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US should take responsibility for global climate change:Narain

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 27 (UNI) The developed world which has prospered while freely spewing carbon, should take most of the responsibility for climate change witnessed globally, according to Center for Science and Environment Director Sunita Narain.

''Our issue is that, first and foremost, the US needs to reduce its emissions,'' Ms Narain is quoted by the Time magazine as having said. ''It is unacceptable and immoral that the US doesn't take the lead on climate change.'' The Kyoto accord on climate change did nothing to slow growth in China and India because as developing countries, they are not required under the protocol to make cuts in carbon emissions--and that is not likely to change after the agreement expires in 2012.

The Bush administration, in turn, has rejected Kyoto partly because developing countries were exempt from emissions cuts.

The standoff between the US and the Asian giants has stymied international climate-change efforts for years, but because if the push coming from Beijing, that is beginning to change.

For most of the recent Montreal climate conference, the US resisted any serious discussion of what should be done after Kyoto expires.

But several major developing countries, including China, supported further talks and helped break down US opposition, according to Time.

That's because China and India increasingly see climate-change policy as a way to address some of their immediate problems--such as energy shortages and local environmental ills--while getting help from the international community, the magazine said.

The International Energy Agency (IEA), however feels that the breakneck speed at which the economies of China and India are growing, is likely to spell disaster for the world's climate.

Although, on a per capita basis, China and India emit far less greenhouse gas than Japan, Sweden and the US, the huge population of around 2.4 billion people living in China and India -- many of whom aspire to have an American-style energy-intensive life -- might have potentially disastrous results for the world's climate, the magazine reported.

The IEA predicts that the increase in greenhouse-gas emissions from 2000-30 from China alone will almost equal the increase from the entire industrialised world, while India could see a 70 per cent increase of greenhouse-gas emissions by 2025, according to the World Resources Institute, the magazine said.

If China and India can muster the will and resources to leapfrog the West's energy-heavy development path, dangerous climate change might be averted, Energy consultant David Moskowitz is quoted to have said.

Both countries are desperate for energy to fuel the economic expansion and despite bold investments in renewables, much of that energy will have to come from coal, the only traditional energy source available in abundance.

India's energy consumption rose 208 per cent from 1980-2001, which is faster than China's, but nearly half the population still lacks regular access to electricity.

The magazine mentioned a 2003 study by the consulting firm CRA International, as having found that if China and India invested fully in technology already in use in the US, the total carbon savings by 2012 would be comparable to what could be achieved if every country under the Kyoto Protocol actually met its targets What China and India really need to ensure green development is a broadly accepted post-Kyoto pact that is strict enough to make it economically worthwhile to eliminate carbon emissions.

Though actual cuts are off the table for now, Beijing and New Delhi seem willing to discuss softer targets, such as lowering carbon intensity. But they feel that Washington must take the lead.

''It is possible for these countries to achieve the growth they deserve without wrecking the climate,'' Mr Diringer said adding ''they just can't do it on their own. It has to go through the US.'' UNI RA PG RS2042

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