The principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" began to win general acceptance in the early 1970s. The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, held in Stockholm in 1972, declared that the protection and improvement of the human environment was the duty of the whole world. It also drew attention to the fact that environmental deficiencies in developing countries are themselves generated by the conditions of underdevelopment. This was the embryo of the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities."
The principle was written into Article 4 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted in 1992. Under this principle, developed countries should take the lead in emissions reduction and provide support in terms of finance and technology to developing countries, while developing countries should apply this financial and technological support to actions designed to mitigate or adapt to climate change. Notwithstanding, economic and social development and eradicating poverty still remain the first and overriding priorities for the developing world.
China has never forsaken this principle in any of the international climate negotiations in which it has participated.