Published on Wednesday, November 15, 2000 by Agence France Presse
Third World Blasts Rich Countries at UN Climate Talks
THE HAGUE, Nov 15 - Developing countries have blasted wealthy nations at the UN global warming talks, accusing them of hypocrisy and seeking to wriggle out of their commitments.
Nigerian Environment Minister Sani Zangon Daura, who chairs the Group of 77 (G77), a bloc of 133 developing nations and China, warned poorer countries would resist demands to limit their own emissions of so-called greenhouse gases so long as the richer world failed to live up to their own promises.
And the financial help they had promised the developing world to help it convert to cleaner technology had yet to show up.
"We do not believe that, on balance, they have performed their responsibilities... and we question whether they have the determination to meet their commitments," said Daura.
He added that promises of "appropriate" conversion aid under the 1992 Rio Convention, the parent treaty of Kyoto, so far had a hollow ring.
"The amounts made available for that purpose since the Convention was adopted eight years ago are the proverbial drop in the bucket," he said. "We developing countries wonder whether anybody understands or care that we have needs."
The Kyoto Protocol commits 38 developed countries to reducing fossil fuel gases by an average of 5.2 percent by 2012.
The agreement will not enter force until its contents have been hammered out -- the goal of the marathon talks in The Hague -- and then ratified by a minimum number of polluting countries.
Poorer countries have no specific target for limiting emissions as this could hurt their development. Instead, they are being offered financial help and technology transfer.
That approach has been slammed by Republicans in the US Congress, where the US Senate has voted overwhelmingly for developing countries to show a stronger, albeit unspecified, commitment.
Daura slammed the United States, without naming it, for what he said was an attempt last month to pressure developing counties into making "new commitments" on reducing gas emissions.
That approach was "categorically" rejected by the G77 and China group as contrary to all previous agreements on climate change, he said.
"If the developed countries truly share our hope that (these talks) will be a success, none of them should try to tamper with one of the basic pillars of our common effort."
Daura's speech reflected brooding resentment among developing countries as mounting scientific evidence says that poor countries in warm regions of the world will bear the brunt of climate change -- even though they are least to blame for its cause.
Robert Watson, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN's top scientific evaluators of the global warming threat, said those countries most at risk were the ones which were geographically most exposed and had the least resources and training to adapt.
"Therefore developing countries are more vulnerable to climate change than developed countries," he said.
Global warming is a man-made phenomenon, caused by the burning of oil, gas and coal.
Carbon dioxide and other gases released by these fuels builds up in the lower atmosphere, acting like a blanket that helps to store up the heat from the Sun, causing a potentially catastrophic rise in temperature.
The biggest single offender is the United States, which has only four percent of the world's population but accounts for a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions.
The Hague negotiations, scheduled to conclude on November 24, have been overshadowed by bitter squabbles between the United States and the European Union over US demands for "flexibility mechanisms."
The EU sees these as loopholes that would soften the cost for Washington of meeting its commitments.
Copyright © 2000 AFP