China vs Tuvalu?

Tuvalu made waves when the country’s representative at Copenhagen caused one of the discussion tracks to be suspended by walking out in protest. Tuvalu wanted a stronger agreement that would also cut some developing country emissions, and is proposing a new treaty that be much stricter than Kyoto and limit CO2 concentrations to 350ppm.

China and India reacted strongly to the proposal, which they said would constrain their economies too much. Even some of Tuvalu’s fellow small-island nations have backed away from its tough stance.

Tuvalu is a tiny Pacific island nation with a population of about 12,000 and GDP somewhere in the region of $15m.  Its main sources of income are remittances, aid, fishing rights and the .tv domain extension. As a low-lying nation, it has a lot of lose from rising sea levels associated with climate change. Think of the Maldives, only without the lucrative tourism industry.

Tuvalu, we note, also recognises Taiwan, something that is not popular with China (but more popular among small, poor nations with little to lose from offending China).

Another question that arises out of this: What will it mean for the G77, the developing countries’ group?

The envoy for the Association of Small Island States has been generally supportive of its member Tuvalu and shares its desire to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees, rather than the 2 degrees that bigger nations are focused on. But it’s hard to see what Tuvalu has in common with China. The AOSIS envoy acknowledged the diversity amongst G77 members, but added “the thing that unites G77 and China is that we are pursuing development out of a history of colonial and under-developed circumstance”.

This might not be enough to create common ground between Tuvalu and the world’s biggest emitter of CO2.

Related links:

The climate G2: China and the US compared (FT Energy Source, 09/12/09)

Energy Source is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

Insight into the financial, economic and policy aspects of energy and the environment.

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