What's Worse, the Environment or the Economy?

As the Obama administration confronts the duel threats of global finance and global warming, America's European allies are addressing the two issues with renewed vigor.

The new American president favors the trading of pollution credits between companies to reduce overall CO2 emissions. The EU has called for a transatlantic carbon trading market  to allow American and European companies to buy and sell pollution credits. Critics argue this market-based approach is vulnerable to abuse and that cash-strapped companies will auction off their pollution credits to make short-term profits. Given such a market, Europe stands to profit handsomely from selling credits to the US.

The details of Obama's financial stimulus package have linked the financial crisis to the global warming issue. Al Gore told the American Congress that Obama's stimulus package is a step toward creating a sustainable global economy. So far, $100 billion dollars have been pledged to encourage clean-energy development in the private sector. This falls far short of the $515 billion dollars deemed necessary by the World Economic Forum currently underway in Davos, Switzerland.

These events precede the UN Conference on Climate Change scheduled for December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark which is possibly the last chance for world leaders to agree to reduce CO2 emissions before global warming reaches its predicted point-of-no-return.

Here, flat-world proponent Thomas Friedman questions the big cheeses, including Gore, at the World Economic Forum in Davos about what is needed to combat warming between now and the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen later this year.

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Photo: Public Domain
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