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China expects developed countries to show leadership in the Copenhagen climate negotiations and commit to greater emissions reductions, says Jiahua Pan from the Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies, China.

The developing world is unlikely to take serious action against climate change unless developed nations agree to cut their emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2020, says Pan.

This means decarbonising at twice the rate needed to meet the G8's target cuts of 50 per cent by 2050. But China is already investing in low-carbon energy at a higher rate than most rich nations.

Developed countries are worried about the potential immediate negative economic effects of agreeing to the 40 per cent target and none have voluntarily committed to it.

Developing countries are also concerned with the economics of a climate deal, arguing that a premature shift to low-carbon energy may hinder their development. They are willing to take mitigation action, says Pan, but only on the condition that they receive both technology and finance.

Rich nations have agreed to provide development assistance but this is far less than what is needed, argues Pan. Uncertainty over financing is a major barrier to reaching a global climate deal.

To reach a successful agreement in Copenhagen this December, developed countries will need to show leadership and commit to the 40 per cent target. Developing nations will have every reason to follow suit if they do, argues Pan. And regardless of the outcome, developing countries should prepare nationally appropriate plans for low-carbon development.

Link to full article in Nature