CRI: Developed Countries’ Copenhagen Positions Inconsistent with Previous Agreements

The Copenhagen Accord is not the end, and the whole world should take responsibilities on a long road to come, writes Chen Tian (陈天), a commenter with China Radio International (CRI). Although all countries acknowledged the existence of climate change and the urgency of reacting to it, the duties of burden-sharing had remained an unbridged gap between developed and developing countries. In that sense, Copenhagen should be seen as a starting point. Chen points out that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had called on the developed countries to take the lead, while developing countries should follow in taking appropriate action (“我呼吁出席本次会议的所有发达国家领导人率先采取行动,这样的话,其他国家也将随之采取相应的行动”).

China had, as the world’s largest developing country and emerging economy, made practical contributions, he writes. China’s state and party chairman Hu Jintao (胡锦涛), during the UN Climate Summit, had said that China took responsibility to its own people and the people of the world to make concrete efforts. Chen quotes the chairman: “China has defined a national climate program and has clearly stated that it would reduce energy consumption and emissions per GDP unit, and that it would increase forest cover, and the share of renewable energy, as binding national targets. In the future, China will, step by step, include measures against climate change into its economic and social development plans, and continue to take effective measures.” On November 26, China’s government had also declared that by 2020 the national carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP than in 2005 dropped 40% to 45%. These efforts had earned international acclaim, writes Chen –  Danish prime minister Lars Rasmussen had expressed his admiration.

Chen on the other hand expresses disappointment that the developed countries had been lacking sincerity in reducing emissions, even though they were mainly responsible for climate change:

America announced ahead of Copenhagen that until 2020, it would reduce greenhouse emissions by 17 per cent, compared with 2005, compared with 1990s, this would only be a reduction of four per cent. Although Japan had announced a reduction by 25 per cent, it demanded that all major emitting countries should take part in the reduction, which was clearly not in line with The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and with the Kyoto Protocol, which had established common, but differentiated, responsibilities*), and even the European Union, which was most active in the negotiations, only committed to a 20 per cent or 30 per cent reduction target – while the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated that developed countries would need to reduce their emissions by 25 to 40 per cent, based on 1990 as a reference year to avoid a devastating global impact.

Chen ends his article by quoting some words of encouragement, from a statement by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon after the conclusion of the Copenhagen Summit. In short: a success, and a beginning.

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*) The paragraph about differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities can be found on the UNFCCC’s website, within the Framework Convention’s prelude:

Acknowledging that the global nature of climate change calls for the widest possible  cooperation by all countries and their participation in an effective and appropriate  international response, in accordance with their common but differentiated   responsibilities and respective capabilities and their social and economic conditions, […]

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Related:
Copenhagen Summit: Make it, or Fuck it Up, but Stop Bitching, December 18, 2009
International Law Traded in for Big-Power politics”, Earth Institute, Dec 22, 2009

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