An im­por­tant step for­ward in ad­dress­ing cli­mate change

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Comment -

Just a week ago, the prospect of any agree­ment be­ing reached at the 24th Con­fer­ence of the Par­ties to the United Na­tions Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change was ut­terly unimag­in­able. But what has been achieved in the Pol­ish city of Ka­tow­ice builds on what was agreed in Paris in 2015 and marks a sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward in the ef­forts to ad­dress cli­mate change.

When the big oil-ex­port­ing na­tions — the United States, Rus­sia, Saudi Ara­bia and Kuwait — blocked an en­dorse­ment of the re­port by the In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change, it looked like the con­fer­ence was go­ing to pro­duce only more hot air.

The re­port con­cluded that while it is pos­si­ble to cap global warm­ing at 1.5 de­grees Cel­sius by the end of the cen­tury com­pared to prein­dus­trial times, this would re­quire a dra­matic over­haul of the global econ­omy and a shift away from fos­sil fu­els.

That a rule­book was adopted on Satur­day de­spite this set­back is the re­sult of re­silient di­plo­macy and a tri­umph for mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism.

The rule­book sets out how coun­tries should re­port their green­houses gas emis­sions and the ef­forts they’re tak­ing to re­duce them in a uni­ver­sal and trans­par­ent way. It also aims to ramp up the com­mit­ments made in Paris, with par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries agree­ing to up­date their car­bon emis­sion re­duc­tion goals by 2020. The new pledges will be re­viewed at the UN sum­mit to be held in Septem­ber 2019.

There are also guide­lines re­lat­ing to the process for es­tab­lish­ing new tar­gets on fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to sup­port the ef­forts of de­vel­op­ing coun­tries from 2025 on­wards as a fol­low-on to the cur­rent tar­get of mo­bi­liz­ing $100 bil­lion a year from 2020.

There is still a long way to go, but the out­come does of­fer hope that the grave con­se­quences of not putting a brake on global warm­ing are now ev­i­dent to all and the ur­gency of do­ing so has been brought home.

A re­port by the World Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Or­ga­ni­za­tion shows that the long-term trend for global warm­ing re­mains un­abated, with 20 out of the last 22 years the warm­est on record, with the last four years the warm­est. Given the ef­fects of global warm­ing that have been wit­nessed so far, we can­not claim to have had no warn­ings of what lies in store if we fail to takes ef­fec­tive ac­tion.

Coun­tries should stick to their

“com­mon but dif­fer­en­ti­ated re­spon­si­bil­i­ties” and hold to their com­mit­ments. Any self-cal­cu­la­tion will un­der­cut global ef­forts in this re­gard.

SONG CHEN / CHINA DAILY

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