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October 3, 2008 / Mridul

Rising Emissions Of Developing Economies Must Be Tamed

With China overtaking US as the largest greenhouse gases emitter and India set to become third largest emitter by year end, developed nations can no longer be solely held accountable for the rapidly rising global carbon emissions. Under the Kyoto Protocol the developing nations are not required to reduce their carbon emissions while it is mandatory for the developed nations to reduce & control their emissions as stated and agreed up on in the Treaty. This marks a grave unbalance as the world tries to cap the rising emissions in the midst of an overwhelming economic crisis.

The developing nations, which now produce a substantial amount of emissions, have been left out and are not bound by any mandatory emissions reductions.

Both China and India are big players in the trade of carbon credits together accounting for nearly 80% of the credits sold. Even after earning funding for clean energy projects both these countries have failed to register any substantial reduction in their emissions. Although China is the biggest investor in renewable energy and India is witnessing a boom in the clean energy projects especially solar, their role as the new big emitters has made headlines around the world. 

A big portion of their emissions is due to the exports to developed countries. Now although the developed countries consume the products whose manufacturing is attributed to the emissions still they aren’t held responsible for the same instead those emissions are registered as those of the developing nations. These emissions have so far being overlooked and the emissions of the developed nations are supposedly neutralised when they buy carbon credits and fund clean energy projects in the developing countries.

But as we can see this approach isn’t working; even if the developed nations are able to meet the set goals the emissions of the developing nations will go unaddressed. 

Therefore, Japan recently argued that the developing nations must also be asked to set medium term emissions goals which would be slightly lenient in nature as compared to the ones set for the developed nations. Japan wants this clause to be a part of the new emissions treaty that would succeed Kyoto. Now, in addition to this, the whole system of carbon trading must also be regulated, be made more transparent and the overlooking agency must push the beneficiaries of the funding for regular audits (especially environmental audits) so as to evaluate the impact of those clean energy projects on the environment. 

Furthermore, the subject needs a closer and comprehensive look as cutting emissions would also impact trade volumes among nations. Taking the specific example of US and China, the US government has so far failed to persuade the Chinese government to adhere to clean manufacturing practices even though China exports huge amounts of goods to the US. Understandably any actions on the part of US can have not only economic but geopolitical repercussions as well therefore a new international law must be passed mandating companies of every country to indicate on each and every product the gases emitted to produce it. 

Making the developing nations accountable for the emissions, regulating the carbon trading system so that it is not misused and giving the power of choice to the informed & concerned consumers would be the right approach in the effort to reduce the growing carbon emissions worldwide. These are relatively small steps as compared to the hard to negotiate 2050 mandatory emissions reduction goals which the world leaders failed to agree up on at the last G8 meeting in Japan.

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