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Developed world's climate change targets less than fair: Report

India, China and other developing countries doing in excess

Nitin Sethi  |  New Delhi 

Developed world shoulders less than fair burden through its climate change targets

The US has committed to only a fifth of its fair share and the European Union (EU) just over a fifth in the fight against climate change through its new targets, concludes a collective assessment by some of the top global non-governmental organisations (NGOs), working on climate change across the North-South divide.

The report also suggests that almost all developing countries, including India and China, have taken on more than their fair share of the burden through their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs).

The first-of-its-kind study was brought out by civil society groups that are also at times divided across the hemispheres just like the countries. The report assesses whether countries have taken a fair burden to keep the global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius by the end of the century in relation to their historical responsibilities for causing the problem and their current capacities. A summary of the report was released on Monday.

The burden the report refers to is the target the countries have formally given to the United Nations (UN), to be undertaken under the global Paris climate change agreement. The target — on reducing emissions, providing finance and technology — is meant to be achieved between 2020 and 2030.

The US, it calculated, compared to a fair share of reduction by 12,943 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) only intended to reduce its emissions by 2,089 MTCO2e by 2030. The EU had pledged to reduce its emissions by 1,587 MTCO2e instead of a fair burden of 7,036 MTCO2e. The authors took 1850 as base year to calculate the historical emissions and to measure the reductions in absolute terms against the base year.

China, the authors assessed, should have reduced 3,371 MTCO2e of emissions but has offered to reduce 4,888 MTCO2e by 2030. India could have fairly taken a burden of reducing emissions by 54 MTCO2e but has committed to reducing it by 280 MTCO2e.

The report said, "Most developed countries have fair shares that are already too large to fulfil exclusively within their borders, even with extremely ambitious domestic actions. In addition to very deep domestic reductions, the remainder of their fair shares must therefore be accomplished by enabling an equivalent amount of emissions reduction in developing countries through financing and other support."

Noting that developed countries' footprints were too large to take action only domestically, the report added, "This (their fair share of burden that developed countries have not undertaken) accounts for almost half of the reductions that need to take place globally, which indicates the need for a vast expansion of international finance, technology and capacity-building support (means of implementation)."

The assumptions implicit in the calculations, which make material difference to the assessment, would be released as part of the full report in the coming week, the authors said.

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First Published: Tue, October 20 2015. 00:36 IST