Who is responsible?
Individual responsibility for climate change mitigation decreases with decreasing economic power. In poor countries more responsibility lies with those who can act, such as governments and companies.
The UN Development Programme’s 2008 Human Development Report draws a helpful distinction between developed and developing countries. In order to stay below a global 2°C temperature rise, it suggests emissions reductions by developed countries of 80 per cent by 2050, with 30 per cent reductions by 2020. Under this scenario, developing countries would need to cut their emissions by 20 per cent by 2050, with emissions rising until 2020. Average emissions in both developed and developing countries would converge by 2060 to about 2.0 tonnes per head of CO2e.
Another distinction is between the least-developed countries (LDCs), and the fast-developing ones, like Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRICs).
While developed countries would need to cut their emissions, some analysts suggest, the BRICs should aim to minimise their rising emissions by leapfrogging the industrialized bloc with clean technology. The LDCs would do that too, but with additional emphasis on providing support for ecosystem protection, for example by moving away from charcoal, and protecting forests and other carbon sinks. In future discussions about the share of responsibilities in reducing GHG emissions, the question of financing action will be central. The next round of negotiations for a post-Kyoto Protocol agreement will have to deal with these funding issues.
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