Role of Developing Countries

In Kyoto, developing countries such as China, India and Brazil accepted many responsibilities, but without emissions targets. With the exception of the newly industrialized countries, their emissions per head of the population remain small compared to those of industrialized countries.
China, for instance, emits as much CO2 as the USA, but has a population 4x greater, so its per capita emissions are lower. Also, their historical contribution to the gases accumulated in the atmosphere is smaller than their current emissions.

For comparison, the 100 least emitting countries are together responsible for only 3% of all global emissions.

Nonetheless, developing countries’ emissions are rising as their economies grow, and now make up around half of global emissions.
Nobody on the planet – rich or poor – can afford for their economies to follow the same “business-as-usual” development route as their dirty forbears.

WWF says the emissions from developing nations need to deviate from business-as-usual as quickly as possible, reaching 30% lower than they would otherwise have been by 2020.

THIS IS A MAJOR AND CONTROVERSIAL CALL ON DEVELOPING COUNTRIES, but there is a planetary imperative, and it can be done in a way that is fair.

The planetary imperative can be reconciled with basic fairness if rich nations pay for the extra costs involved in this new greener pathway to development. It is, after all, only necessary because developed countries have warmed the planet and taken up most of the atmospheric “space” for greenhouse gases.

The good news for DEVELOPING countries that by “leapfrogging” conventional technologies and adopting low-emissions methods and processes, they can avoid many of the unpleasant downsides of those technologies – the local pollution, ill-health for people and damage to nature.

The green low-carbon technologies are also more efficient. They will save money in the long run.

The good news for DEVELOPED nations that the planet’s life support systems may yet be able to escape the consequences of pollution-intensive industrialization.

A handful of developing countries are already taking up the challenge.

announced a voluntary carbon reduction target at the G20 meeting in September this year, committing to reduce emissions by 26% by 2020.

South Africa has committed to ensuring that its emissions peak and start to decline by the early 2020s.

Mexico has promised to reduce its emissions by 50% between now and 2050, and in April 2009 agreed a deal with the Obama administration to cooperate on cutting emissions.

China, Brazil and India are reducing the carbon intensity of their economies and building renewable energy industries.

Recently the Philippines agreed on a 50% renewable energy target for 2020, and large deforesting nations such as Brazil embraced very ambitious objectives to reduce deforestation by about 70% by 2020.

WWF proposes that developing countries draw up national low-carbon action plans. These should be based on their own priorities for sustainable development but should meet the target of 30% deviation from business-as-usual.

Some of these “deviation actions” will pay for themselves.

Many others will require investment and technological support from industrialized countries – reflecting the historic responsibility of the long-term polluters.

The least developed countries may want to draw up low-carbon development plans as part of their development strategies, and WWF encourages them to do so.

But they should NOT HAVE to take such actions for the time being.

The monsoon is arriving later and for a shorter season. Because of the changes, not as many blue crabs swim here from the South China Sea. The harvest has dropped from 300 grams for every trap to just 30 grams. In December 2008 I lost the contract to supply crabs to a factory which supplies the US market.

Christopher Kong, crab fisher, Sabah, Malaysia

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