The challenge of dividing the burden of reducing global carbon emissions is the main issue preventing world leaders from agreeing on a binding climate treaty. But this week at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Doha, Qatar, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that richer nations should take the lead on curbing emissions, saying that it is “only fair and reasonable that the developed world should bear most of the responsibility” in reducing global emissions. Much of the climate problem has come from the industrialization of richer nations, he said, they are historically responsible for the damage to the environment.

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Ban Ki-Moon’s comments reflect the opinions of many rapidly-developing countries such as China who have now surpassed the Europe and the United States as top greenhouse gas polluters. First-world countries disagree that the decades old divide between rich and poor nations still applies to the current globalized economy, and that a new climate treaty should apply to all nations. So, how to move forward and ensure that everyone pitches in to help a planet in peril?

Currently, the only binding legislation on the books is the Kyoto Protocol, a resolution that addresses the emissions of a few industrialized countries, excluding the United States. The U.S. has never signed the agreement, citing that the laws did not cover countries such as India and China who produce a hefty share of greenhouse gasses. Last year, governments decided that a new treaty should be adopted in 2015 and enforced five years later. The meeting in Doha is intended to ensure that the Protocol is ready by the 2015 date. The governments meeting in Qatar are also discussing extending the current Protocol, which expires this year, as a temporary measure until the new deal can take effect. Ban Ki-moon traveled to Doha this week in order to “accelerate the process” of aiding the most vulnerable countries adapt to climate change and to encourage the world to choose cleaner energy sources.

“This deadline must be met. There is no time to waste, no time to lose for us,” he said.”Climate change is happening much, much faster than one would understand. The science has plainly made it clear: it is the human beings’ behavior which caused climate change, therefore the solution must come from us.”

Ban is urging that the Kyoto Protocol be extended, despite the objections of the U.S, Canada, Japan and New Zealand who argue that the extension would only cover Europe and Australia, countries that account for only 15% of greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, the world faces storms, droughts, and melting ice sheets as its leaders try to come to a political accord.

Via the Huffington Post

Images via Dori and World Economic Forum