Davos: The thick, heavy snowfall outside the World Economic Forum's annual meeting has not whitewashed fears about climate change, and its effects on the economy.
There is serious concern about how to keep the global economy moving forward while, at the same time, ensuring that denizens in the developing world are not denied any chances to better their lives without contributing to factors that have caused global warming.
On Thiursday, Mexican President Felipe Calderon is scheduled to join Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; Connie Hedegaard, the European Union's commissioner for climate action; and South African President Jacob G Zuma in an hourlong debate titled "From Cancun to Durban: The Course for Climate Change."
It's a critical issue coming after global talks on a new climate pact escaped a train wreck last month in the Mexican resort town of Cancun, where nations agreed on a modest set of decisions that put the negotiations back on track after the bitterly divisive summit a year earlier in Copenhagen.
Those talks had exposed the rift between rich and poor nations on the fundamental question of how to share the responsibility of tackling climate change chiefly curbing the
emissions of heat-trapping gases from the burning of fossil fuels.
Copenhagen produced only a nonbinding accord with voluntary climate targets that wasn't even formally adopted by the conference.
At Cancun, nations brought those voluntary pledges into the UN process and established a green fund to manage the $100 billion a year by 2020 that developed countries have pledged to help poor nations cope with global warming.
"I think you could say that the international climate change process came off life-support in Cancun a couple of weeks ago, in the sense that new energy was injected into the process and some technological advances were made,"
Yvo de Boer, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, told.
China and India oppose legally binding emissions targets, saying that would hobble the economic growth they need to lift millions of citizens out of poverty.
"For India and China I think our priority is development at any cost. We can't let our people rot," Aditya Ghosh, senior coordinator for climate change at New Delhi's Centre for Science and Environment told.
"We can't compromise, sacrifice our development targets, development goals in a country when we have about 27 percent people still under poverty line."
For its part, the US says it would only consider binding commitments if China and India do the same. The US and other Western nations are the biggest emitters, historically, but the growing power demands of developing countries mean they now account for more most of the world's current emissions.
First Published: Thursday, January 27, 2011, 17:12