Developing Countries

International:  Developing Countries

GHG emissions from the developing world are increasing and may overtake those of the industrialized world in the next 15-30 years. Parties have thus far put off consideration of binding emission reduction targets for non-Annex I countries, recognizing their low historic contribution to the problem and their need to further develop their economies.

Numerous studies, however, show that actions already being implemented in many developing countries have lowered carbon emissions relative to what they otherwise would have been. Studies also have identified significant opportunities for investment that can contribute to economic growth while averting or lowering carbon emissions and easing local environmental concerns such as air pollution. A study by M. Bernstein et al., Developing Countries & Global Climate Change: Electric Power Options for Growth, June 1999, identifies policy options for meeting projected power needs that can reduce local and global environmental impacts while producing similar or even higher economic benefits than those projected under business-as-usual paths. A subsequent series of reports examined specific policy options for Argentina, Brazil, China, India, and the Republic of Korea.

1990 CO2 Emissions from Fossil-Fuel Combustion and Land-Use Change

1990 CO2 Emissions
This chart illustrates global carbon dioxide emissions in 1995 by region. For each bar, width represents population; height represents per capita emissions; and total area (population times per capita emissions) represents total emissions. Emissions from combustion of fossil fuels are broken out by the three major fuels - coal, oil and gas. The triangle at the top of each bar illustrates the uncertainty associated with emissions from land-use changes. Countries in the "Pacific Asia" group are shown in black. Source: UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Among the industrialized countries, the United States has been most vocal in seeking stronger commitments from developing nations. The Byrd-Hagel Resolution adopted by the Senate in July 1997 (Senate Resolution 98 of the 105th Congress) states in part that the United States should not sign an agreement committing industrialized countries to emission limits unless it also establishes "new specific scheduled commitments...for Developing Country Parties within the same compliance period." With that language in mind, the Clinton Administration said it would not submit the Kyoto Protocol to the Senate for ratification until there was "meaningful participation by key developing countries," but in bilateral talks failed to secure significant commitments from those countries.

Developing country negotiators, noting the Convention's emphasis on "common but differentiated responsibilities," have said they will not be prepared even to discuss the timing or form of potential developing country commitments until industrialized nations have demonstrated further progress in meeting their own emission targets. They also point to unfulfilled commitments by industrialized countries to assist developing nations on technology transfer, capacity building, and adaptation to the impacts of climate change.