Poor Nations Brake Greenhouse Gas Rise
OSLO -- Developing nations that are fast industrialising, such as China and India, have braked their rising greenhouse gas emissions by more than the total cuts demanded of rich nations by the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol.
A draft U.N. report, to be released in Bangkok on Friday after talks between governments and scientists, also shows that policies meant to curb air pollution from factories or cars or to save energy, have had a side-effect of fighting global warming.
"Efforts undertaken by developing countries (i.e. Brazil, China, India and Mexico) for reasons other than climate change have reduced their emissions growth over the past 3 decades by approximately 500 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year," according to a technical summary seen by Reuters.
It said that was "more than the reductions required from (developed nations) by the Kyoto Protocol." By contrast, France's annual emissions in 2004 were 563 million tonnes, Australia's 534 million and Spain's 428 million.
The data may spur debate about what is a fair share-out of curbs on emissions in any deal to extend and widen Kyoto, which now binds 35 industrial nations to cut emissions by 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.
President George W. Bush pulled the United States out of Kyoto in 2001, arguing it would cost U.S. jobs and that it wrongly excluded 2012 goals for poorer nations such as China.
"China is already doing a lot," said Hu Tao, of China's State Environmental Protection Administration.
ONE CHILD POLICY
He said China's one-child per couple policy introduced in the early 1980s, for instance, had a side-effect of braking global warming by limiting the population to 1.3 billion against a projected 1.6 billion without the policy.
"This has reduced greenhouse gas emissions," he told a conference in Oslo last month. China is the number two emitter of greenhouse gases, mainly from burning fossil fuels, behind the United States and ahead of Russia.
Developing nations argue that they should get credit for policies that have helped slow rising emissions. They note that east European nations in Kyoto get credit for the collapse of Soviet-era smokestack industries -- unrelated to deliberate efforts to fight global warming.
Russia, for instance, has apparently done most among Kyoto nations with a 32 percent fall in emissions between 1990, a year before the Soviet Union fell apart, and 2004.
And overall, the world's use of energy has become more efficient for the past century. The amount of energy used per dollar of economic output has fallen at about 0.3 percent a year, according to U.N. data.
"The carbon intensity of production has been falling, especially in the developed countries. It partly reflects a movement from manufacturing to services," said Sudhir Junankar of the economics and environmental forecasting think-tank Cambridge Econometrics.
And it is hard to say which Kyoto nations have done most, with deliberate policies, to cut emissions since 1990.
"Within Europe you could look at Sweden, Germany and the UK at the top end," said Jennifer Morgan, of the London-based E3G think-tank. Germany has also benefited from the collapse of East German industry and Britain from a shift from polluting coal.