The world’s richest countries aren’t doing their share of the work needed to address and adapt to climate change. Or, at least, so says a new report co-authored by 18 groups, including the World Wildlife Foundation and Oxfam, which announced that “[t]he ambition of all major developed countries falls well short of their fair shares.” Reuters reports:
Monday’s report said the rich could afford to shift from fossil fuels to cleaner energies, while helping others, and have more responsibility because they have benefited from burning coal, oil and natural gas since the Industrial Revolution.
By those yardsticks, it estimated that the United States and the European Union had promised about a fifth of their “fair shares” and Japan about a tenth.
By contrast, it found that emerging economies’ plans “exceed or broadly meet” their fair share. China was doing more than its fair share, for instance, counting its emissions since 1950, while Brazil was contributing two-thirds.
First, you can be sure that the developing nations of the world will be pointing to this study when they sit down at the negotiating table in Paris six weeks from now. But while poor countries will be glad to have some extra ammunition heading in to the December climate summit, this isn’t a positive development for that conference’s chief ambition: crafting a Global Climate Treaty.
The division between the developed and developing worlds remains the most intractable problem with this quest for a GCT. Poorer nations won’t want to sign on to a deal that appears to restrict economic growth in the name of green goals, especially if they see the richer countries of the world as not doing their part—after all, while the developing world’s ongoing industrialization is the bigger emissions issue going forward, the developed world is responsible for most of humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions to date. In that context, this study will only serve to make it more difficult for the two sides to find common ground.
That’s not the only worrying sign for the Paris summit, either. A bloc of African nations criticized the current working draft document for Paris, demanding a series of amendments be made before they would participate in talks. The draft is, in the bloc’s eyes, “unbalanced, and does not reflect the African Group positions, and crosses the group’s redlines.” In making that statement, the group of African countries is throwing a wrench in the process at a very late date, which in and of itself raises further questions about how delegates will reach an agreement in France.
And while the developing world digs in ahead of the talks, a Russian oligarch is making the opposite case, saying that if the world’s industrializing nations aren’t held to stronger climate commitments, businesses elsewhere will be placed at a competitive disadvantage. This already has the feel of a he-said she-said stand-off, and we’re only going to see an increase in tensions in the remaining weeks before this whole event kicks off.