China, India lead demand for extra help in climate change struggle
China and India next week will spearhead calls for rich nations to dig into their pockets to tackle climate change but will resist targeted curbs on their own carbon emissions, sources say.
The 12-day UN climate talks, starting in Poland on Monday, are a stepping stone towards an international pact, due to be completed by the end of 2009, for addressing climate change beyond 2012.
China, India and other developing countries will articulate a top priority, according to sources in Beijing and New Delhi.
In a nutshell, wealthy economies must boost financial support to help poorer countries gain access to cleaner technology and cope with the impact of climate change.
"Developing countries are saying that if you expect us to make measurable, reportable and verifiable action, there has to be measurable, reportable and verifiable money on the table," UN climate chief Yvo de Boer told AFP from Bonn.
China this year proposed that developed nations earmark 0.7 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) to help developing countries tackle climate change.
That demand is expected to be raised again in Poznan next week, with India and other developing nations backing China, say the sources.
"It will be on the table at Poznan... India supports the Chinese proposal," said an Indian government official who will attend the talks but asked to remain anonymous.
China's big focus is for developed nations to help developing countries create and expand access to renewable energy and other smart technologies.
"Developed countries should have a technology transfer fund in their budgets," said Zhou Ji, a professor at the People's University of China who advises the Chinese government on climate change.
Li Yan, a China-based climate change campaigner with Greenpeace, said she expected the issue of financing to be "hotly debated" in Poznan, with the global economic crisis making it an even more troublesome issue.
She told AFP developing countries were looking for concrete plans on how the money would be allocated and where it would be spent, and not just vague ideas as so far have been proposed.
"For developing countries, controlling greenhouse gas emissions is closely linked to how much support they get from industrialised countries," said Li, who will attend the talks as an observer.
Even so, China and India are not expected to yield to years of pressure from richer nations and agree to specific targets for curbing their emissions of the greenhouse gases.
"China won't commit to any cuts in greenhouse gas emission at this meeting," said Zhou.
Developing countries have long maintained that their rise out of poverty could be prejudiced by a legal straitjacket on their carbon emissions.
The pollution mainly comes from burning fossil fuels, which are the backbone of the world's energy supply and likely to remain so for years.
They also argue that industrialised nations are historically responsible for the greenhouse gases already in the environment, and so must do more to fix the problem.
India will not budge on this at the Poland talks, according to the Indian official.
"We, India, are clear that we also have to take action. But... we cannot stop development just because one group of countries has caused damage," he said.
Developing countries were excluded from binding targets for greenhouse gases under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which was the main reason the United States refused to ratify the treaty.
But ensuring China and India take action of some kind has become increasingly important in recent years. Their carbon output has risen dramatically in tandem with the booms in their oil- and coal-dependent economies.
China now outstrips the United States as the world's biggest greenhouse gas polluter while India is poised to overtake Russia as the third biggest emitter, according to a report published in September by the Global Carbon Project, a widely-respected barometer.
The world's two most populous nations insist they have not ignored the issue, with China for example winning some praise for setting a goal of 15 percent for renewables in its energy mix by 2020.
"Both China and India over the past couple of years have been working very hard to develop national climate change strategies that contain very specific goals on mitigation and adaptation," noted de Boer, executive secretary of the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).