Rich nations must honor climate change pledge: Developing countries

Rich nations must honor climate change pledge: Developing countries


United Nations: Developing countries urged rich economies at the UN’s global warming summit on 24 September to honor their pledges of curbing greenhouse-gas pollution and help poor nations cope with the impact of climate change.

“We strongly believe that no adaptation plan or strategy would be effective without enhanced financing and greater technological support and access for developing countries," Pakistani Environment Minister Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat said at the one-day summit.

Faisal spoke on behalf of the Group of 77, a bloc that despite its name represents about 130 developing countries, including the emerging giant China. He ruled out demands from some quarters that developing countries accept targeted curbs on their emissions.

A key argument cited by US President George W. Bush for abandoning the Kyoto Protocol in 2001 was that the UN treaty only imposed these limits on developed countries and not on countries such as China and India, which have become major polluters in their own right.

Rich countries are responsible for some 70% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) in the world today, as they became the first to burn the coal, oil and gas that spurred the Industrial Revolution.

Developing countries are wary about being coaxed into any binding targets, fearful that the cost of implementing such promises could brake their rise out of poverty. Faisal said rich countries should deepen their reduction commitments in the next phase of the Kyoto Protocol and also help poorer nations to avoid increases in their own pollution and tackle the impacts of climate change.

“The international community should first extend the first commitment of the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012, all Annex 1 countries should accede to the Protocol and fully implement their commitments," he said. Annex 1 countries are developed economies under the Protocol. The United States and Australia are the last major Annex 1 holdouts to refuse to ratify the accord.

Negotiations for the post-2012 period enter a crucial stage in December at talks in Bali, Indonesia, gathering parties to Kyoto’s parent treaty, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said developed countries should “continue to take the lead in reducing emissions after 2012."

Developing countries “should also take pro-active measures and control the growth of greenhouse-gas emissions to the best of their ability and in keeping with their particular conditions," said Yang.

Indian Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram pointed out that India’s per-capita emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) “is among the lowest in the world--it is approximately one-tonne per annum, as against a world average of four tonnes per annum."

“Currently, developing countries bear an inordinate share of the burden of climate change, though this is due to the high level of emissions of developed countries," he said. Both ministers highlighted the UN as the appropriate forum for dealing with climate change.

The United States later this week will launch its own process among 16 major polluting economies -- an initiative that defenders of Kyoto fear could undermine the slower but inclusive UNFCCC process and lead to an unambitious, voluntary deal among a small club.