There are massive disparities between the developed and developing world that compound the issue of emissions reduction at COP 18 and beyond. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution CO2 has increased about 41 percent. Research from climate scientists indicates that we need to act now to reduce emissions. The temperature of the planet has already increased about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1850 and our current trajectory will warm the planet well beyond safe upper limits. However, if we are to make progress on global emissions reductions we will need to address the respective responsibilities of the developed and developing world.
Emissions are falling slowly in many developed nations including the US, but this is partly due to the state of the economy and the transfer of some manufacturing to developing countries.
While emissions may be falling in some developed countries, emissions from coal fired plants in developing nations like China and India are growing dramatically.
“If we’re going to run the world on coal, we’re in deep trouble,” said Gregg H. Marland, a scientist at Appalachian State University who has tracked emissions for decades.
Despite global agreement that emissions must be reduced, according to a recent study entitled The Challenge to Keep Global Warming Below 2° C, emissions have increased 3 percent in 2011 and are expected to increase and additional 2.6 percent in 2012.
Throughout the course of their industrial development, wealthy countries have emitted vast quantities of GHGs, as a consequence, they have a historical responsibility for climate change. Countries that have undergone fossil fuel dependent development are also in a better economic position to contribute to climate solutions.
Current positions from many wealthy countries including the US make little or no allowance for their historical responsibilities.
The question yet to be answered at COP 18 in Doha is: What responsibilities do different countries hold in carbon reduction, and how can we implement climate solutions fairly?