Last year, David Wheeler, a researcher at the Centre for Global Development in Washington, calculated that if nothing changed, by 2075 the combined greenhouse-gas emissions of India and China would equal all the historic and current emissions of the world’s richest countries. In other words, even if we could magic away the climate impacts of all the industrial revolutions that took place before 1990, it would make little difference. Absent a dramatic change in the way India and China do business, we would only postpone the day of reckoning by a few decades; come 2060, we would be back where we are now, scrambling around against the clock to avoid catastrophe.
It was a sobering piece of work, not least for India and China. In their public postures, both countries were sticking firmly to the Kyoto-based division of the world into Annex 1 countries—those that had grown rich on emitting