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Cancun: Opinions on the Matter

By staff reporters YAN WEIJUAN & ZHU HONG


More than symbolism: Dalian launched an environmental protection campaign featuring about 100 ice carvings of animals melting under a scorching sun. China Foto Press

WE live on one planet. Since climate change is already having an impact on every country and every individual, what are we to do? Everyone has an opinion on the subject. China Today conducted an ad hoc opinion poll and presents interviewees’ hopes and concerns around the upcoming international climate conference in Cancun, Mexico.

Luo Jibin (former official of the World Meteorological Organization)

Climate is the essential resource on which we humans rely for existence. This climate resource brings us a diversity of flora and fauna, and enables us to live well. Only if the climate resource is well protected can the world economy develop in a sustainable manner, weather calamities be brought under control and reduced, and human life continue on an unbroken path of improvement. To protect the climate is to protect living conditions for our own future and for that of our offspring too. It calls for worldwide awareness, joint efforts and across-the-board participation. I hope for the reaching of further consensus in the upcoming Cancun meeting, and for a breakthrough in terms of all countries taking concerted action.

Vivian (general manager of Sheyang Technology Co., Ltd)

By my reckoning, the developed countries will make many demands on the developing nations again. If China accedes to those demands, living conditions will no doubt be harsher. After all, many Chinese still live below the poverty line so we have to prioritize economic development; as a developing country, climate solutions must be suited to the Chinese situation. I hope too that the developed countries will provide practical and effective assistance.

Xu Xiaoqin (reporter of the West Asia and Africa Center of China Radio International)

As regards my expectations for Cancun, I only hope that every head of each state could notice the current extremes of weather caused by climate change and, in an attitude of bearing responsibility for this and future generations, work out realistic and workable policies. If yet again there is minimal progress, people will suspect it’s like in the disaster film 2012 – a debate confined to the price of tickets and embarkation sequence for Noah’s Ark!

Long Yuanfang (final-year student of China Foreign Affairs University)

I hope each nation can learn from previous lessons, putting prejudices aside and addressing the climate issue together. The developed countries need to make greater efforts and offer more help to the developing countries; for their part, the developing nations should try their utmost and encourage every citizen to get involved in environmental protection.

Zhang Hehe (director of the Business Development Department of the Friends of Nature)

Although addressing climate change relies on intergovernmental cooperation at macro level, it is important that every one of us does what we can to live a low-carbon life and reduce our own carbon emissions.

Paul Massot (French language consultant based in China)

I sincerely hope that national leaders of various countries can put aside issues of capital and geopolitics for a moment. The increasing natural disasters are putting our very existence under threat. Now is the time to set up global mechanisms to address what is a global issue.

Kato Masaaki (Japanese student studying in China)

I hope that at this conference an agreement will be reached and universally approved environmental protection measures will be passed, such as rotated electricity stoppage. In addition, the developed countries should provide financial and technological assistance to the developing nations. But I’m afraid that an agreement is unlikely. The developed countries are already affluent, so they are all for emission reduction; the developing countries are at a different stage, so they are unlikely to go along with it. The two sides are contradictory.

Odey Acha Francis (Nigerian student studying in China)

Looking back on the Copenhagen Conference, our expectations went unfulfilled. That said, the eagerness to participate highlighted its role as a platform bringing people together to concentrate their united efforts on the global warming issue. That represents achievement and progress. I hope the failings of the Copenhagen Conference can be made up for in Cancun. The failure of the Copenhagen talks, plus the recent catastrophes reported from all around the world, will raise awareness at leadership level, especially leaders of Western nations, so that they look the adverse results of climate change in the face. If that is the case, at the Cancun Conference they would assume a new attitude in their deliberations, unlike the politicized one evident at Copenhagen. If people can envisage the sufferings and hardships that happened after Copenhagen, they would come to a rational conclusion. If there is no change in their bullying attitude – by which I mean their barbarous colonialism – that will be most unfortunate. Such a primitive attitude is inappropriate in modern civilization. Climate change is bound up with each one of us and developing countries cannot sidestep responsibility on whatever pretext. In short, we have to change our thinking and our attitude, seeing whether we can join our efforts to tackle this problem. We should not look at each other differently because of our different skin colors, black or yellow, still less behave like invaders with their barbarous and primitive attitude. No matter what problems we face – climate change, terrorism, food shortage – we should be generous and open in approaching solutions, starting from our own affairs, not just playing the blame game. These conferences are not platforms for countries to flex their national muscles. For developed and developing nations to stick adamantly to their own positions is a throwback to a polarized Cold-war mentality. I hope that Cancun will see a different approach from the uncivilized altitude that blighted the Copenhagen summit.

Zhaya (Mongolian student studying in China)

I hope that, on the basis of the Kyoto Protocol, the developed and developing countries can make concessions to each other, adjust their attitudes and finally strike a new agreement. In hindsight, the developed countries are the source of the current pollution issue, having emitted a huge amount of pollutants during the course of their industrialization. They should admit their history, shoulder their part of commitments on environmental protection and give more financial and technological assistance to the developing nations. Of course, it is an inescapable duty for the developing countries to combat climate change, as their industrialization is just getting going. High petroleum consumption and high carbon emissions resulting in serious pollution are visible facts. Despite interests being in conflict, we should be clear that global warming is a worldwide issue. Each country should, in the spirit of mutual understanding, concession and bilateral assistance, take an active part in the pollution reduction movement.

Herb (American student studying in China)

In my opinion, since no one can be absolutely sure of the reasons for climate change, this issue will remain up in the air. So I don’t think this conference will make any substantial progress. But it is still meaningful as regards the pollution issue. I’m delighted to hear that China has assumed the lead in developing and utilizing wind power. China has woken up to the serious level of water and air pollution here, and has accepted that 16 of the world’s 20 worst polluted cities are located in China. Since these problems have all been acknowledged, they will be conquered step by step. It will take time.

Daniel (German student studying in China)

I don’t have great expectations for Cancun, because the two main powerhouses, China and the United States, will still be sticking to their guns. This is not a question of economic development. European countries also attach great importance to economy, but they choose a different way. China states that she cannot get rid of all polluting industries in the immediate future, and what President Obama promised one year ago did not amount to much. On top of that, with the American mid-term elections taking place what he can do is limited.

Joseph (Tanzanian student studying in China)

I wish world leaders, especially those of the developed countries such as Britain and the U.S., could come up to the plate. It is time for them to thrash out some rational policies. To solve global warming, we must unite as if we were one nation, one entity rather than separate ones. I hope all countries, irrespective of their development level, can come together and focus their concerted effort on solving this problem. If that were to happen, our children could live untroubled lives.

VOL.59 NO.12 December 2010 Advertise on Site Contact Us