Addressing climate issues requires developed countries to broaden mind: Global Times editorial
Published: Jul 01, 2024 12:23 AM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Abnormal climate and frequent severe weather events have been a common experience for many people this summer. Recently, northern China has experienced prolonged high temperatures, while southern China has been hit by frequent heavy rains. Floods exceeding warning levels have occurred in 98 rivers in the Yangtze River Basin, the Xijiang River in the Pearl River Basin and the Taihu Basin, said the Ministry of Water Resources on June 30. On a global scale, since the beginning of this year, extreme weather events such as heavy rains, floods, heatwaves and droughts have frequently occurred in many places. Hurricane Beryl has intensified into a Category 3 storm and is making landfall in the Americas, while "deadly heatwaves are scorching cities across four continents." These scenes once again sound the alarm on climate issues for all of humanity.

The latest Global Risks Report released by the World Economic Forum warns that in the next decade, the primary global risk will not be armed conflicts or social division but extreme weather events. For this reason, people generally hope that governments worldwide can work together to address the frequent occurrences of extreme weather globally. A survey report released by the UN Development Programme on June 20 shows that 80 percent of respondents globally hope for a stronger climate action.

Addressing climate change requires the full co-operation of the international community and both developed and developing countries need to fulfill their respective responsibilities and obligations. As early as 1992, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change enshrined the principles of equity, common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, recognizing the historical responsibility of developed countries for their emissions. However, developed countries such as the US and Europe have failed to fulfill their commitments in actual implementation despite having shown a positive attitude in international negotiations on global climate governance. This has directly slowed down the process of global green and low-carbon transformation.

As the largest global economy and most advanced developed country, the US plays a crucial role in the process of global climate governance. Especially, the commitments and actions of the US not only set an example for other developed countries but also bring expectations and confidence to the international community as a whole. Unfortunately, the US is the only signatory that has withdrawn from the Paris Agreement to date, showing significant regression in its stance on addressing global climate change, which has severely undermined the confidence in international cooperation on global climate governance. Although the Biden administration announced US' return to the Paris Agreement in 2021, it is hard to hide the wobbly nature of US climate policy, especially under the highly politicalized landscape of bipartisan competition, where climate issues are not purely scientific topics but highly politicized ones.

It is worth noting that the importance of climate issues ranks far lower on the US political spectrum than economic, diplomatic, or even China-related issues. The recent first televised debate among candidates for the 2024 US presidential election was a prime example. Despite the New York Times emphasizing beforehand that "no election has more potential to affect the planet's warming climate than the rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump," the two candidates only devoted a very short amount of time to climate issues. Author Jeff Goodell, of the book The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet, expressed frustration on social media, perhaps representing the thoughts of most Americans: "More time discussing golf than climate. What a world we are living in."

As an important player in the global arena, Europe also has room for improvement in its approaches to addressing global climate change. The EU has initiated several anti-subsidy investigations against Chinese new energy companies and recently, the European Commission announced plans to impose tariffs on pure electric vehicles imported from China starting in July. British scholar Martin Jacques recently warned in the Global Times, "What compromise will it finally reach between protecting European carmakers and prioritizing its commitment to decarbonization? Or, to put it another way, what role does it see Chinese EVs playing in Europe's fight against global warming?" Such reminders not only question European decision-makers but also question Europe's sincerity and determination in promoting global climate governance.

To push forward global climate governance, China has always been a firm activist. We are not only promoting sustainable development at home but also actively cooperating with all parties, continuously injecting stable momentum into global climate governance. China has exceeded its 2020 climate action targets ahead of schedule and will realize carbon neutrality from carbon peaking in the shortest time in global history. The green and low-carbon transformation that China promotes is not just a transformation at the technological and energy levels but involves the transformation of the entire social system, as well as the economy, culture, finance and other aspects. This is an important strategic decision and action statement made by China in response to global climate change.

Global climate change is a common enemy of all humanity. Countries around the world must work together, share responsibilities and take positive and effective actions. This is not only to protect our planet but also for the well-being of future generations. Only through global cooperation can we make substantial progress in addressing climate change, which especially requires developed countries to broaden their mind and take pragmatic actions.