Developing nations' right of development deserves due respect on climate issue

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Developed countries should understand the fact that development remains the top priority of developing nations and should respect their pursuit for national development while addressing climate change issues.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made this point clear by citing an example during an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Sunday.

Talking about an essay he read recently, Premier Wen said the Copenhagen climate change talks that had ended earlier this month aroused the concern of a Chinese author about his old mother who is still using a coal-burning stove for heating in the winter cold in his hometown in southern China.

"Perhaps some British people can hardly share a similar life experience like this," Wen added.

The Chinese mother's hardships may be beyond the imagination of some well-heeled people in developed countries.

For example, British Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said recently in a newspaper that "we will only construct a lasting accord that protects the planet if all countries' commitments or actions are legally binding. But some leading developing countries currently refuse to countenance this."

For those who were sitting in the comfort of central heating rooms and accused developing countries of not doing enough to fight climate change, they might have forgot the fact that 1.6 billion people in the world still have no access to electricity and 2.3 billion people have to burn coal or wood to keep warm or for cooking.

The wealthy nations demanding "all countries' commitments or actions be legally binding" have failed to take into account developing countries' right of development and breached the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" stipulated in the Kyoto Protocol.

According to the principle, developing countries should not assume obligations beyond their socio-economic capacity.

"Developed countries account for 80 percent of the total global carbon dioxide emissions since the Industrial Revolution over 200 years ago," Premier Wen said at the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit on Dec. 18.

Developing countries, however, only started industrialization a few decades ago and many of their people still live in abject poverty today.

As such, it is totally unjustified for those developed countries to ask developing nations to undertake emission reduction targets beyond their due obligations and capabilities in disregard of their historical responsibilities, per capita emissions and different levels of development.

"Some say that we should not get bogged down by history. But this is a fact that we must face," Wen told Xinhua. "Without looking at the history, one would never understand why there is a gap between the rich and the poor, still less the fact that developing countries regard development as their top concern."

With their unshirkable historical responsibility on climate change, developed countries must shoulder their due obligations on cutting emissions and providing financial and technical support for developing countries's efforts on adaptation and mitigation.

Instead of being judgmental, developed countries should put themselves in the shoes of developing countries and come to realize that developing countries must fight for their right for further development while addressing climate change issues.

That is the only way to ensure that climate talks will proceed on the right track.

More than 2,000 years ago, Mencius, a great thinker and philosopher in ancient China, said "Please extend the respect of the aged in one's family to those of other families."

It is hoped that every son and daughter in the world could understand the Chinese son's concern and love for his old mother, who still relies on a coal stove for heating in the depth of winter.

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