photo: Jeff Turner via flickr
At the 175-nation climate change talks taking place in Bonn, Germany a group of developing nations has urged that the greenhouse gas emission reductions proposed by wealthy nations should be increased to "at least 40 percent" below 1990 levels by 2020. These would be greater cuts than be proposed by most politicians in the wealthy world (though not below what some scientists say is required):Reuters quotes a Norwegian official as saying that the strongest voice for the 40% reductions arises from small islands states (many of which could be uninhabitable because of rising sea levels), but that those reduction recommendations have broad support.
Currently Proposed Reductions Not Enough
The Obama administration has the stated goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 (that's a 17% cut from current levels), and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The EU has pledged to reduce emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by 2020, increasing that to 30% if other wealthy nations make similar pledges.
The UN Climate Panel said in a 2007 report that by 2020 cuts of between 25-40% would be required to avoid the worst effects of climate change. So, in short, the proposed cuts of the US and the EU both are insufficient.
Reducing Emissions in Wealthy Nations Essential to Help Poor
Though the developing world as a whole makes up a bit over half of global greenhouse gas emissions, with China now leading the way in aggregate emissions, on a per capita basis (especially when issues of diminishing poverty and increasing human well-being are concerned) the onus really is on those of us living in wealthy nations to take the lead: Diminish personal and aggregate greenhouse gas emissions and increase rates of green technology transfer into poorer nations so that in places where more consumption would make genuine improvements in people's lives, it can be done in the least environmentally harmful way.
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