Developed countries urged to cut on carbon emission

BEIJING (MindaNews/12 August) – International climate change experts who gathered here last week have called on governments, particularly those of the developed countries, to exert more effort in cutting on carbon emission and create new, green technologies to slowdown the rate of global warming.

The call came as scientists warned that the rapid changes in climatic conditions have made it difficult for species to survive. This is on top of fears that farmlands may no longer be suitable for cultivating crops as a result of global warming.

“The governments aren’t doing very much. In fact the emission [of carbon] is higher now than it has ever been. The rate of [climate] change is faster,” Jeff Price, senior climate change expert of World Wildlife Fund (WWF), said.

“So unless something happens quicker, then you’re easily on the trajectory where looking at the minimum 2°C, which all the governments are saying that’s the maximum we want. But the reality is, they are not doing anything fast enough to stop it because we are on the way to 4°C, where most of the biodiversity can’t adapt,” he added.

Price was referring to the pledges made by countries who participated in the United Nations Copenhagen Accord in 2009 to adopt the 2°C target — a threshold with the equivalent of an atmospheric concentration of 450 parts per million of carbon dioxide equivalent — a safety amount of carbon emission.

“Individual countries are making pledges, but there is no global commitment. And if we are really serious to hold the climate to2°C, it will be a lot less than 450 but we are nowhere near that,” he said.

Yue Ruisheng, deputy department director of China’s Department of International Cooperation of Ministry of Environmental Protection, noted that there is a dire need for governments to fast-track their respective responses to address the serious threats of global warming.

“Government needs to take more action in relation to combat the effects of global warming,” he said, during an international symposium on biodiversity and climate change, which was attended by 120 representatives from different environment organizations and government agencies around the globe.

China and the US, the world’s biggest contributors to carbon emissions, presented their own strategy on the long-term plan to reduce its carbon emission and mechanisms to adapt to the impacts of global warming.

Australia, which claimed to have the first climate change road-map, has broached the idea of a joint research venture with China and other developed countries.

Price said the biggest problem is the “synergy of the levels of threat” or a combination of effects due to climate change.

“The climate is changing everything. It changes what crops you can grow,” he said, adding that people may plant crops in areas that are currently rich in biodiversity.

“Coffee being a very good example, many areas in Colombia where currently most of the coffee came from have become not suitable for cultivating coffee. So where will the coffee go? Perhaps it will go to the next valley which is much higher and where the biodiversity is still intact,” he said.

“Now we are looking at a rapid rate of change, much more rapid than had occurred thousands of years ago,” he said, adding that thousands of species are on the verge of extinction due to the rate of global warming.

Price warned that if temperature would further increase, life forms in Africa have slim chances of surviving in the decades to follow.

He said the emphasis should also be on how to attain both biodiversity and sustainable growth.

“If climate change is going to change agriculture…it’s a matter of balance. It’s a matter of having a long term plan and goals,” he added.

Experts also noted that despite the issues some countries are beginning to draft their own roadmaps to adapt to the climatic situation.

Li Liyan, deputy director of National Development and Reform Commission, said China is expected to create a Department of Climate Change and National Center for Climate Change to oversee the implementation of the laws that are needed to balance the effect of climate change.

She claimed that the project for low carbon economy in at least five provinces and eight cities are now doing well.

The project is in accordance with the China’s 12th Five-Year Plan, which aims to accelerate an environment-friendly service sector growth. China will adopt a 17.3% energy intensity reduction target in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) and 16.6% in the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020).

Li admitted that China’s fight against global warming has its own difficulties citing that the country is still 60% dependent on coal for electric power.

Environmentalists have been saying that coal-fired plants provide the dirtiest form of energy and are responsible for 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the main cause of global warming, and the subsequent “natural” disasters which have beset the country.

She also underscored that the “knowledge gaps,” lack of “legal system,” and inadequate funds are some of the weakness that China is facing in the fight against climate change. (Darwin Wally T. Wee/MindaNews)