Will Paris climate meet herald a new era?

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-11-29 23:53:01

The Paris Climate Conference, which opens Monday, promises to produce a new deal to keep global warming under control. The deal will replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2020.

The Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997, mainly required developed nations to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. At that time, emissions of developing countries were negligible, and the agreement therefore did not include binding provisions for developing nations. In the following years, the problem of global warming has worsened, while the carbon footprint of the developing countries has gradually increased. Who should shoulder the responsibility to limit their emissions has become a matter of intense debate, even among the industrialized EU, the US, and Japan.

The contradiction between development and environmental protection has been brought into limelight in China. On the one hand, the nation's total volume of carbon emissions has been constantly rising, and on the other, its emission per capita is far less than that in the developed countries.

Beijing announced in 2014 that the nation's carbon emissions will peak by around 2030, and that it aimed to achieve this goal as early as possible. China is thus the first emerging economy to set an ambitious emission target for itself. China's determination is not only part of its responsibility as the largest developing country to the entire human race, but also an urgent task for the nation's domestic social development.

Over the years, heavy smog in many parts of China has been ringing alarm bells to the nation's mode of economic and social development. The Chinese have realized the importance of protecting the environment as well as maintaining sustainable development, in light of which, cutting carbon emissions is closely related to reducing smog. The Chinese society is more anxious about the carbon emission reduction than the outside world, which has been busy criticizing China for generating too much emission.

Yet it won't be easy to eliminate smog and promptly cut down the carbon emissions, given the difficult balance that China has been trying to keep between development and environment protection over the years. The population in China is too big and once everyone starts to drive a car, turn on their heating or air conditioner, move to a bigger house, or increase their frequency of travel, the carbon emissions in the country will go up sharply. When a group of people becomes better-off, realize the significance of stopping the trend and start asking others to limit their carbon emissions, they would find themselves in a moral dilemma - do they have the right to ask others to keep living a bitter life for protecting the earth?

The world is currently divided over the climate issue. Whether a binding agreement on this universal problem can be reached and implemented is doubted by quite a few people. However, it is still hoped that the Paris Climate Conference will bring us a milestone protocol, which will be implemented by each country sincerely. If so, the human race will likely enter a new era dominated by rationality.

Posted in: Editorial

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