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IPCC's call for action should be welcomed: China Daily editorial

China Daily | Updated: 2018-12-10 21:42

The 2018 United Nations climate change conference, now in session in Katowice, Poland, had to take an unplanned day off on Sunday, because the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait blocked the endorsement of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's special report on what would happen if the average global temperatures rise by 1.5 degrees, and how to ensure they don't.

Three years back in Paris, when countries agreed on the need for joint actions to contain global warming, they called for such a scientific report on what needed to be done. That report is now in, and the four countries didn't like the implications.

The US State Department said the US noted the IPCC report but did not "welcome" it, as to do so would be to endorse it. Which is basically saying we can all go to hell in a fossil-fueled handcart, because not even Mother Nature gets to tell this administration what to do.

The statement sends a stark message of how difficult it is to get everyone to appreciate that climate change is happening and lifestyle changes are unavoidable, not optional, if runaway global warming is to be prevented.

The current US administration's infamous distrust of the scientific findings about climate change means its casual dismissal of the report comes as no real surprise.

But while negotiations in the rest of the week are expected to get a lot tougher than previously anticipated, that would be nothing compared with the critical summit ending up without a meaningful consensus on what to do next.

Nonparticipation by a few countries may not stop concerned members of the international community from pressing ahead with their own climate response agenda under the framework of the Paris Agreement. Key supporters including China and the European Union have repeatedly stated their respective commitment to what has been agreed upon, and there is a shared sense of urgency about reworking and upgrading growth models and promoting clean energy usage, an urgency that will only become more acute as the reality of the global temperature rise begins to bite.

But climate change is a problem way beyond any individual country's capacities. Collective, indeed universal, actions are indispensable if a difference is to be made globally.

If this year's UN climate summit fails to achieve a consensus on actions to be taken, much of what countries agreed in Paris risks becoming empty talk. Because according to that agreement, 2018 is the deadline for plans honoring emissions reduction commitments.

  
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