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Greenhouse gases: the developed world

Most references to the role of China and India in global mitigation of emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) are generally simplistic. The typical argument put forward highlights the fact that these countries would continue increasing their emissions substantially, and, therefore, any efforts at reduction in the developed world would be more than neutralized by increases in the former. The reality is in fact much more complex. It is important to remember that the problem of human induced climate change has been caused by the cumulative emissions of GHGs with concentration levels at 280 parts per million of CO2 in pre-industrial times growing to around 380 parts per million currently. This increase is largely the result of substantial increase in use of fossil fuels in the industrialized world. For this reason, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) included the principle of "common but differentiated responsibility", requiring the developed countries to take the first steps in mitigating emissions of GHGs. However, the record of the developed world has been less than satisfactory in this regard.

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