After meeting with US Pres. Obama, Prime Minister Modi of India signaled a move away from India’s “historical responsibility” argument and toward joining an international deal on global warming at the Paris conference in December. Specifically he suggested India would pledge to use more renewable energy.
Failing to place importance on the “historical responsibility” for climate change of industrial nations, removes one of the biggest roadblocks to successful climate negotiations. Of course, this does not mean that richer countries will not be asked to do more than poorer nations.
There were many problems with the “historical” argument that made it a show-stopper for international negotiations. First, penalizing current and future generations for honest mistakes made by their deceased ancestors only serves to increase hostility in much of the voting population of the developed world. Second, besides historical negatives, there are also many historical positives. Developing countries have benefited from enormous technological advances that would not have been possible without earlier economic developments — and these necessarily relied on fossil fuel. A just accounting would be impossibly complex, and present reality already provides more than enough reason for Green Fund payments.