Rising global temperatures complicate balance between environment and economy Economies relying on fossil fuels struggle to transition to renewable energy

Bo Jang/The Varsity

The recent United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, France, brought attention to the fragile balance between the economies of developing countries that heavily rely on the fossil fuel industry and the need for action against rising global temperatures.

Since the 19th century, there has been a shocking 0.8 rise in global temperatures, leaving devastating results. With the rising sea levels threatening to flood coastlines and rising surface temperatures drying agricultural land, the pressure to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases only increases.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ultimately addressed these issues, suggesting that a reduction in the use of fossil fuels is the best approach to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing global temperature to rise. Moreover, many countries supported the idea of replacing such fossil fuels with renewable energy, such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric power. 

Delegates from the Netherlands and France suggested a resolution involving carbon taxes to discourage both the use and exportation of fossil fuels. Small coastal countries that were heavily impacted by the recent rise in sea levels, also emphasized the idea of implanting tariffs and taxes on activities contributing to the production of greenhouse gases. The United States and Israel proposed a more encouraging approach, focusing more upon promoting and funding renewable energy use. 

Despite these proposals, the true conflict lies in the reality that such replacements are expensive; there are many countries in which such a change would be economically detrimental. 

Questions were raised regarding the numerous developing countries that depend on the production and distribution of fossil fuels to fuel the economy. Not only would replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources be harmful to their economy, the transition would be impossible altogether without significant financial aid from other countries.

Trinidad and Tobago is one of the many developing nations that expressed their concern over the movement for renewable energy. 

“We are so reliant on fossil fuels,” states their delegate. “We have already done as much as we can to minimize our exports; any more reductions and we will no longer have the funds for agriculture and other necessary aspects of society.”

The Paris United Nations Climate Change Conference continues to strives for a compromise that ultimately protects both the environment and the fragile economies of developing