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The Hamilton Spectator
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010
The UN climate summit in Cancun, Mexico, is nearing its end, but there will be no global deal on cutting greenhouse gas emissions this year. However, there is some hope for the longer run.

Mohamed Nasheed is the president of the Maldives, a group of low-lying islands in the Indian Ocean that will be among the first to vanish as the sea-level rises in a warming world.

That's why he is challenging the current negotiating position of the developing countries.

"When I started hearing about this climate change issue, I started hearing developing countries say 'We have a right to emit carbon because we have to develop,' " he told the BBC recently. "It is true, we need to develop; but equating development to carbon emissions I thought was quite silly."

The group of developing countries (G77) has always insisted that since the rich countries caused the problem, they must make the emissions cuts that would stop it. After all, it was 200 years of burning fossil fuels that made them rich, and they are responsible for 80% of the greenhouse gases of human origin in the atmosphere now.

But if only the rich countries cut their emissions, while the rapidly developing countries grow their emissions at the current rate, the planet will probably topple into runaway warming by mid-century.

The point of no return is a rise in average global temperature of 2 C. The warming we have already caused then melts the permafrost and warms the oceans so much that they also begin emitting carbon dioxide. Even if we later cut our own emissions to zero, those new emissions may propel us into runaway warming. Continued...

No climate progress at Cancun
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