how much we consume it's going to lead to tragic end," says Mr. Assadourian. Although Patrick Michael from the Cato Institute says religious leaders and movies have only a short lived influence, World Watch disagrees.

Aside from Avatar, Assadourian points to "Wall-e," one of the most popular animations in movie history. "In the backdrop there was extreme consumerism. The world was literally destroyed by a corporation called "buy in large" and the only people that were left in the world were these few incredibly obese individuals floating in space." On the other side, commercials are driving consumers, starting with small children. Assadourian says one percent of the global economic product is spent on ads and commercials. He says the global economy must change to a sustainable system now - before social issues and ecological degradation become overwhelming.


15. Prepare the oral composition subject to any business environment you like. Let’s discuss it.*


*С дополнительными материалами для изучения и закрепления пройденной темы Вы можете ознакомиться в разделе Приложения (Chapter VIII “REFERENCE SOURCES”; APPENDIX III).



I. Listening


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