* EU, U.S. oppose call to assign historic responsibility for
* EU says could delay climate deal due in 2015
By Alister Doyle and Michael Szabo
OSLO, Nov 15 The European Union and the United
States opposed on Friday a call by developing countries to
measure each nation's historical responsibility for global
warming to guide a U.N. deal in 2015 to cut future greenhouse
Rich nations fear that any scientific study that might blame
rich nations most since they have burnt fossil fuels since the
Industrial Revolution could further delay sluggish U.N. talks.
Brazil won backing from more than 100 developing nations at
the Nov. 11-22 meeting in Warsaw to ask the U.N.'s scientific
panel of climate experts to look into each nation's share of
past responsibility for spewing out greenhouse gases.
Such a study could then guide the new deal, due to be agreed
in 2015 and to enter into force from 2020.
But it also risks opening a political and legal can of
worms. Assigning "responsibility" could be taken as an admission
of liability for causing more droughts, heatwaves, floods and
rising sea levels.
"We are not finding a positive response on the side of the
developed countries ... which is very surprising to us,"
Brazil's delegation leader José Antonio Marcondes de Carvalho
told a news conference.
"Why are they rejecting to at least talk?" he said, adding
the developed nations would continue to push the idea.
But the European Union said that a study might take too long
and risked being too narrowly focused.
"We do fear the current proposal on the table carries a risk
of politicising the process and missing the (2015) deadline,"
Juergen Lefevere, head of the European Commission delegation.
"The discussion should be about a much broader set of
indicators, not just historical emissions," he said.
Other factors could include current and future emissions,
projected economic growth, population growth, development needs,
and the capacity and cost to cut emissions, he said.
China is the top annual emitter of greenhouse gases, ahead
of the United States, the European Union, India and Russia.
And China's fast economic growth means that it is catching
up with the United States and the European Union as the largest
cumulative emitters since 1850.
That could profoundly affect its "historic" role.
The total share of global emissions from developing
countries is likely to reach 51 percent by 2020, up from 48
percent now, according to the study by the PBL Netherlands
Environment Assessment Agency, research group Ecofys and the
European Commission's Joint Research Centre.
Niklas Hoehne, an author of the study at Ecofys, said the
issue of historical responsibility boiled down to political
choices rather than scientific ones.
Developing nations, for instance, argue that "historical
responsibility" stretches right back to the Industrial
Developed nations tend to say it should start only from the
mid-1990s, when scientists first decided that the balance of
evidence indicated that global warming was man-made.
"All the data is available," Hoehne said. "How it is
interpreted is a political question."
(editing by Ron Askew)