Sustainable growth and improvements in technology are the key ingredients for limiting the impact of climate change, while developed nations need to get serious about reducing emissions, Nobel laureate Thomas Schelling said in Taoyuan yesterday.
"We should not attempt to urge developing countries to sacrifice development significantly in the interest of holding down greenhouse emissions," Schelling said in a speech on global warming and climate change delivered at the National Central University.
Schelling shared last year's Nobel Prize in Economics with Robert Aumann for his work utilizing game-theory to understand conflict and cooperation.
"Developed countries like my country and yours probably should devote the next decade to not only taking this problem seriously, but demonstrating to countries like China that we are taking this seriously," he said.
Only then, he said, can developed nations ask the developing world to "climb on board."
"We have to recognize that the main adverse impact of climate change will be on poorly-developed countries dependent on agriculture and susceptible to diseases that may increase in extent and virulence due to climate change," he said. "Fifty years ago malaria was a severe problem in Taiwan, it is not any longer. The best defense for China, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Guatamala ... is their development."
However, when it comes to Taiwan's prospects in the event of serious global warming, Shaw Daigee (簫代基) of the Chung-hua Institute for Economic Research is not optimistic.
Taiwan is "somewhere between developed and undeveloped," Shaw said yesterday, adding that a sure guide for how much impact global warming is going to have on a country is its climate.
"The more tropical it is, the harder the country is going to get hit," he said at the conference.
Shaw cited rising sea levels as a cause for alarm.
In his speech to a packed conference room of mostly students, Schelling told the crowd that global warming is a problem that is not going to go away.
"I think by the time you are middle-aged you will still be wondering what we are going to do to cope with climate change. By the time you are my age ... it will still be a question," said Schelling, who has worked on global warming related issues for 25 years.
"It took the United States at least a couple of decades to think straight about nuclear policy, and we are just beginning to learn how to think about terrorism," he said, labeling global warming "a new subject."
As for how nations are going to work together, Schelling does not favor the Kyoto protocol approach: "I am very skeptical that we are ever going to have any kind of treaty with enforced quotas."
Instead, he advocates an approach modeled on the Marshall Plan or NATO. He also stressedd the need for countries to spend more on research and development.