Climate change: developed countries unwilling to commit to 2020 targets

By Jaideep Sarin, IANS,

L’Aquila (Italy) : Developed countries comprising the G8 are unwilling to commit themselves to reducing greenhouse gas emissions drastically by 2020, despite scientists across the world and developing countries urging them to do so.

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With the issue of climate change becoming significant during the G8-G5 summit here, especially in the run-up to the UN climate change summit to be held in Copenhagen this December, emerging economies of the G5 are exerting pressure on the G8 to commit to earlier targets on reducing emissions.

“There is not much willingness among the developed countries to set the 2020 targets. Developing countries want a sharp decrease in emissions – at least by 40 percent by 2020,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s special envoy on climate change Shyam Saran said here Thursday.

“There is an important political message from the G5 to the developed countries that they have to commit to reducing emission targets by 2020. On climate change, the developed countries have a historical responsibility to pay for the accumulated pollution,” Saran said.

Though developed and developing countries at the G8-G5 summit in this quake-hit Italian town, about 100 km northeast of Rome, are working to have an agreement in place on emissions and other environment issues before the Copenhagen conference, the draft concluding document is indicating that G8 countries are ready to pledge only 50 percent reduction in their greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The G5 is demanding that the emissions be reduced by at least 40 percent by 2020 and by 80 percent by 2050.

“The developed countries have been the biggest polluters and have to share their historical responsibility on it. India spends 2.5 percent of its GDP on the fallout of climate change like natural disasters. Technology is the key to reducing emissions and developed countries will have step in for this,” Saran added.

Climate change is affecting farm output, making droughts, floods and storms more severe and more frequent and raising the sea level. India is one of the worst-affected countries.

The G5 — India, China, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico — is suggesting that at least 1 percent of the GDP of developed countries should go towards checking climate change.

Global NGOs shadowing the G8-G5 summit said Thursday that any possibility of the G8 countries coming with a 2020 target had been scupperred by Russia, which has long opposed any cap on its greenhouse gas emissions.