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Copenhagen, developing nations are unhappy

16:27, December 11, 2009

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By Li Hongmei People's Daily Online

With twists and turns and even tussles, Copenhagen is seeing off the first week of global warming talks attended by 192 players, all at various stages of economic development. In the days gone by, an out-to-out international arena has been put up in the Danish capital city showing a mimic warfare with environmental idealism vs. national self-interests, and industrialized nations vs. developing ones. Considering the complexity and volatility, nobody would say crafting a new global warming treaty is the low-hanging fruit.

In addition to the bloc of developing countries, known as G-77, which actually embraces 132 countries, emerging economies like China, India and Brazil, have in a voice lashed out at ---among others---the Danes, hosts of this gathering, for circulating a draft treaty that had been hammered out by only a few industrial heavy weights behind closed door, and therefore was thought to be highly dubious and, flawed.

Not surprisingly, one of the most evident disagreements so far occurs between China, the indisputable leader in the developing world, and the U.S., the world's current economic superpower. During the first four days of talks aimed at building a truly global agreement to combat global warming, China has hit out at the U.S., Europe, and Japan for offering what it sees as inadequate emissions targets. While the U.S., in defending the Obama administration's numbers, insisted Beijing's offer to reduce its energy intensity by between 40 to 45 percent by 2020 could not square with what's needed.

The U.S. special envoy on climate, Todd Stern, seemed impatient to convince the Chinese negotiators that emissions cut is not just a matter of politics and morality, but "you've got to do the math." It really sounds like an old Chinese folktale in which a rich but miserly landlord would always rack his brain in all efforts to prevent his laborers from eating as much as they need. After eating up six cakes, he would invariably go out having each meal together with the laborers; and during the process, he would always repeat his complaints about the laborers' "huge appetite" saying "I just ate one cake, but I feel nearly burst. Look at you guys, three cakes for each of you is still not enough. Don't you think you should eat less and work more?"

After a notorious history of polluting the planet for more than two centuries, and so many delays on its commitments to the global climate, the U.S. at the time offers to do math. But even if it is a math problem, isn't it an idiotic calculating if the U.S., just like the landlord above mentioned, tricks all that has been finished could pass for nonexistence? On the other hand, China, and many other developing countries, have actually done much to make strides toward greener economic development, given the fact that they are still facing a sever shortfall of funds and technology, and that some even remain inaccessible to regular water supplies and electricity.

But fact is fact. Looming over this bazaar of complaints, points and counterpoints over temperature goals and emissions target is the high alert from the World Meteorological Organization that the first decade of the 21st century is very likely to be the warmest on record. Also, enough is enough in recent years----the Chinese mainland and African Continent are plagued by severe drought; Taiwan was hit by the deadly Typhoon Morakot; the U.S. had Hurricane Katrina; the survival of Tuvalu and many island cultures is hanging in the balance; and appallingly, ice caps in the Arctic are still melting. The list goes on and on.

The following week will see the world leaders converge in Copenhagen. The summit will be considered a success if they would reach a consensus to kick off the arduous journey toward addressing the crisis of climate change. It is highly expected that the War President and also Nobel Peace Prize laureate Barack Obama would come along with some encouraging news, at least not the fuel to the flames.

Copenhagen may not be the birth place of hope. But hopefully, it will be the first step toward the end of a dim tunnel.

The articles in this column represent the author's views only. They do not represent opinions of People's Daily or People's Daily Online.

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About this column

Li Hongmei, editor and columnist of PD Online.


Li HongLi Hong

After 19 years working for China Daily and its website, Li Hong moved to english.people.com.cn in March 2009.

Li has been a reporter and column writer, mainly on China's economy and politics.

He was graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University, and once studied in University of Hawaii and the Poynter Institute in Florida.

Gavin Jon MowatGavin Jon Mowat

Gavin Jon Mowat, editor and columnist for People's Daily Online.

As a graduate from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, UK, Gavin came to Beijing 2 years ago to study Chinese.

Enjoying the culture and traditions of the orient so much, Gavin has since left his home in Scotland and is now living and working in China.

Gavin uses his background in writing to share his experiences of China with you at People's Daily Online.