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Toward a post-Kyoto accord

Heated debate occurs at every climate-change conference and Bali will be no different. But, writes Xuedu Lu, progress will come only through cooperative nations taking a global perspective and acting according to their abilities and obligations.

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In the last few years, I have been a participant in United Nations climate-change talks, during which debate has centred on a number of points. They include: the causes of climate change; the effects of, and adaptation to, global warming; technology; measures to slow climate change; policy options, and international mechanisms.

In which direction will international climate-change mechanisms move after the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012? Will the agreement’s obligations simply be extended, with adjustments of emissions targets, or will they be replaced by a new deal? This is currently the most discussed and most difficult of issues -– and it is the heart of the climate-change debate.  

Signatories to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – a treaty to which the Kyoto Protocol is an addition -- decided that negotiations should take place on developed countries’ obligations during the second stage of the Kyoto process, after 2012. But those developed countries all want to see developing nations included in the process. The European Union already has undertaken to cut greenhouse-gas emissions between now and 2020, but does not want to do so alone. It wants to see the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia and East European nations take similar steps, along with some degree of action from developing nations.

In 2002, the Eighth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP8) to the UNFCCC issued the Delhi Ministerial Declaration on Climate Change and Sustainable Development, stressing that climate change should be dealt with within a framework of sustainable development, and that adaptation to the adverse effects of climate change should be a high priority. The climate already is changing and, therefore, adaptive measures are essential.

And so, in 2004, COP10 approved the Buenos Aires Programme of Work on Adaptation and Response Measures, giving unprecedented status to adaptation to climate change. Among other points, the 2001 Bonn Agreement established a fund to help developing nations adapt to the negative effects of climate change. But uncertainty over the actual effects of climate change, the vast funding needed and the fact that further negotiations will require the allocation of responsibilities and obligations mean that progress is extremely slow.

All national governments agree that, ultimately, technological research, development and application can resolve climate-change issues. The UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol stress the need for transfer of advanced technology to developing nations to assist their participation in international efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. But developed nations are concerned that such transfers will damage the competitiveness of their businesses and products, and have found numerous excuses over the last decade to drag their feet on this obligation.

Despite a number of resolutions from the Conference of the Parties -- the association of nations that have ratified the UNFCCC – there have not been any genuine examples of transfer of advanced technology from a developed nation to a developing one in order to reduce emissions. Developing nations continue to ask developed nations to carry out this obligation, and it is an ever-present – not to mention difficult and heated - issue at UNFCCC and Kyoto talks. Many representatives of developing nations feel weary and at a loss. Advanced technology provides competitiveness, and it is no easy task to persuade developed countries to give up profitable technology.

The Kyoto Protocol is a milestone in international environmental cooperation, but for a number of reasons many nations are looking for a new mechanism for cooperation on climate change. A range of bilateral, multilateral, closed-door and open methods are being used to create new agreements. For example, the US has launched the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy (IPHE), the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF), the Methane to Markets Partnerships, the Generation IV International Forum (GIF), the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) and the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (APP), all outside the UN climate talks framework. Canada is attempting to extend the G20 meetings of finance ministers to climate change, creating an international climate change mechanism based around meetings of energy and environment ministers.

The advantage of these non-UN systems are that they are easier to operate and are more efficient decision-makers. But they have less coverage and their decisions are not legally binding, relying only on voluntary implementation. So they can complement and promote the UNFCCC and Kyoto talks, but not replace them. China has made this clear when participating in these regional organisations.

Other matters that give rise to heated debate during UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol negotiations are: the protocol’s flexible instruments, such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI); efforts to build capacity among developing countries and help them adapt to climate change; incentive mechanisms for developing countries to cease felling trees and hence reduce overall carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions; greenhouse-gas emissions in the aviation and shipping sectors; and examining developed nations’ implementation of the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol. These issues have a direct influence on implementation of the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol, and are raised at every round of negotiations. This does not mean that the discussions are any less heated.

