Xinhua Commentary: Concrete action needed to combat climate crisis

2022-November-8 10:20 By: Xinhua

CAIRO, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- With several high-level participants and a nearly two-week agenda covering diverse topics, the UN climate change conference in the Egyptian Red Sea city of Sharm El-Sheikh has once again sounded the alarm about the acute threat posed by global climate change.

Heated discussions are foreseeable, and a bolder consensus on climate control could be reached at the conference, which kicks off on Sunday. Instead of exchanging words and setting goals, common understanding must be turned into concrete action.

During the past three decades, thanks to the international community's joint efforts, multiple landmark breakthroughs in climate control have been made. The hard-won achievements include the signing of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.

Yet action on the ground has been hampered by some developed countries, who are unwilling to do their fair share. As is widely accepted by parties to the UNFCCC, developed and developing countries should shoulder common but differentiated responsibilities given their national conditions, historical share of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and stage of development.

However, some industrialized countries have been attempting to dodge their due responsibilities, despite historically emitting a larger portion of greenhouse gases.

As the world's largest historical emitter of planet-warming greenhouse gases, the United States refuses to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Though Washington has returned to the Paris Agreement after withdrawing from the deal in 2020, fear remains that it might again imperil global efforts given the fact that climate politics in the United States is increasingly polarized.

A recent poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed that nearly two-thirds of Americans think the federal government is not doing enough to fight climate change.

Although mounting global pressure in recent years has forced the United States and other wealthy countries to compromise by promising to help the developing world tackle the climate crisis, the results are paltry at best.

Take climate finance. In 2009, developed countries pledged to provide 100 billion U.S. dollars each year to assist developing countries in addressing climate change, but the target remains out of reach today.

The reluctance of the rich world to walk the talk has severely damaged the mutual trust between the North and the South, a key element for an enhanced global response to the climate challenge.

Blame hypocrisy on climate action. Developed countries mouth empty slogans while demanding developing countries adopt unrealistic measures to combat climate change. For example, some European countries have slid back into using fossil fuels like coal despite commitments to reducing emissions because of the current energy crisis.

While Europe intends to relax climate requirements on itself, it shows no intention of relaxing its carbon emission requirements on other countries and regions, which Sheriff Ghali, a professor of political science at Nigeria's University of Abuja, calls a double standard.

Natural disasters brought by climate change continue to encroach on people's habitats. Since the beginning of the year, Europe has witnessed the worst heat wave in centuries; severe droughts and floods hit large areas of Asia and North America; in the Horn of Africa, people are suffering from famine, and a lot of animal species are dying out. Under such circumstances, no one is immune.

"The climate crisis is the defining issue of our time," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres outcried.

As the largest developing country, China has taken a series of practical measures to tackle climate change. To realize the goals of reaching peak carbon emissions and carbon neutrality, China has set up a leading group to guide and coordinate related work, formulating and releasing a related top-level design document. In 2021, its national carbon market, the world's largest emissions trading system, started online trading.

Globally, China has actively promote green Belt and Road collaboration, and carried out South-South cooperation on climate change. It has helped developing countries improve their capacity to cope with the impact of climate change by providing financial support, signing cooperation documents, implementing mitigation and adaptation projects and organizing training courses.

Addressing climate change is a cause shared by all humanity. The problem can only be overcome through concerted action and effective implementation. With time running out to deal with the ravages of climate change, all parties, especially developed countries, should take concrete steps.

In the words of Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, president of the meeting's host country Egypt, this year's UN climate conference can be "an opportunity to showcase unity."

Editor: WXY
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