Opinion / OP Rana

Oh, when will they ever learn?

By Op Rana (China Daily) Updated: 2014-12-06 09:12

Oh, when will they ever learn?The annual ritual of UN climate change conference is on in the Peruvian capital of Lima in a year which is almost certainly going to be the hottest on record. Twenty-two years have passed since the first international climate conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and the world has undergone drastic climate changes in these years.

Associated Press has conducted a study into databases to determine how severe the changes have been since that fateful year. An example: Carbon dioxide emissions are up 60 percent, average global temperature is up six-tenths of a degree, world population has increased by 1.7 billion, sea level has risen by 3 inches, US extreme weather is up 30 percent, and 4.9 trillion tons of ice sheets have melted in Greenland and Antarctica. The planet has got hotter, more polluted with heat-trapping gases and more vulnerable to natural disasters.

On paper, there is still hope, as the 195 countries attending the Lima conference have promised to reach a new climate deal in Paris next year. Though the enthusiasm for a climate deal today is nowhere near the level seen before the 2009 Copenhagen Summit thanks to the urgency generated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report of 2007 before the Bali Climate Summit, the process seems to have got a boost because of the climate deal signed between China and the United States on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Beijing in November.

While the developments over the 22 years since Rio 1992 have a different story to tell, the rising temperatures over land and the oceans seem to have spilled over to the climate conference in Lima, as participating countries and environmental experts appear to understand the urgency to finalize the negotiating texts leading to a comprehensive deal in Paris. The heat at the UN conference, as usual, is concentrated on the old division between the rich and poor countries, especially because the advanced world has not even attempted to honor its promise of donating $10 billion each year for 10 years up to 2020 to the UN Green Climate Fund to help poor countries to fight and adapt to climate change.

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