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Argument: Developed countries caused global warming, they must fix it

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The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, (Text is original, but minor edit made to reformat as a list) -

  • The largest share of historical and current global emissions of greenhouse gases has originated in developed countries;
  • Per capita emissions in developing countries are still relatively low;
  • The share of global emissions originating in developing countries will grow to meet their social and development needs.[1]


Kit Batten. "The Lessons of Bali: The U.S. Needs to Lead on Global Warming". Center for American Progress. December 18, 2007 - Developing nations, of course, must also work to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, but they are far less responsible for the high levels of emissions currently in our atmosphere or the effects that global warming has already inflicted on the planet. For instance, the United States contributed an estimated 30 percent of the atmospheric greenhouse gases emitted between 1850 and 2003. As such, developed nations have a moral responsibility to make deep cuts in their emissions and help developing nations avoid developing along carbon intensive pathways.


World Bank, Transport Economics and Sector Policy briefing, quoted from Collision Course; Free trade’s free ride on the global climate, New Economics Foundation, 2000. - "Global warming is primarily a result of the industrialisation and motorisation levels in the OECD countries, on whom the main onus for mitigation presently lies."[2]


Anup Shah. "Climate Justice and Equity". Global Issues. January 01, 2008 - During various stages of climate negotiations, the US complained about the apparent unfairness in the Kyoto Protocol, which doesn’t commit developing nations to the same levels of reductions in global warming pollutants.

However, what Washington has not mention is that the developing nations are NOT the ones who have caused the pollution for the past 150 or so years and that it would be unfair to ask them to cut back at for the mistakes of the currently industrialized nations.

[...] Today’s rich nations are the ones responsible for global warming as greenhouse gases tend to remain in the atmosphere for many decades, and rich countries have been industrializing and emitting climate changing pollution for many more centuries than the poor countries.

As the World Resources Institute (WRI) highlighted in a report (2003) industrlialized countries are the biggest polluters:

  • In terms of historical emissions, industrialized countries account for roughly 80% of the carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere to date. Since 1950, the U.S. has emitted a cumulative total of roughly 50.7 billion tons of carbon, while China (4.6 times more populous) and India (3.5 times more populous) have emitted only 15.7 and 4.2 billion tons respectively.
  • Annually, more than 60 percent of global industrial carbon dioxide emissions originate in industrialized countries, where only about 20 percent of the world’s population resides.
  • The environmental consequences of the policies of industrialized nations have had a large, detrimental and costly effect on developing countries — especially the poor in those countries, that are already burdened with debt and poverty.


Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) notes: - Industrialised countries set out on the path of development much earlier than developing countries, and have been emitting GHGs [Greenhouse gases] in the atmosphere for years without any restrictions. Since GHG emissions accumulate in the atmosphere for decades and centuries, the industrialised countries’ emissions are still present in the earth’s atmosphere. Therefore, the North is responsible for the problem of global warming given their huge historical emissions. It owes its current prosperity to decades of overuse of the common atmospheric space and its limited capacity to absorb GHGs.[3]


"Climate change and developing countries". World Resources Institute (WRI). 2003 - Why should industrialized countries act first? In terms of historical emissions, industrialized countries account for roughly 80% of the carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere to date. Since 1950, the U.S. has emitted a cumulative total of roughly 50.7 billion tons of carbon, while China (4.6 times more populous) and India (3.5 times more populous) have emitted only 15.7 and 4.2 billion tons respectively.[...] Annually, more than 60 percent of global industrial carbon dioxide emissions originate in industrialized countries, where only about 20 percent of the world's population resides.


Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu - "It must be pointed out that climate change has been caused by the long-term historic emissions of Developed Countries and their high per-capita emissions...Developed countries bear an unshirkable responsibility."[4]

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