In a NYT article, the author tragically blames the most vulnerable and innocent stakeholders (the developing nations) for the failure of the G8 climate talks by attributing the failure their refusal “to commit to specific goals for slashing heat-trapping gases by 2050, undercutting the drive to build a global consensus.”

In reality, “emerging powers refused to agree because they wanted industrial countries to commit to midterm goals in the next decade and to follow through on promises of financial and technological help for poorer nations.” That demand makes sense, considering developing economies want access to the same development opportunities available to developed nations. Not only was the bulk of the emissions produced by the developed countries in the past two centuries, but even now, developing countries produce a fraction (a tenth to a fifth) of the emissions of developed countries per person. They don’t want to limit themselves to that, especially to simply pay for the environmental debt incurred by the industrialized nations.

In short, given what the developed nations left them with, developing nations simply don’t believe that the former will achieve their commitments. They want to see real, documented progress along the way.

Not only that, but developing countries have numerous other tasks that are of higher priority–alleviating widespread hunger, increasing agricultural production, reducing unemployment–all major tasks that require resources that they can barely afford, if at all. They need the assistance of developed nations to help pull them to the level field in terms of climate-control technology. The issue is a worldwide concern and resolving it is a worldwide responsibility; there is no reason to selfishly keep to yourself. Greenhouse gases in Beijing is the same as in Los Angeles. The atmosphere is shared.

I am disappointed that the media would portray the world’s attempt to balance its urgent tasks regarding poverty alleviation with an equally urgent–but shared–task of limiting environmental impact as a streamlined process that is impeded only by the developing world’s obstinance. No–it’s the lack of understanding from the developed world of the fact that (a) the problem is global and shared, and (b) people in developing countries want and deserve the same opportunities as anyone else.

What sounds more reasonable to me is a 20% reduction in per-capita emissions by developed nations by 2020, and an 80% reduction in per-capita emissions by 2050, with the developing nations to follow at no greater than the developed nations’ emissions.

Don’t blame the failure of the talks on the vulnerable developing nations; blame it on the lack of empathy by developed nations.