IPCC scientists accused of ‘marginalising’ poor nations


Climate scientists meeting in Berlin have been accused of "marginalising" the views of developing countries.

They are preparing to release a key report on how the world must cut carbon emissions to stem dangerous warming.

They are likely to say that if significant action isn't taken by 2030, temperatures will quickly break through the 2 degree C threshold.

But a lead author told BBC News that this focus on cutting CO2 was ignoring the development needs of the poor.

"The narrative, the language, the views of the IPCC still marginalises the developing country perspectives," Dr. Chukwumerije Okereke, from Reading University, told BBC News.

Dr. Okereke was a lead author on chapter four of the new report, dealing with sustainable development and equity.

He believes that there has been a fundamental shift in the discussions because the issue of historical responsibility for carbon emissions has been watered down by richer nations who are more concerned with the future than the past.

"The argument has been shifting away from the view that the developed countries, who have been mainly responsible for the problem, should take leadership in solving it, to this centre-ground view that we are all in it together and we all have to do our share.

"In effect, this is shifting the burden onto the developing countries and is holding them down from developing; quite frankly this is reinforcing historical patterns of injustice and domination."

In a leaked draft of their report, the IPCC authors write that cumulative emissions of carbon dioxide from 1750 to 1970 were around 900 billion tonnes. But when you measured the emissions between 1750 and 2010 they had soared to 2,000 billion tonnes of CO2.

Further emphasising the recent trend, the draft points out that between 2000 and 2010, emissions grew at 2.2% per year, compared to 1.3% over the period between 1970 and 2000.

To keep temperature rises below 2C, widely accepted as the threshold to dangerous change, carbon emissions in the atmosphere by 2100 have to be between 430 and 480 parts per million (ppm).

On current projections, the world would go through the 430ppm by 2030, so the report says that emissions cuts must happen soon.

The report indicates that the majority of future emissions growth will take place in developing countries.

This question of past and future is a big bone of contention between the parties meeting here in Berlin.

Written By: Matt McGrath
continue to source article at bbc.com


  1. Because, you know, if climate change keeps going, those poor nations will be doing just SWELL. It’s not like a ~100 meter rise in sea level will practically destroy a bunch of countries, turning almost their entire populations into refugees, or kill all their crops, or anything like that. And of course the developed world won’t be under any pressure AT ALL, and so naturally they won’t hesitate to send food to and take in refugees from poorer countries which are harder hit. Right?

    Oh, wait, no, it’s just the reverse. Heck, the right-wing rich are already probably trying to work out which countries to fortify against the refugees. Maybe we should let them build those walls along the borders of the U.S. — it would at least mean they were serious about preserving the country in the long term.

  2. At this stage does anyone really think that addressing climate change will be “bad” for developing countries? That’s the problem with a global world, or with any closely interconnected system: problems caused by one country, or one part, can affect every other. Becoming mired in this simplistic apportionment of responsibility (which should be based on whether or not the “perpetrator” of the problem knew or ought to have known the effects of what they were doing) seems not only petty and ill-conceived but also radically stupid. Just because one part of the system has reaped the benefits of something that later was revealed to be damaging doesn’t mean that it is the responsibility of that part to address the effects on its own, or even in proportion to its original contribution to the problem. “To each according to his need, from each according to his ability.”

    In this specific case, it also ignores the role played by the developed world in the capacity of the developing world to grow economically. Perhaps some kind of analysis could show how much the developed world has contributed to that economic growth, and the reduction targets of the developing countries could be adjusted accordingly. That would also have to defray the aid money and investments made in those countries by the West.

    Perhaps the worst part of all this is that countries like China and India are making rapid (and hugely economically beneficial) strides towards clean energy and away from fossil fuels.

    I’m sure some of my arguments here aren’t great, but I’m starting to get the impression that someone will always play the victim card and that their doing so will cost the planetary system very dearly, whether that card is played by the fossil fuel or mining industries (as in Australia) or by representatives of other interest groups.

  3. This makes a pleasant change from some carbon industry denialists who have been bemoaning the “deprivation in third world counties” of some citizens, being prevented in sharing in the carbon based luxury life-style some wish to continue to indulge at the expense of the planet!

    There will however be the downside effects of a more energised climate causing more extreme weather events – floods, tidal surges, typhoons, and droughts in third-world countries, with responsibilities for the costs of these continuing to be disputed by nations who have caused , and are, causing the problems.

    Developing countries at least have the opportunity to use renewable technologies when setting up new systems. They need not be encumbered with historical, obsolete, technologies, if they make wise choices. For example, Solar Thermal generation systems open opportunities for industrial and transport initiatives in tropical desert areas.

    It is also good to see to expert views on costs and affordability:


    PricewaterhouseCoopers have released an analysis of the report.

    Dr Celine Herweijer, partner on sustainability and climate change, said the “Working Group 3 report on mitigation explains how to avoid the crash. But it also suggests that the brakes are not working”.

    “Fundamentally, the latest IPCC reports show that not only are the costs to act affordable if we do so early, but that we all lose if we fail to respond adequately. Uncertainties due to a handful of nascent economic models are not excuses for inaction. Policy-makers and business leaders have a mandate to act under the weight of the evidence at hand. This evidence suggests urgent and bold action is a must at the national and international level.”

    “The IPCC has provided some estimates on the global scale of the costs, both for reducing emissions (WG3) and for the impacts of climate change (WG2). Unfortunately they cannot be compared and used as a decision to act. What is certain is that the costs to act only become more expensive the longer we wait.”

    Scientific reaction

    The Science Media Centre has put together a wrap of the reaction from climate scientists and those working in the mitigation field.

    Dr Dan Osborn, independent consultant and former chair of the evaluation panel for the AVOID research programme, said:

    “This report illustrates the challenges the world faces on mitigation but it could be good news for those businesses and countries willing to lead the way on all kinds of low-carbon technologies. Burning oil and gas will be frowned on by future generations because this resource is valuable for other purposes. The sooner we start on mitigation the lower adaptation costs will be. Relying on a non-existent Plan B is not a wise option. Time to act is limited. The world must not put its head in the sand. Global action is needed to reduce emissions whilst there is still time.”

    Dr Jeremy Leggett, associate fellow at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, said:

    ** “It is useful to see so many experts agree that the electricity sector can be completely decarbonised as a major contribution to keeping global warming below unacceptable danger levels, but many of us on the front lines of renewable energy would say that the IPCC has underestimated the speed with which our technologies, in concert with energy efficiency, can displace fossil fuels in the years ahead.**

    “Similarly, growing numbers of financial analysts would say that the IPCC has given inadequate consideration to the soaring capital expenditures of carbon-fuel companies, and the extent to which that constraint can help drive capital to the declining-cost technologies that dominate the renewables family.”

  4. In reply to #1 by The Vicar:

    Maybe we should let them build those walls along the borders of the U.S. — it would at least mean they were serious about preserving the country in the long term.

    To keep the Americans in ? – seriously….formaldehyde should be just as helpful

Leave a Reply