China, development, and the United States’ massive economy,

China, India, and the United States are the countries in the world with the three largest populations (respectively). With a combined population of over 3 billion individuals—comprising nearly half of the world’s total population—whatever these countries choose to do will have a major impact on the entire world.  Naturally, these three nations each have tremendous impacts on the environment. Between India’s high population density, China’s rapidly industrial development, and the United States’ massive economy, the activities of each of these countries have taken their toll on the planet. These countries produce large amounts of emissions (specifically, carbon and methane) and also produce various other forms of negative externalities. With the very real threat of climate change—which will certainly have an impact on each of these three nations—the need for genuine cooperation is very real.  Unfortunately, it can be very difficult for each of these countries to combat climate change on their own. Even if the United States (the most developed of these three nations) were to increase environmental regulations within its own borders, much of its environmentally damaging practices—such as manufacturing or energy production—can be functionally exported to China, India, and elsewhere around the world. Certain (but not all) regulations can actually have a negative effects on the environment because though they may discourage pollution or emissions within the United States itself, they encourage these activities to be outsourced to places where regulations are even lower.  This is why environmental cooperation is so important. The United States must simultaneously act to minimize the environmental damage it creates domestically but also assure that any decrease at home does not come at the expense of an increase abroad. What is necessary for real environmental progress is a set of policies that ensure human activity causing climate change is not just the burden of a single country, but for every country across the globe.  The creation of the Paris Climate Agreement has certainly been a good start, but it is incomplete and largely symbolic (those largely unenforceable). In order to minimize the effect humans have on the environment, what will be necessary are agreements between specific nations that will actually have a method for enforcement. Though this is obviously much easier said than done, what is undeniably clear is that the United States, China, and India will all play a very important role.