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INTERVIEW - China, India Not Ready to Cut Emissions - UN Official

Published by MAC on 2006-07-18

INTERVIEW - China, India Not Ready to Cut Emissions - UN Official


18th July 2006

ESPOO, Finland - Developing countries are unlikely to commit to curbing their rising carbon emissions because they believe rich nations are not doing enough to tackle global warming, a top United Nations official said on Monday.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair told Britain's Guardian newspaper last week he wanted to bring five fast-growing nations into the G8 group of industrialised countries to help secure a new global deal on climate change for when the UN Kyoto Protocol on cutting greenhouse gases runs out in 2012.

The countries were China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa. But any such grouping would not offer a quick route to persuading developing countries to tackle their emissions, Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change told Reuters during an international climate change conference in Finland.

"There is a lack of credibility at this point in time because a number of developing countries, especially those that are growing rapidly, feel that the developed countries really haven't done enough and this is just a means by which the burden will be shifted onto (their) shoulders," he said.

Before taking action to reduce their own environmental impact, developing countries are likely to put more pressure on the United States -- which has refused to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol -- to make a bigger effort to reduce its emissions, Pachauri said.

They would also likely demand more help with technology to improve energy efficiency, and increased development assistance, he added. "Certainly a forum of this nature would be useful but it's going to be a bumpy road, and if anyone thinks merely getting these people in the tent is going to solve these problems, then there's going to be some disappointment," he said.

China has become the second biggest source of carbon emissions in the world after the United States. But across China and India, around 800 million people still do not have access to electricity, making it politically difficult for their governments to set limits on carbon emissions, Pachauri said.

These countries are more likely to agree to less restrictive measures such as targets for the amount of electric power that will come from renewable sources, according to the climate change expert.

US President George W. Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol in 2001, saying it wrongly set no emissions limits for developing nations and would cost US jobs.

But Pachauri said he expected Washington to show stronger engagement with the global framework that succeeds the Kyoto Protocol.

"I see a lot of change taking place in the United States. There are a large number of states, several cities and even companies that are getting active in this area - so it's really a matter of time before public perceptions and desires get a different outcome from the federal government as well."

He added that concerns about energy security are also likely to drive developed country governments to search for alternatives to carbon-heavy fossil fuels.

Story by Megan Rowling


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