Here it is possible to see why countries free ride in the global effort to manage climate change causing the collective action failures that have left us looking at climate disaster.
Leaders lack international incentives to act in politically costly ways and face powerful domestic incentives to do other, more politically pressing things.
But do not leap to the conclusion that developing world leaders are the problem or are in some way special.
The crisis of our times is not the result of tin pot dictators misbehaving. Don’t leave these final sections of our primer thinking that the rulers of the developing world are merely ignorant or misinformed or corrupt or the tools of malign outside actors.
Talk to them and you will find that they are generally very well informed. Talk to folks in the know and you will find that, yes, they are corrupt by your standard and, yes, outside actors ply them with all sorts of temptations.
But that said, you will also discover that their actions are seldom easily explained by the blandishments of their almost always frustrated “corrupters”.
Think about what you learn when listening in on local politics and you will discern a very familiar political logic, the stay-in-power logic.
These guys got to power by knowing how to mix-and-match, how to appease-and-pay. Every one of them has his or her ideals and everyone has his or her agenda – but everyone knows that the quickest way to kill a long-term goal is to blow a short-term necessity.
Is this really a developing world phenomena? Think of American presidents who have left a real legacy. They were not nice guys. They were connivers. They played even their closest friends and allies. They were tricky. But FDR left us Social Security. And Richard Nixon left us Medicare. And Barak Obama left us The Affordable Care Act.
What does all of this suggest about your becoming a climate change maker?
Start by embracing three things: (1) no one’s opinion makes them stupid; (2) nothing about the process is or will ever be simple; and (3) everyone you confront has really good reasons for doing what they do.
If you can’t respect the opposition, deal with complexity or recognize that what you want may not be first on everyone’s wish list, get out of the business now!