Asian countries use ‘equality’ as a pretext to pollute says Nasheed

Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed calls on Asian heads of state to treat climate challenge seriously

(Pic: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré)

(Pic: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré)

By Ed King

Asian leaders must accept their countries will have to contribute significant carbon pollution cuts for a global climate change deal to work, say the former Presidents of East Timor and the Maldives.

Writing in the Huffington Post, Jose Ramos-Horta and Mohamed Nasheed accuse fellow heads of state in the region of ignoring climate change for “decades”.

And in a call that is likely to prove controversial, especially in China and India, they say Asian Heads of Government should instruct negotiators to “leave behind entrenched positions” and work with others on delivering a global agreement.

They write: “It is difficult to admit, but sometimes we Asians have been less than helpful in the UN climate negotiations: using arguments about ‘equality’ as a pretext to pollute; playing on post-colonial guilt to stymie progress; or claiming poverty when our per capita incomes sometimes rival Europe’s.”

Decisions taken under the UN climate change negotiations process have traditionally stressed the importance of developed countries implementing ambitious policies and investing in low carbon energy sources in developing parts of the world.

One of the main complaints from the USA and other industrialised countries is that states like China, Brazil and India say they are still emerging economies, and therefore should not bear the brunt of carbon cutting policies.

The Kyoto Protocol, currently the world’s only legally binding climate deal, made a clear differentiation between rich and poor, imposing no emission reduction obligations on the developing world.

Countries are currently working towards a deal – set to be signed in Paris next year – which would mean all nations have to take steps to decarbonise their economies.

Ramos-Horta and Nasheed add:  “If Asian countries don’t help push things forward, the United Nations climate summit in Paris next year — where world governments are due to sign a crucial agreement to curb emissions — could fail.”

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