Many Non-governmental organizations have aired their views and made their attitude clear regarding the Bali Roadmap that was drawn up at the recent UN climate change conference in Bali. Are they satisfied or disappointed? Are there any urgent problems that require resolution? On December 21, 2007, China.org.cn interviewed Ms. Chen Dongmei, director of the Climate Change and Energy Program of the WWF China. Chen, on behalf of the WWF, gave her opinions on the issue.
What were your expectations for the conference when you went to Bali? Do you think the conference achieved your anticipated goals?
Chen Dongmei: Actually, we had high expectations for the conference. We hoped that global greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 50 percent by 2050, compared with the 2000 emissions, an eighty-five percent improvement. As for an intermediate goal, we expected that the developed countries, especially the EU countries, would agree to cut their emissions by 25 to 40 percent by 2020. But in fact, as we all know, the United States played an obstructing role in the major negotiations, just like they did during the Kyoto Protocol. Because of this, none of these goals were achieved at the conference.
I think that China did a very good job: we surpassed our own expectations. The Chinese government and the Chinese delegation were meticulously prepared. They played a very active role in the negotiations. Whenever a new situation arose, they willingly made concessions if possible. They were very open during the whole negotiation process; they kept communicating and interacting with the media, both from China and other countries. We were very glad to note that.
China.org.cn: What do you think of this phrase: negotiation on climate change is not just environmental issue, but a test of economic, diplomatic and political power between different countries.
Chen Dongmei: This sentence impressed me. Many people think that global warming simply means that polar bears will lose their homes, and that living space is shrinking. Few people will think about what impact or changes global warming would bring to their lives and very few people think about the fact that the energy they consumed would affect the next generation. Carbon dioxide is the first killer from greenhouse gas emissions, and it is related to energy issues. Current fossil fuel resources such as coal are limited. If all the countries were competing for these limited resources, problems would arise, both in diplomacy and trade.
China.org.cn: What was the WWF's mission for the conference? What did you do to achieve your mission?
Chen Dongmei: WWF is a global organization. My Chinese coworkers and I all know about China's political and economic situation and China's stand on climate change and the country's views concerning future development. We also have colleagues working in Australia, the United States, and in Europe. They know the politics of the country where they work. So it was more like a WWF internal meeting. Each of us stood for the country he or she represents. We had conflicting views on some issues but after communicating and researching, we finally reached a compromise.
China.org.cn: People are always emotional and it is not easy to put aside interests and benefits. Did you have some difficulties achieving balance?
Chen Dongmei: It's true; it's not easy. For example, I, as a Chinese, and also as a staff member of WWF working in China, sometime may hold conflicting views on different issues. But we reached a compromise, through conflicts and much discussion we were able to represent "global general interests." In the process of negotiations, we agreed to keep close contact with the delegation of the country where we are based.
China.org.cn: How did you resolve the problem that your country's interests and benefits differ from that of the WWF in the negotiations?
Chen Dongmei: It does exist and it is hard to solve. We have to communicate a lot before negotiations. And after negotiations, there will be some bilateral or multilateral meetings before the next negotiation, which will downplay any differences.
China.org.cn: Do you think NGOs should cooperate in harmony regarding the grave issue of treating climate change?
Chen Dongmei: I think that NGOs should be well organized and coordinated, so that their voices will be very powerful. I will cite a very good example. There is an NGO in Europe called CAN (Climate Change Network). They worked to promote information sharing among different NGOs at the conference. They printed and distributed a one-page briefing everyday, recording the process of negotiations. The newsletter covered vital information and the players' behaviors: various discussion topics, which changed during the sessions; which country played active role in the negotiations, and which one obstructed negotiations, and what should we do about it? Should we encourage them or criticize them? Every delegation member at the conference got this briefing in the morning. The interesting thing was that they always chose the worst performing country of that day, and mostly Canada and United States topped the list, because they obstructed negotiations.
China.org.cn: Let's look at a question raised by a Chinese netizen. The netizen asked: As the world's largest NGO, the WWF has always been keeping close watch on climate change. They published in November Climate Solutions: WWF's Vision for 2050 in which a question is put forward. Can a concerted shift toward sustainable energy resources and technologies that are available today meet the more than doubling of global energy demand projected by 2050, while avoiding dangerous climate change of more than two degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels? The report gives the answer. Would you please tell us the answer and how the answer was yielded?
Chen Dongmei: WWF answered the question very clearly and affirmatively in the report. The report's conclusion is that the technologies and sustainable energy resources known or available today are sufficient to meet this challenge. However, there are several prerequisites for the goal. We were expecting that the United States and developed EU countries, in which capital accumulations have already been well developed, would demonstrate their leading force and courage and take real actions toward pushing forward with this issue.
China performed well among the developing countries, having shown to the world that China is not only responsible for its own territory, but also for the globe in terms of conserving the environment and coping with climate change.
Another prerequisite requires worldwide coordination. For instance, if various economic activities and investments were coordinated and rearranged to shift to low-coal-consuming projects, they would play a remarkable role in the restriction of greenhouse gas emissions.
China.org.cn: The netizen has another question. Which one plays an essential role in the shift to sustainable energy resources? Governmental policies or efforts made by the masses?
Chen Dongmei: Actually, the two sides are equal in their effects. Governmental policies can influence the daily life of the masses, as well as business production. In addition, national policies publicized by different countries may exert profound influences on a global basis.
From the other end of the spectrum, although individual lifestyle has quite a minor influence on environmental protection, it is unimaginable to add the effect of all the Chinese people together. Therefore, the role and effect of governments, enterprises and the masses are all indispensable.
China.org.cn: Is the scale of this year's UN climate change conference in Bali bigger than the Nairobi conference last year?
Chen Dongmei: This question can be explained using three points. First, climate change became a hot topic before the conference was held, creating great pressure on politicians and public opinions. Under this pressure, some people who had not been concerned with climate change might begin to think: What effects will climate change bring on me? Will the insurance or aviation industries be affected by climate change? Or will the manufacture of a certain product be affected? This prelude set off many reflections upon previous political and economic development, it made a louder noise than before and set the stage for the Bali conference.
The other point is that both the developed and developing countries held one resolution during the negotiations -- to adopt the Bali Roadmap before the conference concluded. This was not the situation in Nairobi. The Chinese delegation was also more active in the Bali negotiations compared to last year's. Thanks to China's comprehensive preparation, they put forward specific schemes and suggestions during various negotiations and lobbied other countries to reach compromises. China was and is determined to spend two years promoting fruitful negotiations regarding the Kyoto Protocol in 2009 and the country is prepared to make sacrifices and concessions toward that goal.
The last but not the least difference is the stance shift of the United States. Although it was not expected that the US would take some active measures soon, it will not depart from the Bali Roadmap. Given the efforts made by various states in the US and many relevant enterprises, we are confident that the United States will take part in wider negotiations in the future.
(China.org.cn, translated by Zhang Yunxing and Zhang Tingting December 28, 2007)