'Norway has responsibility for climate change'

Published: Wednesday 15 April 2009

-- Norway's environment minister Erik Solheim tells kushal Pal Singh Yadav that under the new climate regime developing countries too need to take commitments to cut emissions

On Europe's proposal asking emerging economies like India to cut emissions by 15-30 per cent by 2020

In addition to avoiding deforestation in developing countries, the key question in reducing global emissions is how to delink economic growth and increased emissions from fossil fuels in all countries, including India. Important steps are done nationally today. However, in order to avoid unmanageable climate change impacts, an ambitious and strong international framework is necessary. All countries must commit to a new international framework, but our commitments to reduce emissions will differ.Developed countries, including all oecd countries, should take the main share of emission cuts by cutting their emissions as a group in the range of 25-40 per cent compared to 1990 level. In addition, emissions in developing countries have to deviate substantially from business as usual, in the range of 15-30 per cent by 2020. Hence, emerging economies must take on commitments in a new climate regime. Climate change comes at a cost, but it has been clearly stated that the cost of inaction far outweighs the cost of action.

Is Europe justified in asking for these cuts when almost all members have not met their own Kyoto targets?

Living up to our commitments will be demanding, but if we fail the consequences are far more severe. If we have failed in the past a new climate regime must reinforce the framework for action, making it plausible and realistic to reach our targets.

On Norway's historical responsibility in India being vulnerable

We recognize people and countries that have contributed least to climate change are and will be experiencing the most severe impacts of climate change. Norway has a responsibility for climate change and thereby for the burden that climate change impacts adds to the development process of developing countries, including India. This responsibility is reflected in our own commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

On his comment that India and China being most vulnerable and not Europe and US

All countries, including Norway, will experience impacts of climate change even at a mean global temperature rise of 2oC. Climate change is already happening and even today's increase of 0.8oC results in changes in weather patterns, sea level rice, more extreme weather events etc. These impacts affect us all. However, the degree to which impacts will have severe consequences for societies differs. This is due to the physical exposure, and even more due to how well we are able to cope with the impacts. For many developing countries physical exposure combined with limited adaptive capacity will put people and communities under severe stresses.

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