Developing Countries a Divided House at Climate Talks?

  • Published on August 14th, 2009

Are the developing countries struggling to stay together on a unified stand to oppose mandatory emission reduction targets? Recent developments indicate that they are.


Developed and developing countries have been at loggerheads for quite sometime on the issue of reducing carbon emissions. The developing countries urge the developed countries to heed to the recommendations of the International Panel on Climate Change and cut their carbon emissions by at least 25 percent by 2020. The developed countries on the other hand want the developing countries to make small but significant contributions in reducing the global production of carbon emissions.

Developed countries have failed to commit to bold emission reduction targets and have been struggling to pass legislations to initiate even modest steps towards reducing their carbon footprints. Developed countries presented weak emission targets as part of preliminary round of talks before the Copenhagen round of talks. Neither the developed countries nor the developing countries to want to put extra economic burden on their people as use of clean but expensive technologies will mean new taxes and bigger energy bills.

Developing countries have maintained that the responsibility to reduce carbon emissions is on the developed countries given their huge historical contribution to the global increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases levels. They have so far been successful in dodging demands for mandatory emission cuts but cracks are starting to appear in their stand.

After a series of meetings between American and Chinese officials, which started during the last of the Bush Presidency, China seems to have soften its stand. It has been reported that the Chinese government is contemplating to limit its industrial emissions. The US-China agreement on climate change signed during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent visit to China has also raised hopes that issues like technology transfer and investment in renewable energy projects will be resolved soon.

Lately, China has been giving positive signals about its change in its attitude towards is domestic environment conditions. China has taken several measures to reduce its transportation and industrial emissions. It has announce several massive solar and wind energy projects, many of then compete with those in the developed countries in terms of size and generation capacity.

The United States has also been in talks with Brazil. Brazil has ample opportunities to positively contribute in reducing carbon emissions. Preservation of the Amazon rain forests could earn it revenue through UN’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) scheme. Brazil will also benefit from export of biofuels and thus the developed countries see it as an opportunity of cooperation at the climate talks.

India is finding itself under pressure to maintain a strong stand against the demands of the developed counties. India’s environment minister will be visiting Brazil, China and South Africa to coordinate strategy for the Copenhagen talks.

Clearly the developing countries seem to have strayed out of their rigid approach towards international negotiations on climate change thereby giving the advantage to the developed countries to secure some kind of deal. It has also risen hopes of a meaningful agreement at Copenhagen talks scheduled for this December. Hopefully both the parties could workout an agreement wherein the responsibility to reduce carbon emissions is borne by all while technical and financial help reaching those who need it.

Photo: COP15 Website

The views presented in the above article are author’s personal views and do not represent those of TERI/TERI University where the author is currently pursuing a Master’s degree.

About the Author

currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.