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Open peer review: Is it fair to expect developing countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

We are keen to receive review comments for our new paper which is now available for open peer review (pdf)

V. Ismet Ugursal: Is it fair to expect developing countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

In order to avoid the presumed danger of an apocalyptic disaster resulting in global societal collapse and human extinction that will presumably be caused by climate change, which is presumed to be unprecedented in the 4.5 billion year history of the earth, due, presumably, to anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, primarily carbon dioxide emitted from the combustion of fossil fuels, middle- and low-income developing countries are under intense pressure to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, switch to renewable energy sources and achieve net-zero energy and GHG emission targets. The pressure is exerted through numerous mechanisms, including trade barriers, that directly affect the already struggling population and economy of these countries.

This paper does not discuss the nature and magnitude of climate change, or its possible causes, potential consequences and remedies as the scientific literature discussing both sides of the arguments is abundant and comprehensive. The focus of this paper is less contentious, but more immediate as the paper explores the relationships amongst energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, development, and the state of the population and the economy. Using a comparative and critical analysis of economic and developmental data, the paper addresses these questions from the perspective of developing countries. The analysis is extended to the low-income and middle income segments of the society in developed countries as people in those segments are vulnerable in similar ways as people in developing countries.

Submitted comments and contributions will be subject to a moderation process and will be published, provided they are substantive and not abusive. (Closed open reviews of GWPF publications can be found here).

Review comments should be emailed to:

The deadline for review comments is 31 May 2024.


John Boorman

As a pensioner i cannot overlook the advantage that is never mentioned by climate experts — that more people die in winter from cold than in the summer from heat. My conclusion is that in the northern hemisphere global warming is good for everyone, as it reduces the heating bills for everyone. Water conservation is possible in the areas where the climate is already hot. Farmers may have to change their crops or irrigation to compensate for changes that occur. Reducing pollution is still a sensible objective but not quite as urgent as is often portrayed.


Andrew Nugée 

I am very sympathetic to the general thrust of Professor Ugursal’s paper.  The thought is not wholly new: Jordan Peterson for one (of several) has been making essentially similar points for some time now. 

Other than saying that there are many assertions made in the paper which could be improved if quantified, I am not really qualified to speak to the science.  But could I urge that the paper be thoroughly edited for English language? It’s a tiny point in the scheme of things, but the substantive arguments will be communicated more compellingly if written in great, rather than foreign academic, best-efforts, commendable English.

To give just one of many examples, though it appears more than once, “the poor require to have access to more income” would read better as “the poor require access to higher per capita income levels”.

Please take this comment not as an aspersion, but in the constructive sense I have intended. 


Mike Houlding

It is neither fair, nor reasonable to ask under-developed countries to limit their economic development.

To impose restrictions on them is to infringe their sovereignty. Each country so affected has a case against those who would restrict them, a case that the International Court of Justice would have to rule on.


Dr John Carr

This is an important paper on the essential question of global priorities in actions to reduce CO2 emissions. The issue is often mentioned by climate alarmists as “Climate Justice”  but receives little attention in the media. This paper is a welcome contribution to the debate.

Clarifications of figure descriptions

The paper has many figures but, in several cases, it took me a long time to understand the message intended from each figure. Adding more detailed descriptions when referring to the figures and in the captions would help the non-expert reader. 

The two plots of figure 1 show the same quantity against total GDP and then GDP per capita. I would have understood this more quickly if the caption has said specified left: this, right: that. Having finally understood what the two plots showed, I wonder if in fact both were necessary rather than just one with GDP per capita. The same comment holds for figure 2. I wonder if showing 2 different years for figure 3 gives extra information. The two plots look very similar and it does not seem surprising that they would be no big change over a decade. If there is an important point is should be clearly emphasised. Similar comments can be made for figures 4 and 5.

It took me time to understood that EJ in the caption of figure 6 means Exajoule. It would be best to put this on the plot axis but if this is not possible, being explicit in the caption would help the reader. Figures 10, 11 and 12 could use more explanation to guide the non-expert, I do not fully understand the messages. I really do not understand the point of figure 13 (which is mislabelled as figure 12). At first sight it seems to show two flat lines. If the point is one is rising and the other is falling, then it would be best to say so and replot them on separate axes with offset zeros. If the point is that manufacturing is falling in the UK, I question if this important for the theme of the paper?

Quantitative details of unfairness of climate actions in developed countries

Section 4 briefly says that wind & solar has led to increased electricity prices for the poorer parts of the population which is obviously a massive unfairness of current energy policy in the developed world. The main reference on this issue is Haar (2020) which I can only find behind a paywall. It would be good if the paper could include more extensive and quantitative details of this issue.

Incongruous conclusion

Although the first half of the conclusion are completely linked to the theme of the paper and sensible, the last paragraph gives a story which is not previously discussed and is rather incongruous. The text says “So, then, what needs to be done to satisfy the need for more energy to achieve higher income, development and production?”. A complete paper on this topic, emphasising the developments of nuclear fission in China and India would be of great interest. A discussion of the best energy technologies for Africa would also be very important.

This last paragraph gives an incredibly optimistic opinion on nuclear fusion. The reference given, Paddison 2023, refers to experiments at the Lawrence Livermore weapons research facility. It must be noted that the three experimental inertial confinement fusion shots advertised in this paper are no more controlled fusion than the dominant secret experiments at the facility to develop hydrogen bombs. What is missing for this particular fusion technology is any way to extract the energy produced to convert it to useful electricity and there is no open literature available on how this program could develop into commercial nuclear fusion. On the general prospects of commercial nuclear fusion, I have recently published a GWPF Briefing Paper: Politicians should pin little hope on nuclear fusion – The Global Warming Policy Foundation ( I certainly agree with the final sentence of the paper, “Developed and developing countries need to focus on nuclear energy to satisfy the growing needs for energy to ensure higher human development and quality of life”, as long as this is referring to nuclear fission.