Battle climate change

(China Daily)
Updated: 2009-12-05 17:06
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During a multi-country poll commissioned by the World Bank and carried out by World-PublicOpinion.org, nearly 68 percent of Chinese respondents said they were willing to contribute in efforts to fight global warming, the highest percentage among 15 countries involved in the survey.

That is obviously something we should be proud of, yet have reasons to worry about. If such a high percentage of Chinese citizens are willing to shoulder a 1-percent price increase for efforts to combat climate change, then it is undoubtedly good news, both nominally and practically. This is especially so since it has come just days before the United Nations' Climate Change conference in Copenhagen next week.

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Apart from China, more people from developing countries were also willing to do their bit. In fact, the percentage was higher than those willing to do the same in developed countries.

Developed countries have higher living standards than developing countries. Then, why are people in these nations less willing to contribute to the fight?

The reason is that people in developing countries are more exposed to the negative effects of climate change than those in developed ones. More to the point, the climate change fight will more directly benefit people in developing countries.

This is because the globalization process has shifted most of the manufacturing from developed countries to the developing ones. Made-in-China best epitomizes the situation.

The biggest contributor to global warming - industrial pollution - comes from the manufacturing industry.

Despite higher income from export-oriented industries, the much-improved living standards are compromised by contaminated soil and water, and polluted air.

The climate change battle will involve using relatively cleaner energy, increasing the energy efficiency and reducing emissions as much as possible. This will certainly benefit people in developing countries.

There is, however, one thing that we should never forget. When industrial products manufactured in developing countries like China are exported to developed nations, their consumers are obviously not innocent of the damage they have indirectly caused.

Instead, they should feel guiltier. Environmental pollution resulting from the production of these products that they consume harms developing countries, not to mention the historical contribution that developed countries have made to global warming.

They are at least partially to blame for the rising greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries. There is no reason that they should be less enthusiastic about the fight against climate change.

In a broader sense, climate change is not just a threat to any single country. Instead, it poses an imposing challenge to the future of mankind. For a better tomorrow, both developed and developing countries should take responsibility to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

As far as climate change awareness goes, much needs to be done to make every citizen in the world realize the urgency of the fight.