GHG emission reduction quantification hard to tackle in Cancun

16:06, December 02, 2010      

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Wednesday, December 1, was the third day of a 12-day climate change summit in Cancan, Mexico. For days, the participating parties have begun to consider mitigating and adapting to climate change, overseeing financial and technical resources and trying to work out long-term cooperative problem-solving approaches in the first phase of negotiations.

On the mitigation of climate change, i.e., reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, developed countries are urged mainly to reduce their short and medium-term emission reduction quantifications and provide developing nations with funds and other assistance to improve and popularize low-carbon technologies. Finance discussion, however, became stuck on ongoing disagreement about the role of discussion.

For the agenda of the first two days, the United States, Japan, Australia and other developed countries evaded their "climate debt" responsibilities and technology transfer, and instead insisted that China, India and other developing nations simultaneously reduce emissions. In a joint statement issued at the summit, the Group of 77 and China noted, however, that they will always adhere to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the "Kyoto Protocol", the "Bali Roadmap", the "common but differentiated responsibilities" principle, a two-track negotiation mechanism, and strongly urged the developed countries to assume their due responsibility effectively and take lead in the emission reduction.

Meanwhile, the least developed countries (LDCs) favor or endorse the stance and positions of the Group of 77 and China and they hope that the 1.5 percent of ANNEX I Parties' gross domestic product (GDP) will be made available to the LDCs to help build capacity to address climate change.

A rise of 4 degrees Celsius could be seen as 2060 in a worse case scenario, according to a research project in elite Oxford University, Britain, and the research shows that, compared to the temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius, the rise of 4 degree Celsius will have a far greater impact on coastal cities, agriculture, water resources, ecosystems and migration. It is estimated that global average sea level will rise 14 to 44 centimeters at the end of 21st century, 1.1 billion to 3.2 billion people will experience acute water shortage, and some 200 million to 600 million people will go hungry then, provided countries do not take effective emission reduction measures.

At the UN Copenhagen climate summit held on Dec.7-18, 2009, countries reached a consensus trying to keep the rise in average global temperature to within 2 degrees Celsius at the middle of this century and signed the last-minute agreement at Copenhagen, so as to try to forestall the worst effect of global warming. At the ongoing UN Climate conference in Cancun, delegates from countries around the world continue consultations in an endeavor to achieve this goal.

Currently, developing nations have reached or are about to enter the stage of industrialization and, owing to the impact of technology, capital, population growth and other related factors, they cannot get rid of their reliance on traditional energy in the course of developing their economy in a short period of time. So, the medium and long-term reduction goals established by the developed countries are essential to holding the rise in temperature to within 2 degrees Celsius.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), emissions by the developed countries will be slashed by 25 to 40 percent from 1991 levels by 2020. But these developed countries nevertheless will only cut greenhouse gas emissions by about 15 percent by 2020, far less the 25 percent as previously prescribed.

Since the developed countries are reluctant to honor the long-term goal of controlling temperature rise, their commitment remains merely a sheer political will and, in the final analysis, it is a question of money.

Given the current unclear world economic recovery, the highlighted price factor and mastery of advanced energy saving technologies by developed countries, developing nations cannot rely solely on their own economic strength to achieve their emission reduction target, which requires developed countries to assume obligations for them to achieve transformation of the energy mix and provide financial assistance.

This in turn means that developed countries will provide to developing nations hundreds of billions of US dollars annually in direct financial aid and technology transfer. In a sense, huge economic costs behind the emission reduction issue pose a crux of matter hard to break in emission reduction quantification.

It is widely believed that parties are likely to continue their disputes unceasingly over this critical emission reduction issue at the Cancan climate summit. In this regard, Su Wei, deputy head of the Chinese government delegation and China's chief climate negotiator, pledged that China will contribute in an active and constructive manner to the negotiations and help lay a good grounding and make ample preparations for reaching some sort of law-abiding document at the Cancun climate summit.

By People's Daily Online and its author PD resident reporter in Mexico Zou Zhipeng


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