Development and climate change

Nowadays growing carbon dioxide emissions are a result of a considerable increase in energy demands and therefore its availability, because the world population is growing significantly -about 1 billion inhabitants in 12 years-. The poorest countries -Africa, Asia and, to a lesser extent, South America- are the regions where the population’s growing rate is higher.

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In the World Climate Summit, that took place in Nairobi, Kenya and ended on the 17th November 2006, the UN General-Secretary emphasized that a programme to predict the consequences of climate change mainly in Africa is urgently needed “because climate change will have devastating impacts on the poorest countries”, and advised: “we are arriving at a non-return situation”.

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This Summit allowed them to advance in the adaptation to climate change by means of an Adaptation Fund agreed some years ago, which is aimed at making easier for developing countries to adapt themselves to the present and future impacts of climate change.

In addition, the Summit welcomed Brazil’s successful proposal to envisage positive incentives in order to reduce deforestation in developing countries. Up to the present only forestation activities were rewarded. This is very relevant since deforestation not only releases a large quantity of CO2 but it also has negative effects on the economies and biodiversity of those areas.

Industrialised countries produce half of the carbon dioxide emissions, and the developing countries and the former Soviet Union produce the rest. All countries tend to increase instead of cutting their emissions. The search for a fair equality between countries implies a trend to increase emissions in developing countries.

Kyoto’s water palace. This city is an example of harmony between man and nature.

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In 1997, in the Japanese city of Kyoto the developed countries committed themselves to cutting their greenhouse gas emissions, although the poorest countries got out of this commitment. The global targets aimed by all the countries account for 5.2 % from 1990 levels, although for each country there is a particular emission target according to their past emissions.

For the first time in Nairobi countries dealt with poorer countries, trying to make them take part in the Kyoto Protocol without compromising their economic development, even though developing countries such as China and India did not join the Industrial Revolution. The poorest countries account for 80 % of the world population, and that is the reason why their need for industrial development makes the present carbon dioxide emission targets more difficult for the next 50 years. In addition, poorer countries’ emissions could not even be doubled, assuming that industrialised countries manage to reduce significantly their emissions. This proposal is in line with the report delivered by the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who suggested that reducing emissions by 60% would lead the USA’ emissions, that account for almost five times the world’s average emissions, to be reduced to almost a half by 2056.