Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and a top UN official urged industrialised nations Friday to alter their lifestyles and not let the global financial crisis hamper climate change efforts.
Above: Wen Jiabao
Industrialised nations should also help developing countries respond to climate change, Wen said at the opening of a two-day international meeting on global warming in Beijing.
“The developed countries have a responsibility and an obligation to respond to global climate change by altering their unsustainable way of life,” the state news agency Xinhua quoted him as saying.
“As the global financial crisis spreads and worsens, and the world economy slows down, the international community must not waver in its determination to tackle climate change.”
The gathering in Beijing is focused on the development and transfer of technology that can help tackle climate change ahead of next month’s talks on creating a new global treaty on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Representatives from 76 nations are attending.
China proposed last week that rich nations devote one percent of their economic output to helping poor countries fight global warming.
Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said Friday a lack of firm funding commitments could derail efforts to cut emissions in developing countries, especially during the financial crisis.
“The financial crisis is definitely going to affect international climate change policy,” he said.
But “the financial crisis offers the world an opportunity to move away from toxic investments and make sustainable investments, for example into low emissions energy infrastructure,” he said.
In the landmark Kyoto Protocol, rich nations agreed to targets for cutting greenhouse gases as well as helping to transfer clean technology to developing nations to help them reduce their emissions.
But much of the pledged transfers are not happening, said de Boer.
“Industrial countries must meet their technology transfer obligations,” he told journalists.
“Given their historical responsibility for the problem, it is essential that industrialised countries take the lead in reducing emissions and that they show real leadership (in climate change negotiations).”
Formal negotiations on a new treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012 will begin in Poznan, Poland next month, with the UN hoping that a new agreement will be ready by the end of 2009, de Boer said.
“Governments have used 2008 to gather information and clarify their positions on a number of topics. At Poznan governments need to go into full negotiation mode and make concrete results,” he said.
China has long resisted calls to join rich nations in setting targets for emissions cuts, saying its relatively low per capita emissions and recent emergence as a major source of greenhouse gases should exempt it from action.
Scientists said in September that China had leapfrogged the United States as the world’s biggest producer of carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the principal gases that cause global warming.