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Only realism could bridge gaps at Copenhagen talks

BEIJING, Dec. 11 --  Accusations have become a stark feature at most global talks nowadays, and the ongoing UN climate change conference in Copenhagen does not look like being an exception.

But every participant must understand that there is no easy way out of the existing climate, which entails immediate and adequate global action. Unfortunately, such a shared knowledge of the urgency to act does not guarantee that the international community will be able to strike a meaningful climate deal in the Danish capital.

Unrealistic demands raised by some negotiators could still cost mankind a rare, if not the last chance to save the planet from the disastrous consequences of global warming.

A case in point is the leak of the Danish draft for the Copenhagen climate conference that has created an uproar in the developing world for demanding less from rich countries while setting unfair limits on poor nations. Even though Denmark has said the draft was not an official document, it is simply unbelievable that it was prepared in the first place, for it is not in line with the "common but differentiated responsibilities" under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

By insisting on such impractical negotiation stances, a few rich countries could effectively torpedo all the efforts the international community has made so far to translate political will into concrete action to fight climate change.

An equally disturbing case was US negotiators attempt to use financial aid as a bargaining chip even before they could come up with any credible offer other than one that is just like a drop in the ocean compared with what it should be obliged to do according to its historical responsibility.

Of course, not only rich countries are unrealistic about the climate change conference.

While the international community has lowered expectations -of agreeing only on a political framework for a treaty next year to succeed the Kyoto Protocol - some island countries are pressing it to go beyond a political deal and negotiate a new protocol with the same legal standing as Kyoto.

Given that such island nations are threatened by rising sea levels, a visible consequence of global warming, their demand is understandable. But it could place an unnecessary burden on some developing countries by imposing disproportionately deeper emission cuts on them.

The international community still has a huge amount of work to do to bridge the differences between rich and poor countries to secure a new climate deal.

It is high time that realism prevailed because no country, rich or poor, can afford to walk out of Copenhagen empty-handed. A reality that all negotiators have to face is that a country can deny or defer to walk on the road to a low-carbon future at its own peril.


(Source: China Daily)


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