Developed nations overdrawn on carbon accounts: UN report

Developed nations overdrawn on carbon accounts: UN report

New Delhi: The developed nations are already overdrawn on their carbon accounts, said a new report from the United Nations (UN) that implicitly bolstered the case put forward by developing nations such as India and China at global climate change talks.

The World Economic and Social Survey 2009 released on Wednesday estimated that global carbon emissions have to be capped at 450 parts per million (ppm) if the world has to restrict the increase in global average temperature to 2 degrees celsius since the Industrial Revolution.

The 450ppm limit means the world can only pump 650 giga tonnes (Gt) of carbon into the atmosphere between 1850 and 2050, of which developed nations can only emit 137Gt (21%) going by their share of global population.

However, developed nations have already emitted 209Gt (32%) and they are expected to consume 85Gt more of the world carbon budget.

The report says, “This would mean that they would have consumed 177Gt of carbon over and above their “fair" share and by contrast, developing nations would have to restrict their emissions to 336Gt over the whole period."

Seventeen of the world’s largest economies, including India, signed an agreement in July in Italy to try and limit the global temperature increase to 2 degrees celsius.

“What this report does is accept that the climate crisis is the result of uneven pattern of development. For every 1 degree increase in average global temperature, average growth is poor countries decreases by 2-3 percentage points," said Sunita Narain, director, Centre for Science and Environment, a Delhi-based non-governmental organization, while releasing the report. She added that though the report provides some recommendations on how costs will be shared, it does not offer a clear formula.

This UN report, which has been authored by the department of economic and social affairs, is a departure from an earlier report by the United Nations Development Programme, another arm of the UN, which recommended that developing nations be a part of binding emission cuts.

The new report adds that active participation of all countries in tackling the climate challenge will only come about if developing countries can maintain rapid economic growth, while satisfying their growing energy needs.

As an instance, Narain said, “The affordability of energy for Indians is at 5-8 cents per kilowatt hour but solar costs about 20-40 cents per kilowatt hour. This is where the developed world needs to invest." She added that $1 trillion is required every year till 2030 to shift to sustainable energy sources.

According to the report, the world needs to set aside at least 1% of the world gross domestic product annually (between $500-600 billion) as additional investments in mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

Also, the report advises against market-based solutions such as carbon markets, cap and trade mechanisms, or taxation schemes for developing nations.

It says, “Instead the preferred option for developing countries should be a combination of large scale investments and active policy interventions."

In terms of funding mechanisms, the report supports multilateral measures including a global clean energy fund, a global subsidies for generating energy from renewable sources, a climate technology programme and a balanced intellectual property regime.