Climate change is a complex issue, not a simple environmental matter. It affects numerous interests, and so conflict and disagreements are unavoidable. Regardless, the very nature of the problem means that only international agreements can resolve it. All signatories need to take a global perspective on cooperation and carry out their responsibilities according to their abilities and obligations. Only by doing so can they resolve this global, long-term problem. There will be no other option.

 

Lu Xuedu is deputy director-general at the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology’s Office of Global Environmental Affairs. Dr. Lu also is a member of the UNFCCC Clean Development Mechanism executive board and of China’s delegation to UN climate-change talks.

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Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

啊茵的评论。。

气候变化的问题之所以复杂,主要在于它不光是一个单纯的环境保护问题,更牵涉到方方面面的利益,因此存在种种矛盾和争论难以避免。但是无论如何,全球气候变化问题的性质和特点,决定了以缔结国际条约的方式保护全球气候将是唯一的出路。这需要各缔约方有诚意从全球的角度考虑问题并展开合作,依照自己的能力和义务,真正履行相应的责任,这样才能有效地解决这个范围广泛、影响面广、持续时间长的全球环境问题。除此以外,将不会有其它更好的出路。

Comment from A-Yin

To tackle climate change is a complicated issue because it is not only about environmental protection, but also involves interests of different parties.Therefore, conflicts and arguments in the process are inevitable.

However,the nature of this issue means that international conventions will be the only way to fix it. This requires all signatories to consider cooperation from a global perspective and fulfill their tasks in accordance with their own responsibilities and capabilites.

There are no other better and more effective solutions than this to this global issue.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

合作

只有合作才能解决全球变暖问题

Cooperation

Only with cooperation we can solve the global warming!

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

巴厘岛岛会议讨论问题的方向是错误的

巴厘岛会议讨论的问题是一个全人类再也不能熟视无睹的大问题。

即使很迟钝的人都能发现我们这个居住星球出了大麻烦,天气反常,灾害频繁,气候越来越暖和了。这个变化与上帝无关,全部责任应该由人类承担,是人类的活动造成了地球的气候越来越糟糕。

既然如此,全世界共同努力采取积极有效的措施减轻和防止气候进一步恶化,大家坐下来讨论这个问题肯定是大有必要的,但是会议讨论这个问题的方向是错误的,因为会议解决全球气候恶化开出的唯一药方是“减排”,就是减少一二氧化碳为主的温室气体的排放。

事实上,温室气体的增加不是地球气候变暖的根源所在,更不是问题的全部,因此这次会议讨论问题的方向是错误的。

气候变暖,说到底,本质上是一个热量问题,地球上的热量增加了,地球被加热了,气候就变暖了。

温室气体是组成地球大气层中的部分气体,它们已经存在了千百万年。多亏了有这一层温室气体,让地球成为了一个适合人类生存繁衍的大“温室”。其他星球就是因为没有这层宝贵的温室气体,白天太阳直射时气候高达摄氏100多度,夜晚则低到零下几十度,因此没有水、没有生物,人类上去必须穿宇航服。

科学家发现在最近的几十年中,大气中的温室气体增长很快,于是认为地球的温室效应的增强,直接导致了地球气候变暖。

这是一个值得商榷的结论,太阳的热量辐射到地球和地球表面的热量向太空散失,它们之间量的变化消长,受到非常复杂而又广泛的因素的影响。例如近代人类活动产生烟尘量的增长,就是减少太阳向地球辐射热量的一个重要因素,一度有科学家曾经担此地球会因此变得太冷。

了解温室工作的地球人都知道,当温室里的温度太低时,将温室的相当于“温室气体”作用的玻璃加厚一层基本无济于事。采取在温室里加热的措施,例如用火炉,火墙,暖气等方式,温室里面的气温就上升。

加热地球,这就从工业革命以来,人类一直在变本加厉做的事情。人类焚毁了大片大片的森林,开采了地球上远古时代储存的大量能源:媒、石油和天然气,还有更早时期储存的原子能,将他们最终转变成了用于加热地球的热量,这个进程在近几十年了更快了,以致于石油都快开采完了。这样做的结果就是整个地球的热平衡被打破了,地球气候变暖就成了一个必然的后果。

