Who Takes Responsibility for Climate Change? Part II
Such a major restructuring of the energy system as the two-degree goal requires will have consequences in almost every area of society: transport, food production, heating of buildings and industrial production must be reorganized. This in itself makes it very difficult to implement the political and economic changes needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It becomes extra difficult because there is no direct connection between
- who emits greenhouse gases and
- who is affected by climate change.
No country can solve the problem alone. This makes international cooperation very important.
4: Climate negotiations from Kyoto to Cancun
The most important attempt at international cooperation on climate change is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was adopted in 1992. The convention contains common rules and principles for how member states should work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and quarterly a climate summit will be held where the countries in the convention meet to agree on new measures. So far it has proved difficult.
At the annual climate summit in 1997, in Kyoto (Japan), the so-called Kyoto Protocol was adopted. In this agreement , the rich countries commit themselves to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by about five percent in the period 2008–2012 – a fairly cautious start to the necessary reductions of 50−85 percent that the UN Climate Panel talks about. The effect of the Kyoto Protocol was also reduced because the United States withdrew from the agreement even before it came into force. Therefore, it was considered very important to negotiate a new agreement that could ensure greater emission reductions in the period after 2012.
According to ANIMALERTS, negotiations on a new and more comprehensive climate agreement were scheduled to be completed at the climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009. But despite the fact that more than a hundred heads of state attended the meeting, no agreement was reached. In this page has dei consecutive top the meetings in Cancun (2010), Durban (2011) and Doha (2012) made a row resolutions which in practice constitutes the regulations for international climate work in the period from 2012 and until 2020.
In the decision made in Cancun in 2010, the two-degree goal became for the first time an official goal for international climate work. Targets were also adopted for how much the individual countries will reduce their emissions by 2020. All the rich countries and all the largest developing countries have such targets. If one adds up the emission reductions they have said they will implement, there is still a long way to go before the reductions needed if the world is to be able to reach the two-degree target.
5: Who is responsible?
An important reason why the countries in the UN have not been able to negotiate an agreement that reduces greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently to reach the two-degree target is that there are very different views on how the responsibility for emission reductions should be distributed.
The UN Convention on Climate Change is based on the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” : Although all countries must work together to stop climate change, some countries have a greater responsibility than others to do something about the problem. There is no doubt that the rich countries – Europe, North America, Japan and Australia – have the main responsibility for the greenhouse gases that have accumulated in the atmosphere over the last two hundred years. They also have far greater financial and technological resources to do something about the problem. Therefore, developing countries believe that only rich countries should commit to cutting their emissions, as they did in the Kyoto Protocol.
The rich countries, on the other hand, say that they do not want to do more without large developing countries also committing themselves . Populated and fast-growing countries such as China, India and Brazil have so far been considered developing countries and therefore did not need to commit to emission cuts. China is today the country in the world that emits the most, and its emissions are expected to continue to grow for many years. Even if the rich countries have the historical responsibility for the climate problem, it will not be possible to reach the two-degree goal if only these countries are to reduce their emissions.
Many developing countries respond to this that emissions from China and India are growing because the countries have many poor inhabitants who are entitled to a better standard of living . Furthermore, they maintain that if one compares the countries’ emissions per capita , rich countries such as the USA and Australia are responsible for the largest emissions. Much of the growth in emissions in China and Indonesia, for example, is also due to industry that produces goods for consumers in rich, western countries . Most developing countries therefore demand that if emissions are to be reduced among them as well, then the rich countries must at least contribute money and modern technology.. But how far the bill for climate measures will be distributed in a fair way has so far not been possible for the UN countries to agree on.