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India and China stand together on climate change

World Cement,

While the Kyoto Protocol exempted developing nations from obligations to cut emissions, talks at COP15 next month will likely push for Kyoto’s successor to be less flexible. Foreseeing this, China and India have signed a Memorandum of Understanding indicating that the two nations will coordinate efforts to combat climate change while protecting their development. This is the latest in a series of bilateral agreements in the run up to Copenhagen.

Joint effort

The agreement pushes for developed nations to take the greater responsibility for and against global warming, and seeks financial resources and technology transfer to support both nations in their bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While China is the world’s biggest producer of carbon emissions (responsible for some 23%), its per capita emissions are significantly below the United States at 6 tpa compared with the US’s 25 tpa. China therefore argues that any global agreement should be based on per capita rather than national emission counts.

India, meanwhile, is the world’s fourth biggest emitter, but per capita emissions are low at only 2 tpa. Still, it is doing its part and plans to unveil a carbon scheme and renewed investment in renewable energy. Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told the Observer that he would like all countries to come to COP15 with their own domestic policies with the idea of implementing these in a global plan. 'You cannot expect developing nations to reduce emissions,' he said. 'But you can ask them to deviate from business as usual.'

Climate change vs economics

Indeed, neither China or India will be willing to commit to caps that limit growth, especially given that the US is yet to pass any legislation that would limit its own emissions. Although the Obama administration has made some headway – the science of climate change is much more generally accepted than under the previous administration –the economics of emissions caps is the new hot topic and an agreement on the required course of action looks a long way off.

This is bad news for COP15, which once upon a time hoped that the US would lead the way during the discussions. Perhaps if that had been the case negotiations with China and India would have proved easier. Instead, the EU will be the one naming numbers and hoping that other nations follow suit.

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