Countering climate change calls for concerted cooperation

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The latest U.N. climate change conference ended at Cancun Saturday after over 190 parties endorsed a package crafted to shore up their collective campaign against global warming.

"This is a new era of international cooperation on climate change," Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa said at the closing of the two-week meeting, which Mexican President Felipe Calderon hailed as "a thoroughgoing success."

As senior Chinese delegate Huang Huikang stressed during the gathering, climate change is "an undisputable fact" and "the gravest challenge to humanity in the 21st century."

Along with worldwide socio-economic development, climate change has afflicted increasingly visible damage to humans in such fields as the environment, water resources, food and energy. And obviously, developing countries are the biggest victims of this formidable problem.

Meanwhile, developed countries are the main contributors to the current climatic troubles, as scientific research has revealed that the runaway climate results largely from the gargantuan quantity of greenhouse gases emitted during the past 200 years of their industrialization.

In addition, developed countries are still running on high-carbon tracks, accounting for 80 percent of the over 10 billion tonnes of hazardous gases discharged annually across the globe.

However, due to the impact of the global economic restructuring and the international financial crisis, developed countries lack a strong political will to shoulder their responsibility, even as climate change has put human existence in danger.

During the Cancun conference, for example, a few industrialized nations attempted to shirk their obligations articulated in the Kyoto Protocol. Japanese delegates also publicly smeared the legitimacy of the international accord, which was initially adopted in their country in 1997.

The Kyoto Protocol is a legally binding agreement that must be applied in the global efforts to tame climate change. As top Chinese delegate Xie Zhenhua has stressed, the deal bears the efforts of all parties and has played an active role, and it should not be repudiated.

Adding to the noise at the Cancun meeting, the United States, which did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol and has refused to raise its emission reduction target, accused others of not doing enough and hindered the formulation of agreements on some key issues.

In contrast, large developing countries are performing their shares of international obligations. The U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) requires developing countries to carry out practical emission reduction programs after obtaining financial and technological support from developed countries, but China and some other peers have already put large green projects in place using their own resources.

During climate change negotiations, major developing countries, particularly China, have played a very positive and constructive role.

From the beginning, China emphasized the conference's success hinged on whether to fulfill the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

The Japanese delegation advocated scrapping the protocol, but opposition by China and nearly all other participating countries forced it to back off.

Su Wei, chief negotiator of the Chinese delegation, said, "We realize time is very precious. We hope all concerned parties should consider issues from a bigger picture of fighting climate change and protecting human beings' interests, make some compromise, keep a relevant balance and ensure the success of the Cancun conference."

Greenpeace chief Kumi Naidoo said, "We are encouraged by the positive attitudes shown by the Chinese delegation during the Cancun conference, and what's more exciting is China's pragmatic actions at home to fight carbon emissions."

Due to the efforts of China and other major developing countries, the conference has ensured the continuation of the dual-track mechanism, achieved balanced progress within the mechanism, and made a stride in highlighting the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. The dual-track mechanism refers to sticking to both the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.

The conference has boosted the international community's confidence toward the multilateral negotiation mechanism within the U.N. framework, and laid a good foundation for the next climate conference, scheduled to be held in South Africa's Durban next year.

"From the atmosphere of this conference, delegates from all countries are very confident of the South African climate conference," Xie said.

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