Obama calls on China to join climate change fight

22 September 2009 16:39  [Source: ICIS news]

Obama calls for developing nations to join climate fightWASHINGTON (ICIS news)--President Barack Obama on Tuesday called on rapidly growing developing nations to make major and binding commitments to emissions reductions in order to avoid what he called an irreversible catastrophe in climate change.

In addressing a special session of world leaders at a UN climate change conference in New York City, the president appeared to press China and other developing nations to join the international campaign to combat what many fear will be life-changing global temperature increases this century.

Although he did not specifically name China, Obama said that “those rapidly-growing developing nations that will produce nearly all the growth in global carbon emissions in the decades ahead must do their part as well”.

The US and China are the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases (GHG), with China recently taking the lead position.

Obama conceded that developed nations such as the US “caused much of the damage to our climate over the last century” and must meet emissions reductions targets and lead in production of renewable energy and energy efficiencies. He cited major climate change legislation approved by the US House of Representatives, a measure that has yet to be considered in the Senate.

However, he said that developing nations “will need to commit to strong measures at home and agree to stand behind those commitments just as the developed nations must stand behind their own”.

“We cannot meet this challenge unless all the largest emitters of greenhouse gas pollution act together,” Obama said, adding: “There is no other way.”

Domestic critics of Obama’s climate change goals and Democrat-sponsored legislation to force emissions reductions by US industry have pointed out that even if the US makes major cuts in its emissions, there will be little or no impact on global climate unless developing nations such as China, India and Brazil sign on to a worldwide climate plan.

Obama said that developed nations “have a responsibility to provide the financial and technical assistance needed to help these nations adapt” to climate change, but he indicated such assistance should be directed to only the poorest and most vulnerable developing nations.

Referring to the worldwide climate change summit conference set for Copenhagen in December, Obama said that the time is running out to reverse the effects of global warming but that to be successful the effort must be universal.

“We must seize the opportunity to make Copenhagen a significant step forward in the global fight against climate change,” he said.  “And we must all do it together.”

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Paul Hodges studies key influencers shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

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