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Competing Interests in Climate Change

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The Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change is due to expire in 2012. Delegations from 192 countries will gather in Copenhagen on December 7th to try to draw up a new global climate treaty. But the talks so far have been clouded by disputes between developed nations and developing nations.

As global temperatures continue to rise, the need for a strong and verifiable pact is seen as urgent.

Standing in the way are disputes between developing countries and developed nations.

By the end of November, Premier Wen Jiabao met with the BASIC countries, composed of Brazil, South Africa, India and China, plus G77 Chair Sudan, in Beijing.

The delegates gathered to prepare for a major offensive on rich nations in Copenhagen.

The move came after reports suggested that rich nations led by Denmark are trying to set the agenda of the conference and force their own terms on the developing world.

Right before the BASIC gathering in Beijing, China's top climate envoy said developed nations should do more about climate change.

The comment comes after China unveiled its first firm target to cut carbon dioxide intensity by 40 to 45 percent by 2020, compared to 2005.

As a developing country, China is not obliged by current treaties to accept binding caps on its emissions. Both China and other developing countries have said that principle should not change in any new deal that emerges from Copenhagen.

It is actually the industrial nations that carry the responsibility for the CO2 already in the atmosphere.

For more than 100 years, the US has been the world's biggest carbon emitter: producing 40 percent of the global total in 1990, for about 5 percent of the world's population.

This hard reality was reflected in the Kyoto Protocol that “nations had common but differentiated responsibilities.” The developed nations agreed to do the cutting, while the developing economies were allowed to reduce emissions voluntarily.

Xie Zhenhua, deputy director of National Development and Reform Commission, said, "We do not want China's development to follow on Western countries' traditional high emissions, high consumerism developmental model which is highly polluting. We will choose other ways based on our own national conditions. So we will be able to guarantee our development and reduce the growth rate of green house gases emissions."

The debate between developed nations and developing countries will continue at Copenhagen, but time is running out to stop global warming.

(CCTV December 7, 2009)