The two-week-long United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen last month failed to meet the high expectations of people around the globe, although it did bear some fruit, such as the signing of the Copenhagen Accord.
But after the conference ended, China has taken the brunt of the blame. Western politicians, in an attempt to evade their responsibilities for global warming and point the finger eastward, have willfully lashed out at China, citing Beijing's hijacking of the conference as the main factor for the failure to achieve results and a legally binding document at the summit.
Is such an accusation true? Could less-developed countries have blocked talks if developed nations, which have more economic and technological advantages, really wanted to move the climate talks forward? A multitude of evidence from global climate talks over the past year, especially involving the Copenhagen conference, show that it has been developed countries, instead of China or other developing countries, that have always been the hindrances to progression on global climate change efforts.
The Copenhagen conference was initially expected to help draft a long-term action plan under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change outlined by the Bali Roadmap and set greenhouse gas emissions targets for developed economies in the post-Kyoto Protocol era. Planned goals include commitments from developed countries on their emissions reduction, and measures that developing countries would agree to take to reduce their emissions with financial and technological help from developed countries. Such consensus would have been constructive in pushing nations to take substantial steps in the years ahead to protect the vulnerable world.
To push the talks forward in Copenhagen, two special working groups had been set up to handle contentious topics. However, due to their serious dissatisfaction over the lack of progress from developed countries during discussions over reducing emissions targets by 2020, developing countries threatened to boycott the conference in the second week. Boycotting developing nations said they would only discuss emission reductions of developed countries.
Their stance, had it not been resolved, could have brought the Copenhagen conference to the risk of abortion. As a developing nation, China understood and supported the reasonable requirements raised by the Group of African countries and urged developed countries to cease their delays and commit to obligations on emissions reductions. Later, under China's intense consultations with the conference chairman and other participants, the conference managed to shift focus and discuss the obligations of developed countries and ease developing nations' concerns. That move contributed greatly to producing some positive results from the summit. It was partly due to China's constructive efforts and mediations that the Copenhagen talks moved forward.
To help the Copenhagen conference reach a less demanding and less-binding accord after developed countries explicitly refused to endorse a document raised by the two special groups, China made unremitting efforts to coordinate stances among participants. The Chinese delegation headed by Premier Wen Jiabao held talks with all other delegations and managed to reach a draft with India, Brazil and South Africa that in part led to the Copenhagen Accord in less than two days.
Compared with China's pragmatic and problem-solving approach, developed countries were imposing unreasonable and unilateral demands on developing countries. For example, in the conference's run-up to the Copenhagen Accord, developed countries still were not authorizing the Bali Action Plan and its proposed international supervision on less-compliant emissions reduction plans by less-developed countries.
The EU and other developed countries also tried to force all participants into accepting their standards on controlling rises in global temperature, while stopping short of their responsibilities for global warming.
In fact, developed countries have never fully fulfilled their commitment in 2001 that at least $410 million would be offered to most underdeveloped countries to help them tackle global warming. So far, only an accumulated $259 million has been allotted. In comparison, China has made efforts to curb global warming and resolutely decided to make concessions in the final stage of the Copenhagen talks to make the conference a success.
It is extremely ridiculous that developed countries, especially the EU, have not reflected on their activities that delayed and hampered progress at the global climate talks and instead, made remitting efforts to denounce China as the main factor for the conference's failures. In so doing, they only want to deflect attention on their part in the so-called unsuccessful climate talks and point the blame at China.
However, facts speak louder than words. Developed countries could by no means extricate themselves from their failure to undertake historical responsibilities on emissions reductions.
Despite achieving some progress, the Copenhagen conference should be the starting point - rather than the end - for countries to continue to push forward on global climate talks. Parties concerned should remain sincere and try to seek more common ground, stick to their commitments and fulfill their due obligations. In particular, developed countries should face their responsibilities and first take measures to cut their emissions and increase funding and technological aids to developing nations. At the same time, developing nations, under the help of developed countries, should also work out steps to curb their emissions and adapt to the changing global climate.
The author is Ph.D and deputy director of National Climate Center.