Yvo De Boer, executive secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has said that developing nations may need to slow projected increase in their carbon emissions by 15 percent by 2020 if rich countries agree to reduce theirs by up to 40 percent for a new global deal.
Negotiations for a global deal to fight climate change, to be agreed in Copenhagen in December, have stumbled on the question of levels of emission cuts to be taken by rich states and developing nations.
A U.N. climate panel report in 2007 said that cuts would have to total 25-40 percent to avert the worst of climate change such as more wildfires, sandstorms, extinctions, rising ocean levels and more powerful cyclones.
At the same time, all but the poorest among developing nations would have to make a "substantial deviation" from baseline by 2020.
"Copenhagen has to deliver clear, ambitious, individual emission of reduction targets by industrialised countries. Without that leadership from rich nations, nothing else is going to happen. The second thing that Copenhagen must deliver is clarity on what major developing countries will do, not to reduce their emissions but to limit the growth of their emissions, how they can marry the concept of sustainable economic growth and combating climate change," said Yvo de Boer.
"For developing countries to be able to engage on climate change, they need to see a significant financial package on the table in Copenhagen, significant finance both for mitigation and adaptation. The fourth thing is clarity on the institutional framework that will manage international action on climate change," de Boer added.
So far, 2020 offers of greenhouse gas cuts from developed nations total between 11 and 15 percent below 1990 levels.
The European Union, for instance, has said it will cut unilaterally by 20 percent and by 30 if other nations join in. Australia's 2020 offer ranges from 3 to 23 percent from 1990.
Many other nations are reluctant to step up their ambitions in Copenhagen unless the United States signs up. Washington is the biggest emitter behind China and the only developed nation outside the Kyoto Protocol for limiting emissions to 2012.
Developing nations have no obligation to commit themselves to binding economy-wide emission cuts under existing U.N. treaties.
But rich countries say developing nations should also agree cuts because their emissions are growing at a faster pace, and open up their domestic action to international scrutiny and accountability, a demand so far rejected by poorer states.