Time to think big

0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, November 29, 2010
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The mounting challenges that the climate negotiators face have understandably precluded high expectations of the UN climate change conference that started on Monday in Cancun, Mexico.

Yet, in a year that ties as the hottest since records began in 1850, it is essential that the international community be galvanized into joint efforts to agree a comprehensive deal to address climate change.

To spare the planet from the ravages of global warming, mankind must have a binding agreement on reducing carbon dioxide emissions to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which will expire in just two years.

So an unfailingly pragmatic tack is badly needed to secure small but solid progress towards a post-2012 climate treaty.

However, the very need to be incremental enough to avoid another major failure does not excuse the international community from thinking long and hard over how to coordinate and strengthen global responses to the challenges.

The lingering trauma of Copenhagen and the evolving economic problems in rich countries are surely to be blamed for the recent retreat from climate change as a political priority around the world.

These difficulties are certainly justified concerns for delegates in Cancun, but by focusing on reaching small goals, such as green technology transfer and additional financing for developing countries, visible progress can be made that will help to lay a solid foundation for a legally binding treaty in South Africa next year.

However, it is unrealistic for the international community to expect a fundamental global solution to eventually arise without considering and adapting to the ongoing shift in the global governance system.

If the need to alleviate extreme poverty and foster middle-income consumers for balanced global growth can be widely recognized as a more desirable goal than protecting the lifestyles of rich countries at any cost, the international community will have a much better chance to cut the Gordian knot of a horribly complex, fiercely disputed climate deal.

By shouldering their historical responsibilities and taking the lead in global emission reduction efforts, developed countries would not only be doing their bit in line with their past and present performance but also clearing the way for forward-looking global response to climate change.

And as China and other major developing economies have made clear, continued growth and environmental sustainability should, and can, go hand-in-hand.

Hence, it is sincerely hoped that Cancun can be a start for the international community to think big and holistically over burning global issues like climate talks.

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