In an appeal to leaders meeting at Poland for talks on climate change, they said, "Around the world, international aid agencies such as Oxfam are seeing the effects of climate change on the world's poor. In Uganda changing weather patterns mean farmers gamble when to sow seeds; in Bangladesh, more intense and frequent monsoons have destroyed homes. Around the world, health is at risk from disease and malnutrition, and children usually girls are being pulled from school to walk further distances for water.
"It is desperately unfair that the poor should again feel the brunt, despite being least responsible.
"Wealthy nations, who are in their advantaged position because of heavy industrialisation, are the most responsible and most able to lead the world in tackling climate change. This is why they must show leadership in Poland and provide solutions that have the interests of the world's poor at their heart.
"Rich countries must lead the way to cut emissions now so that all countries take their fair share of responsibility and act to keep global warming exceeding 2C above pre-industrial levels. They must also commit funding so that poor communities can adapt to climate change. Together, we must work towards low-carbon development so that all countries — including the poor — can prosper," the signatories led by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said
Meantime Dr Jiahua Pan, Senior Fellow and Executive Director, Research Centre for Sustainable Development; The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), Beijing, was quoted in Australia's 'Sydney Morning Herald' newspaper as saying that without an Australian commitment to cut at least 25% of greenhouse emissions, the world would walk away from next year's final Copenhagen climate change talks empty-handed. Other nations, such as Brazil and South Africa, have also called on developed nations, such as Australia, to take an aggressive stance on the issue.
Australia chairs the loose coalition of non-EU states involved in climate change talks, known as The Umbrella Group, and including Canada, Iceland, Japan and New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Ukraine and the US. So Australia is seen as having a leadership role. And among low-lying states of the Pacific in particular, Australia's early strong stance was warmly welcomed.
But Australia's Greens party says where US intransigence has been an obstacle to international action on climate change in the past, now it's Australia.
Greens Senator Christine Milne told Radio Australia, "To get China on board at global negotiations the developed countries have to commit to deep cuts, they have to commit to a negotiating range of 25%-40%. So if Australia goes refusing to tell the rest of the world what its target is, refusing to agree to 25%-40%, it is actively scuttling the potential for a global agreement in Copenhagen next year."
Australia's government is due to release final details of its preferred climate change position in a White Paper on the 15th of December.