That’s exactly the kind of commentary and questioning that was missing from news outlets’ lead stories following the emissions dispute at the G-8 summit in Italy. Other blogs did nearly as well. A week after Revkin’s post, his colleague Jon Lorinc, at the Times’s Green, Inc. blog went into even more depth on the Princeton researchers’ “multi-stage formula” and mentioned a similar proposal for a “global deal” (pdf) recently released by economist Nicholas Stern in the United Kingdom. Robert Frank of The Wall Street Journal’s Wealth Report—the only non-environmental blog to pick up the study—angled his post around the researchers’ comments that most of the world’s emissions come from a minority of wealthy citizens in both developing and developed nations. The Christian Science Monitor, Nature, Reuters, Daily Climate, and Environmental Leader also had posts.
Whether or not the Princeton proposal—and the researchers’ claim that “addressing climate change mitigation and meeting the basic energy needs of the global poor are nearly decouple objectives”—holds water is, of course, up for debate. But that is exactly why it begs for more scrutiny.
While blogs and online articles deserve credit for highlighting this report, the press should seek out other suggestions (there are many) for calculating national emissions targets, and provide a more comprehensive analysis of how they might influence international negotiations. Are these proposals making it out of academia and onto Capitol Hill? Has Todd Stern, the U.S. climate envoy, read any of them, or considered weaving them into the arguments he will present in Copenhagen? Has Jairam Ramesh, India’s reluctant environment minister, considered the Princeton researchers’ suggestion that, under their plan, India could agree to an international accord (obviating fears that the U.S. will impose a “carbon tax” on its exports if it doesn’t) and “mostly get a free pass” on reducing its emissions?
There are only four-and-a-half months until Copenhagen. It is time that reporters start digging deeper into this story.