China accused rich nations at U.N. climate talks on Thursday of increasing pressure on the poor to do more to combat global warming while shirking their own responsibility to lead.
“There has been a general feeling of unhappiness about the level of efforts that (developed nations) say they will take,” China’s climate ambassador Yu Qingtai told Reuters on the sidelines of August 10-14 climate talks in Bonn.
“What is even more worrying is a continuation and even a strengthening of the tendency of trying to shift the burden to the developing countries,” he said. “That must change.”
Many rich nations at the 180-nation talks, negotiating a new U.N. climate pact due to be in place in December, are far above their 2008-12 goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions under the U.N.’s existing Kyoto Protocol.
And earlier on Thursday, Australia’s parliament rejected, as expected, a plan for the world’s most ambitious emissions trading scheme. The government said it would try to push through the scheme before the December climate talks in Copenhagen [nSYD16743].
“It’s unfortunate that the Australian plan didn’t get through,” said Jennifer Morgan of the E3G climate think-tank. “It would be helpful to have a cap-and-trade system in a major coal producing nation to encourage others.”
India also said the rich were expecting too much of the poor while failing to lead in setting deeper 2020 cuts for emissions of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels burned since the Industrial Revolution 200 years ago.
“There are developing countries which are doing much more perhaps than developed countries are doing,” Shyam Saran, India’s special envoy for climate change, told Reuters.
“Whether it is in terms of renewable energy programs, or promoting new technologies, you will see far more action in developing countries than in developed countries,” he said.
He noted that India had approved a plan to install 20,000 megawatts of solar power by 2020. He declined to comment directly on the Australian vote.
Developed nations say the poor must do more to help a new U.N. pact to combat projected heatwaves, droughts, floods and rising sea levels. China is top emitter ahead of the United States, Russia and India.
In Beijing, the government said it would make “controlling greenhouse gas emissions” an important part of its development plans. Global warming threatened China’s environmental and economic health, Chinese newspapers reported.
Yu said he wanted China’s emissions to peak as soon as possible and then fall but declined to say when Beijing would be able to set a peak year. “That’s still a problem that our experts are studying,” he said.
Developing nations led by China and India say the rich should cut greenhouse emissions by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and come up with aid and technology to enable the poor to start reining in their own rising emissions.
Industrialized nations in Bonn have promised cuts in greenhouse gas emissions averaging between 15 to 21 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, official data shows.
The figures exclude the United States, the only developed nation outside Kyoto. It plans to cut emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, a cut of about 14 percent from recent levels.
As part of the planned Copenhagen deal, developing nations are due to slow the rise of their emissions by 2020.