From Mr Robin Huttenbach.
Sir, I believe a number of the assertions in the article “A new approach to tackling climate change” (February 23) will mislead your readers. Although the US and Australia have not ratified the Kyoto protocol, they have been very diligent in developing greenhouse gas monitoring and reporting schemes in anticipation of the day when an international climate change agreement can be negotiated. It is time that the developing nations put similar schemes in place so that we can ascertain just who is emitting what.
A preliminary examination of data produced by the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center – http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/emis/tre_regn.html andhttp://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/landuse/houghton/houghton.html – reveals that when change of land use is also taken into account, the developing regions of the world have actually been responsible for some 45 per cent of total carbon dioxide emissions since 1850. The greenhouse multiplier effect may make matters worse if account is made for the additional release of carbon from denatured soil, nitrous oxides if fertilisers are applied and methane should livestock be grazed on the new land.
It is disingenuous for members of the developing nations most responsible for change of land use to seek reparations from the developed nations for past emissions. We are all in this together and it is time these countries started to address the issue, rather than delaying in anticipation of receiving a “get out of jail free” card.
Many of the largest emitters in the developing world do not need to wait for technological fixes to reduce their emissions. Most seem to be highly reliant on carbon-intensive activities to grow their economies. This includes the use of fuel subsidies and the commissioning of infrastructure projects with high embedded energy and operational energy demands. At the very least, these nations should be required to demonstrate more energy-efficient policies in return for any financial support that they might hope to negotiate.
London SW19, UK