Developed-Developing Nation Split on Climate Obligations Needs Reevaluation
The world's developing nations, emerging economies, call them what you will are in a far different place in 2012 than they were either in 1992, when the first Rio earth summit took place, or in 1997, when the Kyoto Protocol was (largely) ratified.
China in particular (though to lesser degrees India, Brazil, and other nations as well) has a far greater environmental impact as a nation now than it had then, even though it maintains staunchly its out-dated position that it can't be held responsible for its greenhouse gas emissions—at least in the same way as the US, the EU, Japan, et cetera should be.
Well, some interesting news apropos of this unfortunate situation comes today via The Guardian.
At a two-day meeting in Brussels, a pretty diverse group of nations, encompassing everything from small island states on the front lines of sea level rise, to poor African and Asian nations, some of the usually progressive European nations, as well as a couple Asian Tigers, came together to challenge this now two decade old hard split between the polluters who need to stop and the nations who still have the right to pollute in the name of "development".
Connie Hedegaard, the European climate chief, who was hosting the meeting, said: "Countries have recognized that the old division between developed and developing countries – there are limits to how useful that is 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 categorization".
It's high time that something like this has been proposed.
China now has per capita carbon emissions similar to several low-emitting European nations (albeit with much higher levels of domestic emissions inequality, as it were). That it continues to refuse to acknowledge that its status as the world's largest consumer of energy, the largest greenhouse gas emitter, as well as the world's factory, means that it ought to have a responsibility to cut emissions and be legally bound to do so, is deeply unfortunate.