China and India accuse West of ignoring climate science

China and India sought to crank up pressure on rich nations at the UN's climate change talks in Bonn yesterday, accusing them of shirking their responsibility and placing undue pressure on poorer countries to deliver deep cuts in carbon emissions.

Speaking to news agency Reuters, China's climate ambassador Yu Qingtai said there was a "general feeling of unhappiness" about the proposals being put forward by rich nations.

According to UN data released earlier this week, carbon emission targets put forward by industrialised nations, excluding the US, range from a 15 to 21 per cent reduction on 1990 levels by 2020 - well short of the 25 to 40 per cent range recommended by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Yu said that in addition to refusing to sign up to sufficiently ambitious emission targets, industrialised nations were also guilty of trying to shift more of the responsibility of cutting emissions onto poorer nations. "What is even more worrying is a continuation and even a strengthening of the tendency of trying to shift the burden to the developing countries," he said. "That must change."

He reiterated China's view that it was too early for the country to set a date for when it expects carbon emissions to peak, but he added that it was fully committed to meeting that goal and that officials were studying when it could be achieved.

Meanwhile, in a move bound to spark further heated debate, Indian officials have reportedly requested that any proposals in the 200-page negotiating text that are not consistent with the science approved by the IPCC should be struck from the document.

There was also further disagreement over proposals from the G77 group of developing economies for global intellectual property rules to be changed to help accelerate the rollout of clean technologies.

According to reports in the Times of India, US negotiators have called for any discussion of the intellectual property regime to be taken from the table.

But developing nations are increasingly concerned that without some relaxation of intellectual property laws, they will be unable to implement low-carbon technologies without making their economies dependent on imports from rich nations.

"The developed countries go all over the world saying climate change is a global crisis bigger than any economic recession," one unnamed Indian official told The Times. "They ask India to make a contribution disproportionate to its historic responsibility. But they want to create business out of the situation and ask us to trust the very markets they are right now propping out of the credit crisis."

The latest developments come a day after one of the UN's top officials warned that any Copenhagen Treaty would be deemed a failure without the inclusion of more ambitious emission targets for rich nations.

John Ashe, Antigua and Barbuda's ambassador to the UN who is leading work to agree emission targets, told Reuters the success of the long-running talks rested on the ability to deliver targets for 2020 that are in line with those required by the science.

"It would be difficult to fall outside that range and judge the outcome as a success," he said, referring to the 25 to 40 per cent cuts recommended by the IPCC. "Based on pledges that are currently on the table, achieving 25 per cent is looking quite a stretch."

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