High stakes at talks

Updated: 2012-11-28 08:00

(China Daily)

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Hopes are not high for the two-decade-old United Nations talks on climate change that resumed Monday in Doha. However, the stakes for mankind certainly are.

To slow global warming, the current scale and extent of international efforts to fight climate change must be escalated swiftly and significantly.

To do so, negotiators from nearly 200 countries and regions must work together at the two-week meeting to overcome the lack of determination to rein in and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy, which devastated numerous homes and families on the East Coast of the United States this month, should remind us that no country, rich or poor, can afford to ignore the dangerous consequences of climate change.

Unfortunately, developed countries have displayed little resolve to do more to avoid damages on a previously unimaginable scale despite the fact that the need for action is more obvious and urgent than ever.

As negotiators in Doha are trying to extend the protocol as a stopgap measure after it expires this year, the US government, which since the Bush administration has failed to live up to the obligations its global supremacy incurs, now faces a "fiscal cliff" and merely tries to defend its poor track record on fighting climate change.

The European Union, a key advocate of combating global warming, is pressured by its evolving debt crisis, and may sadly lose its momentum in the leading role it has played in cutting carbon emissions.

Developing countries once pinned high hopes on the developed nations leading the way towards the new global climate accord meant to be negotiated by the end of 2015 and to start in 2020.

That developing countries' need to grow their economies to lift millions of people out of poverty means they cannot cap their emissions any time soon.

Such a situation surely allows no optimism. But that does not mean that negotiators in Doha and the international community can accept more foot-dragging at the ongoing meeting.

More global anti-warming efforts are needed now, not only because they can be safer and much less costly, but also because the increasingly frequent extreme weather events that flood coastal cities or affect agricultural production speak volumes about the urgent need for a breakthrough in mankind's response to climate change.

(China Daily 11/28/2012 page8)