This article was published on The Republica (9 April, 2013)
A number of western news wires and climate pundits seem to be euphoric over the ‘declaration’ of some of the poorest countries to cut emissions of Green House Gases to tackle runaway climate change. We will soon know whether the group of least developed countries (LDCs) actually made the commitment, and if it is worth such a wide coverage, but let us first examine whether such a move from the LDCs will have any significance.
Scientific evidences suggest that the world is on the path to becoming 4 °C warmer within this century. It has already been verified that warming above 1.5 °C will cause serious threats to the development and even survival of communities in the most underprivileged parts of the world. A recent report by World Bank said, “A world in which warming reaches 4°C above preindustrial levels would be one of unprecedented heat waves, severe drought, and major floods in many regions, with serious impacts on human systems, ecosystems, and associated services.” But developed countries, which are primarily responsible for, and have the ability to avert, this catastrophe, remain nonchalant.
Twenty plus years have passed since negotiations started among the countries under United Nations to find ways to keep the temperatures rise under safe limits so as to stabilize the climate. In recent years, with countries like China, Brazil, South Africa and India catching up with the United States and European countries not only in economic development but also in Green House Gas emission, a debate over who should take the lead in reducing emissions has been started. The negotiating parties are at loggerheads, with developed countries unwilling to take actions without emerging economies agreeing to binding emission cuts, while emerging economies cite the historical responsibility of developed countries. Forced to remain in the sidelines, LDCs and small island developing states (SIDS) urged developing nations to take note of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC) acknowledged in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The 49 LDCs representing 12 percent of the world’s population are responsible for only four percent of global emissions, but are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.