What are the Responsibilities of Developing and Developed Nations for World Wide Environment?

On December 11, COP 17 (the 17th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change), which was held in Durban, South Africa ended with little outcome. Since Kyoto Protocol which requires developed nations to cut green house gas emissions will be expired by 2012, it was supposed to be made new framework to reduce green house gas emissions in this conference. (Actually, COP started negotiating new framework from several years ago, but it failed to settle in one conclusion.) However, they concluded that they will extend the Kyoto protocol with several revisions, and they will start a new framework which involves the U.S and China by 2020.

The most controversial issue among negotiating new framework was whether developing countries should have the responsibility to reduce emissions (Of course the involvement of the U.S was also controversial). Under the Kyoto protocol, the developing countries have no obligation to reduce emissions. However, since climate change, which probably caused by GHG emissions, has getting more visible and the necessity of cutting GHG has been growing, it is required to involve big developing countries such as China, India which do not have obligation so far but emitting many GHG. Responding to such requirement, China and India opposed to the new framework by saying that it would slow their economic growth. They also argued that since developed countries deteriorated worldwide environment, it is their responsibility to reduce it. So how can we make one solution?

To tell the truth, the amount of GHG emissions of countries, which have obligation under the Kyoto protocol, is only 26% of all emissions in the world. That means the much of GHG is emitted from other countries. Considering this situation, we cannot overlook the country which are emitting large amount of GHG without any obligation. But it is also true that a lot of developing nations are facing more severe environmental impact which is caused by GHG emissions. Developed nations have degraded the environment to grow its economy, and ironically developing nations have been facing more severe environmental damage than developed nations. We can stay without thinking about environmental effect from GHG emissions so much, however, some developing country are suffering from more environmental degradation such as sea water rising, which is threatening some whole nation, and sever climate change, which is spoiling its agriculture. Developing country is more vulnerable to environmental impact because of its weak economy and weak political system to tackle with. Therefore, we need to support them so that they can overcome these severe situations by offering knowledge and technologies, and of course we should have more responsibility to reduce GHG emissions to ease environmental degradation.

When the new framework is negotiated by 2020, the situation of world economy will be different from now days. It is possible that more developing countries will be a big economic country and have more impact on environmental degradation by emitting more GHG. It will be inevitable that such new big economical countries have obligation to reduce GHG emissions, however, developed country should have more obligation not just reducing more GHG but also supporting developing country by offering knowledge and technology so that we can create environmentally friendly country world widely.

by Shunsuke Ochi

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One thought on “What are the Responsibilities of Developing and Developed Nations for World Wide Environment?

  1. The climate change debate is an interesting one!

    Apparently representatives from around 100 developing nations walked out of the UN Conference in Durban at one stage because the richer countries were not offering enough aid. Do they really have a responsibility to help out the developing countries? It is not just a situation of ‘what is the right thing to do?’ when globalisation means developing nations are very much the economic competitors of developed countries in many industries. It’s particularly hard for America with their economy not doing well. Does the US have any incentive to provide resources or funds to assist countries like Vietnam who are essentially killing off their manufacturing sector? Plus developing countries will be the largest source of emissions in the next 20 years.

    It seems like no country (developed or developing) is willing to step forward and take leadership of this issue. In fact Canada just withdrew as a party to the Kyoto Protocol!! Unfortunately it doesn’t bode well for any real momentum on climate change action.

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