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24 September 2014
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Rich v Poor

Many people argue it isn't fair to penalise the poor countries in the world who are still trying to develop their infrastructures. The richer nations are generally those who have created the extra greenhouse gases and they should be the ones to tackle the problem, allowing the developing nations to continue developing.

power stationThe problem with climate change is that all countries are under pressure to reduce their use of fuels which increase greenhouse gases. However, it has principally been the richer, industrialised countries that have caused this problem and demanding that poorer countries change their development plans has caused disagreement.

China, India and the other developing countries are unlikely to accept any deal where targets are based on historical emissions unless their total emissions are allowed to continue to grow. They would prefer to move towards a system of equal per capita emissions, but this would be difficult to sell in the US.

At the 2008 G8 summit in Tokyo, the final meeting of the US-backed major economies group was held. It issued a declaration which endorsed “a long-term global goal for reducing global emissions, taking into account the principle of equity”. However the declaration did not refer to a 50% cut in emissions as the G8 statement by world leaders had done.

India, China and other developing countries at this stage remain unprepared to agree emissions cuts. They want the developed countries to act first. They would also like more concrete commitments on financing from industrialised countries for emissions cuts.

Historically, of course, it is the developed countries that have been responsible for the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions. And their economies have benefited. So China, India and the other developing countries are unlikely to accept any deal where targets are based on historical emissions unless their total emissions are allowed to continue to grow. They would prefer to move towards a system of equal per capita emissions, but this would be difficult to sell in the US.

The United Nations Convention on Climate Change has addressed this problem by stating that the countries which have created the most greenhouse gases should take the lead in combating the problem. It declared that, “The Convention recognises that poorer countries have a right to economic development… It acknowledges the vulnerability of poorer countries to the effects of climate change.”





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