Gauteng and NW Province

Gathering urges rethink on carbon emitters.

Fiona Harvey

Old divisions between developed and developing countries over who should lead the fight against climate change should be laid aside, according to ministers from some of the world’s poorest countries and European representatives.

The vexed issue of which countries should bear the greatest responsibility for cutting greenhouse gas emissions has been a sticking point in the international negotiations for two decades. Under the original settlement reached in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit and formalised in the 1997 Kyote Protocol, some rapidly emerging economies such as China were left out of the roster of obligations to curb emissions.

However, China is now the world’s biggest emitter and second-biggest economy, prompting many nations to question whether the divisions that were relevant 20 years ago should still apply today.

Connie Hedegaard, the European Union climate chief, said countries had recognised that there were limits to how useful the old division between developed and developing countries were in the 21st century.

She said countries wanted “something more dynamic” in terms of determining the contributions to emissions reductions made by richer and poorer countries than the current system, by which “every two decades countries decide on the categorisation”.

Interim discussions among the world’s environment ministers will take place later this month in Bonn, where some of the parameters for the next three years of talks will be set.

Ahead of last years’s climate change talks in Durban, the EU forged a broad alliance of nations to lobby for a new global agreement on emissions to be signed by 2015 and implemented by 2020.

However, China and India held out against such an agreement until the last minutes of the Durban talks and are understood to be wary of any attempt to move away from the rigid classification of many countries under the Kyote Protocol, according to which developing countries are absolved from any legally binding obligation to address their green-house gas emissions.

Mail & Guardian
May 18 to 24 2012

It’s a pity water isn’t ‘made in China / India’.

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