Clarion call on Cancun climate conference

By Clodoaldo Hugueney
0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, November 25, 2010
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Climate change is an important challenge that we all have to address with a sense of urgency. As a global challenge, it can only be tackled through the concerted efforts of all nations, according to their common but differentiated responsibilities.

If we succeed, and we must succeed, this endeavor will open the way for strengthening multilateralism and international cooperation in a broader sense. The concrete actions necessary to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapt to climate change will require major efforts from all nations.

At the same time, they create the opportunity for us to strive for objectives that will benefit mankind as a whole, such as improving energy efficiency and security, reducing local pollution and preserving forests and other vital ecosystems.

As stated in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, all countries should join forces to address the causes of climate change according to their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. Developed countries started their industrialization earlier and have a much greater historical responsibility for the accumulation of GHGs in the atmosphere. These countries must take the lead in reducing emissions and providing financial and technological support to developing countries, which will be more severely affected by the impacts of climate change.

Developing and emerging countries have the right to develop their economies and to increase their per capita energy consumption, which is still low compared to developed countries. In order to decouple economic development from emissions growth, significant technological development and innovation is required.

Without loosing sight of differentiated historical and present responsibilities, developing countries such as Brazil and China have taken up significant voluntary commitments to limit their GHG emissions. In a rapidly changing world, these countries have demonstrated their engagement in the common cause of fighting climate change, and their willingness to position themselves in the avant-garde of a new industrial revolution centered on clean energies and a more rational use of natural resources.

The UN climate change conference in Cancun, Mexico, will be an important moment in this process of evolution of the international climate change regime. Most notably, on that occasion we should aim to reach agreement on the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, stipulating more ambitious targets for developed countries, thus concluding that negotiating track.

In the negotiations under the UN climate change convention, comparable emission reduction targets should be established for developed countries that refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. We should reach agreement on short-, mid- and long-term financing in order to implement the pledges made by developed countries in Copenhagen, Denmark, last year, particularly the provision of $30 billion for mitigation and adaptation actions in developing countries from 2010 to 2012. We should conclude negotiations on actions to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Adaptation to climate change is another issue that should be addressed in Cancun as a matter of urgency.

Finally, we should also reach agreement on a technology transfer mechanism for supporting mitigation and adaptation actions in developing countries. In addition to these concrete results, we should adopt in Cancun a package of procedural decisions consolidating current achievements, such as the key elements of the Copenhagen Accord, and paving the way for the conclusion, in Durban in South Africa next year, of negotiations about the remaining elements of the Bali Road Map.

Brazil and fellow Latin American countries have been consistently cooperating on climate change issues, tackling key challenges at the regional level and contributing to strengthening the multilateral framework.

Brazil and China maintain close cooperation in this domain at the bilateral level. Senior officials from the two countries meet on a regular basis to consult and exchange views on the evolution of multilateral climate change negotiations. They also meet on an annual basis to foster cooperation on energy efficiency and clean energies.

In this context, Brazil and China are currently negotiating a memorandum of understanding to foster cooperation in energy projects in several areas, notably the development of biofuels in the two countries, as well as in other developing countries particularly in Africa.

Brazil is implementing a wide range of policies and measures to reduce GHG emissions between 36.1 percent and 38.9 percent compared to business as usual in the period from 2005 to 2020. Brazil's main challenge is to fight deforestation, which is the greatest source of GHG emissions in the country.

Brazil intends to reduce the rate of deforestation by 80 percent in the Amazon rain forest, and by 40 percent in the Brazilian savannahs, knows as cerrados. Building on accumulated experience of more than one decade, this objective is being pursued through a set of measures, which include significant changes in legislation, law enforcement, positive incentives and the development of economic activities compatible with the preservation and sustainable management of forests.

In the energy sector, the national strategy provides for ambitious actions to increase energy conservation and efficiency, and to maintain and even increase the current share of 45 percent of renewable energy in the national energy mix. It is worth noting that this proportion is one of the highest in the world. In member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the share of renewable energy in the energy mix averages only 8 percent.

Ambitious actions are being carried out in the area of sugar cane, the largest renewable energy source in Brazil, through the production of ethanol, which accounts for more than half of the fuel consumed in cars, and increasing amounts of electricity, produced from sugar cane bagasse. Biodiesel is another rapidly growing sector, already accounting for nearly 4 percent of the fuel consumed by trucks.

The hydropower sector is also being developed according to stringent sustainability criteria. Wind power is another promising sector that has already attracted significant investments and is likely to grow rapidly in the next years.

We are going to Cancun with a constructive attitude, aiming at achieving important and concrete agreements, and paving the way for the conclusion of the negotiations of the Bali Road Map in South Africa next year.

We also hope that these developments will contribute to the success of the broader discussions due to take place at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in 2012. This meeting will provide an opportunity for the international community to assess the achievements of the two decades that followed the Earth Summit of 1992, and to agree on the next steps in our common pursuit of sustainable development.

The author is ambassador of Brazil in China. The article is an excerpt from his speech at a forum, titled From Copenhagen to Cancun: New Challenges, New Alternatives, New Opportunities, held in Beijing in October.

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