October 22, 2009 / 3:17 PM / 10 years ago

Poor may need to curb CO2 by 15 percent: U.N.

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Developing nations may need to slow projected growth in their carbon emissions by 15 percent by 2020 if rich countries agree to reduce theirs by up to 40 percent for a new global deal, a top U.N. official said on Thursday.

Negotiations for a global deal to fight climate change, to be agreed in Copenhagen in December, have stumbled on the question of levels of emission cuts to be taken by rich states and developing nations.

A U.N. climate panel report in 2007 said that cuts would have to total 25-40 percent to avert the worst of climate change such as more wildfires, sandstorms, extinctions, rising ocean levels and more powerful cyclones.

At the same time, all but the poorest among developing nations would have to make a “substantial deviation” from baseline by 2020.

“If industrialized countries are reducing by 25-40 percent by 2020, then I think you would also by 2020 perhaps need to see something in the order of a 15 percent deviation below business as usual in developing countries,” Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, told a news conference.

So far, 2020 offers of greenhouse gas cuts from developed nations total between 11 and 15 percent below 1990 levels. And most offers are conditional on what others do.

The European Union, for instance, has said it will cut unilaterally by 20 percent and by 30 if other nations join in. Australia’s 2020 offer ranges from 3 to 23 percent from 1990.


Many other nations are reluctant to step up their ambitions in Copenhagen unless the United States signs up. Washington is the biggest emitter behind China and the only developed nation outside the Kyoto Protocol for limiting emissions to 2012.

Many worry an agreement might not be reached because of a gap in trust between poor countries and the rich, industrialized states they accuse of causing climate change in the first place.

“The reason is, first of all, that the action that the developing countries have taken is not generally recognized and understood,” de Boer, in India to attend a conference, later told Reuters.

“Secondly, many commitments from the past (by rich nations) in terms of finance, technology, transfer, capacity building, many of those commitments have not been met.

“That’s where the mistrust and the suspicion comes from and that has to be addressed through a balanced agreement in Copenhagen.”

Developing nations have no obligation to commit themselves to binding economy-wide emission cuts under existing U.N. treaties.

But rich countries say developing nations should also agree cuts because their emissions are growing at a faster pace, and open up their domestic action to international scrutiny and accountability, a demand so far rejected by poorer states.

Editing by Ron Popeski

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