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International Debate on Climate Change: Developed Countries Vs Developing Countries

by Yadav Sharma Bajagai

In 2009, the United Nations climate change conference was held in Copenhagen, Denmark. There was a widespread hope to the world community about the conference that it would bring a significant policy and commitment to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. But, the conference couldn’t make a consensus decision and thus the accord of the conference was not passed unanimously. The seeds of the debate seem to be sown in Kyoto protocol in which principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” has been initiated. According to this principle developed and industrialised countries which led the industrial revolution are responsible for most of the greenhouse gases now in the atmosphere and therefore should bear a greater responsibility for combating climate change. As a consequence of this principle in Kyoto protocol some large developing nations such as China and India were exempted from the same emissions-reductions obligations as developed countries. Developing countries want rich countries to take bold action to cut their greenhouse emission but developed countries like USA are seemed to be reluctant as it would affect their economy. Furthermore, the developed nations want the same level of commitment and action from high emitting developing nations like China and India but the developing nations led by China and India still oppose taking on mandatory obligations to reduce their emissions. This debate of ‘who is responsible and who should take action’ distracting the world leader from the real problem. 

Similarly, the political leaders and authorities in developed nations are facing a two way pressure in this issue. On one hand, warnings from the scientific community are becoming more prominent about dangers from the ongoing accumulation of anthropogenic greenhouse gases produced mainly by the burning of fossil fuels and on the other hand they are bound to maintain their economic growth rate in this era of economic globalization and competition. This background debate about the technological, economic and political issues about climate change has a significant impact on resolving this problem and seems quite complicated demanding urgent attention from political leaders of all concerned nations to begin a common effort for sustainable future.