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   Commentary: Developed countries key to success at Cancun climate conference
Commentary: Developed countries key to success at Cancun climate conference

BEIJING, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) -- The key to success at the upcoming Cancun climate change conference rests with the United States and other developed countries.

At last year's conference hosted in Copenhagen, developed countries, represented by the United States, failed to make their due commitment to emission reductions, rather, they pointed fingers at developing countries with claims that were groundless.

Further, developed countries hampered the efforts to combat global warming as they shied away from their responsibilities. Without any change in their attitude, chances of a successful Cancun conference will be very slim.

Developed countries bear responsibility, both due to historical and practical causes. Developed countries, as the earliest industrialized nations, have contributed most to the historical storage of carbon-dioxide (CO2). Practically speaking, these countries rank high in terms of per capita emission, and their citizens' extravagant consumption gives rise to unnecessary emissions. Further, developed countries also have the technological and financial capacity to tackle the problem and offer assistance to the developing world.

Historically speaking, developed countries have "sinned" against the world environment when they built their industrial empires on exploiting coal, oil and other natural resources. While they were enjoying the exclusive right to carbon emissions, most developing countries did not even have modern industry and transportation that would produce greenhouse gas emission.

Research done by Beijing-based Tsinghua University suggests that developed countries, home to 23.6 percent of the world population, have contributed 79 percent of the aggregate carbon emissions since the industrial revolution.

Practically speaking, the annual energy consumption of developed countries represents 64.6 percent of the world's total, while CO2 emissions are 65 percent of the world's total. In per capita terms, China emitted 4.6 tonnes of fossil-fuel-generated CO2 in 2007, less than one-fourth of that of the United States, and half of that in the European Union, according to the Tsinghua University research.

Additionally, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that the U.S. ranked top in terms of per capita energy consumption, which is five times that of China. Also, the U.S. remains the world's largest consumer of oil, with a daily demand for crude oil standing at 19 million barrels, doubling that of China.

Further, China's high carbon emissions are partly due to its lack of energy resources. China is short of oil and gas but rich in coal, and carbon-intensive coal represents two-thirds in its entire energy mix.

Additionally, China is still in the middle of industrialization and urbanization, which inevitably generates significant carbon emissions, while developed countries have already closed this page.

Though extravagant consumption, such as driving high emission cars, also exists in China, most Chinese only generate CO2 emissions for basic subsistence.

Of note, a new trend has surfaced that developed countries have used emission controls as an excuse to create favorable rules in international trade.

The American House of Representatives passed in June 2009 the Clean Energy and Security Act, which will impose duties on imports from countries that are not subject to emission caps, largely developing countries, beginning in 2020.

The European Union rolled out similar measures as well. Beginning in 2012, over 2,000 airlines will be required to join the EU Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS). By then, all airplanes flying over Europe will have to pay extra based upon their emissions of greenhouse gases.

If these measures are purely designed for the sake of the environment, developed countries might as well start with cutting back on their carbon emissions, rather than obliging others to pay the bill.

At the 5th BASIC Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change hosted in October in China, BASIC countries -- China, India, Brazil and South Africa --, a bloc of four large developing countries, urged developed nations to fulfill their obligations and help developing countries fight global warming.

The four countries, in a joint statement, called on developed nations to commit to more ambitious emission reduction targets under the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

According to the statement issued by BASIC countries at the meeting, the key to enable success in Cancun is the allocation of the 30-billion-U.S.-dollar "fast start fund" that supports developing countries.

The statement notes that the funding must be "new and additional" to the existing funds and official development aid.

Xie Zhenhua, deputy director of China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said at a Tuesday press conference held in Beijing that developed countries should shoulder their responsibilities according to the Bali Roadmap and Copenhagen Agreement, and take the lead in global emission reduction efforts, which is a principle that must be adhered to.

中国人民大学民商事法律科学研究中心| 民法学研究会 | 中国人民大学法学院 | 佟柔民商法发展基金 | 明德民商法研习社
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