近一两百年来,地球上这个极其巨大的热量增量是一个无可辩驳的事实,很奇怪的是人们为什么不从这个角度去解释和讨论全球气候的变暖。

因此,要让地球变暖的趋势得到遏制,不是抓“减排”,而是要抓“节能”。当然,除了澳洲牛羊放屁,大部分温室气体的产生都与能源的消耗有关,“减排”从很大程度上看也是节能。但有的清洁能源并不产生温室气体,例如燃烧天然气和核能发电,它们基本不产生温室气体,但它们照样加热了地球,使气温上升。如果人类成倍地燃烧天然气;在全世界建设更多的核电站,并开发出其他“清洁能源”,继续肆无忌惮地消耗能源,温室气体不增长,甚至有所减少,地球的气温照样上升。

所以,巴厘岛会议讨论的应对地球气候变暖的问题是对的,但方向是错误的。

人类要抓的应该是节能,这是抓在了根本上,否则都是轻重不分,本末倒置。

此外,要鼓励采用水能、风能、太阳能和潮汐能,因为它们基本只是能源的转换,并没有增加地球上的热量积储。

还要减少林木的砍伐,增加绿色植物的数量,因为它们可以将热量储存起来,让地球上的现实总热量有所减少。

中国 厦门 李林

http://blog.sina.com.cn/xmll

Bali conference works towards a wrong direction.

It is necessary to have the Bali conference to fix the climate change, a big issue which we cannot ignore anymore. It is true that the global warming is the result of human activities. But the meeting works towards a wrong direction as it says that emission cut is the only remedy. In fact, global warming is not caused by the increase in greenhouse gases but the amount of thermal energy on the earth.

It is still worth further research and discussion to conclude that the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere leads to the global warming, as it is too complex to calculate the difference between how much the sun heats the earth by solar radiation and how much the earth loses its heat into the atmosphere..

As you know it is easier to warm a room by heating and other similar means rather than increasing the layer of window glasses.

We have been continuing heating the earth ever since the industrial revolution by damaging forests and using fossil fuels. It is an unarguable fact that the temperature on the earth is increasing due to those activities. So to check the global warming, we should aim to save energy rather than cut emissions. Why cannot we tackle the issue by fixing the real problems? Otherwise, we just put the cart before the horse.

Except for emissions by livestock, most greenhouse gases are caused by energy use. To cut emissions also heavily rely on energy saving. Though some clean energy does not emit greenhouse gases, say natural gas and nuclear energy, they still heat the earth in one or the other way.

So even if more nukes to be built and more other similar clean energies to be tapped, the temperature of the earth will be still going up.

To conclude, to save energy is the only radical way to resolve climate change. Meanwhile the use of water, wind, solar and tide powers should be encouraged, because they do not actually lead to the increase of thermal energy on the earth as their energy is just transformed from one to the other forms.

Meanwhile, to increase the greenery is of great importance for heat storage.

Li Lin from Xiamen in China

http://blog.sina.com.cn/xmll

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

楼上提出了一个很好的问题

我曾经试图计算这样一个模型:当我们燃烧化石燃料的时候(比如说一公斤煤炭),这一公斤煤炭对周围环境温度的升高至少有两个方面的作用:第一是近期作用,来自于煤炭的化学能,化学能转化为了热量;第二是远期作用,即温室效应,燃烧煤炭产生的二氧化碳等对太阳能的保持作用。局限于数据和精力,我没有得到最后的结论,也不知道有没有人已经计算过,希望有专家知晓的话,告诉我。
Aturen

A good question raised above

I once tried to figure out the two impacts of fossil burning: its immediate effect from the transformation from chemical energy to thermal energy; its long-term greenhouse effect. Due to limited data and energy, I haven't yet conducted a thorough research. Please let me know if any experts have done such a research. Aturen