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News : International Last Updated: Dec 19th, 2007 - 13:17:15

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon signals that China and India should assume more responsibility for tackling climate change
By Finfacts Team
Dec 11, 2007, 05:28

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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon greeted by UN staff in Bangkok, Monday, Dec 10, 2007.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, signalled on Monday that China and India should assume more responsibility for tackling climate change, alongside countries of the Developed World.

Addressing the issue of climate change is a "historical responsibility" we have to our descendants centuries from now, Ban Ki-moon said: "I support the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities when it comes to climate change."

Ban was speaking to the the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Bangkok, Thailand.

Developing countries must participate, as successes at the landmark UN Climate Change Conference currently underway in Bali, Indonesia, hinge on major emitters from the developing world, he noted.

Meanwhile, developed countries -- with their financial resources and technological capabilities -- have a "historical responsibility" to take the lead and assist poorer nations.

However, the Secretary-General pointed out that a century or two from now, our descendants "will never question whether you are from a developed country or whether you are from a developing country. They will question your leadership at this time."

Thus, "we must be responsible for what we will do and responsible for what we need to transfer to give this planet Earth to future generations in the most hospitable and environmentally sustainable situation," he said.

The developing world must approach climate change as a development concern, instead of solely an environmental issue, Ban, who arrived at the Bali Conference on Tuesday, noted.

He highlighted the important contribution that countries of the Asia-Pacific region can make towards a breakthrough in Bali.

"This vast area has many of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, and it already accounts for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions," he said. "High population growth and rapid economic expansion are expected to significantly raise this proportion in coming decades."

Tackling global warming has a "silver lining" -- namely, the opportunity to reduce emissions while promoting economic growth, the Secretary-General said, providing opportunities to advance sustainable development, as well as encourage cleaner technologies, industries and jobs.

"Today, we need to create a new type of industrial revolution based on cleaner technology and a low-carbon economy" he said. "Greater energy efficiency is the first step towards this revolution."

China and India are two of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters and the UN Development Programme said developing countries should cut their emissions by 20% by 2050, while rich countries should cut theirs by 80% in the same time.

“The increase in China’s energy demand between 2002 and 2005 was equivalent to Japan’s current annual energy use,” according to the International Energy Agency’s latest World Energy Outlook.

Although China is resisting outright targets on cutting its emissions, it has shown some willingness at the talks to consider ways to curb the growth of its emissions, if given incentives to do so while India opposes any commitments, pointing out that its per capita emissions, and those of other developing countries, are much lower than in rich countries, which also bear more responsibility for the emissions already in the atmosphere.

Ban said on Monday that any “grand bargain” on climate change must include measures to help developing countries, including better funding for clean energy technologies and enhanced research and development co-operation and the transfer of clean technologies.

He added that technologies exist to help countries cope with climate change “but what is missing now is political will”. He also said world leaders need to think beyond their own narrow national interests.

China has added power capacity in 2007 equivalent to that of the UK’s entire electricity grid.

About 85 per cent of the new generating capacity of 90GW (gigawatts) is coal-fired and while the Chinese economy is one-quarter to one-third the size of the US, China will take over as the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases this year, says the International Energy Agency (IEA).

“The increase in China’s energy demand between 2002 and 2005 was equivalent to Japan’s current annual energy use,” according to the International Energy Agency’s latest World Energy Outlook.

Power demand has expanded at an annualised rate of 16.2%, following a 13.7% rise in 2006.

The official figure for new generating capacity for 2007 has not been announced but calculations by consultancies based on announcements this year put the figure at about 90GWs.

The Financial Times says today that Zhu Songbin, of the Songlin power consultancy in Beijing, said he expected new capacity of 90GWs for 2007, based on the 72.7GWs added in the 10 months to October.

The FT says that the rapid growth has produced a surge in new coal-fired plants, as they provide the only affordable energy that can be brought online quickly enough to meet rising demand. However, China is also focusing on nuclear power and renewable energy such as wind power.

However, coal remains the key power source. In the 11 months to November, China closed 365 small coal power stations, according to the China Sustainable Energy Foundation, equal to 11GWs of generating capacity. Once they are taken into account, the net additional capacity is about 80GWs


Finfacts Climate Change Reports - access on right-hand column of home page

© Copyright 2007 by Finfacts.com

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