III.   Perspectives of the Developing world


The Big Picture

What's The Hold Up?

Perspectives of the Developing World

Strategies To Engage Countries

Choices: Corporate or "To Each Her Own"



A.   "We Had Nothing To Do With This Mess"

With respect to the present Climate Change problem, the developing countries perspective is simple: The developed countries caused the problem and they should fix it.

The industrialized countries of the North, while they make up only 20% of the world’s population, are responsible for 90% of the global carbon emissions that have been released since the beginning of the industrial revolution.13  The US, which contains only about 4% of the world’s population, produces almost one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gases and is blamed by experts as the main cause of global warming.14

Moreover, the developing countries are especially vulnerable to the impacts of global warming because they just do not have the resources needed to provide them an adequate safety net should it be necessary to adapt. The IPCC has suggested that decreases of about 55% would really be necessary to stabilize atmospheric GHG concentrations. The Kyoto Protocol proposed a total reduction in developed country GHG emissions of only 5%, yet few developed countries will meet their targets, including the U.S. which is expected to exceed its target by about 13%.

B.   A Matter Of Principle

Turning to the issue of future emissions, the nations of the world have agreed that the developed countries should "take the lead" in emissions reduction.  Much of the developed world is enraged by their failure to do so.  Instead, the developing countries feel that they are being asked to help carry the developed world's burden. 

The developing countries favor efforts to mitigate global warming, but, resist attempts to impose reductions limits on them.  They perceive such attempts to be fundamentally unfair and another example of the developed world not following through on its promises.  Moreover, they assert the developed countries are acting contrary to UNFCCC’s principles, specifically:

Article 3(1)-Intergenerational and intra-generational responsibility of the parties "in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and capabilities;"

Article 3(2)- Special consideration of developing countries "that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change;" and especially of developing countries "that would have to bear a disproportionate or abnormal burden under the Convention;"

Article 3(3)- The precautionary principle;

Article 3(4)- The promotion of sustainable development by policies and measures that are integrated with national development programs; and

Article 3(5)- Cooperation among the parties "to promote a supportive and open international economic system that would lead to a sustainable economic growth and development in all Parties, particularly developing Country Parties."15

The hypocritical "do as I say, not as I do" approach is serving only to enrage the developing countries. 

C.   Divided Will And Incapacity

While the developing countries are very concerned with the environment, they face other pressing issues which their citizens’ needs demand they addressed before global warming.  Developing countries comprise three-fourths of the world’s population, but enjoy only 30% of the world’s income. Further, their per capita emissions are one tenth those of the developed countries. The developing countries citizens have the same right to the higher standard of living that accompanies industrialization. Believing rich countries got wealthy by burning cheap forms of fuel, they refuse to deny their citizens of the same opportunity by committing to binding emission limitations that would slow their economic development.16

Visit the developing countries below in order to better understand the context within which they make their decisions.


                 Brazil                                China                                   India

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