Selfish West seeking to pass carbon emission buck to developing nations

By Li Li Source:Xinhua Published: 2014-9-25 22:08:01

As world leaders gathered in New York City on Tuesday for an UN Climate Summit, some Western powers have once again rushed to push China into the limelight, hyping up its status as the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter.

The emerging Asian powerhouse, they contend, should shoulder a major bulk of responsibilities in the global fight against climate change.

Such a claim is untenable, as it has been made regardless of both historical facts and the present reality. For one thing, just like saying that "Rome was not built in a day," the climate peril the human race is facing right now is not just an outcome of the industrial growth of developing countries, most of which only started several decades ago. Instead, the menace has been constantly building up since the onset of industrialization, a process that has lasted for over two centuries.

For another, during the rapid process of globalization, developed countries are shifting their high energy consuming and polluting industries to the developing world, thus transferring more carbon emissions to the latter. In the particular case of China, the world's most populous nation is facing the daunting task of modernizing its economy for the benefit of a whopping 1.35 billion people, nearly one-fifth of the world's total.

During the painstaking process, China remains troubled by a barrage of growing woes such as development imbalance and poverty alleviation.

Therefore, it is extremely unreasonable and selfish for those developed countries, which have emitted their historical share of greenhouse gases and are relocating their current share, to pass the buck to developing nations and infringe their very right of development.

In the meantime, as a responsible developing country, China, though not facing binding targets under the existing Kyoto Protocol, has made self-motivated efforts in emission reduction in a bid to improve its growth quality and reverse environmental degradation.

It is noteworthy that despite being termed the world's "top polluter," China's per-capita emissions of greenhouse gases are far lower than those of the US. To show its determination, China has recently pledged to nearly halve its carbon emission intensity, namely emissions per unit of GDP, from the 2005 level by 2020.

In the spirit of fairness and equity, the international community also upholds the distribution of emission reduction obligations in accordance with the respective level of development and capacities of each country; a principle epitomized as "common but differentiated responsibility" under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which is the only legally binding emission-reduction agreement signed by nearly 200 countries and regions.

However, with the Kyoto Protocol set to expire in 2020, some countries in the developed world, particularly the US, seem ready to blatantly defy its cornerstone principle and hope to see their "burdens" lessened under a new treaty scheduled to be finalized next year.

Such an attempt is a major reason why years of efforts by the international community to push forward the global fight against climate change have been stymied and caught in a deadlock. It is highly advisable for those developed countries to stop pointing fingers at China and other developing countries and start to realistically assume their due and unshirkable responsibilities.

They should also be reminded that the more their actions are delayed, the more difficult and costly the actions will be in the future.

The author is a writer with the Xinhua News Agency.

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