No political will, no climate pact

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The UN climate summit has ended in New York with the same old warnings about climate change and another spate of "urgent" calls for a new global climate pact, hopefully to be reached by Dec. 2015 in Paris.

The world has never been short of warnings about climate change and, let's face it, no one seems to be paying much attention.

On eve of the summit, the world was given what was probably the harshest warning in a 127 page draft report by the UN intergovernmental panel on climate change. The report featured the word "risk" 351 times. The report warns that it is perhaps the last chance to prevent temperatures rising by about 4 degrees Celsius by the end of this century.

This order of temperature increase probably means the end of the world as we know it. Many islands will vanish. Coastlines in low-lying cities -- like Shanghai, Mumbai and New York -- will move inland and the ensuing tumult will be considerable. Huge deltas could vanish into the sea. Conflict and refugee problems seem inevitable. Efforts to grow more food could be less productive. The list of consequences is unending.

Just like any other major disaster, those poor will be the first to suffer and their suffering will be greatest.

Climate change is a continuing process, not an on-off switch. It did not suddenly begin and will not come to an abrupt end, at least not an abrupt, happy ending.

Governments worldwide need to focus on concrete deliverables. The sooner they act, the sooner we can begin to arrest the progress toward oblivion. Things are still getting worse. We remain a long way away from the time when things will start to get better.

All this depend on one key element: real political will.

Addressing climate change is, to some extent, a political problem. In politics, where there is no will, there is no way.

The world is counting on politicians to set new goals and take immediate action.

To this point, China may provide some clues. The Chinese leadership has shown strong political will and taken firm action. Ambitious goals have been set and expectations are high for a new global climate change pact.

Premier Li Keqiang, twice this year, said that China would fight pollution with the same determination it had battled poverty. China has lifted more than 440 million people out of poverty since 1978.

In the past few years, China has taken many aggressive steps to cut greenhouse gases by developing clean energy and energy conservation and by improving efficiency. Though the number one source of greenhouse gases in the world, China is also the world leader in wind, solar and hydropower.

"We can argue that this is contributing more than any other country to a climate change solution, and could be a viable alternative to international climate agreements...," John Mathews and Hao Tan said in science journal Nature.

In 2013, new renewable energy capacity installed by China accounted for 37 percent of new capacity globally. From 2005 to 2013, China accounted for 24 percent of the world's total. A national plan, approved last Friday, aims to almost halve the 2005 level of carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 2020 and achieve a peak in carbon emissions as early as possible.

Governments worldwide are currently negotiating a new climate pact to be agreed at the 2015 Paris conference to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the only international agreement to tackle climate change. There are dangerous time lags.

The world is in desperate need for a new climate pact and a new round of greenhouse gas cuts. Without strong political will worldwide, a new climate pact is unthinkable.

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