Make Copenhagen a development round

0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, October 26, 2009
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With each passing day we hear more and more about efforts by different nations to help secure a global deal at the coming Copenhagen conference.

However, if negotiators are to bridge the perception gap between rich and poor nations and come up with a pact that is fair and sustainable, they must recognize that this is an issue about development for all countries.

Last week, China and India signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) on cooperation in dealing with climate change.

According to the MoA, the two will not only build partnership on climate change and strengthen cooperation in alleviation, adaptation and empowerment projects. They will also set up a Joint Working Group to exchange views on major issues in global climate talks, domestic policies and implementing cooperative projects.

Another item of encouraging news is that President Hu Jintao and US President Barack Obama agreed during a phone conversation last week to extend collaboration on tackling global warming between the world's two biggest greenhouse gas emitters.

But not all news is good news.

A recent poll of 1,500 US adults found that the number of people saying there is strong scientific evidence that the Earth has gotten warmer over the past few decades is down from 71 percent in April of last year to just 57 percent.

It is easy to blame poor communication by scientists for cooling US belief in global warming. But it is hard to deny the detrimental effect of some interests groups' attempt to instill a sense of uncertainty and confusion in the public.

Sadly, political fighting is retarding real progress toward a successful Copenhagen summit.

Developed countries are requesting developing nations to make binding commitments to reduce carbon emissions, but developing countries insist that rich countries should first make deep cuts in emissions and provide financial and technological support.

Admittedly, the negotiation is much about national interests. But a key reason why the global interest of a fair and sustainable climate change pact cannot prevail is that negotiators have not seriously examined it from developmental perspective.

If a consensus can be reached on the necessity and inevitability of a low-carbon future, developed countries will realize that assuming their historical responsibilities for greenhouse gas emissions is a precondition to introduce a global system of carbon emissions budget that is fair enough for every people to work together to cut carbon emission by 50 percent by 2050. The fact that developed countries' efforts alone will not be enough to save the world from global warming is not a cause for inaction.

On the other hand, developing countries will also find that it is in their interest to do their best to cut carbon emission as early and much as possible instead of wasting their surplus in carbon emission budget.

For any international climate effort to work effectively beyond 2012, the coming UN climate change conference in Copenhagen must aim to make development rights an integral part of any agreement negotiators will reach. Only a development-centered global climate pact can unite all nations into a lasting fight against global warming.

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