More support needed for decarbonization

Developed countries must play active role in achieving global climate goals

Experts have called for intensified support from developed countries for decarbonization in emerging economies, considering the comparatively high costs of controlling carbon emissions.

Compared with developed states, emerging economies are expected to have greater cost-effective potential in reducing carbon emissions in the future. Due to high costs, however, it's hard for them to significantly reduce emissions simply by themselves, said Guan Dabo, a professor from the department of earth system science at Tsinghua University, when a recent report was released.

The report — Carbon Dioxide Emission Accounts of Global Emerging Economies 2022 — was jointly published by the department, the university's Institute for Carbon Neutrality, and the Administrative Center for China's Agenda 21.

To limit the increase in the global average temperature this century to far less than 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels and also leave emerging economies enough space for further growth in emissions, developed nations need to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions on average by 7.2 percent per year, said Guan, the lead author of the report.

The Paris Agreement on climate change, which was reached in 2015, aims to keep the global temperature rise this century below a 2 C increase from pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 C.

The 2018 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations body that assesses the science related to climate change, however, highlighted a series of climate change impacts that could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5 C.

By the end of this century, for example, the rise in global sea levels would be 10 centimeters lower with a temperature increase of 1.5 C compared with 2 C, according to the report.

Guan, however, pointed out a huge gap between the needs and the real performances of developed countries.

From 2010 to 2018, the European Union and the United States, for instance, saw their carbon emissions decrease by 1.4 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively, he said.

In accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, Guan said developed economies should boost financial and technical support for emerging economies. They should also update their emission reduction targets to realize negative emissions as soon as possible.

Addressing the event via video link, D'Maris Coffman, director of the Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction at University College London, stressed how critical acquiring precise information about the carbon emissions of emerging economies is "because this goes directly to questions of climate justice".

"We all talk about the fact that we recognize that emerging economies do need to continue to develop and the Western developed economies are not possible politically, ethnically, morally or economically to insist that emerging economies forgo economic development in order to meet climate targets," she said.

It's incumbent upon these countries to decarbonize as quickly as possible for their own safety as well as the safety of the world, she said, but the fact is that it's going to cost them an enormous amount in terms of resources that could be spent on poverty alleviation.

She called to help galvanize multilateral organizations and other responsible state actors to provide aid to assist emerging economies to tackle climate change.