Talks on global climate change have proven to be no less thorny
than World Trade Organization negotiations.
As the marathon UN Framework Convention on Climate Change wound
up in Nairobi, Kenya, the world has seen little progress in
reaching a workable consensus on how to hold back the greenhouse
Admittedly, the two weeks of talks have indeed produced
something meaningful. The conference agreed, for example, to a
review of the Kyoto Protocol in 2008 for possible deeper gas
emission cuts by rich nations beyond 2012 and steps by developing
countries to apply brake on emissions.
It was also agreed that Africa, as the poorest economy, should
receive help to cope with challenges as a result of a climate
change, such as drought, grain production cuts, storms, disease and
rising sea level. Green technologies, such as wind or solar power,
are expected to be promoted in the continent.
All this, however, pales in light of the urgent need to stop the
worsening trend in global warming. It is so obvious that there is
no need to cite statistics. The vast gap in views among different
countries on how to balance their interest also needs to be
It may be a good sign, ironically, that people are still
arguing, because argument may be a prelude to consensus and
As usual, the world is divided into two general blocs regarding
this issue: developed countries that are being urged to take a lead
in bolder cutbacks in gas emissions and the developing countries
that are expected to play a larger role in this respect.
Their goals are the same, but they are divided in action. The
Nairobi conference has been dogged by a slew of disputes, including
when the negotiations on the post-Kyoto carbon reductions should
formally start or end.
Developed countries, which are more financially capable of
affording the cuts, should set an example for the much less
affluent developing nations. But sadly, the United States, the
biggest source of greenhouse gases, rejects emission caps under the
UN Kyoto Protocol, seeing it as an economic straitjacket.
Such an attitude will discourage participation by developing
countries in this global cause.
It will dent the confidence in the resolve of the developed
countries to abide by their professed commitment to lead the fight
against global warming.
The developing economic powerhouses, such as China and India,
are already adopting clean energy facilities to offset the climate
externalities of economic growth. They need to do more, but to that
end, they need more time and support. Pointing fingers of blame at
these developing countries does nothing to improve the
(China Daily November 20, 2006)