This Map is Bad News for Cap and Trade

This is a fun blog post from Free Exchange with some heavy implications for worldwide carbon emissions and our efforts to reduce them. Here's FE:

HAVE a look at the picture below, put together by Jean-Marie Grether and Nicole Mathys. What we're looking at here are points representing the world's "pollution centre of gravity" (yellow) and it's "economic centre of gravity" (pink). The aim is to demonstrate that economic development in Asia is relatively dirty.

So what if Asia's growth is pretty dirty? Well here's the rub. Congress is considering cap and trade legislation, whose goal (as I see it) is two-fold: (1) Capping carbon would nudge the United States toward new, cleaner energy; (2) Passing a law in the US would to the world toward new, cleaner energy. Cap and trade as a domestic policy can't reverse climate change. Cap and trade as an international public relations tool could, conceivably, help trigger a worldwide hand-holding to bring down carbon levels. But as this graph indicates, pollution is outrunning development significantly in the East, because growing countries produce a lot of pollution. Edward Glaesar reported that

If per capita carbon emissions in both China and India rise to United States per capita levels, then global carbon emissions will rise 138 percent. If the emissions of these rising superpowers stop at French, rather than American, levels, global emissions will only increase by about 28 percent.

Hard to read this graph and hold out hope for the 28 figure.

That doesn't obviate climate change regulation. It puts a fine point on how difficult it will be to convince moderate electeds that goal (2) is realistic, and how difficult it will be to persuade developing countries in Asia to really truly hold hands on carbon reduction, even as pollution is central to their development.