Developing countries led by China squabbled with the West over
mandatory emission cuts at the Bali climate change conference, as
environmental activists accused Canada of undermining the
negotiations by insisting on mandatory targets for poor
Chinese representative to the world conference on Saturday
questioned the fairness of binding cuts when China's per capita
emissions are only about one-sixth of America's. Beijing said that
it has been pumping pollutants into the atmosphere for a mere of
three decades, whereas the Western developed countries have done so
for hundreds of years.
"China is in the process of industrialization and there is a
need for economic growth to meet the basic needs of the people and
fight against poverty," said Su Wei, a top climate expert for
Chinese government and member of its delegation at the U.N. Climate
Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia.
"I just wonder whether it's fair to ask developing countries
like China to take on binding targets," Su said. "I think there is
much room for the United States to think whether it's possible to
change its lifestyle and energy consumption patterns in order to
contribute to the global climate."
Delegates from nearly 190 nations are attending the December
3-14 meeting in Bali and are likely to agree to launch negotiations
that will lead to an international accord to succeed the 1997 Kyoto
Protocol on global warming. They also are expected to set a
deadline for completing negotiations.
The Kyoto Protocol, which has been rejected by the United
States, commits three dozen industrialized countries to cut their
greenhouse gases an average of 5 percent below 1990 levels between
next year and 2012, when it expires.
Indonesian Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar, who is
president of the conference, said discussions on starting
post-Kyoto negotiations were on track and that "God willing" an
agreement would be reached by next weekend.
"There is no deadlock," he said. "I would think about 85 percent
of those in the room have the same direction."
However, according to an Associated Press report on Saturday,
Climate Action Network Canada, a coalition of Canadian
environmental groups, said Canadian negotiators in Bali have been
told to "demand that poorer nations accept the same binding
absolute emission reduction targets as developed nations."
"The Kyoto Protocol is built on the recognition that
industrialized countries are largely responsible for the problem of
climate change, and must take the lead in tackling it," said Steven
Guilbeault of the environmental group Equiterre. "Canada is trying
to rewrite history by putting the burden of emissions reductions on
Climate Action Network Canada provided reporters a one-page
document that it described as a leaked copy of Canada's negotiating
stance. It was impossible to verify the authenticity of the
document, and a spokesman for the Canadian delegation did not
respond to a request for comment.
The chief U.N. climate scientist, Rajendra Pachauri, said it was
next to impossible to expect the developing poor countries to agree
to cuts when their per capita emissions are so much less than the
"What is absolutely essential is to see that the developed
countries establish a record of action and commitment, which I
think will induce and provide a moral basis for developing
countries to assume the burden," Pachauri said.
"In the absence of that, I don't think anything is going to
happen. With per capita levels being so different, it's not likely
that anybody in the developing world would accept binding
Angus Friday, chairman of the Alliance of Small Island States,
many of which are threatened by sea level rises, said developed
countries had a "moral responsibility" to show leadership on the
issue and act first to tackle global warming since they have
contributed far more to the problem than poor countries.
(China Daily December 9, 2007)