The opening of the United Nations' annual conference on climate change yesterday at Poznan in Poland is a timely reminder that the unfolding financial crisis should in no way weaken the world's commitment to fighting climate change.
The discussions at this conference will be of particular importance to the future roadmap for tackling the problem of greenhouse gas emission. More so because it comes at a time when the world's major economies have announced stimulus packages to try and prevent their economies from slipping into a recession.
True, the major economies differ on their commitments, actions and goals on cutting green house emissions. But the convening of such an annual meeting is based on the consensus that climate change is something that nations must jointly deal with.
It is encouraging that major EU economies proposed the goal of holding global warming at no more than a 2 degree Celsius increase from pre-industrial temperatures. This requires that greenhouse gas emission must be cut by 50 percent by 2050. If so, the developed countries will have to cut their emissions by 25 to 40 percent on the basis of the 1990 standards by 2020 and by 80 to 95 percent by 2050.
Another encouraging sign is US president-elect Barack Obama's promise that his government would take a leading role in combating climate change. United States is the only major developed country that has failed to sign the Kyoto Protocol. Any change in its policy on this matter will have a profound impact on the world's action.
This conference will continue the negotiations launched at the last conference about future policy, including technology transfer, afforestation and practical action on adaptation strategies for countries coping with the adverse effects of climate change.
The "common and differentiated responsibilities" that were reaffirmed at the Bali conference should continue to be the basis for future action.
And this principle, which is the cornerstone of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, makes particular sense at present when financial turmoil will likely delay the economic progress of developing countries.
The developing countries' efforts in poverty alleviation are in danger of being offset by the financial turmoil. It is therefore necessary for the conference to push for a partnership between developed and developing countries to further combat climate change without holding back development. Therefore, technology transfer and financial help from developed countries are particularly important for developing countries in their efforts to raise their energy consumption efficiency. The developing world's commitments to action on climate change are facing new challenges because of their preoccupation with creating jobs and saving their economies from further slowdown.
This makes the partnership between developed and developing countries especially significant. The urgent need is to work out a better mode of cooperation that addresses the issue of climate change simultaneously with those of economic development.
This should be on the agenda of this conference.
(China Daily December 2, 2008)