Historic climate conference requires Western emitters to fulfill responsibility

By Zhu Dongyang Source:Global Times Published: 2015-11-30 22:28:01

Braving terrorist threats, leaders of over 100 nations have convened in Paris on Monday, in a hopeful bid to outline a historic global climate arrangement to tackle the common concern of mankind in the long run.

Among all the dignitaries coming to the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Chinese President Xi Jinping, head of the nation that currently emits the most every year, might get the most of media spotlights.

However, it needs to be made clear that although China is an important stakeholder, it cannot decide this year's COP result.

The success of negotiations in the coming days requires the wholehearted coordination and contribution of all the attendees, especially the Western developed nations.

Even faced with economic downturn pressure, China has been unswervingly committed to fighting global warming.

Although it is and will still be a developing country for a long time to come, China has pioneered the world's emission reduction effort by ranking first on several fronts such as wind power. It has also included the upgrading of its industrial structure for green growth into its 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) for national economic development.

Meanwhile, as a devoted supporter of international cooperation, China has inked a bunch of bilateral climate agreements with big emitters like the US and France. In its promise announced during Xi's state visit to the US this September, Beijing vowed to establish an independent South-South cooperation fund of 20 billion yuan (over $3 billion) to help the developing countries affected by global warming.

Ironically, in stark contrast to China's generosity and dedication, the Western performance in mitigating the consequences of climate change has been frustrating to date.

Besides the reluctance to deliver technology transfer and financial support to the vulnerable countries, the West has been obsessed with technical issues to wriggle out of their due moral obligations, resulting in the miscarriage of international efforts to reach a deal.

The more infuriating part is that with all the stubbornness and importunity, some developed nations have turned around to point an accusing finger at the developing countries, blaming them for blocking the birth of a new international treaty.

Such claims are a blatant perversion of the truth. It is also unfair for these developed emitters, part of the main cause of global warming, to demand the developing nations assume an equal share of obligations for gross Western emissions in past centuries.

The developed nations should be mindful that the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, a widely recognized consensus for having taken the development stage and capabilities of the developing countries into consideration, needs to be upheld throughout the negotiations.

Despite all the remaining differences, though, what is still comforting to observers is that countries coming to this COP know that ahead of them lies an opportunity too precious to let slip.

As over 150 countries have submitted their plans of the intended nationally determined contributions in the lead-up to Paris, the world has shown better-than-ever faith to reach a treaty with strict targets and timetables.

We hope that the historic COP21 could embrace a result satisfying enough for mankind to secure a more sustained future.

The author is a writer with the Xinhua News Agency. The article first appeared on Xinhua. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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