Rising economies 'ahead on climate'
- 12 August 2014
- From the section Science & Environment
Four of the world's emerging economies have claimed that they are far ahead of developed countries in their efforts to slow climate change.
Brazil, South Africa, India and China are known as the BASIC bloc in international climate negotiations.
They have also accused developed nations of keeping their carbon emission cuts ambitions at a low level.
Ministers from the BASIC countries made the claim after meeting in the Indian capital, New Delhi, on Friday.
Developed countries have long argued that shares in global carbon emissions from fast emerging economies like China and India were huge and yet they were not committed to making cuts.
The two sides have been at loggerheads for years, presenting hurdles to a deal on climate change.
"Our [climate change] mitigation efforts are more than developed countries," Prakash Javadekar, India's environment minister told the BBC after he held the meeting with his counterparts from Brazil, China and South Africa.
"We are going ahead with our voluntary actions which will reduce carbon emissions and also bring about increased energy efficiency from 25% to 50%.
"We want the developed world to walk the walk."
The comments come ahead of a major climate meeting of heads of state and government being hosted by UN secretary-general Bank Ki-moon next month.
The meeting in New York aims at securing political support for a global climate deal next year.
But an official with the EU's climate commission said figures showed an opposite picture.
"The latest United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) emissions gap report clearly says that developed countries have cut more than developing countries when we use the same baseline," said the official, who did not want to be named.
The 2013 report said: "Between 2000 and 2010, developed countries' share in global emissions decreased from 51.8% to 40.9%, whereas developing countries' emissions increased from 48.2% to 59.1%."
Past negotiations, most notably the Copenhagen summit in 2009, had failed in part because of the conflicting positions of the developed world and rapidly rising economies like China and India.
BASIC countries in the past argued that they should not be asked to make mandatory emissions cuts because it was now their turn to speed up development works and tackle poverty.
They insisted that the developed countries had the "historic responsibility" to shoulder the burden of carbon cuts given their past emissions since the industrial revolution.
China tops the list of the world's major carbon emitters followed by the US and India.
In its latest report, the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), the top UN body on climate science, said natural systems were already hit by climatic changes.
It highlighted that the amount of scientific evidence on the effects of warming had almost doubled since the last report in 2007 and that growing impact on humans was feared.
Scientists say average global temperature rise should be limited to two degrees compared to what it was before the industrial revolution to avoid dangerous climate change.
To achieve that goal, they believe global carbon emissions should peak soon and drop drastically.
But several reports have shown greenhouse gases that trap heat on Earth are rising inexorably.
Earlier this year, President Obama proposed a new law to cut US carbon emissions by 30% by 2030, mainly targeting coal-fired power plants.
"Developing nations with some of the fastest-rising levels of carbon pollution are going to have to take action to meet this challenge alongside us," he said, announcing his climate policy in 2013.
"They're watching what we do, but we've got to make sure that they're stepping up to the plate as well."
The European Union has offered to increase its emissions reduction from 20% to 30% by 2020 "if other major emitting countries in the developed and developing worlds commit to undertake their fair share of a global emissions reduction effort".
But Mr Javedekar countered: "After the US discovered shale gas and following their economic downturn, they have shown that their emissions have gone down, but that is not real.
"Europe too has to do much more than what they are doing now.
Although major economies like China and India claim that they are doing what they can to emit less as they intensify development activities, several studies have shown that their carbon emissions continue to rise steeply.
Developed countries argue that without major emitters like China and India making mandatory and significant cuts, climate change cannot be addressed.
Long-time observers of international climate negotiations say that as long as the developed countries and the BASIC bloc remain at loggerheads, they fail to see how a meaningful global climate deal can be reached next year.