6 june 2011

Robin Hood in Reverse: Developing Countries Pledge Bigger Climate Emissions Cuts than World’s Richest Nations

By Tyce Hermann and Stephen Lacey atClimate Progress, edited by Joe Romm, Jun 6, 2011

The countries that have made the smallest contribution to climate change may be doing the most to address it. That would be Robin Hood in reverse — compounding the fact that we are all reverse Robin Hoods, maintaining our wealthy lifestyles by robbing our children of a livable climate and truly sustainable wealth (see “Is the global economy a Ponzi scheme?“)

A new report from Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) finds that developing nations are on track to reduce emissions more than their industrialized counterparts. The report, commissioned by Oxfam for the GROW Campaign, made some striking claims, including:

•China’s total emissions reductions could be nearly double those of the US by 2020.
•The emissions reductions of developing countries could be three times greater than those of the EU by 2020.
•The emission reductions of China, India, South Africa and Brazil – the BASIC countries – could be slightly greater than the combined efforts of the 7 biggest developed countries – the US, Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Russia by 2020.

However, with many developed countries still hesitant to implement aggressive emissions-reduction targets, the cumulative impact will not be enough to prevent a 2 degrees rise in global temperature — the limit agreed upon in Cancun.

Oxfam’s Climate Change Policy Advisor Tim Gore had strong words for the developed countries that are supposed to be “leaders.”

All countries need to do their fair share to tackle climate change. Yet rich industrialized countries which are most responsible for the climate crisis are not pulling their weight.

It’s time for governments from Europe to the US to stand up to the fossil fuel lobbyists. Their competitors in developing countries – from China to India and Brazil – have pledged to do more to rein in emissions and start building prosperous low carbon economies. Europe and the US risk being left behind.

Opponents of action in the U.S. have been wary of committing to specific targets or implementing carbon-reduction programs because of concerns that developing countries won’t tag along. Those arguments are getting harder to make.

— Tyce Herrman and Stephen Lacey

Joe Romm: The only thing that I would add is that China isn’t really a developing country in the in the way, say, Indonesia is. It is quickly joining the ranks of the richer countries who are not doing enough.

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