Social Action Office


Developing Nations
and the Kyoto Protocol

Summary of the Position on Developing Nations


The developing nations were never included in the reduction targets at this stage of climate change negotiations. The foundation of the Kyoto agreement was based on the acceptance by the world's biggest polluting nations that they would take the first step and meet specific reduction targets because they created the problem! The fact is that it is the developed, industrialised nations that have contributed to 80% of the problem and continue to so.

While politicians can point to the big population Third World giants like China and India as fossil fuel polluters, the fact is that their per capita emissions are far, far lower than those of the developed world. For example:

  • China with 1.2 billion people accounts for less than half the total greenhouse gas emissions (11%) compared to the USA with 280 million people who account for 25% of the total greenhouse gas emissions; the situation is similar for India;
  • Australians produce 16 tonnes of CO2 pollution per person compared to each Chinese person who produces 3 tonnes and each Indian who produces 1 tonne (UNFCCC, 2000).

Population size is not a key indicator of a nation's impact on the greenhouse problem facing the Earth community. For example, the World Watch Institute (2000) has recorded that China's emissions actually fell by 3.7% from 1997 to 1998. In the same period, Australia's emissions increased!

With the adoption of clean energy technologies, the greenhouse gas emissions in the developing world will drop. Developing countries, with support from the First World in technological innovation and technology transfer, can pursue their legitimate development without following the fossil fuel path taken by the developed nations.

11 July 2001

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