World Questions Congress' Commitment to Climate Change

The very fact that the U.S. has a huge armed presence in the Middle East certainly has something to do with the availability of oil over there. Now, if all of that was to be added to the cost of supply of oil, what would you price it at? So, I'm afraid you have a lot of distortions in the system which are not reflecting the true cost of using some of these fossil fuels?

Q: What would you expect a deal at Copenhagen to look like, a major issue being who should bear the brunt of the emissions reductions?

A: That's been clearly spelled out, the role and the responsibility of each of these two regions, of the developed versus the developing world has been clearly spelled out in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, as well as the Kyoto Protocol.

Now, in the framework convention, there is a key clause of common but differentiated responsibility. Leading and taking actions against the challenge of climate change is common responsibility but a differentiated responsibility, for two reasons.

Firstly, because historically accumulative emissions of greenhouse gasses have come overwhelmingly from the developed world and, therefore, they have a larger share of responsibility for the problem that we are facing. Secondly, even in terms of economic and ecological capabilities, the developed world can assume this responsibility and take on this burden far more effectively than the developing world can because in the developing world we still have large-scale poverty, and the poor are really not able to do anything to really bring about rapid mitigation of emissions.

So, I think this is a very unfortunate situation, that developed and the developing world are essentially at loggerheads and, if I may say so, one reason why this is happening is because the developed world has not really lived up to its expectations.

Japan Ahead on Climate Change

You know the Kyoto Protocol required certain reductions which the countries involved had actually accepted: They accept targets for reductions in emissions, two countries refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Q: In regards to an agreement at Copenhagen, what's the maximum most realist solution?

A: Well, I think any agreement in Copenhagen would, at a minimum, require some commitments to reduce emissions by the developed countries, keeping 2020 as the target date. And, fortunately, the Europeans are on board.

Japan has recently come up with a very ambitious set of targets, Japan has now decided they will reduce emissions by 25 percent by 2020, over 1990 base levels. So that's actually a step beyond what Europe has committed to do. Europe is talking about a 20 percent reduction by 2020.

So these are very healthy signs and they create confidence all around, but the big question is what's the U.S. going to do? And I think leadership is really important. And as far as the agreement in Copenhagen is concerned, I think you need commitments by 2020. You need some commitment of financing of action in the developing countries, you also need some ease of access to technologies for developing countries.

Now, this can be through setting up a fund that the developed countries can contribute to or some other means by which technology transfer can be facilitated. So, I think, at a minimum, these are the types of elements that an agreement in Copenhagen would and should have.

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