Pessimistic but still hopeful about Cancun

By Gong Wen
0 CommentsPrint E-mail, December 10, 2010
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The Cancun climate change conference is drawing to an end. Will the meeting in this beautiful Mexican city become a milestone for world co-operation in resolving the climate change issue? We still have some hope but at the same time we have to admit that there is little scope for achieving a substantial agreement.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference should be a serious arena for countries to sit down and discuss the future of humanity, showing determination and a willingness to make mutual commitments, because this is a global issue that affects us all. But the situation in Cancun right now, as was the case in Copenhagen last year, is disappointing.

Disputes over divergent interests, evasions of responsibility and rumors of secret agreements among the big powers are the messages coming out of Cancun. Despite many conference sessions devoted to trying to reach a consensus, there is no denying that nothing constructive and feasible has so far been achieved.

It seems the climate change conference has been transformed into political theater with some countries trying to dominate the direction of proceedings and the rest trying to maximize their interests while minimizing their responsibilities, all the while claiming to have made major concessions.

We are not suggesting countries have to reach a perfect agreement or find the definitive solution to climate change. Of course it is difficult to balance interests of countries with different development levels and facing differing levels of climate risk. But at least we should expect them to make a serious attempt to agree feasible solutions. The earth is not home for you or me; it is home for you and me.

Developed countries must shoulder the duties that flow from the fact that their industrialization took place at the cost of damage to world climate. The provisions of the Kyoto Protocol make clear that developed countries should financially and technologically assist developing countries in reducing greenhouse gas emission. The Kyoto Protocol must be extended even though the most powerful country in the world hasn't ratified it, and Japan – where it was signed – is strongly opposed.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon says "The pace of human-induced climate change is accelerating. We need results now, results that curb global greenhouse emissions. Nature will not wait while we negotiate. Science warns that the window of opportunity to prevent uncontrolled climate change will soon close."

Yes, we need results now and we need to work fast. Although I am pessimistic about Cancun and am doubtful that any constructive agreement can be reached, like anyone who cares about the future of our planet, I must remain hopeful.

The author is a visiting scholar in School of Journalism and Communication, Tsinghua University.

 Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

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