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Sharp divide over new climate treaty

world Updated: Dec 03, 2007 00:29 IST

Even before delegates from more than 180 countries converge on the island resort of Bali for the United Nations Climate Change Conference that starts on 3 December, clear battle lines have been drawn ahead of creating a new climate change treaty which will replace the so-called Kyoto Protocol that has been approved by 36 countries.

All countries agree that immediate efforts have to be undertaken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but they differ on how to go about it. Ranged on one side are developed countries who argue that developing countries, which have so far been exempt from committing to reduce emissions, must do so now.

And developing countries led by India and China, believe that doing so would retard their efforts to catch-up with the rest of the world. Meanwhile, everyone agrees that the adverse effects of climate change are for real and that they will affect the poorest countries the most.

In recent months, representatives of developed nations have lobbied India to soften its stand, in the hope that other developing countries would follow suit. The list of people who have tried to do this includes German chancellor Angela Merkel, UK’s environment minister Hilary Benn and Nicholas Stern, former adviser to the UK government and author of the report Economics of Climate Change.

“India is hugely important and extremely influential. What India decides to do is going to have a huge impact on the world’s ability to respond to this (climate change),” said Benn. However, India has steadfastly maintained that a country’s committment regarding emission cuts should be based on per capita emissions and not total emissions.