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'Global boiling era' comes as cooperation lacking: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-08-02 21:10

A thermometer shows an outdoor temperature over 40 C at the Forbidden City in Beijing. [Photo by Zhu Xingxin/China Daily]

Wildfires in Greece. Heat waves across the US Southwest. The highest temperature ever recorded in China — 52.2 C in Turpan in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. All these in July marked the planet's hottest month on record.

Scientists at the World Meteorological Organization and the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service came to the conclusion last week, even before the month ended, based on calculation, that the Earth's temperature had already averaged 16.95 C through the first 23 days of the month, one-third of a degree C hotter than the previous record in July 2019.

Normally records are broken by hundredths of a degree C, maybe a tenth at most. Though temperature records could be traced only to the middle of the 19th century, scientists believe the past July was likely "unprecedented" for at least thousands of years.

"The era of global warming has ended; the era of global boiling has arrived," United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, while calling on world leaders last week, in particular those of rich nations, to do more to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

To avoid the very worst of climate change, the Paris climate accord sets the goal of limiting the temperature increase to 1.5 C above preindustrial levels. The past July has made it almost impossible to realize the goal, given that temperatures were already 1.5 C higher than preindustrial levels for 16 days last month, an unprecedented phenomenon. The WMO has predicted that it is more likely than not that global temperature will temporarily rise 1.5 C above the benchmark for at least one of the next five years.

Yet in the face of the mounting risks facing the future of humanity, slow progress has been made in terms of funding and implementation of actions aimed at helping vulnerable nations adapt to the climate emergency. Adaptation needs in the developing world are set to skyrocket to as much as $340 billion a year by 2030. Yet adaptation support today stands at less than one-tenth of that amount. "Accelerating temperatures demand accelerated action," Guterres said.

China, which has pledged that it will peak its greenhouse gas emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, is stepping up its pursuit of green development to play its part in the global fight against climate change. And its progress in this regard should help inject confidence that the world can attain a better climate future.

Yet no matter what China does, or any country does, it will not be enough on its own. Countries must work together to make climate-friendly actions more than just the sum of their parts. Lip service has too often been paid to this cause. But unless there is a genuine commitment to practical cooperation and targeted collaborative actions, especially among the major economies and largest emitters, the world will pay an increasingly unbearable price for the indulgence in parochial gamesmanship.

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