China-Led Climate Group Ups Pressure On Donors
Author: Matthias Williams
A chimney is seen next to an apartment block in central Beijing December 16, 2009.
Photo: David Gray
NEW DELHI - Four nations led by China pledged on Sunday to meet an end-month deadline to submit action plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions and challenged rich countries to come up with funding to help fight global warming.
Environment ministers and envoys from Brazil, South Africa, India and China met in New Delhi in a show of unity by countries whose greenhouse gas emissions are among the fastest rising in the world.
The bloc was key to brokering a political agreement at the Copenhagen talks in December and its meeting in India was designed in part to put pressure on richer nations to make good on funding commitments.
"We have sent a very powerful symbol to the world of our intentions," the Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said at a joint press conference after seven hours of talks.
The group discussed setting up a climate fund to help nations most vulnerable to the impact of global warming, which it said would act as a wakeup call for wealthier countries to meet their pledges on financial assistance and give $10 billion in 2010.
Rich countries have pledged $30 billion in climate change funding for the 2010-12 period and set a goal of $100 billion by 2020, far less than what developing countries had wanted.
The group in New Delhi said releasing $10 billion this year would send a signal of the rich countries' commitment. The four said they were in talks to set up an independent fund for the same purpose, but gave no timeline or figure.
"When we say we will be reinforcing technical support as well as funds to the most vulnerable countries, we are giving a slap in the face to the rich countries," Brazil's Environment Minister Carlos Minc said through a translator.
The non-binding accord worked out at the Copenhagen climate summit was described by many as a failure because it fell short of the conference's original goal of a more ambitious commitment to prevent more heatwaves, droughts and crop failures.
China is the world's top CO2 emitter, while India is number four. China was blamed by many countries at Copenhagen for obstructing a tougher deal and has refused to submit to outside scrutiny of its plans to brake greenhouse gas emissions.
China has pledged to cut the amount of carbon dioxide produced for each unit of economic growth by 40-45 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels. For India, that figure is up to 25 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels.
Xie Zhenhua, deputy head of the powerful National Development and Reform Commission, said the world needed to take immediate action to fight climate change.
But in the wake of a controversial exaggeration by the U.N. climate panel on the threat of global warming to the Himalayan glaciers [ID:nSGE60M01C], he called for an "open attitude" to climate science.
"(There is a) point of view that the climate change or climate warming issue is caused by the cyclical element of the nature itself. I think we need to adopt an open attitude to the scientific research," he said through a translator.
"We want our views to be more scientific and more consistent."
(Editing by Michael Roddy)