China tells rich nations to pay up on climate change
By New Scientist Staff and Reuters Wealthy nations should divert as much as 1% of their GDP to help developing nations tackle climate change, say Chinese officials. This would mean a total $284 billion a year if members of the Organisation for Cooperation and Economic Development (OECD) paid a sum based on the size of their economies in 2007. The funds should go towards transferring clean technologies to poor nations and help them adapt to the effects of rising temperatures, they say, which include more heatwaves and droughts, more powerful storms, and rising sea levels. International delegates gathered at a climate-change summit in Beijing welcomed China’s growing activism on the issue, but questioned the proposal, especially with the current economic downturn draining coffers. “It is undeniable that the financial crisis will have an impact on the climate-change negotiations,” said Yvo de Boer, who heads the UN United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. “If we go to citizens under the current circumstances and say ‘I’m increasing your tax burden in order to pay for climate policy’, that might not go down very well,” he says. Denmark’s minister for climate and energy, Connie Hedegaard says other governments want to see what China will offer in future emissions goals in return for help and big emissions cuts by rich nations. Hedegaard is helping pave the way towards the 2009 UN climate-change summit, to be held in Copenhagen, where nations are expected to agree on a post-Kyoto protocol climate treaty. Few rich nations have lived up to vows to give a small portion of their GDPs to development aid, says Hedegaard, giving little hope for any similar approach to climate change. She also points out that China is likely to wait and see how US climate policies change with a new government in office before taking any firm decisions. Meanwhile, government data is set to show that Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions rose last year, raising fresh questions about the government’s reliance on voluntary steps to curb emissions. The data is expected to reveal that Japan’s carbon dioxide emissions rose 2 to 3%, to around 1.38 billion tonnes, due to the closure of the country’s biggest nuclear power plant. This puts total national emissions almost 10% higher than 1990 levels. Climate Change – Want to know more about global warming – the science, impacts and political debate?