Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Test of Goodwill

For the next two weeks the world is watching to see if there really will be a concerted global effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions around the world and stop climate change from destroying the planet we live in.

Over a week before the conference in Copenhagen, China announced that it would cut 40 to 45 percent of emissions per GDP by 2020. While it sounds like big numbers, an article in the South China Morning Post says the world's most populous nation is already on track to meet these targets.

It says from 1990 to 2005, the Chinese mainland reduced its carbon intensity by 44 percent without external pressures or special measures. The data shows it was 5.16 tonnes of carbon dioxide per $1,000 of GDP growth in 1990 to 2.87 tonnes in 2005. Thus energy intensity, the amount of energy used per GDP growth fell by 47 percent.

However, as the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, shouldn't China at least take on the moral responsibility of doing more to save the planet? Maybe then they could ensure that the Chinese civilization would continue for at least another 5,000 years (if it really did start 5,000 years ago).

But Xie Zhenhua, chief negotiator of the Chinese delegation to Copenhagen said on Monday that China will not be raising its targets during the conference.

"We have done what we should do and what we are supposed to do," said Xie. He explained that China has reduced 47 percent of its carbon dioxide per unit of GDP in the past 15 years, and the country will stick to its commitment of 40 to 45 percent reduction in emissions in the next 10 years.

At the same time China is hoping for a successful outcome of the summit.

Li Gao, a division director with the National Development and Reform Commission climate change department, said China will "help bring about a meaningful result and try to make the summit successful".

"We hope the Copenhagen summit will become a milestone in mitigating global warming, and China has always been playing an active role in the process," said Li. "China will try to do everything possible to make the Copenhagen summit a success and will not end the summit with an empty political declaration."

But Li did not elaborate on what China may do to make the meeting a success.

So what are people and countries supposed to think of China if it says it is unwilling to cut more greenhouse gas emissions because it doesn't want to sacrifice economic development and yet hope for a successful summit?

One can only hope the United States will take a leadership role to cut more than its announced 17 percent target at 2005 levels by 2020 and encourage China to follow suit.

With US President Barack Obama attending the end of the summit, when the real negotiations will be nailed down, it shows he is serious about trying to fulfill his election pledge.

It will also test how successful he is in persuading the Chinese after a visit to China that seemed like he was constrained by Beijing's agenda.

We shall see.

World leaders need to realize they must act now and follow through in good faith to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Otherwise nobody in the future will have an earth to live on anymore.

1 comment:

gg said...

people forget to point their finger at one major polluter - the usa. thy always put the blame on china. this unfair.