New Delhi (AFP) Dec 8, 2007
Developing nations must be allowed to boost carbon emissions to lift millions out of poverty, says the head of the Nobel prize-winning climate change panel slated to formally get the award on Monday.
"If you have the case of India, a half a billion people who do not even have electricity, what mitigation (of carbon emissions) can you carry out?" said Rajendra K. Pachauri, who shared the prize with former US vice-president Al Gore
The scientist, who will accept on behalf of the panel, and Gore will receive the 10-million-Swedish-kronor (1.5-million-dollar, 1.1-million-euro) prize from Ole Mjoes, head of the five-member Nobel committee, on Monday.
"How can you deny them (poor Indians) electricity in the future?" Pachauri said in an interview with AFP just before embarking on his trip.
"And if you have to supply them power it will have to come from coal for a substantial quantity," said Pachauri, the first developing country head of the influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
India and China must put pressure on developed countries to take the "first" and "meaningful steps" to cut emissions of greenhouse gases emission rapidly, said Pachauri.
So far, the world's largest carbon emitter, the United States, has refused to accept binding reductions.
Canada has also said that developing countries like China and India must undertake mandatory emissions cuts along with developed countries.
"If we are emitting only one-twentieth of what North America is emitting (per capita) then you really can't make a comparison," said Pachauri, voicing support for looking at emissions-per-person during the Bali negotiations.
Evidence of the planet's warming was now "unequivocal" and the effects on the climate system could be "abrupt or irreversible," the influential UN panel said in its fourth and final report issued last month.
Past climate discussions have concluded that developed countries that have industrialised through the massive consumption of coal and oil bear the larger responsibility for curbing climate change.
China is the world's second-largest emitter in absolute terms while India is in fourth place, but with their billion-plus populations their emissions-per-person are low compared to rich countries, though growing fast.
Pachauri called on the nations at Bali to come out with a clear roadmap for tackling climate change before the summit ends on December 13.
If one is not in place, "it will be a lost opportunity," Pachauri said.
earlier related report
As the first week of the conference in Indonesia trying to lay the groundwork for a new climate change pact drew to a close, trade ministers gathered on the sidelines to thrash out the economic aspects of the problem.
"We all know the environmental imperative of facing up to the challenge of climate change," said Simon Crean, who was sworn in as Australia's trade minister after Kevin Rudd led Labor to victory in last month's elections.
Crean said Australia was not going to sign up to any binding commitments on battling climate change until they had the results of a report commissioned by Rudd's climate change economic specialist, expected next year.
Crean told reporters on Indonesia's resort island of Bali that the new government would lay out its pledges "at the appropriate time".
"Australia has said that we understand that if we're to solve this problem we're going to have to commit to targets," he said.
The European Union, developing countries led by China, and environmental activists are urging the rich world to commit to reducing their polluting greenhouse gas emissions by 25 to 40 percent by 2020.
But Crean said that promises by rich countries alone to cut carbon dioxide emissions would not solve global warming.
"We said during the election campaign that developing countries needed to make commitments ... and that is a position that we will be bringing to this conference," he told reporters.
Rudd ratified the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 deal on battling climate change, in his first official act after being sworn in as prime minister. The move reversed the policy of the previous Howard government, a key US ally, which declined to sign up.
The current US administration -- now the only rich nation not party to Kyoto -- has stressed that it will not sign up to any mandatory emissions cuts targets that hamper economic growth.
Canada, meanwhile, has indicated that booming developing economies like India and China must also commit to targets, sparking anger from green groups.
An umbrella of environmental groups on Saturday accused the Canadian delegation of trying to spoil the climate negotiations with its stance.
"Canada is driving a tar sands truck right through the middle of the negotiations here in Bali," said Steven Guilbeault, from ecological group Equiterre.
"The Kyoto Protocol is built on the recognition that industrialised countries are largely responsible for the problem of climate change, and must take the lead in tackling it.
"Canada is trying to rewrite history by putting the burden of emissions reductions on poorer countries."
Delegates from more than 180 countries are currently in Bali to hammer out a timeframe for a new deal on tackling climate change when the current phase of the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
Environment ministers will arrive in Bali at the end of next week, while trade and finance ministers and representatives have begun gathering on the sidelines of the summit.
"The meeting of trade ministers emphasises the point that it is not just an environmental imperative that we're dealing with, but the economic opportunities that come from solving climate change," Crean said.
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