Who said developing countries can't take the lead? Of late, several developing countries have proposed to take unilateral action to deal with climate change. Poor countries have long claimed (rightly) that they did not create the problem of global warming, and so argue (wrongly) that they should have nothing to do with solving the problem. That's a cop out answer, which ignores that global warming affects everyone. The attitude, it seems, is changing.
On Monday this week, Brazil promised to reduce deforestation by 70% by 2017. We read a lot about polluting industries in China and energy-intensive lifestyles in the United States (the world's two biggest polluters). But did you know that one-fifth of annual greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution in the world is due to the destruction of rain forests, and Brazil accounts for 40% of this? Since trees absorb carbon dioxide, felling them releases excess CO2 into the atmosphere, which results in global warming. Brazil's commitment signals a major step forward.
Meanwhile, yesterday Mexico announced that it would reduce emissions by half by 2050 (compared to 2002). South Korea plans to announce a similar target next year. South Africa wants to ensure that its emissions flatten out between 2020 and 2025, and starting reducing after that period. China plans to use more than a third of its $586 billion economic stimulus for energy and ecology-friendly investments. India, too, announced a national action plan on climate change last June, though it has not set itself any targets for cutting emissions.
Climate change is one of the most complex global challenges. No single country's efforts will be sufficient to deal with it. Which is why every single country's initiatives, especially coming from poor countries, is welcome.