Large industrialized nations such as the United States and Australia no longer can point to lesser developed countries for refusing to set binding emissions targets. This week the head of the United Nation's (UN) climate change secretariat, Christiana Figueres, praised on Twitter the "remarkable leadership ahead of [a] 2015 agreement" of the Group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) willingness to sign legally binding emission reduction targets as part of any new international climate treaty. The 2015 agreement aims to provide a new draft international climate change treaty that will then be enacted by 2020.
Last week Quamrul Chowdury, lead negotiator for the LDC Group, told Climate News Network that the group would accept binding emission targets as part of any new deal, provided they are based on countries' differing circumstances, and that they would like to see all countries face such targets.
Historically the group of 49 LDCs, which together cover 12 per cent of the world's population, refused to accept responsibility for helping to solve a problem they do not believe they caused. This allowed some developed countries to argue that they will make cuts only when the LDCs do so, despite the fact that it is industrialization and development that have largely contributed to the human caused portion of climate change.
Also this week, Responding to Climate Change reported that Afghanistan became the latest country to formally ratify the Kyoto Protocol. The country is now required to develop its own national action plan, including development of low carbon infrastructure and adaptation to climate change. The U.S. never ratified the Kyoto Protocol, and shows little sign of ever doing so while Canada, Japan and New Zealand withdrew from the agreement at the last round of UN climate talks in Doha.
The LDCs willingness to sign targets is a critical step forward in negotiations that have been stalled for years with industrialized nations and lesser developed countries at loggerheads. The LDCs have stepped up and made the first move. Now it is time for the U.S. to make its citizens proud and commit to legally binding greenhouse gas emission reduction targets as well. The fact is our country is out of excuses. Let’s not run out of time to save the planet too.